Lines and roles

The time may have come for clarifying the role and functions of Governors

Signs of a confrontation between Raj Bhavan and the elected government in a state are not infrequent in the country. The onus often appears to be on the Chief Ministers to avert a constitutional crisis, as evidenced by Pinrayi Vijayan trying to buy peace with a miffed governor, Arif Mohammad Khan, rather than pursue a confrontational course, over several issues in recent times . One way of seeing these developments is to attribute then to the appointment of those who have been politically active in the recent past as Governors and the partisan role they playas agents of the centre .

However, the problems may have to do with the way they understand their own powers. Constrained by the ‘aid and advice ‘ clause in their routine functioning, some Governors seem to be using the discretionary space available to them to keep regimes on tenterhooks . A constitution bench of the Supreme court laid down in 1974 that the president and governor shall “exercise their formal constitutional powers only upon and in accordance with the advice of their Ministers save in a few well known exceptional situations”—“situations” also iluustratively listed.