The constitutional implications of the Governor’s dismissal of a minister without recommendation of chief minister and its impact upon the federal system
Indian federal structure is defined by a careful division of powers between the centre and states as articulated in the constitution of India.
According to article 163 of the constitution Governor is to act as per the aid and advice of council of minister headed by the chief minister. In exercise of his functions. This lays down the foundation for a balanced federal structure where Governor’s role is largely ceremonial with a few discretionary powers.
However, when the constitutional boundaries blur, as seen in Tamil Nadu, it stirs significant controversies and call for reevaluating the federal dynamics in India.
Appointment and dismissal of a minister: as per article 164 of the constitution the Governor is to appoint the CM and other minsters are to be appointed by the Governor on the Aid and advice of the CM.
Also, Governor does not enjoy the power to dismiss a minister without the Aid and advice of CM.
Recent controversy and its impact upon the federal structure
The decision of the Governor of Tamil Nadu to dismiss a minister without the aid and advice of CM and its subsequent reversal raised several constitutional questions. Such action can potentially create instability within the state governments, thereby undermining the federal structure
It can also disrupt constitutional balance between CM and Governor.
Supreme court in cases such as Shamsher Singh and Nabam Rebia has clarified that the Governor should act on the aid and advice of the council of minister headed by CM except for in the areas where they have been provided discretionary powers by the constitution.
Precedents and Judicial interpretations: in the past misuse of the office of the Governor has been criticised. The supreme court in S.R.Bommai case in 1994 underscored that the powers vested in the the Governor is not absolute and can not be used arbitrarily thus keeping check on the Governor’s power and maintaining the federal structure.
Implications for cooperative federalism
Tension between state and centre: such instances might create unnecessary friction between the state and centre which can adversely affect the spirit of cooperative federalism.
Impact on democracy: The CM is elected by the people and on the advice of CM Governor appoints other ministers. Government is accountable to the people. If a Governor dismisses a minister without the advice of CM it could undermine the democratic process and will of the people
Therefore, the controversy surrounding the dismissal of a minister without the advice of CM brings to light the critical balance that needs to be maintained in exercise of constitutional powers.