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Current Affairs – 9 July 2021

Current Affairs (9th July 2021)

Governor of States

Context:

  • Recently, the Union Government has transferred or appointed Governors of eight States.

About:

  • He/she is the Chief Executive Head of a State.
    • He is a nominal (titular or constitutional) head and acts as an agent of the central government. Therefore, the office of governor has a dual role.
      • As held by the Supreme Court in 1979, it is an independent constitutional office and is not under the control of or subordinate to the Central government.
  • Articles 153 to 167 in Part VI of the Constitution deal with the State Executive, which comprises the Governor, the Chief Minister, the Council of Ministers, and the Advocate General of the State.
    • The 7th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1956 facilitated the appointment of the same person as a governor for two or more states.

Appointment

    • The Governor is neither directly elected by the people nor indirectly elected by a specially constituted electoral college as is the case with the President.
    • He/she is appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.
    • While drafting the Constitution, the Canadian model of Governor’ appointment by the Centre was accepted in the Constituent Assembly.

Oath

    • The Governor has to make and subscribe to an oath or affirmation, which is administered by the Chief Justice of the concerned State’s High Court and in his/her absence, the senior-most judge of that court available.

Qualifications

    • The Constitution lays down only two qualifications for the appointment of a person as a governor.
      • He/she should be a citizen of India.
      • He/she should have completed the age of 35 years.
    • Additionally, two conventions have also developed in this regard over the years.
      • He/she should be an outsider, meaning not belonging to the State of appointment to remain free from the local politics.
      • While appointing the Governor, the President is required to consult the Chief Minister of the State concerned, so that the smooth functioning of the constitutional machinery is ensured.

Tenure

    • A Governor holds office for a term of five years from the date on which he/she enters upon the office.
    • However, this term of five years is subject to the pleasure of the President.
      • However, the Constitution does not lay down any grounds upon which a Governor may be removed by the President.
      • The Supreme Court in 2010 held that the Governors cannot be changed in an arbitrary and capricious manner with the change of power. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan held that a Governor can be replaced only under “compelling” reasons for proven misconduct or other irregularities.
    • Further, he/she can resign at any time by addressing a resignation letter to the President.
    • The President may transfer a Governor appointed to one state to another state for the rest of the term. Further, a Governor whose term has expired may be reappointed in the same State or any other State.

Functions and Powers

    • Executive Powers
      • All executive actions of the State Government are formally taken in his/her name.
      • Can make rules for more convenient transactions of the business of a State government.
      • Appoints the Chief Minister and other ministers and Advocate General who hold office during his/her pleasure.
      • Appoints the State Election Commissioner (SEC).
      • Appoints the Chairman and members of the State Public Service Commission, who can be removed only by the President and not by a Governor.
      • Can recommend the imposition of constitutional emergency in a State to the President. During the period of the President’s rule in a state, the Governor enjoys extensive executive powers as an agent of the President.
      • Acts as the Chancellor of universities in the State and appoints the Vice-Chancellors (VCs).
    • Legislative Powers
      • Can summon or prorogue the State Legislature and dissolve the State Legislative Assembly.
      • Can address the State Legislature at the commencement of the first session after each general election and the first session of each year.
      • Can appoint any member of the State Legislative Assembly to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker fall vacant and has similar powers with respect to the State Legislature Council.
      • Nominates one-sixth of the members of the State Legislative Council from amongst persons having special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, art, cooperative movement and social service.
      • Can nominate one member to the State Legislature Assembly from the Anglo-Indian Community.
      • Decides on the question of disqualification of members of the State Legislature in consultation with the Election Commission.
      • When a bill is sent to the governor after it is passed by the State Legislature, he/she can give assent to the bill or withhold assent to the bill or return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration.
  • Can promulgate ordinances when the State Legislature is not in session and can also withdraw an ordinance anytime. This is the most important legislative power of the Governor.
  • Lays the reports of the State Finance Commission, the State Public Service Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor-General relating to the accounts of the state, before the state legislature.
  • Financial Powers
    • Sees that the Annual Financial Statement (State Budget) is laid before the State Legislature.
    • Money bills can be introduced in the State Legislature only with his/her prior recommendation.
    • No demand for a grant can be made except on his/her recommendation.
    • Can make advances out of the Contingency Fund of the State to meet any unforeseen expenditure.
    • Constitutes a Finance Commission after every five years to review the financial position of the panchayats and the municipalities.
  • Judicial Powers
    • Can grant pardons, reprieves, respites and remissions of punishment or suspend, remit and commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends.
      • Though the Governor has the power to pardon, he/she cannot pardon a death sentence.
    • He/she is consulted by the President while appointing the judges of the concerned State High Court.
    • Makes appointments, postings and promotions of the district judges in consultation with the State High Court and appoints persons to the Judicial Service of the State.
  • The Governor has no diplomatic, military or emergency powers like the President.

 

UNION CABINET

Context:

  • As many as 15 Cabinet ministers, including some new faces, were sworn-in at the swearing in ceremony.

About:

  • The ministers who were dropped include senior leaders like IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
  • With this, the overall strength of the Council of ministers has risen to 78, including the prime minister.
  • After revamp, the Union Council of Ministers now has seven more women members taking their overall strength to 11.
  • The President of India, as advised by the Prime Minister, has directed the allocation of portfolios among the new members of the Council of Ministers.

Ceiling on number of ministers:

  • Before January 1, 2004 the prime minister had discretion to appoint any number in his council of ministers.
  • But the Constitution (Ninety-first Amendment) Act in 2003 curbed this power of the prime minister.
  • This Amendment added clause (1-A) in the Article 75 which limited the number of Ministers, including PM to 15 percent of the total number of Lok Sabha members, which is 545.
  • So Prime Minister Modi can have 81 members in the council of ministers.

Cabinet:

  • The word “cabinet” is mentioned only in the Article 352 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Actually, in the original constitution, there was no word like cabinet.
  • It has been constituted in the above Article by 44th Constitution (amendment) Act, 1978.

Council of ministers:

  • Articles 74 & 75 of the constitution of India deal with the Council of Ministers and Prime Minister. These articles have below provisions.
  • Article 74(1): There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President who shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice. The president may require the council of ministers to reconsider such advice and president shall act in accordance with such advice reconsidered.
  • Article 74(2): What advice was tendered to the president cannot be inquired into any court.
  • Article 75(1): The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
  • Article 75(2): The Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.
  • Article 75(3): The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of the People.
  • Article 75(4): Before a Minister enters upon his office, the President shall administer to him the oaths of office and of secrecy according to the forms set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule.
  • Article 75(5): A Minister must be a member of any of the houses within 6 months.
  • Article 75(6): Parliament will decide the salary and allowances of the Ministers and until parliament decides, so shall be as specified in the Second Schedule.

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