Office of the Governor

Office of the Governor

This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “ Office of the Governor”. This topic has relevance in the Polity and Governance section of the UPSC CSE exam.

GS 2: Polity and Governance

Why in the news?

Recently, there has been friction between the Governor and the State Governments of several States.


Recently, the Governor of Tamil Nadu has chosen to ‘withhold’ assent for specific Bills approved by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly. This decision comes in the wake of the Supreme Court expressing ‘serious concern’ over the Governor’s lack of action regarding Bills submitted for his approval. 

This is not an isolated incident. Earlier,In February 2023, the Governor of Kerala approved and enacted into law five bills that were endorsed by the Assembly. However, the Governor chose to withhold assent for the remaining six bills, which encompassed legislative proposals such as the Kerala Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill and the Kerala University (Amendment) Bill.

Constitutional Provisions Governing the Office of Governor

Establishment of the Office:

  • Article 153 mandates the appointment of a Governor for each State, allowing one individual to serve as Governor for multiple States.


  • The President appoints the Governor, who serves as a nominee of the Central Government.

Dual Role of the Governor:

  • The Governor functions as the constitutional head of the state, obligated to follow the advice of the council of ministers (CoM).
  • Acts as a crucial link between the Union Government and the State Government.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Articles 157 and 158 outline the eligibility requirements for individuals seeking the position of Governor.

Pardoning Powers:

  • Article 161 grants the Governor the authority to grant pardons, reprieves, and similar powers.

Council of Ministers’ Role:

  • Article 163 of the Indian Constitution establishes a Council of Ministers, headed by the Chief Minister, to assist and advise the Governor in performing their functions.
  • While the Governor is generally bound by the advice of the Council of Ministers, certain conditions allow for the exercise of discretion.
  • The Governor holds discretionary powers in specific scenarios, including:
    • Appointment of Chief Minister: When no party secures a clear majority in the state legislative assembly.
    • No-Confidence Motions: During times of no-confidence motions.
    • Constitutional Machinery Failure: In the event of the failure of constitutional machinery in the State, as outlined in Article 356.


Appointment of Chief Minister and Ministers:

  • The Governor appoints the Chief Minister and other Ministers, as outlined in Article 164.

Legislative Functions:

  • Article 200:Article 200 of the Indian Constitution delineates the procedure for a Bill, having been passed by a State Legislative Assembly, to be presented to the Governor for various courses of action.

Governor’s Options:

  • The Governor, upon receiving a Bill, is empowered to either assent to it, withhold assent, or reserve it for the President’s consideration.
  • Additionally, the Governor has the authority to return the Bill to the Legislative Assembly with a message requesting reconsideration by the House or Houses.
  • The Supreme Court’s decision in the Purushothaman Nambudiri case clarified that a bill pending the Governor’s assent does not lapse upon the dissolution of the House.
  • The absence of a time limit in Articles 200 and 201 indicates the framers’ intention to safeguard bills awaiting the Governor’s assent from lapsing.
  • The second provision of Article 200 allows the Governor discretion to refer a bill to the President if there are concerns about its potential infringement upon the powers of the High Court.
  • The procedure for obtaining presidential assent for a referred bill is detailed in Article 201.
  • In the Shamsher Singh case, the Court established that the Governor’s power to reserve bills for the President’s consideration constitutes an instance of discretionary authority.


Ordinance Promulgation Authority:

  • Under certain circumstances, the Governor may promulgate ordinances, as specified in Article 213.


Controversies Surrounding the Role of Governors

Abuse of Power by the Centre:

  • Instances abound where the Governor’s position is exploited, often influenced by the ruling party at the Centre.
  • The appointment process is frequently the root cause of such abuses.

Biased Ideology in Appointments:

  • Politicians and former bureaucrats with specific political affiliations are appointed as Governors by the central government.
  • This contradicts the constitutionally mandated neutral stance, leading to perceived bias, as evident in instances in Karnataka and Goa.

Charges of Puppet Rulership:

  • The Governor of Rajasthan faces charges of violating the model code of conduct, aligning with the central ruling party.
  • This contradicts the expectation of non-partisanship from individuals holding constitutional positions.
  • Negative terms like “agent of the Centre,” “puppet,” and “rubber stamps” are used to describe such Governors.

Favoritism Towards a Political Party:

  • The discretionary powers of Governors to invite the leader of the largest party/alliance post-election are often misused to favor a specific political party.

Misuse of Power in Recommending President’s Rule:

  • Governors’ recommendations for President’s Rule (Article 356) in a state are not always grounded in ‘objective material’ but rather on political whims or fancies.


Recommendations on Appointment and Removal of Governor

Impeachment Provision:

  • The “Punchhi Commission – 2010” proposed the inclusion of a provision for the impeachment of the governor by the state legislature.
  • The commission Advocated that the state chief minister should play a role in the appointment of the governor.


Recommendations on the Use of Article 356

  • The “Punchhi Commission – 2010” suggested amendments to Articles 355 & 356.
  • The Sarkaria Commission (1988) recommended the rare application of Article 356, emphasizing its use only in unavoidable situations to restore the breakdown of constitutional machinery.
  • Additional recommendations on Article 356 were put forth by the Administrative Reforms Commission (1968), Rajamannar Committee (1971), and Justice V. Chelliah Commission (2002).


Recommendations on Dismissal of State Government under Article 356

S.R. Bommai Judgment (1994):

  • The S.R. Bommai Judgment of 1994 brought an end to arbitrary dismissal of State governments by a hostile Central government.
  • Emphasized that the floor of the Assembly should be the sole forum to test the majority of the government, rejecting the subjective opinion of the Governor.


Recommendations on Discretionary Powers

  • The Supreme Court, in the Nabam Rebia judgment (2016), established limitations on the exercise of the Governor’s discretion outlined in Article 163.
  • Stressed that the Governor’s choice of action should not be arbitrary or fanciful.


Way Forward:

Impartial and Efficient Action:

  • Emphasize that the Governor’s discretion should be exercised judiciously, impartially, and efficiently for the smooth functioning of the government.

Strengthening Federalism

  • Advocate for the strengthening of the federal setup in India. Enhance the role and effectiveness of the Inter-State Council to curb the misuse of the governor’s office.
  • Strengthen the role of the Rajya Sabha as a crucial chamber in upholding federalism and ensuring a balanced power distribution.

Reforming the Method of Governor’s Appointment

  • Reform the method of appointing governors by involving the state legislature.
  • Propose the creation of a panel by the state legislature for governor appointments.
  • Shift the appointing authority from the central government to the Inter-State Council, ensuring a more decentralized and inclusive process.

Implementing a Code of Conduct for Governors

  • Introduce a comprehensive ‘Code of Conduct’ for Governors, outlining specific norms and principles.
  • Provide guidelines for the exercise of the governor’s discretion and powers, emphasizing responsible and ethical conduct.

Source: The role of the Governor in legislature | Explained – The Hindu

Q.1 Ordinance making power of the Governor of the state is related to:

(a) Article 213

(b) Article 123

(c) Article 200

(d) Article 201




Q.2 In the context of a democratic system, critically analyze the role of Governors in states. Discuss the constitutional provisions defining their powers and responsibilities and examine instances where Governors’ actions have been contentious

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