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Governor – Indian Polity Notes

The Office of Governor was introduced to replicate dual executive polity at the state level where Governor will be the nominal executive and the council of ministers led by the Chief Minister will be the real executive.

Need of Governor’s Office

  • Like Union, we have adopted a Parliamentary system at the state level. The Parliamentary system requires two heads: nominal and real. 
  • The President and Governors are nominal heads.
  • Since the governor is the nominal head, he/she is appointed by the union government rather than elected.
  • Governor has a dual responsibility:
    • As the head of the executive of the state.
    • As a lynchpin in India’s cooperative federalism.
  • Governor acts as the communication link between the Centre and State. Brings a national perspective at the state level and keeps the Union informed about local developments.

Constitutional Provisions:

Article 153Provides for the office of Governor
Article 154Governor as executive head of state.
Article 155Appointment of Governor 
Article 156Term of office 
Article 157Qualifications 
Article 158Terms of office 
Article 159Oath 
Article 161Pardoning Powers 
Article 163Council of ministers to aid & advice 
Article 164Other provisions as to Ministers 
Article 166Conduct of business of state government 
Article 167Duties of CM wrt Governor 
Article 174Power to summon, prorogue houses, dissolve Assembly.
Article 175Power to address the assembly.
Article 192Disqualification of MLAs
Article 200Assenting bills passed by the state assembly.
Article 213Ordinance making power 
Article 356Presidents Rule


Under Article 155, the Governor is appointed by the President.


Constitution provides only 2 qualifications for the office of Governor:

  1. Citizen of India
  2. Shall have completed 35 years of age.


Under Article 156, 

  • Governors hold office at the pleasure of the President.
  • He/she can resign from office by writing to the President.
  • Governor holds office for a term of 5 years from the date he enters into office [Article 156(3)].


  • Constitution doesn’t provide an impeachment/removal procedure for the Governor on the lines of the President.
  • Since Governors are appointed by President and serve at the pleasure of the President. They can be removed by the President at any time according to the aid & advice of the union council of ministers led by the PM.
  • Governor stays in office until the successor assumes charge.

Powers & Duties:

Legislative Powers:

  • Governor is part of the state legislature but not a member of it.
  • He has the power to summon, and prorogue state legislature and can dissolve state assembly on recommendations of the chief minister.
  • With the governor’s assent bills passed by the state legislature becomes an act. Governor can give assent or use veto powers.
  • Like President, Governor also has the power to address the state legislature during the first session of each year and the first session after elections.
  • Governor appoints 1/6th members of the state legislative council on the advice of the council of ministers.
  • Under Article 213, he has ordinance-making powers.
  • He lays the reports of the State Public Service Commission, State Finance Commission, CAG Report on State, etc. on the floor of the state assembly.
  • He decides the disqualification of MLAs outside Schedule X on the advice of the Election Commission.

Financial Powers

  • He causes the Annual Financial Statement (budget) of the state to be presented.
  • The Contingency Fund of the State is under his control.
  • Bills related to finance are to be introduced with prior approval from Governor.
  • He appoints State Finance Commission once every five years.

Ordinance Powers of Governor vs the President:

  • Governor can promulgate ordinances on subjects upon which state legislature can make law. 
  • The President can promulgate ordinances on the Union list and concurrent list subjects upon which Union Parliament can make law.
  • Governor’s ordinance-making power is co-extensive with the legislative power of the state.
  • The President’s ordinance-making power is parallel to the legislative power of the Parliament.
  • An ordinance can sustain without approval from the state legislature for 6 months + 6 weeks (7 ½ months).
  • Governor and President can withdraw the ordinance at any time.
  • Thus, in summary, the ordinance-making powers of the President & the Governor are almost similar.

Pardoning Powers of Governor vs the President:

  • Governor can grant pardons, reprieves, respites, and remissions of punishment or suspend, remit, and commute the sentence.
  • Governor has no pardoning power against the court marshal. 
  • President by virtue of being Supreme Commander in Chief of Indian Armed Forces can grant pardon even against Court marshal
  • No pardoning power in case of death sentence (He cannot pardon/absolve a person from death sentence).
  • Even if state law prescribes a death sentence, the clemency petition has to be filled with the Presidential Office.
  • Scope of pardoning power: For violation of law which comes within the executive power of states.

Veto Power of Governor vs the President:

  • When a bill is sent to the Governor, he can act in the following ways:
    • Grant his assent.
    • Deny assent (Absolute Veto)
    • Withhold assent. (Pocket Veto).
    • Send bill for reconsideration (if not money bill).
    • Reserve Bill for Presidents consideration (Referential Veto)
  • Once the bill is sent for Presidential consideration, President like parliamentary bills can give assent, deny assent(absolute veto) or withhold assent & take no action (pocket veto) or send bills back for reconsideration.


  • The Office of the Governor has become controversial as they have not exercised its power in accordance with the conventions of the Parliamentary form of government.
  • Governors Discretion: Instead of using discretionary powers in accordance with reason, they have used them as per directions of the Union government. As the Union controls the appointment & removal of Governors.
  • The Constitution unnecessarily gives huge scope of discretion to the governor. Those acting as agents of the central government have not used discretion in a principled and fair manner.
  • The governor trying to interfere with local politics on the behest and instructions of the center is seen in several cases.
    • That’s why several state governments are at loggerheads with the governor of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Telangana.
  • Governor plays the role of an adversary to state government when the parties in power in the state and central are different.
  • Though Governors are supposed to act in a non-partisan manner many governors have shown their bias toward a particular party.
  • Misuse of power while recommending imposition of President’s Rule in the state under article 356


Raghukul Tilak vs Hargovind Pant Case:

Significance: Constitution Bench unanimously explained the constitutional status and scope of the discretionary power of the Governor.

  • Governor is a constitutional office of dignity.
  • Just because the union has the power to appoint & remove him, doesn’t mean Governor is an employee of the union.
  • Governor is not accountable to the union for the exercise of his power.
  • Governor discretionary is the governor’s discretion. (Governor will decide what comes under his discretion or not).

S R Bommai Case 1996:

  • SC held that the President’s power to dismiss state government under article 356 is not absolute.
  • President can use this power only after a proclamation is passed by both houses of parliament.
  • In case, the proclamation doesn’t get parliamentary approval, it lapses after the end of two months and the dismissed state government is revived.
  • SC also held that the proclamation of the President’s Rule under article 356 is subject to judicial review.

Nabam Rebia Case (Arunachal Pradesh Assembly Case) 2016:

The power to summon the house is not discretionary power. To be used only when CM is reluctant to call a session of the house.

B P Singhal vs Union of India Case 2010:

  • There is no need to change the pleasure doctrine.
  • Governor should be allowed to complete the term ordinarily.
  • The difference in ideology between the ruling party at the center and the governor is not supposed to be the basis for his removal.
  • Governors can be removed as and when the union wants to remove them. There is no need to give the governor the opportunity to present his case.

Reforms Suggested:

Punchhi Commission 2010:

  • There shall be provisions for the removal of governors by the state legislature. 
  • The CM of the state should be consulted by the Centre before appointing Governor in the state.
  • Commission had recommended that Articles 355, and 356 shall be amended and used very sparingly.
  • Governor shall be relieved of duties outside the constitution like as chancellor of state universities.

Sarkaria Commission:

  • Article 356 should be used in very rare circumstances.
  • Commission recommended that a person from a dominant political party should not be appointed as governor in states ruled by opposition parties.
  • A person shall not be active in politics in the recent past.

Other Suggestions:

  • There shall be some mandatory qualifications in addition to those given in the constitution like:
    • Eminent person.
    • A person should not have an active background in politics, administration, or judiciary.
    • The system of appointments should be also changed. They should be appointed through an interstate council.
      • The council should prepare a panel of persons who can be automatically appointed.

To complete UPSC Polity Notes, Click Here

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