Role of President or Governor in Summoning of Assembly Sessions Every session called at a short notice IS not emergent session
Y Devendro Singh
‘That England could never be ruined but by a Parliament’
In the Constitution of India, as per Article 79, there shall be a Parliament for the Union which shall consist of the President and two Houses, the Council of States and the House of the People. On the other hand, under Article 168 of the Constitution of India, there shall be a Legislature which shall consist of the Governor, and (a) in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telengana and Uttar Pradesh, two Houses; (b) in other States, one House. Therefore in the composition of a Parliament and a State Legislature, the President and Governor are most important components being the head of the Union and State respectively.
All kind of Sessions of the Parliaments of India should be summoned by the President of India on the aid and advise of the Union Cabinet under the powers conferred by Article 74(1) read with Article 85(1). Similarly, all kind of Sessions of Legislative Bodies in India should be summoned by the Governors of the States concerned on the aid and advise of the State Cabinet Council under the powers conferred by the Article 163(1) read with 174(1) of the Indian Constitution.
During the political journey of post Independent India, the Fourth General Election has brought about a remarkable change in the political set-up of the country. The Congress party lost its dominance in many States, and thereby Non-Congress Coalition Ministries were set up in West Bengal, Punjab, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.
to the Fourth Lok Sabha Election, the Congress had a clear majority in most of the State Legislative Assemblies. We have accepted that there will be least possibility of a serious Centre-State dispute, if both the Union Government and the State Governments were run by the same party. Despite the Governor, as a natural consequence, had to play no useful role and was beyond public controversy, after 1967 the legitimacy of Governor’s action came to be questioned in many States and he was dragged openly into politics.
For instance, in West Bengal, consequent to the resignation of eighteen members including one Minister, from the ruling United Front on 6 November 1967, prima facie doubts arose about majority support to the Government in the Legislative Assembly. The Governor desired that the Assembly be summoned on 23 November so that a confidence vote might be taken, but the Chief Minister said that he would call the Assembly into session on 18 December as scheduled. Thereupon, the Governor dismissed the Ministry on 21 November 1967.
In the said crisis of West Bengal, as observed by the former President of India, Dr Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, the then Speaker of Lok Sabha, in his Address at the said Emergent Conference of Presiding Officers of the Legislative Bodies in India, held at New Delhi on 6-7 April 1968, was not unavoidable, for the Governor need not have precipitated matters by insisting on the Chief Minister to convene the Assembly earlier than scheduled, when the interval between the two dates was only of a few days.
In the Resolution adopted by the said Emergent Conference of the Presiding Officers of the Legislative Bodies in India held on 6-7 April 1968, it was requested that the Government of India should, in the light of the following observations, take urgent and suitable steps in regard to the powers of Governors to summon or prorogue the Legislatures and to dismiss Ministries:
‘That a Governor shall summon or prorogue the Legislature on the advise of the Chief Minister. A convention shall be developed that the Chief Minister may fix the dates of summoning or prorogation after consulting the Presiding Officer concerned. The Governor may suggest an alternative date but it shall be left to the Chief Minister or the Cabinet to revise their decision or not. Where, however, there is undue delay in summoning a Legislative Assembly and the majority of members of the Legislative Assembly desire to discuss a Motion of No-confidence in a Ministry and make a request to that effect in writing to the Chief Minister, the Chief Minister shall advise the Governor to summon the Assembly within a week of such request.’
We should keep in mind the occurrence happened in 1962 after Shri Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the former President of India, had summoned Lok Sabha to meet on 19 November 1962, by his order dated 14 September 1962, published in Gaz. Ex. (II), the then Prime Minister, Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, proposed that in view of the situation created by the Chinese aggression on the northern border of India, the date of commencement of the session might be advanced to 8 November 1962. As such, the President’s orders were taken again and fresh summons, dated 29 October 1962, were issued to members summoning them to Lok Sabha on 8 November 1962.
Therefore, it seems that the sole authority of making proposal for fixation of date for summoning the session of Parliament shall lies on the aid and advise of the Union Cabinet Council, on the other hand, in the case of Legislative Assemblies the sole authority for making proposal for fixation of date for summoning the session lies on the aid and advise of the State Cabinet Council.
The Supreme Court of India over the Governor’s discretion and scope of judicial also review the Governor’s functions in many cases. It has held that the Governor can use his discretion only with the aid and advice of the Cabinet Councils with regard to convening sessions of the Legislative Bodies.
An occurrence for postponement of summoning Session of the Manipur Legislative Assembly happened in the year 1981. The then Governor of Manipur summoned the Assembly session on 12 February, 1981. Thereafter, he re-summoned the session to postpone from 12 February, 1981 to 18 February, 1981. In the course of debate in the august House, standing just before delivering the Address by the Governor in the House, the then Member of the Manipur Legislative Assembly, Shri Okram Joy Singh, a veteran Parliamentarian sought for clarification of re-summon without giving any reason, stating that we have never come across such precedence in the Parliamentary history of the country. It was also supported by Late Shri L Chandramani Singh, the then Member of the House.
In this regard, an instance can be recalled for a Constitutional crisis ascended between November 2015 and March 2016 in Arunachal Pradesh in connection with the powers of Governor, Presiding Officer and Chief Minster or Cabinet Council.
The 5th session of the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative was concluded on 21.10.2015. On 3.11.2015, the Governor issued an order summoning the 6th session of the Assembly, to meet on 14.1.2016 in the Legislative Assembly Chamber at Naharlagun. The instant order was passed by the Governor, on the aid and advise of the State Cabinet Council and in consultation with the Speaker of the House under the powers conferred by the Article 163(1) read with Article 174(1) of the Indian Constitution.
The 6th session of the House was preponed by the Governor from 14.01.2016 to 16.12.2015, by an order dated 9.12.2015 indicating inter alia the manner in which the proceedings of the House should be conducted from 16.12.2015 to 18.12.2015. In its support, the Governor issued a message on 09.12.2015 also. These actions of the Governor demonstrate an extraneous and inappropriate exercise of Constitutional authority. The above order and message even dated 09.12.2015 of the Governor were issued without the aid and advise of the State Cabinet Council.
(To be contd)