(GS2: State legislature)
In an escalation in the ongoing tussle with the ruling government in Tamil Nadu, Governor skipped a few words including, the ‘Dravidian model of governance thereafter the Chief Minister interrupted the speech and expressed regret that the Governor had avoided certain portions of the prepared address.
The Conventions of the Governor’s Address to the Legislature:
- The Governor is expected to address the first Assembly session of the state every year and the first session of a new Legislature after a general election, under Articles 175 and 176 of the Constitution.
- The Governor’s address is prepared by the state government. It contains a review of the government’s activities and accomplishments in the previous year, its plans for the session, and policy and legislative proposals that the government plans on implementing in the coming year.
- It is prepared and submitted by the state government to the Governor beforehand, and it is the convention for the Governor to read it without any deviations.
Do Governors often show their difference of opinion with the address?
- There have been a few incidents where Governors openly disagreed with the contents of the address composed by the state government.
- Kerala’s Governor in 2020 while reading the address mentioned that he was only reading out the statement to honour CM’s wish and that he did not agree with it.
- Kerala’s Governor in 2018 omitted parts of the address that criticized the Union government for undermining principles of cooperative federalism.
- In 2017, the Tripura Governor skipped parts of his speech drafted by the state government that was critical to the union government.
Observations of Court’s
- Calcutta High Court in Andul Gafoor Habibullah v. Speaker, West Bengal Assembly (1966) held that:
- The governor cannot decline to deliver his address and refuse to fulfill his constitutional duty. Thus, the address under Article 176 is mandatory.
- However, the HC held that when the governor fails to deliver his address under Article 176 and walks out of the House after laying down the address on the table of the House, this is mere irregularity, not illegality.
- Thus, it cannot be questioned under Article 212, wherein the validity of the House proceedings cannot be challenged on the ground of mere irregularity in the procedure.
- In Yogender Singh Handa v. State of Rajasthan (1967), the Rajasthan High Court held that some portion read by the governor was good enough to deem the whole address as read.
Conclusion and Way Forward:
- Governor’s editing/deleting the speech may create a constitutional crisis. The chief minister may refuse to defend the address in his response at the end of the debate on the governor’s address and with the chief minister commanding a majority, the House may reject the resolution on the governor’s speech.
- When the governor’s/president’s address faces such a defeat, it is considered a no-confidence motion and the chief minister or the prime minister as the case may be, needs to resign.
- The governor reigns but does not rule. His primary role as a learned 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.