The powers, functions and position of the Governor of a State under the Indian Constitution

Powers and functions of a Governor:

The powers and functions of a Governor may be classified under the following headings:


(1) Executive powers and function:

Article 154 provides that the executive powers of the State shall be vested in the Governor to be exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinates to him. The executive powers of the State shall, extend to the matters with respect to which the legislature of the State has power to make laws.

Provided that in any matter with respect to which the legislature of a State and Parliament have power to make laws, the executive power of the State shall be subject to, and limited by, the executive power expressly conferred by this Constitution or by any law made by Parliament upon the Union or authorities thereof. (Article 162)

The Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor and other ministers are appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister. The Council of Ministers holds office during the pleasure of the Governor.

The Council of Ministers is, however, responsible to the State legislature or to the lower House of such legislature where the legislature consists of two Houses. It means that so long the Ministers enjoy the confidence of the legislature; they cannot be removed by the Governor. Thus, the Governor is the constitutional head of the State like the President at the Centre.

(2) Legislative powers and functions:

Article 168 provides that for every State there shall be a legislature which shall consist of the Governor and in the States of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, two Houses, but in other States, one House only.

The two Houses will be known as legislative Council and legislative Assembly. The Governor nominates one-sixth of the total number of the members of Legislative Council where such Council exists. The Governor makes nomination of persons having special knowledge or experience in literature, science, art, co-operative movement and social service.

He may nominate two members of the Anglo-Indian community for a period of ten years from the commencement of the Constitution if he is of the opinion that the community is not adequately represented in the State Assembly.

The Governor summons prorogues the Houses of legislature and dissolves the legislative Assembly (Article 174)

He addresses the Houses of the legislature and sends messages to the legislature (Article 175). He gives assent to Bills without which no Bill can become an Act (Article 200).

The Governor Is empowered to make rules for the more convenient transaction of business of the State Government and for the allocation among Ministers of the said business in so far as it is not the business with respect to which the Governor is by or under the Constitution required to act in his discretion (Article 166).

The Governor appoints the Advocate General of the State (Article 165), The Chairman and members of the State Public Service Commission (Article 316), and Judges of the subordinate judiciary in consultation with the State High Court (Articles 233 & 234).

(3) Ordinance making power of the Governor:

The most important power of the Governor is the power to promulgate ordinances under Article 213. His powers in this respect are similar to those of the President. Ordinances are promulgated when the legislature is not in session and the matters, to which the ordinance relates, require an immediate action in this respect.

There are certain ordinances which cannot be promulgated without instructions from the President. Such an instruction is required of a Bill containing the same provisions as the ordinance would: (i) have required the previous sanction of the President, or (ii) have been reserved by the Governor for the consideration of the President, or (iii) have required the assent of the President before it becomes law (Article 213).

(4) Financial powers and functions:

No Money Bill or other Financial Bill can be introduced and no demand for grants may be moved in the legislature except on the recommendation of the Governor. The Governor causes the Annual Financial Statement, that is, the Budget is laid before the House or Houses of legislature and is authorised also to place demands for supplementary and additional grant if required in any year.

The Governor has the contingency fund of the State at his disposal for emergencies. Subject to limits, if any, fixed by the legislature, the Governor can borrow money on the security of the Consolidated Fund of the State and guarantee the loans of any other local authorities (Articles

(5) Power to grant Pardon, etc:

The corresponding provision relating to mercy jurisdiction of the President is enacted in Article 72. Under Article 161, the Governor has the power to grant pardon, etc., and to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against the law relating a matter of which the executive power of the State extends.

Article 161 provides that the Governor of a State shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter of which the executive power of the State extends.

In KM. Nanawati vs. State of Bombay, AIR 1961 S.C. 99, the Supreme Court has held that the power of the Governor to suspend sentences under Article 161 Is subject to the rules made by the Supreme Court with respect to only those cases which are pending before it in appeal.

It is open to the Governor to grant a full pardon at any time even during the pendency of the case in the Supreme Court, but the Governor can not exercise his power of suspension of the sentence for the period when the Supreme Court is seized of the case. The Constitutional Position of Governor

The constitutional position of Governor in relation to the legislature and administration is the same as that of the President. In Ram Jawaya vs. State of Punjab, AIR 1955 S.C. 549, the Supreme Court held, “the same position in regard to the Government of States, the Governor occupies the position of the Head of the Executive in the State, but it is virtually the Council of Ministers in each State that carries on the executive Government.

In the Indian Constitution, therefore, we have the same system of parliamentary executive as in England and the Council of Ministers consisting as it does, the members of the legislature is, like the British cabinet, “a hyphen that joins, a buckle which fastens the legislative part of the State to the Executive part.”

Under Article 155, the Governor holds office during the pleasure of the President and continues to hold this office at the discretion of the President. In this respect he occupies the position of a representative of the Union in the State. However,

Article 163 (1) States that there shall be a Council of Ministers with Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions or any of them in his discretion. Article 239 (2) also States that where a Governor is appointed an administrator, he shall exercise his functions as such administrator independently of his Council of Ministers, Besides, a reference may be made to Articles 356 and 200.

In making reports to the Union the Governor will be justified in exercising his discretion even against the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. The reason is that the failure of the constitutional machinery may be because of the conduct of the Council of Ministers. Similarly, Article 200 indicates another instance where the Governor may act in reserving a Bill for consideration of the President irrespective of the advice of Council of Ministers. In such matter the Governor has to discharge his duties to the best of his Judgment and pursue such cause which is not detrimental to the State.

As mentioned above, in certain matters the Governor is required by or under this Constitution to act in his discretion. In this respect, Governor may be regarded as a link between the Union and the State thereby providing an opportunity to the Union to have some kind of control over the State. As such, the Governor may be regarded as a representative of the Union in the State.