Governor and Constitutional Conundrum: A Relook at the Discretionary Powers of the Governor in Case of a Hung Assembly

Vershika Sharma
National Law University, Jodhpur (Rajasthan), India

Volume III, Issue III, 2020

It is surprising to note that our Constitution is eerily silent on the manner of appointment of chief ministers by the governor in case of hung assembly. Equally astonishing is its silence on the conduct of floor tests in assembly.

The questions and controversies about the role of governor remain multifold. However this paper focuses on his role under Article 163(2). I aspire to answer the following questions through this paper:

  • What is the requirement to bestow the Governor with wide discretionary powers in case of a hung assembly?
  • In case of a hung assembly, is the Governor bound to follow the constitutional convention to call upon the single largest party to form the government and prove its majority in the House? Or, as the court endorsed in case of Goa Assembly elections and then later even in the Karnataka elections, can a political rival cobble together a post-poll alliance to form a majority that overcomes the single largest party and form the government?
  • Looking at the recent instances of hung assemblies in Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, and even in Karnataka, can it be said that the political power in centre tries to manipulate the powers granted to the governor? Does this show kind of malice which could attract judicial scrutiny?
  • Has the time arrived when in the interest of democracy we need to redefine the powers of the governor in order to stall the misuse of the same especially considering the institution itself is a British legacy flowing with its inception under the government of India Act, 1935?

Lastly, I intend to provide suggestions to make the post of governor more accountable, reduce the influence of parties and most importantly creating a balance in the exercise of discretionary powers in case of need versus misuse of power.


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