Constitutional silences, unconstitutional inaction: Governor and Constitutional provisions

The article talks about the power of the Governor to assent bills and the constitutional loggam if the governor don’t to it in a timeline.

The Governor is the head of a state just like the President is the head of the republic.

One of the silences in the Constitution is in Article 200 which does not prescribe a timeline for the Governor to provide assent to Bills sent by the Legislative Assembly. This has been used to advantage by the Governors of various Opposition-ruled States to obfuscate the mandate of democratically elected governments


The Governor is the nominal head of a state, while the Chief Minister is the executive head. Lieutenant governors are appointed in Union Territories of Delhi, Andaman Nicobar Island and Pudducherry. All other union-territories are governed by an Administrative Head. The only exception is Chandigarh. The governor of Punjab is also the lieutenant governor of Chandigarh. The first woman to become a Governor of a state in India was Sarojini Naidu. She was the Governor of Uttar Pradesh from 15 August 1947 till her demise on 2 March 1949.

Article 153 of the Constitution requires that there shall be a Governor for each State. One person can be appointed as Governor for two or more States.

Article 154 vests the executive power of the State in the Governor.

Article 155 says that “The Governor of a State shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal”.

Article 156 provides that “The Governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President”. The term of the Governor is prescribed as five years.

The only qualifications for appointment as Governor are that he should be a citizen of India and must have completed the age of thirty-five years.

According to Article 200, when a Bill, passed by the Legislature of a State, is presented to the Governor, he has four options

  • He assents to the Bill
  • He withholds assent
  • He reserves the Bill for the consideration of the President (The proviso says that if the Bill presented to him derogates, in the opinion of Governor, from the powers of the High Court so as to endanger the position which the High court is designed to fill by the Constitution, he is bound to reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President)
  • He returns the Bill to the Legislature for reconsideration. (If it is not a money bill). If the state legislature again passes the Bill with or without amendments, a Governor has to give his assent to the Bill.


Absolute Veto: It refers to the power of the President to withhold his assent to a bill passed by the Parliament. The bill then ends and does not become an act.

  • Suspensive Veto: The President uses a suspensive veto when he returns the bill to the Indian Parliament for its reconsideration.

Pocket Veto: The bill is kept pending by the President for an indefinite period when he exercises his pocket veto.

The president of India has absolute veto over state bills when it is reserved for him by the governor of a state.

  • National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC): It recommended that there should be a time-limit, say a period of six months, within which the Governor should take a decision whether to grant assent or to reserve a Bill for consideration of the President.
  • Sarkaria Commission: It suggested that delay from the side of the Governor in granting assent can be avoided by streamlining the existing procedures, by making prior consultation with the Governor at the stage of the drafting of the Bill itself, and by prescribing time-limits for its disposal.

The governor, while exercising its power under Art 200,  should bear in mind that the Constitution is founded on the fundamental principles of parliamentary democracy and division of powers.

Read:Constitutional silences, unconstitutional inaction – The Hindu


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