Whether in Maharashtra or Jharkhand, governors are unelected – they must stay away from politics

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Source- The post is based on the article “Whether in Maharashtra or Jharkhand, governors are unelected – they must stay away from politics” published in “The Indian Express” on 20th March 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Executive

Relevance– Office of governor

News– In the ongoing disqualification proceedings against Maharashtra MLAs in the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of India has made hard-hittingremarks about the role and powers of a governor.

CJI severely criticised the Maharashtra governor’s actions and raised questions about the legitimacy and limits of a governor’s role in this case. The CJI observed that the governor should not enter the political arena.

What are recent examples of governors exceeding their authority?

Recently. R N Ravi, the Tamil Nadu governor skipped certain parts of his speech. He omitted words such as secularism, Periyar and B R Ambedkar. He further made denigrating remarks stating that the Dravidian model is regressive politics.

Former Jharkhand governorRamesh Bais withheld the opinion of the Election Commission in Hemant Soren’s office of profit case and did not act on it.

In fact, he violated Article 192(2) of the Constitution, which says that he “shall act” according to such opinion. The Constitution has mandated the word of EC to be final in the matter of disqualification in an office of profit case.

What is the way forward for the office of governor?

As an unelected appointee of the Centre, the governor is expected to not get involved in political controversies or ideological rifts. He must be non-partisan. She should not turn confrontational.

It is also necessary to restrict the discretionary powers of the governor. A politically-active and partisan governor can usurp the power of elected representatives.

A hung mandate becomes a fertile ground for some governors who are puppet in the hands of  Centre. Laying down a clear procedure in cases of a hung mandate is necessary.

The Justice Sarkaria Commission had recommended the following order to be followed by a governor in cases of a hung assembly: 1. An alliance of parties that was formed prior to the elections;

  1. The single largest party staking a claim to form the government with the support of others, including independents.
  2. A post-electoral coalition of parties, with all the partners in the coalition joining the government;
  3. a post-electoral alliance of parties, with some of the parties in the alliance forming a government and the remaining parties, including independents, supporting the government from outside.

Justice Punchhi Committee (2007) reiterated the recommendations. There is a need to design institutional safeguards to ensure that governors do not cross the Lakshman Rekha.

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