Debates, rules, judgments lost in 'ugly war of words' over session : The Tribune India

Debates, rules, judgments lost in 'ugly war of words' over session

AAP has accused the Governor of working at the behest of the BJP to implement ‘Op Lotus’

Debates, rules, judgments lost in 'ugly war of words' over session

Amid the “war of words” over what the “Governor can do and what he cannot”, it seems hardly any heed was paid to the fine debates of the Constituent Assembly, rules of the Business Advisory Committee and judgments of the highest court of the country defining the powers of the Governor.



Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24

Amid the “war of words” over what the “Governor can do and what he cannot”, it seems hardly any heed was paid to the fine debates of the Constituent Assembly, rules of the Business Advisory Committee and judgments of the highest court of the country defining the powers of the Governor.

In response to Governor Banwarilal Purohit seeking details of the legislative business to be carried out in the two-day upcoming session of the Punjab Assembly, the AAP government termed it “unprecedented” and acc-used the Governor of working at the behest of the BJP to implement “Operation Lotus” in Punjab.

However, the Governor showed the rule book to the government and quoted Article 167 of the Constitution, which defines the duties of the Chief Minister towards the Governor.

The debates around this article are not new, but start with its enactment. For the first time when Article 167 was debated upon on June 2, 1949, in the Constituent Assembly, even then there were fears such as whether the proposed article gives the power to the Governor to interfere in the day-to-day business of the Council of Ministers, or enables him to overrule the Council of Ministers, or whether it is against constitutional democracy.

A member of the drafting committee responded to these arguments, stating that the Governor’s ability to request information was necessary to ensure safeguards against the misuse or overreach of executive power by the Council of Ministers. The chairman of the drafting committee also reminded the Assembly that the draft article did not confer excessive powers on the Governor, as the latter did not have the ability to overrule the Council of Ministers. Amid all these fears, the draft was adopted without any amendments on June 2, 1949, and became Article 167 of the Constitution.

The debate over the powers of the Governor to summon, prorogue or dissolve the legislature of the state even continued after India became a Republic. A similar situation cropped up in Arunachal Pradesh. A landmark judgment of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the “Nabam Rebia and etc vs Deputy Speaker and others” case, on July 13, 2016, unanimously held that Article 174 confers the Governor with the power to summon, prorogue or dissolve the legislature of the state. The court concluded that the Governor’s discretion did not extend to the powers conferred under Article 174. Hence, he could not summon the House, determine its legislative agenda or address the Legislative Assembly without consultation.

Amid all Constituent Assembly debates and Supremen Court judgments, the debate seems to be hitting a new low. Bir Devinder Singh, former Deputy Speaker, said the Governor’s permission to hold a session of the state legislature was a mandatory constitutional requirement under Article 174 (1) of the Constitution. “It is wrong to assert that the legislative business is the exclusive domain of the Business Advisory Committee of the House, and the Speaker does not hold any tangible ground.

Role of the Business Advisory Committee

  • The role of the Business Advisory Committee of the House, as defined under Rule 208 and Rule 210 (1) (2) and (3) (Page 117, 118) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, is limited to arrange the business before the House, sequence-wise, date-wise and to allot the time slots for discussion of each item on the agenda
  • The committee may also fix a day and time for the transaction of the non-official business, if any, with the consent of the Speaker. However, the committee certainly does not create “business” for the House

What Article 163 stipulates

  • There shall be a Council of Ministers with the CM at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is by or under this Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of these in his discretion
  • If any question arises whether any matter is or isn’t a matter in which the Governor is by or under this Constitution required to act in his discretion, the decision of the Governor in his discretion shall be final
  • The validity of anything done by the Governor shall not be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion

#banwarilal purohit

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