ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Reinventing Governors

Rather than abolish governors, we need to rethink how to strengthen this institution.

Within a month of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) taking office, a number of governors appointed by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime resigned or were compelled to resign. The BJP’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) termed this a routine reshuffle and a much needed replacement of political figures appointed by the UPA. Yet the replacements were equally partisan. Essentially, the NDA has repeated what the UPA had done.

The utility of the post of governor has been a matter of public debate for some time. The Constituent Assembly debated whether appointments being vested in the President amounted to the governor being a representative of the centre at the provincial level. In 1967, a study team of the administrative reforms commissions on centre-state relations expressed misgivings about the way the post had been treated as a sinecure. Other committees questioned the emphasis on the governor being merely an appointee of the central government and the frequent removals and transfers made by various union governments. In 1979, a constitution bench of the Supreme Court ruled that governors are not “subordinate or subservient to the Government of India” and that the post is an independent constitutional office, “which is not subject to the control of the Government of India”. The governor is “constitutionally the head of the state in whom is vested the executive power of the State”.

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