According to the Constitution of India, there has to be a Governor for each State. If need be, one person may be appointed Governor for even two or more States. The executive authority of every State is vested in the Governor of the state. He/She may exercise the same, directly or through the officers subordinate to him.
The Governor of a State is appointed by the President of India. There is no bar on re- appointment of a Governor either in the same State or in different States. This shows that the Governor is not elected but is appointed.
In order to become a Governor a person must have following qualifications:
- He/she must be a citizen of India;
- He/she should be at least 35 years; and
- He/she cannot hold any office of profit during his tenure.
However, if a person is a member of either House of the Parliament or the Legislature of any State or a member of the Council of Ministers at the National or the State level and is appointed as Governor, he/she ceases to be a member of the Legislature or the Council of Ministers.
The Governor is appointed for a term of five years but normally holds office during the pleasure of the President.
The pleasure of the President means that the Governor may be removed by the President even before the expiry of his/her term. He/She may also resign earlier. However, in reality, while appointing or removing the Governor, the President goes by the advice of the Prime Minister.
The powers of the Governor can be categorized as (i) executive powers, (ii) legislative powers, (iii) financial powers, (iv) judicial powers, and (v) discretionary powers.
(a) Executive Powers: The Constitution of India vests the entire executive powers of the State in the Governor who performs these functions according to the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as its head. He/ She appoints the Chief Minister and other members of the Council of Ministers. He/She also appoints persons on important posts such as the Chairpersons and Members of the State Public Service Commission, State Election Commission, State Finance Commission and the Advocate General, Judges of the courts, other than the High Court. He/She is consulted when the Judges of the State High Court are appointed by the President. But in practice the Governor’s powers are only formal. He appoints only that person as Chief Minister who is the Leader of the majority in the Legislative Assembly. He/She appoints Members of the Council of Ministers only on the advice of the Chief Minister. All other appointments are made and executive functions are performed by him/ her exactly as per the advice of Council of Ministers.
(b) Legislative Powers: The Governor is an inseparable part of the State Legislature and as such he/she has been given certain legislative powers. He/ She has the right to summon and prorogue the State Legislature and can dissolve the State Legislative Assembly. He/She addresses the State Legislative Assembly or the joint sessions of the two houses of the legislature. He/She may nominate one person of Anglo-Indian Community as a member of Legislative Assembly in case the community is not represented. He/She also nominates one-sixth of the members to the Legislative Council, if the State has a bi-cameral legislature. In real practice the Governor does all this on the recommendations of the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister. A bill passed by the State Legislature becomes a law or Act only when the Governor gives assent to it.
(c) Financial Powers: You must have read in the newspapers that every year the budget is presented by the government in the Legislature for its approval. In fact, the budget i.e. ‘the Annual Financial Statement’ of the State is prepared and presented by the State Finance Minister before the State Legislature, on behalf of the Governor. Moreover, no money bill can be introduced in the State Legislature without the recommendations of the Governor. He/She also has control over the State Contingency Fund.
(d) Discretionary Powers: According to the Constitution, under special circumstances, he/ she may act without the advice of the Council of Ministers. Such powers, which are exercised by the Governor on his own, are called discretionary powers.
- if no political party or coalition of parties wins a clear majority in the Legislative Assembly, he/she can exercise his/her discretion in inviting a person to be the Chief Minister.
- the Governor acts as a link between the Centre and the State. He/She can reserve any bill passed by the State Legislature for the consideration of the President of India.
- if he/she thinks that the government of the State is not functioning according to the Constitution, he/she can report to the President. In that case under Article 356, the President’s Rule is imposed, the State Council of Ministers is removed and the State Legislature is dissolved or put under suspension. During such emergency, the Governor rules
on behalf of the President.
According to the constitutional experts, the Governor’s role in three respects i.e. recommending to the President for the proclamation of emergency; appointing a Chief Minister in case no party gets a clear majority and deciding the fate of the Chief Minister in case of intra-party defections, has become very controversial. The deterioration in the political standards and practices that has come about in the wake of multi-party ministries in many of the States, party rivalries, political defections and fragmentation of the political parties has been at the root of these controversies. Suggestions and recommendations of the Administrative Reforms Commission as well as of Sarkaria Commission have remained only on paper, in spite of the fact that these recommendations would help in minimising partiality on the part of the functioning of the Governors.
Maharaja Sawai Man Singh of Jaipur became the Rajpramukh on 30 March 1949 AD. As a people’s representative, there was a Premier in place who was also Head of the Government. Pandit Hiralal Shastri became the Premier on 30 March 1949 AD. The first General Elections were held in 1952 AD and since then there is an elected Chief Minister. The institution of Rajpramukh did find a place in the form of Article 238 in Part VII of the Constitution.
After promulgation of the Constitution, India was divided into four categories (a) Part A States or the Governor’s provinces (b) Part B States consisting of the provinces carved out by the princely States either as single State such as Hyderabad or Union of States such as Rajasthan (c) Part C States i.e. Chief Commissioner’s provinces such as Ajmer-Merwara, and Delhi, and (d) Districts administered by the Centre. The classification of the provinces as Part A and B States did not connote any fundamental constitutional difference except that the Governor was appointed by the Government of India while the Rajpramukh was appointed by the Government of India as per the agreement following the instrument of accession.
Though in the formation of Ministry, the role of the Rajpramukh was restricted to inviting the leader of the party enjoying majority in the Legislative Assembly and choice of Ministers and distribution of portfolios was the prerogative of the Chief Minister, yet, the Central Government played proactive role in this regard in case of Part B States.
On the basis of the recommendations of the States Reorganization Commission, the institution of Rajpramukh was abolished vide 7th constitutional amendment with effect from 1st November 1956 AD.
Shri Gurumukh Nihal Singh was appointed as the first Governor of Rajasthan by the President of Indian Republic Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on 25 October 1956 AD. Shri Gurumukh Nihal Singh assumed office as Governor on 1st November 1956 AD and continued till 15 April 1962 AD.
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