Governor – Qualification, Appointment, Service Conditions

The Governor is the titular head of the state government, appointment by the Central government. Just like the President, the Governor’s role is mostly symbolic unless discretion is involved in which the Governor is not supposed to consult the state government. In this article we will know about the qualification, appointment and service conditions to the post of the Governor. Articles 153 to 159 of the Constitution deal with qualification, appointment and conditions of service to the post of the Governor of a state.

Qualification to the Post of the Governor

Article 157 lays down only two qualifications to the post of Governor.

A person to be eligible to the post of Governor should be:

  1. A citizen of India
  2. Should have completed 35 years of age

Additionally, certain conventions have developed over time that a person appointed as Governor of a state should not belong to that state to influence or be influenced by the local politics. Secondly, the Chief Minister of the state shall be consulted while appointing the Governor to the state to ensure proper coordination between the centre and the state. Of course, both these conventions have been bypassed on many occasions. In reality the Governor is more of an agent of the Centre to monitor the state government particularly if the government in the state is run by an opposition party. Take the example of Delhi where the relation between the state government and the Lieutenant Governor are far from cordial.

Appointment of Governor

Article 155 says that the Governor shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.

It does not speak of either direct of indirect election to post of the Governor. Why is it so? Simply because if the Governor were to be directly elected by the people it would create a separate seat of power and is incompatible with parliamentary system of democracy where the representatives of people are directly elected.

Since the Governor is appointed by the President on the advice of the Central government, he is actually a nominee of the Central government. However the Governor is expected to act on his own wisdom and not as per the wisdom of the Central government entirely in important matters relating to formation of government in a state in the case of a hung assembly. However, it has been seen as recently as Karnataka assembly elections in May 2018 that the Governors happily take orders directly from New Delhi even if they are against laid down conventions and Supreme Court guidelines and basic common sense just to please their political masters.

A part of the problem lies in the way the Governor is appointed. Since no additional qualifications have been prescribed in the way of educational achievements or administrative experience or dealing with judicial or quasi-judicial matters any political person can be cherry picked by the ruling party at the centre as its nominee for the post of Governor. Things work well so long the same party is in power at the centre and the state where the Governor has been appointed. The moment some opposition party comes to power in the state the Governor is used as a tool to create hindrances in the working of the state government by the Centre. This is especially true in the case of union territories where the Lieutenant Governor has overarching powers. The end result is that post of the Governor which was meant as a coordination mechanism between the centre and the states by our founding fathers has become a tool to disrupt the coordination between the two.

Conditions of Governor’s Office

Article 158 lays down the conditions for the Governor’s office.

  1. The Governor cannot be a member of either House of Parliament of a House of the state legislature.
  2. He should not hold any other office of profit
  3. He his entitled to rent-free accommodation of his official residence (Raj Bhavan)
  4. His emoluments and allowances cannot be diminished during his term of office
  5. When the same person is appointed as the governor of two or more states, the emoluments and allowances payable to him are shared by the states in such proportion as determined by the President

Term of Governor’s Office

Article 156 says that the Governor holds office during the pleasure of the President. However while holding office during the pleasure of the President the term of office of the Governor is 5 years. But since the Governor holds office during the pleasure of the President, he can be removed before completing the term of 5 years if the President (central government) so desires. The Supreme Court held that the pleasure of the President is not justiciable. The governor has no security of tenure and no fixed term of office. He may be removed by the President at any time.

The Governor can also resign from office by addressing his resignation to the President any time before the end of his tenure. A Governor whose term has expired may be reappointed as Governor of some other state or in the same state. In the case of the death of a sitting governor, the chief justice of the concerned state high court may be appointed temporarily to discharge the functions of the governor of that state.

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