Apropos ‘Perceptions’ on ‘misuse of article 356’ of the Constitution of India(IE April 12). Justice R.S.Sakaria rightly commented stating “Article 356 is comparable to a very potent medicine.”
Article 356 is one of the major tools in the hands of Union Government enabling it to check any disruptive and separatist tendencies in their infancy. In order to keep our unique Federal system with its strong Unitary features in fact this potent medicine cannot be dispensed with.
The malady of misuse of this Article 356 can be checked effectively by making some changes in Article 155 – 156 with respect to rules regarding offices of Governors of Indian States.
Whereas the President, head of Indian Union is elected (indirectly) through an Electoral College his counterpart in a State is nominated. Often a Governor, thus appointed, would have neither academic qualifications nor have Mandate of the people of the State, still heads the State Administration.
Moreover, a Governor holds his Office at the pleasure of the President (in practice Central Cabinet - Council of Ministers headed by Prime Minister ) and hence he is supposed to serve His Masters’( at ) New Delhi's political ends.
In fact, Draft Constitution was for “Elected” Governors.
But Constitutional Assembly rejected the recommendation on the plea that -- “If the Governor were to be elected by ‘direct’ vote, then he might consider himself superior to the Chief Minister, who was merely returned from a single constituency and this might lead to frequent friction between the Governor and Chief Minister.”
It is interesting to note that there was no contemplation at that time to make it for “indirect election” similar to that of the President of India.
I would like to suggest the following procedure to bring sanctity to the Offices of the Heads of States :
(i) Governor of the States must be elected indirectly.
(ii) A person contesting for governorship of a state must be qualified for election to the Parliament and must have completed the age of 35 years.
(iii) He must not have born in that State and must not belong to the majority linguistic group of that State. (This would prevent any collusion between Governor and Chief Minister to design for secession from the Indian Union).
(iv) Electoral colleges be formed (different for each state) giving 50 per cent weightage to the votes of that State Legislators and 50 per cent weightage to the council of States (Upper House of Parliament).
(v) State Legislature must have right to remove the governor by the process of impeachment moving a motion in the Council of State.
If this is effected it would give new lease of life to India’s Federal Democracy apart from checking the malady of misuse of Article 356.
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