Chief Ministers must be consulted for appointing or removing Governors, says DMK Rajya Sabha member

P. Wilson brings Constitutional Amendment Bill as a private Bill in Upper House meant to clear certain grey areas in the Constitution regarding the powers of Governors, including the provisions of gubernatorial pleasure

December 11, 2022 12:46 am | Updated 12:46 am IST - NEW DELHI

P. Wilson. Photo: File

P. Wilson. Photo: File | Photo Credit: SANDEEP SAXENA

Senior DMK leader, lawyer and member of the Rajya Sabha P. Wilson has brought a Constitutional Amendment Bill in Parliament as a private Bill, seeking to set guidelines for the appointment and removal of Governors.

Stating that the Bill is meant to clear certain grey areas in the Constitution regarding the powers of Governors, including the provisions of gubernatorial pleasure, Mr. Wilson said that the Centre should consult the respective Chief Ministers of a State before appointing a Governor. The Bill also seeks a ten-year cooling-off period for anyone who has been a political party member, government or corporate employee, a member of Parliament or an Assembly, or a Minister, to become a Governor. Recently, Opposition-ruled States such as West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan have raised concerns over the powers of Governors.

The Bill says that if a person has even been a Governor of a State, he or she shall be disqualified from becoming a member of either House of Parliament.

CM’s concurrence needed

It says that the Governor of a State shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal, after obtaining the concurrence of the Chief Minister of the State. It also adds that a Governor may be removed from office before the expiry of his term by the President on the recommendation of the Chief Minister.

The Bill suggests amendments to Article 157, so that no person shall be eligible for appointment as Governor unless they are an eminent personality in some walk of life. The person shall be disqualified for appointment as Governor if they have attained the age of seventy-five years or have been in the employment of the Union or State Government or any Union or State-owned undertaking or body or corporation or agency, or any local authority in the preceding ten years.

It also blocks a person who has served as a Minister in the Union, any State or Union Territory government, or a member of Parliament or Assemblies, or judges in higher courts, or members of local governments in the preceding ten years from becoming a Governor. It is suggested that any office-bearer of a registered or recognised political party in the preceding ten years, anyone with charges framed against them by a court for an offence involving moral turpitude, or anyone who had been convicted of any criminal offence with a punishment of one year, or anyone who is of unsound mind as declared by a competent court also be barred from becoming Governors under this Bill.

“There are three broad issues with the way Governors are appointed and function under our Constitution: (i) they are appointed by and can be removed by only the President, by extension, the party in power at the Centre; (ii) the State to which they are appointed has no say whatsoever in the Governor’s appointment or removal; (iii) there are no sufficient qualifications, disqualifications and safeguards prescribed in the Constitution for a person to be appointed to the highest office in the State,” Mr. Wilson said in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill.

Mr. Wilson said that there is no reason why the elected de facto head of the State should not be consulted while appointing or removing a Governor. “The Chief Minister of the State is entrusted with the people’s mandate, the strongest authority available under our Constitution. Such pre-appointment consultation is bound to reduce friction between the Governor and the Cabinet, and will improve their working relationship,” he added.

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