Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine
On Governor Removal
The subject of the removal of Governors of different States,
an issue which made headlines some time ago, may have been put on the back
burner, but it does not seem to have gone into cold storage.
The controversy over the removal of Governors has receded
into the background only because the issue which has hogged the limelight
recently is the government’s rejection of the name of Mr. Gopal Subramanium,
recommended by the Supreme Court collegium for appointment as a judge of the
Supreme Court, on account of adverse reports by the Intelligence Bureau.
The government is now adopting a policy of wait and watch to
see if the Governors whom it wants removed resign on their own in due course of
time. The Governors of five States, M.K. Narayanan (West Bengal), B.L. Joshi
(Uttar Pradesh), Shekhar Dutt (Chhattisgarh), Ashwani Kumar (Nagaland) and B.V.
Wanchoo (Goa) have already resigned, while the terms of two others, H.R.
Bhardwaj (Karnataka) and Devanand Konwar (Tripura), ended recently; pressure is
being built up by the government to force the others to resign.
The Governor is appointed by the President of India on the
advice of the Council of Ministers for the period of five years. Unlike the
President of India, there is no procedure for the impeachment of a Governor, but
he/she could be removed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister on
grounds of gross delinquency, namely corruption, bribery and violation of the
Constitution. But the practice has been different from what is laid down in the
Constitution; Governors have been removed only due to a change of government
without citing any substantial reason.
One should not be surprised by the Narendra Modi government’s
initiative to remove Governors. There is precedent. Even in the past, Governors
appointed by previous governments have been removed by the new government on
assuming office after elections. The new governments have expended energy on
removing Governors and appointing their own men as new Governors.
The practice of dismissing Governors with the change of guard
at the Centre began in 1977 when the Janata Party came to power after routing
the Congress and took a decision to replace Governors appointed by the previous
regime. Incidentally, in 1977, the decision/recommendation of the then Prime
Minister, Morarji Desai, and his Cabinet to dismiss Governors was sent back by
then acting President B.D. Jatti without signing it. Though the government
managed to remove the Governors, as the acting President Jatti was
constitutionally bound to sign the order when it was again sent back to him, it
came as an embarrassment for the Janata Party government which had just assumed
No formal communication
The practice of replacing the Governor by the newly elected
Central government did not stop and different governments kept indulging in the
But what comes as a surprise is the manner in which the
initiative for removal of these Governors was undertaken. While none of them has
got any formal communication from the government to step down, it is the Home
Secretary Anil Goswami, who is asking them to resign, on behalf of the
government. To the surprise of all, this is being done over the phone. The
government is trying to use the bureaucracy for this unconstitutional work/move
while trying to keep a safe distance so that the government can emerge clean in
case of a hue and cry.
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