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How are Governors appointed, and why is their role often controversial?

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Constitution of India – significant provision; Structure, organisation and functioning of the Executive


Source: LM 

Context: Twelve states and the UT of Ladakh will have new Governors including both first-time appointments as well as transfers of Governors from one state to the other.


Appointment of the Governor – Constitutional provisions:

  • Article 153: There shall be a Governor for each State and the same person can be the Governor for two/more States (2nd part added through an amendment in 1956).
  • Article 155: Governor of a State shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.
  • Article 156: The Governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President, but his normal term of office will be five years.
    • Since the President acts on the aid and advice of the PM and the Union Council of Ministers, the Governor is appointed and removed by the central government.
  • Articles 157 and 158:
    • Qualification: The Governor must be a citizen of India and should have completed the age of 35
    • Condition of office: The Governor should not be a member of Parliament or a state legislature, and must not hold any other office of profit.


Relationship between the Governor and the state government:

  • The position of the Governor is envisaged as an apolitical head who must act on the advice of the Council of Ministers of the state (Article 163).
  • However, the Governor enjoys certain discretionary powers under the Constitution, such as
    • Giving or withholding assent to a Bill passed by the state legislature;
    • Determining the time needed for a party to prove its majority in the state Assembly;
    • In cases of a hung verdict in an election, which party must be called first to prove its majority


Analysing the functioning of the Governor’s office over the years:

  • Over the decades, Governors have been seen (especially by those in opposition) as acting –
    • At the behest of the central government
    • As “agents of the Centre


Why does such friction take place?

  • Governors have become political appointees
  • The Governor is answerable to no one except the Centre
  • There is no provision for impeaching the Governor



  • The Sarkaria Commission (1983): The appointee shall be an eminent person.
  • The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2000): A time limit, preferably six months to give assent or to reserve a Bill for consideration of the President.
  • The Punchhi Commission (2007): Amend Article 156 to provide a procedure to remove the Governor from office.


Conclusion: There are no guidelines for how the Governor and the state must interact when there is a disagreement. Respect for each other’s boundaries, which has traditionally been a practice, should serve as guidance in this.

Related news: Appointment of former SC Judges as Governor of the state

Source: IE 

Context: Justice S Abdul Nazeer has been appointed Governor of Andhra Pradesh after retiring as an SC judge a month ago.


●       Before Justice Nazeer, two other retired SC judges (former CJI P Sathasivam and former Justice M Fathima Beevi) have been appointed Governors of states in recent years.

Positives: Can bring his/her legal expertise/acumen to run the office without friction.

Concerns: Judicial reputation-accountability-independence, separation of powers,probity-impartiality.

Ethical Concerns: We have already covered it in yesterday’s CA

Suggestion: A longer cooling-off period (3 years) can help to avoid criticism that there had been a trade-off with the Government – the biggest litigant.


Insta Links:

The office of the Governor


Mains Links:

The concept of cooperative federalism has been increasingly emphasised in recent years. Highlight the drawbacks in the existing structure and the extent to which cooperative federalism would answer the shortcomings. (UPSC 2015)


Prelims Links: (UPSC 2019)

Which one of the following suggested that the Governor should be an eminent person from outside the State and should be a detached figure without intense political links or should not have taken part in politics in the recent past?


  1. First Administrative Reforms Commission (1966)
  2. Rajamannar Committee (1969)
  3. Sarkaria Commission (1983)
  4. National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2000)


Ans: 3