Supreme Court of India on 21 August 2014 issued notice to Union Government to respond it on the issue of asking Governors to quit or face dismissal. The apex court has given six weeks time to the Government to respond on the issue.
The Court also said that interpretation of Article 156 of the Constitution of India says that Governor shall hold the office during the pleasure of the President and the power of his removal lies with the President only.
The notice was issued by a bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha and comprised of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton Nariman on the writ petition filed by Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi in which he has alleged that he has been asked by Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami asking him to quit or face dismissal.
Analysis and Commentary
The issue of removal or process of asking Governors to quit started since the appointment of the new NDA Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014. Since appointment of the new government, Governors of West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Goa have resigned.
As per Article 155 of the Constitution, Governor of a State is appointed by the President and remains in office at the pleasure of the President. But since pleasure of the President rests upon the advice given by the Council of Ministers, often this Constitutional post has been used with great disregard by the ruling party in government.
The decision of the Narendra Modi government asking governors to resign is nothing new. In past also, this Gubernatorail Constitutional post has been misused by the political party in power with great disregard. This is despite the fact that SC in SR Bommai judgement had laid down detailed guidelines concerning the procedure that is to be followed in removing the Governor.
Once again in 2010, upon a petition filed by a BJP Parliamentarian in the SC, the court had ruled that any government cannot remove a governor in an arbitrary and capricious manner with the change of the power as they are not employees of union government. The court also said that he/she can be replaced only under compelling reasons of misconduct or any other irregularity.
The 2010 judgement of the court came in the backdrop of decision of UPA government taken in 2004 of sacking BJP-appointed governors.
Earlier in 2004, the UPA government after coming into power removed several governors appointed by Vajpayee government with a claim that they have RSS backgrounds. The then governors were removed ahead of completion of their tenure. The removed governors included
• Babu Parmanand – Haryana Governor
• Vishnu Kant Shastri – Uttar Pradesh Governor
• Kidar Nath Sahani – Goa Governor
• Kailashpati Mishra – Gujarat Governor
They were removed on 2 July 2004 by President APJ Abdul Kalam on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers. The governors were removed by the then President on the basis of Article 156(1) of the Constitution of India.
Constitutional Provision for Governor
Article 156, Part VI of the States Chapter II-the Executive defines the role of the Governor and his term of Office.
Article 156 - Term of office of Governor states-
(1) The Governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.
(2) The Governor may, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign his office.
(3) Subject to the foregoing provisions of this article, a Governor shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office: Provided that a Governor shall, notwithstanding the expiration of his term, continue to hold office until his successor enters upon his office.
When: on 21 August 2014