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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : More than just an address


Source: The Hindu


  • Prelims: Parliamentary democracy, Functions and responsibilities of Governor, state legislature etc


  • Mains GS Paper II: State Legislature -Structure, organization, functioning and conduct of business etc



  • The first session of every new Parliament in the United Kingdom requires the election of the Speaker to be completed and members of both Houses to take oath.
    • The Governor of Tamil Nadu, omitted certain paragraphs and departed from the official text of his special address at the opening of the Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu for 2023.




  • The Governor performs the same duties as the President, but for the State.
  • The Governor stands as executive head of a State and the working remains the same as of the office of President of India.


Appointment and powers:

  • Derived from Part VI of the Indian constitution.
  • Article 153:
    • There shall be a Governor for each State.
    • One person can be appointed as Governor for two or more States.
  • The governor acts in ‘Dual Capacity’ as the Constitutional head of the state and as the representative.
  • He acts as a bridge between union and state governments.


Practice in UK:

  • Neither House of Parliament can proceed with any public business in any further session unless it is opened either by the King himself or by Lords Commissioners acting on his behalf.
  • The King’s speech is the formal beginning of each new session of Parliament
  • He states the government’s policy and the intended programme of business for the forthcoming session.
  • The King’s speech is prepared by the incumbent government and a copy of it is given to him by the Lord Chancellor.


Practice in India:

  • India has adopted the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy, the Constituent Assembly decided(May 18, 1949)
  • Article 87: It requires the President to make a special address to both Houses of Parliament assembled on the commencement of the first session of each year.
    • The President has to inform Parliament of the causes of its summons.
  • Article 176: It requires the Governor to make a special address at the first session of each year of every State Legislative Assembly and to both Houses wherever the State also has a Legislative Council.
    • The language of these provisions were borrowed from the rules of the House of Commons.


Jawaharlal Nehru(Lok Sabha on February 22, 1960)stated:

  • “If the President’s address has anything wrong in it or objectionable in it, it is the government to blame not the President, and it is open to hon. Members criticize or condemn the government because there is some such statement in it which they disapprove of”.


Judicial stand:

  • Syed Abdul Mansur Habibullah v. The Speaker(West Bengal Legislative Assembly (1966): It held that the special address is not an idle or ceremonial formality.
    • It keeps the members informed about the executive policies and legislative programme of the State government.
    • The Court observed that the non-delivery of the special address hampers legislative debates and budgetary criticisms.
  • The Supreme Court: It held that constitutional conventions are as much a part of the Constitution as its written text.
    • These conventions fill the interstices of a written Constitution and enable effective coordination between the legislature, executive and the judiciary.


Constituent Assembly stand:

  • Professor K.T. Shah: He proposed an amendment to Article 87 giving discretion to the President to also make an address on “other particular issues of policy he deems suitable for such address”.
  • R. Ambedkar: Rejected the amendment:
    • The President, under Article 86, had the right to address either House or both Houses of Parliament together and Parliament had to assemble for this purpose.
    • Similar power was given to the Governor under Article 175.


Examples of Governor violating constitutional provisions:

  • The swearing-in of a Chief Minister early morning
  • Continued friction between the Governor and the ruling party in Kerala and formerly in West Bengal,
  • The omission to invite the single largest party to form a government in Manipur and Goa
  • Deliberate delay in providing assent to bills passed by the elected legislature in Tamil Nadu


Constitutional position:

  • Article 164(1): Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor.
  • Options under Article 200:
    • He may give assent
    • He can send it back to the Assembly(requesting it to reconsider some provisions of the Bill, or the Bill itself).
    • Reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President.
    • Withhold the assent(not normally done by any Governor because it would be an extremely unpopular action)
  • Reserved for the consideration of the President: Only if the Governor forms an opinion that the Bill would endanger the position of the High Court by whittling away its powers.
  • The Constitution: It does not mention any other type of Bill which is required to be reserved for the consideration of the President.
  • Article 126: Governor’s Ministers shall be chosen and summoned by (the Governor) and shall hold office during his pleasure.


Way Forward

  • Constitutional morality consists of not only adherence to the written text of the Constitution but also to constitutional conventions.
  • In U.K. and India: It is a time-honored constitutional convention that the King or the President or the Governor must read out the exact text of the speech or special address which informs the nation or the State of the policies that an elected government intends to pursue.
  • There is an independent power provided under Article 175: it is a serious impropriety for any Governor (or even the President) to omit several paragraphs from the speech prepared by the incumbent government.
  • Article 361 gives the Governor complete immunity from any legal action because founding fathers hoped that Governors would maintain the highest standards of rectitude and propriety.
  • Governor cannot act in an arbitrary manner: Being a high constitutional authority, the Governor cannot act in an arbitrary manner and, therefore, will have to give reasons for refusing to give assent.



Q. Discuss the essentials of the 69th Constitutional Amendment Act and anomalies, if any, that have led to recent reported conflicts between the elected representatives and institution of Lieutenant Governor in the administration of Delhi. Do you think that this will give rise to a new trend in the functioning of the Indian Federal Politics?(UPSC 2016) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)


With reference to Governor, consider the following statements:

  1. The constitution provides that one person can be appointed as Governor for two or more States.
  2. Governor of the state is the ex-officio chancellor of the universities in that state.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

    1. 1 only
    2. 2 only
    3. Both 1 and 2
    4. Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (3)