Justice Nazeer among new Governors appointed by President Murmu; Maharashtra Governor Koshyari’s resignation accepted

Appointment of Governors of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Jharkhand were also announced on Sunday

February 12, 2023 10:36 am | Updated February 13, 2023 07:42 pm IST - New Delhi

Justice S. Abdul Nazeer was part of the five-judge Bench that delivered the November 2019 Ayodhya verdict. File

Justice S. Abdul Nazeer was part of the five-judge Bench that delivered the November 2019 Ayodhya verdict. File | Photo Credit: H.S. MANJUNATH

Former Supreme Court judge Justice S. Abdula Nazeer is among the six new faces who were appointed as Governors by President Droupadi Murmu on Sunday.

The President also accepted the resignations of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Ladakh Lieutenant Governor R.K. Mathur in the latest gubernatorial reshuffle.

Justice Nazeer (retd), who was part of the five-judge bench that delivered the November 2019 Ayodhya verdict, has been appointed as the new Governor of Andhra Pradesh, while the incumbent, Biswa Bhushan Harichandan, has been moved to the Chhattisgarh Raj Bhavan.

The former Supreme Court judge, who also headed the five-judge Constitution bench that upheld the Centre’s decision to demonetise ₹500 and ₹1000 currency notes in November 2016, retired last month.

Some Opposition leaders questioned the appointment of a former Supreme Court judge as a Governor, with the Congress communications chief’ Jairam Ramesh sharing a 2012 comment of the late BJP leader and former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who said, “Pre-retirement judgments are influenced by the desire of a post-retirement job”. 

“Adequate proof of this in the past 3-4 years for sure,” Mr. Ramesh said on Twitter.

Raj Bhavan reshuffle

Four leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including Gulab Chand Kataria, who was serving as the Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan, have also been appointed as Governors.

While Mr. Kataria will be new Governor of Assam, other BJP leaders who were nominated for governorship are Lakshman Prasad Acharya for Sikkim, C.P. Radhakrishnan for Jharkhand and Shiv Pratap Shukla for Himachal Pradesh.

In Maharashtra, Mr. Koshyari has been replaced by Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais, while the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh Brig. B.D. Mishra (retd) will replace Mr. Mathur in Ladakh. Lt. Gen. K.T. Parnaik (retd) will be the new Arunachal Pradesh Governor.

The reshuffle also saw Chhattisgarh Governor Anusuiya Uikye moving to Manipur while the incumbent in Manipur, La Ganesan, was appointed as the Governor of Nagaland.

Bihar Governor Phagu Chauhan has been moved to Meghalaya while incumbent Himachal Pradesh Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar will replace him in Bihar.

“The above appointments will take effect from the dates they assume charge of their respective offices,” said a Rashtrapati Bhavan communique.

Resignations follow protests

Following an uproar in Maharashtra over his controversial remarks on Chhatrapati Shivaji and the calls for his removal by Opposition parties, Mr. Koshyari had issued a statement in January saying that he had already expressed his desire to step down to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Government officials told The Hindu that in Ladakh as well, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) removed Mr. Mathur from the L-G position amid an agitation by civil society groups.

The protesting groups sought safeguards for the newly-created Union Territory, such as inclusion under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution that provides protection to tribal dominated areas. The Leh Apex Body and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) have been at the forefront of these demands and have also announced a protest in Delhi on February 15.

‘Concentrated power with outsider’

Mr. Mathur, a 1977-batch retired Indian Administrative Service officer was appointed as Ladakh’s first L-G in 2019, after the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) under Article 370 of the Constitution was diluted. The former State was divided into two Union Territories -- J&K and Ladakh, the latter without a legislative Assembly. That left power concentrated in the hands of the L-G in Ladakh, which locals expressed concerns about, especially given that Mr. Mathur was an “outsider”, not from the Union Territory.

Education reformer Sonam Wangchuk -- one of the most popular voices from Ladakh who also inspired the movie 3 Idiots told The Hindu earlier this month: “The L-G, who is an outsider, is sent to govern us. One man decides everything. 90% of the ₹6,000 crore allocated to Ladakh is at the dispensation of a non-elected person.”

“He may take any decision under pressure or financial gain. By the time he will understand the issues, it will be time for him to leave. We demand full Statehood so that our voices are heard,” added Mr. Wangchuk. 

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