A Governor cannot embroil himself in any “political thicket” or take an “individual call” when an elected government enjoys majority in the House, Supreme Court said today while restoring the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh.
The apex court held that the Governor cannot be an “overriding authority” over the people’s representatives and there can be no interference at his behest so long as the democratic process in the assembly functioned through a majority government.
In its 331-page landmark unanimous verdict, it said the Governor must keep clear of any political horse-trading and even unsavoury manipulations and avoid acting as the “ombudsman” of the state legislature.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar held that when the Chief Minister and his council of Ministers have majority in the House, power vested with the Governor under Article 174 of the Constitution to summon, prorogue and dissolve the House must be exercised in consonance with their aid and advice and this was binding.
“It is not within the realm of the Governor to embroil himself in any political thicket. The Governor must remain aloof from any disagreement, discord, disharmony, discontent or dissension, within individual political parties.”
“The activities within a political party, confirming turbulence, or unrest within its ranks, are beyond the concern of the Governor. The Governor must keep clear of any political horse-trading, and even unsavoury political manipulations, irrespective of the degree of their ethical repulsiveness,” the bench, also comprising Justices Dipak Misra, Madan B Lokur, P C Ghose and N V Ramana, said.
Dealing with the Governor’s powers, the bench said it is not within his domain to interfere with the functions of the Speaker, as the Governor is neither a guide, nor a mentor to the Speaker and has no role whatsoever in the removal of Speaker or Deputy Speaker.
“Both the Governor and the Speaker have independent constitutional responsibilities,” Justice Khehar, writing the judgement for himself and Justices Ghose and Ramana, said.