Debating India


Centre justifies removal of Governors

Monday 10 January 2005, by VENKATESAN*J.

NEW DELHI, JAN. 9. The Centre has asserted in the Supreme Court that the term of office of five years for a Governor is subject to the doctrine of pleasure of the President embodied in Article 156 (1) of the Constitution.

In its reply to the notice issued by the apex court on a petition filed by B.P. Singhal, former BJP Member of Parliament, challenging the removal of four Governors appointed during the NDA regime, the Home Ministry said: "The five-year tenure is not absolute and can be abridged at the pleasure of the President," implying that the President has unfettered powers to order the removal of Governors and they could not be questioned in a court of law.

In July 2004, the United Progressive Alliance Government removed Kailashpati Mishra, Kidar Nath Sahani, Babu Parmanand and Vishnu Kant Sashtri as the Governors of Gujarat, Goa, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Admitting the petition from Mr. Singhal challenging their removal, the court had sought the response from the Centre.

The Centre submitted that the exercise of a power founded on the doctrine of pleasure, even though the same was on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, could not be questioned by the court, particularly, in view of the bar of Article 361(1) of the Constitution granting immunity to the President.The affidavit denied the allegation that the four Governors were removed due to ideological differences.

It said the allegation of the petitioner that Governors were removed for their difference in ideology was apparently based on some media reports and not on facts. The Centre said that the Constitution did not specify any grounds for revoking the pleasure of the President resulting in the removal of the Governor and added that the Constitution also did not specify any procedure for the removal.

On the contention that the Sarkaria Commission had recommended that the Governor’s tenure of five years in a State should not be disturbed except very rarely and that too for some compelling reasons, the Centre said that this recommendation did not mean that a Governor should get a fixed tenure of office for five years under all circumstances. It said that no grounds were required to be mentioned by the President while revoking his pleasure to remove a Governor. Further a Governor had no fundamental right to continue for five-years in office.

The Centre said that while an elaborate procedure for the removal of high constitutional dignitaries such as the President, the Vice-President and the Chief Justice of India had been provided for in the Constitution, as far as Governors were concerned it was sufficient that if an order was issued by the President revoking his pleasure to the continuance of the Governor at any point of time during his five-year term.

The Centre sought the dismissal of the petition as it was misconceived.

The petition comes up for hearing tomorrow.

A petition filed by 12 Members of Parliament of the AIADMK seeking to implead themselves in the case is also listed for hearing along with the main petition.

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