Powers of the Governor—Executive, Legislative, Judicial, Emergency, Discretionary

Like the President of India, the Governor of a state has certain executive, legislative and judicial powers. He or she also possesses certain discretionary or emergency powers. But, unlike the President, the Governor does not have any diplomatic or military powers.

Executive powers—

The Governor has the power to appoint the Council of Ministers including the Chief Minister of the state, the Advocate General and the members of the State Public Service Commission.

However, the Governor cannot remove the members of the State Public Service Commission as they can only be removed by an order of the President.

The Governor is consulted by the President in the appointment of the Judges of the state High Court.

The Governor appoints Judges of the District Courts.

He/she appoints the state election commissioner and determines his conditions of service and tenure of office.

However, the state election commissioner can be removed only in like manner and on the like grounds as a judge of a high court.

In case the Governor feels that the Anglo-Indian community has not been adequately represented in the Vidhan Sabha, he or she can nominate one member of the community to the Legislative Assembly of the state.

In all the states where a bicameral legislature is present, the Governor has a right to nominate the members, who are “persons having special knowledge or practical experience in matters such as literature, science, art, co-operative movement and social service”, to the Legislative Council.

He/she acts as the chancellor of universities in the state. He/she also appoints the vice-chancellors of universities in the state.


Legislative Powers—

As the Governor is said to be a part of the State Legislature, he/she has the right of addressing and sending messages, summoning, deferring and dissolving the State Legislature, just like the President has, in respect to the Parliament.

He/she nominates one-sixth of the members of the state legislative council from amongst persons having special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, art, cooperative movement and social service.

He/she can nominate one member to the state legislature assembly from the Anglo-Indian Community.

Although these are formal powers, in reality, the Governor must be guided by the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers before making such decisions.

The Governor inaugurates the state legislature and the first session of each year, by addressing the Assembly, outlining the new administrative policies of the ruling government.

The Governor lays before the State Legislature, the annual financial statement and also makes demands for grants and recommendation of ‘Money Bills’.

The Governor constitutes the State Finance Commission.

He/she also holds the power to make advances out of the Contingency Fund of the State in the case of any unforeseen circumstances.

All bills passed by the Legislative Assembly become a law, only after the Governor approves them. In case it is not a money bill, the Governor holds the right to send it back to the Vidhan Sabha for reconsideration. But if the Vidhan Sabha sends back the Bill to the Governor the second time, then he has to sign it.

The Governor has the power to promulgate an ordinance when the Legislative Assembly is not in session, and a law has to be brought into effect immediately.

However, the ordinance is presented in the state legislature in the next session, and remains operative for a total of six weeks, unless it is approved by the legislature.

He/she can issue ordinances only on those subjects on which the state legislature can make laws.

An ordinance issued by him/her has the same force and effect as an act of the state legislature.

He/she can appoint any member of the State legislative assembly to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker fall vacant. Similarly, he/she can appoint any member of the state legislature council to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both Chairman and Deputy Chairman fall vacant.

He/she decides on the question of disqualification of members of the state legislature in consultation with the Election Commission.

When a bill is sent to the governor after it is passed by state legislature, he/she can:

[a] Give his assent to the bill, or

[b] Withhold his assent to the bill, or

[c] Return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration of the state legislature. However, if the bill is passed again by the state legislature with or without amendments, the governor has to give his assent to the bill, or

[d] Reserve the bill for the consideration of the president.


Judicial Powers—

The Governor can grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remission of punishments.

He/she can also suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of an offence against the law.

The Governor is consulted by the President in the appointment of the Chief Justice to the High Court of that particular state.


Emergency Powers—

In case no political party bags a majority in the Vidhan Sabha of the state, the Governor holds the power to use his/her discretion to select the Chief Minister.

The Governor informs the President in an official report, of a particular emergency arisen in the state, and imposes ‘President’s Rule’ on the behalf of the President.

The Governor, in such circumstances, overrides the advice or functions of the Council of Ministers, and directs upon himself, the workings of the state.


Discretionary powers—

The governor can use these powers:

When no party gets a clear majority, the governor can use his discretion in the selection of chief ministerial candidate to prove the majority as soon as possible.

He/she submits reports on his own to the president or on the direction of the president regarding the affairs of the state.

He/she can withhold his/her assent to a bill and send it to the president for his approval.

During an emergency rule as per Article 353, governor can override the advice of the council of ministers if specifically permitted by the president only.

If any question arises whether a matter falls within the governor’s discretion or not, the decision of the governor is final and the validity of anything done by him/her cannot be called in question on the ground that he/she ought or ought not to have acted in his/her discretion.