2010 verdict cautions against arbitrary removal

A regime change at the Centre has in the past led to either removal or voluntary resignation of several Governors appointed by the erstwhile government. The subject is yet another topic of discussion among political analysts as well as aspirants.

The tenure of six Governors ends this year. There are about a dozen Governors who at some time or the other were directly associated with the Congress. While Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj is to retire in June, the next in line are Jagannath Pahadia (Haryana) and B.L. Joshi (U.P).

Among the then Congress leaders presently holding gubernatorial positions are Shivraj Patil (Punjab), Margaret Alva (Rajasthan), Sheila Dikshit (Kerala), Urmila Singh (Himachal) and Aziz Qureshi (Uttarakhand).

While the new government might be eager to advise the incumbents to make way for new Governors, a 2010 Supreme Court judgment on the issue of removal of four Governors by the UPA regime sounds a cautionary note.

“A Governor cannot be removed on the ground that he is out of sync with the policies and ideologies of the Union Government or the party in power at the Centre. Nor can he be removed on the ground that the Union Government has lost confidence in him,” held a five-judge Bench.

“It follows therefore that [a] change in government at Centre is not a ground for removal of Governors to make way for others favoured by the new government…If the aggrieved person is able to demonstrate prima facie that his removal was either arbitrary, mala fide, capricious or whimsical, the court will call upon the Union Government to disclose to the court, the material upon which the President had taken the decision to withdraw the pleasure. If the Union Government does not disclose any reason, or if the reasons disclosed are found to be irrelevant, arbitrary, whimsical or mala fide, the court will interfere,” the Bench said.

Also read: 4 Governors dismissed | “Governors owe their allegiance to Constitution” | Supreme Court order on removal of Governors

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