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SC admits PIL against Governors’ sacking
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 14
The Supreme Court today admitted a petition challenging the sacking of the governors of four states by the UPA government for their RSS affiliation, saying the public interest litigation (PIL) filed in this regard “raises an important public issue involving interpretation of Article 156 of the Constitution.”

While admitting the PIL, filed by former BJP MP B. P. Singhal, a Bench of Chief Justice R. C. Lahoti, Mr Justice G. P. Mathur and Mr Justice C. K. Thakkar issued notices to the Union Government through Cabinet Secretary and the Home Secretary, seeking their replies.

The government was also directed to place on record the entire correspondence regarding the removal of Mr Vishnu Kant Shastri, Mr Kailashpati Mishra, Babu Parmanand and Mr Kidar Nath Sahni as governors of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana and Goa, respectively, by the UPA government on July 2.

When Mr Singhal’s counsel, Mr Harshvardhan Pratap Singh, pleaded for an early hearing of the matter, the court gave him liberty to make a mention about it in this regard.

Mr Singhal in his PIL questioned the withdrawal of “pleasure” by the President about the appointment of the four governors before their completing the five-year term on the ground that the government had no right to tender advice to him under Article 156.

The petitioner said the issue of interpretation of Article 156 had also been raised earlier in 1990 in a petition which remained pending for nine years after admission but was withdrawn in 1999 when a Constitution Bench was seized of it.

Describing the removal of the four governors as “illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional”, Mr Singhal contended that the argument of RSS affiliation for their sacking did not hold any ground in the light of the high constitutional office of the Vice-President being occupied by Mr Bharion Singh Shekhawat, who also had an RSS background. Similarly, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, also with RSS affiliation, had held the post of Prime Minister for six years, he said.

Though Article 156(1) says that a Governor would remain in office during the pleasure of the President, yet Article 156(3) contemplates that he would hold his post for a five-year term. Therefore, a correct interpretation of the word “pleasure” needed to be laid down by the court to remove any ambiguity, the PIL said.

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