Governor R N Ravi orders minister’s dismissal: Basics Explained


The above article talks about the recent order of the Governor of Tami Nadu to dismiss Tamil Nadu minister under investigation by the state police and the Enforcement Directorate on cash for jobs charges. The article delves into the constitutional practices, convention and observance of norms and Supreme Court rulings about the power of the Governor and  in constitutional practice.

Right from Shamsher Singh’s case in 1974, authored by seven judges of the Supreme Court, and subsequently in S R Bommai (1994) and Shivraj Singh Chouhan (2020), the law is that in this and other matters, the governor must act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
The Article sees value in the Governor post, both for constitutional and ceremonial functions. Talking about the proper process to appoint Governor, a solution lies in drawing up a cadre of distinguished persons from different fields – civil service, armed forces, academics, culture, respected former ministers and the like. While there are cautions about judges, this could be obviated if it operates on a roster, and candidates aren’t chosen by the executive. There needs to be a cooling off period so that the attractions of the post do not deflect the person. And one term of five years should do. From this panel, a suitable name should be picked in consultation with the chief minister so that there is no fear of a troublesome element being lodged in Raj Bhavan. One should look for a certain stature born out of accomplishment and integrity. A good governor is an asset to the state, straddling the federal divide.


  • The Sarkaria Commission, set up in 1983 to examine the Centre-State relationship on various points, felt that the Chief Minister should be consulted
    appointing the Governor, for the proper working of the parliamentary system.
  • The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution said, “It would be appropriate to suggest a committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, and the Chief Minister of the State concerned to select a Governor.
  • In Shamsher Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1974 S C 2192, the Supreme Court laid down definitely that the President and Governors are constitutional heads of Government like the Crown in England and must act on the advice of their Ministers.

         Of late, the relationship between Governor and the State government  has metamorphosed into a confrontation, with the governor either refuses to sign bills passed by the state assembly or issuing veiled intimidation to an elected government.

Nabam Rebia judgement of 2016 ruled that Article 163 does not give Governors a “general discretionary power” as is often misunderstood.

“The area for the exercise of his (Governor) discretion is limited. Even this limited area, his choice of action should not be arbitrary or fanciful. It must be a choice dictated by reason, actuated by good faith and temper

      One of the issues which may arise is whether or not the discretion of the Governor can be judicially reviewed by the Supreme Court. But a Constitution Bench judgement in 2006 in the Rameshwar Prasad case has held that the “immunity granted to the Governor
under Article 361 (1) does not affect the power of the Court to judicially scrutinise the attack made to the proclamation issued under Article 361(1) of
the Constitution of India on the ground of mala fides or it being ultra vires”.

It is an accepted principle that in a parliamentary democracy with a responsible form of
government, the powers of the Governor as Constitutional or formal head of the State should not be enlarged at the cost of the real executive, viz. the Council of Ministers

 Raj Bhavan needs to get off its high horse and accept that it is not an ombudsman of the state government. And the state government needs to thicken its skin, not see in
every Raj Bhavan missive a plot to topple it.  

       The Governor primary role as a sagacious counsellor is “to be consulted, to warn and to encourage”. Both governors and chief ministers, as constitutional functionaries, should respect each other and at least have a working relationship.


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