Powers of the Governor

Powers of the governor is an important topic for the UPSC exam. It is covered under the polity segment of the IAS syllabus.

The President and the Governor are both heads of the executives. Their powers, therefore, are analogous. The executive powers of the Union being wider in extent, the powers of the Governors are comparatively limited. The President has diplomatic and military powers apart from executive, legislative, financial and other powers. In the nature of things, the Governor has no diplomatic or military powers.

  1. Executive

The executive power of the State is vested in the Governor. He exercises it either directly or through officers subordinate to him. It has been held that ministers are officers subordinate to him. The executive power of the State extends to all matters with respect to which the State Legislature has the power to make laws. All executive action is expressed to be taken in the name of the Governor. All orders, instruments, etc. are authenticated in the manner specified in the rules made by the Governor. The Governor appoints the Council of Ministers, he also appoints the Advocate-General, chairman and the members of the State Public Service Commission. The Governor appoints the Chief Minister and other ministers are appointed by him on the advice of the Chief Minister. The Governor has the power to nominate one member from the Anglo-Indian Community if he is of the opinion that the community needs representation in the Assembly.

The Governor has no powers to appoint the judges of the State High Court but it is provided in Art. 217 that he will be consulted by the President before an appointment is made. The Governor has the power to nominate one-twelfth of the members of Legislative Council of State. The persons to be nominated are required to have special knowledge and practical experience in respect of Literature, Science and Art, etc. The Supreme Court has in Samsher Singh held that a Governor is only a Constitutional head. He exercises powers with the aid and advice of his Council of Ministers. The Governor acts in his discretion only when the Constitution so requires. Where the Constitution requires the satisfaction of the Governor, it is not the personal satisfaction of the Governor but it is the satisfaction of the Council of Ministers.

  1. Legislative Powers

The Governor is a part of the legislature (Art. 168). The Governor has the right to address the legislature and to send messages to it. The Governor may from time to time summon, prorogue or dissolve the Legislative Assembly. The Governor has the power of causing to be laid before the legislature, the Annual Financial Statement (Budget). Without his recommendation, no demand for grant can be made by the Legislature. The Governor reserves Bills for the assent of the President.

  1. The Judicial or Pardoning Power

Article 161 confers on the Governor the power to grant pardon, reprieve, respite or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to matters to which the executive power of the State extends. It would be useful to keep in mind that the executive power of the State extends to those subjects in regard to which the legislature of the State has power to enact laws.

Article 72 confers on the President the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites etc. The difference between the President’s power to grant pardon and the Governor’s pardoning power should be noticed. The power of the President under Art. 72 is much wider. The President has the exclusive power to grant pardon in cases where a person has been sentenced to death. The Governor cannot grant pardon in case of death sentence. Where a person is punished by a court-martial only the President can grant pardon. The Governor has no power in relation to court-martial. In regard to suspension, remission and commutation of sentence of death the powers of the Governor and President are concurrent. In Nanavati it was held by the Supreme Court that the power of the Governor to suspend the sentence under Art. 161 was subject to the rules made by the Supreme Court in regard to the appeals filed before it. The rules of the Supreme Court provide that when a matter is being considered by the Supreme Court the accused must surrender to his sentence. In such a case it is not open to the Governor to suspend the sentence.

  1. Emergency Powers

Excepting the State of Jammu and Kashmir which is vested with the power to impose Governor’s rule under Section 92 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, no other Governor has power to declare any emergency. Such powers have been conferred on the President under Arts. 352, 356 and 360. Governor has the power under Art. 356 to submit a report to the President whenever he is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the Government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the accordance with the provisions of Constitution. By making such a report the Governor invites the President to make a proclamation under Art. 356 and to assume the functions of the Government of the State. In other words, the Governor in his report prepares the ground for imposition of President’s rule.

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