What are the powers of a Governor?

Bengaluru: Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala inspects the Guard of Honour during 2019 Republic Day celebrations at Manekshaw Parade Ground in Bengaluru, on Jan 26, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

In all the twenty-nine states and two union territories on India, the Chief Minister is the head of the elected government. While the constitution of India recognizes the Governor as the de jury head of the state, the de facto executive authority exists with the Chief Minister. General Elections are conducted for the Vidhan Sabha or the State Legislative Assembly and the Governor invites the winning party or the coalition that has got the majority of seats to form the government.

During a ceremonial proceeding, the Governor appoints the Chief Minister who takes charge of the State Assembly along with the Council of Ministers. If the Chief Minister can successfully retain the confidence of the Assembly, he or she can last as the executive head of the state for a term of six years in case of Jammu and Kashmir and five years in case of all the other states in India. Here we discuss the powers and role of the Governor of a state in choosing the chief minister of the state.

Powers of the Governor

In India, the Governor of a state enjoys three kinds of powers namely executive powers, legislative powers and discretionary powers. The Executive powers of the Governor empower him to administrate, appoint and remove. It works as follows.

Appointment of the Chief Minister

The Constitution of India vests a set of executive powers in the Governor of the State. The Governor appoints the Chief Minister following the general elections. Once the general elections are over for the state assembly, the process of forming the government begins. The Governor invites the person who has the support of the majority of members in the Legislative Assembly to take charge as the Chief Minister. Once the Chief Minister is appointed, the Governor also appoints the Council of Ministers and as per the advice of the Chief Minister, distributes the portfolios to the appointed ministers. The Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers cannot be dismissed as long as they enjoy a majority in the Legislative Assembly.

If no party has won the majority seats in the Assembly during the General Elections, the Governor can use his discretionary powers to select a candidate to become the Chief Minister who will have to prove his or her majority at the earliest possibility.

The other powers of the Governor

The Governor has the power to appoint a large number of top-level officials in the state including the Advocate General, Chairman and Members of the State Public Service Commission, and the State Election Commissioner. The President of India consults the Governor in the appointment of High Court Judges while the Governor appoints the judges of the District Courts himself.

Where the powers of the Governor supersede the powers of the Chief Minister

The Chief Minister has no powers to advise the Governor on the functions that he exercises under his discretion. Article 192 empowers the Governor to disqualify a given member of the state Legislature if the Election Commission finds that the legislator is not complying with the provisions found in the article 191. Enabled by the powers given to the Governor by Articles 165 and 177, the Governor can depute the Advocate General to watch the proceedings of both the houses of the State’s Legislature and report if there had been any unlawful functioning.
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