Governors of states
Lieutenant governors of union territories
StyleHis/Her Excellency
The Honourable
Residence
AppointerPresident of India
Salary500,000 (US$6,300)
(incl. allowances) per month

In India, a governor is the constitutional head of a state of India that has similar powers and functions at the state level as those of the president of India at the central level. Governors exist in the states, while lieutenant governors and administrators exist in union territories of Delhi[1] and Puducherry[2] and other union territories. A governor acts as the constitutional head and takes all their decisions based on the advice of chief minister and their council of ministers.[3]

In India, a lieutenant governor (LG) and administrator is a constitutional head of a union territory. However, the LG rank is present only in the union territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands,[4] Ladakh,[5] Jammu and Kashmir,[6] Delhi[7] and Puducherry.[8]

Qualifications, appointment and term of office

Qualifications

Article 157 and Article 158 of the Constitution of India[9] specify eligibility requirements for the post of governor. They are as follows:

A governor:

Traditionally, governors are not appointed to lead the states where they reside, although this is not stipulated in the constitution.

Appointment

The President of India appoints the governor of each State.[10] The factors based on which the candidates are evaluated is not mentioned in the Constitution.[10]

A same person can be appointed as the governor of two or more States.[11]

Term of office

A governor shall stay appointed during the pleasure of the President.[12] This alternative assumption is that they are appointed after the 'council of ministers' advise the President for such appointment. Hence, it is the Central Government that appoints them.[13] They shall remain in office until the expiration of five years from the date on which they were appointed.[12] They shall continue to remain in office even after the expiration of 5 years, until a governor is appointed by the President.[12]

Powers and functions

The primary function of the governor is to preserve, protect and defend the constitution and the law as incorporated in their oath of office under Article 159 of the Indian constitution in the administration of the state affairs.[14] All the governor's actions, recommendations and supervisory powers (Article 167c, Article 200, Article 213, Article 355, etc.) over the executive and legislative entities of a state shall be used to implement the provisions of the Constitution.

Unlike the President of India, the governor has no military or diplomatic powers. However, they possess legislative, executive and judicial powers that are similar to the powers of the President.[15]

A governor has different types of powers:

  1. Executive powers related to administration, appointments and removals,
  2. Legislative powers related to lawmaking and the state legislature, that is State Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) or State Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad),
  3. Judicial Powers related to grant of pardons, reprieves, etc. and consultations.
  4. Discretionary powers to be carried out according to the discretion of the governor. The governors of India have similar powers and functions of the state level as those of the president of India at central level.

Executive powers

Legislative powers

Judicial powers

Discretionary powers

Emergency powers

The governor has no role or powers in an emergency situation to meet with the external aggression or armed rebellion as the President[43] unless specifically permitted by the president under articles 160, 356 and 357.[44][18][45]

Emoluments/Payment

Governor & Lieutenant governor's pay
Date established Designation Salary (per month)
1 February 2018 Governors 350,000 (equivalent to 470,000 or US$5,900 in 2023)
Lieutenant governors 225,000 (equivalent to 300,000 or US$3,800 in 2023)
Source:[46][47]

Various emoluments, allowances and privileges available to a governor are determined by the Governors (Emoluments, Allowances and Privileges) Act, 1982.[47]

In addition to the monthly salary, the governor and their family is entitled to-

Removal

A governor holds their office till five years, but it can be terminated earlier by two ways:

  1. Dismissal by the president without assigning any reason,[57] at whose pleasure the governor holds office. This alternative assumption is that he/she can be removed if the 'council of ministers' advice the President for such dismissal. Hence, it is the Central Government that can remove him/her.[12] However, it is the duty of the president to dismiss a governor whose acts are upheld by courts as unconstitutional and malafide.[57]
  2. Resignation by the governor.[12]

The Constitution does not lay out any specific reasons for removal of a Governor from their office. However, this power may be used in events like bribery, treason, corruption or/and violation of the constitution.[58]

Legal immunity

Under Article 361 of the constitution, governor cannot be summoned for questioning except on their voluntary willingness to testify in the court in support of their controversial deeds though the unconstitutional decisions taken by the governor would be declared invalid by the courts. The case would be decided by the courts based on the facts furnished by the union government for the governor's role.

As clarified by the Supreme Court in the case 'Rameshwar Prasad & Ors vs. Union of India & ANR, though governor cannot be prosecuted and imprisoned during their tenure, the governor can be prosecuted after stepping down from the post for the guilt committed during their term of governorship as declared earlier by the courts.[59]

Analysis of role in Government

While the President of India is "elected", the governor is "selected" by the incumbent central government.[60] That is why there have been many instances when governors appointed by a previous government are removed by an incoming government. The reasons are more political.

The supreme court has ruled that governors should be given security of term, but this is generally not adhered to.[60]

Political observers have described governorship as "plush old age homes" wherein the governor does not stay impartial and act against popular state leaders. In 1984, Congressman Ram Lal dismissed the N. T. Rama Rao government and allowed N. Bhaskara Rao as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh for 31 days.[61]

In January 2014, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) approached the Union Law Ministry under the UPA Government to record statements of West Bengal governor M. K. Narayanan and Goa Governor Bharat Vir Wanchoo.[62] Their statements were considered vital as Narayanan was National Security Adviser and Wanchoo was Chief of Special Protection Group (SPG) at the time of signing of contract with AgustaWestland. Their views were also considered before Indian Government signed the contract with Agusta Westland. However, Union Law ministry stonewalled CBI probe by rejecting CBI's request to examine them claiming they had 'immunity'.[63]

UPA was defeated in the 2014 general election and with the incoming NDA Government's permission, West Bengal governor M. K. Narayanan became the first ever governor to be questioned by police in a criminal case. The CBI questioned M. K. Narayanan as a "witness" in 3600-crore 2013 Indian helicopter bribery scandal. The CBI said Goa governor Bharat Vir Wanchoo would be questioned in the same case.[64][65] Arunachal Pradesh governor who is also appointed by the ruling party at the center, has been sacked by the president after the Supreme Court has quashed his unconstitutional acts.[66]

Lt Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung resigned taking moral responsibility for his unconstitutional role when Supreme Court observed that the elected local government is not an unconstitutional institution without any powers.[67]

See also

References

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