The issue dealt with here is the difference between the Governor of a State and the legislative members. It is seen with respect to differences in the respective posts, powers they possess and the functions performed by them herein under.
Governor: The term governor has not been defined by any statute per se but the general meaning to the term is that a governor is a person who officially governs. He is the nominal head of a state.
Legislative Members: Similar to governor the term legislative member does not have an explicit definition but a person who is a member of the legislative assembly in a constituency could be called a legislative member.
Art.153 of the Indian Constitution states that there shall be a Governor for each state provided that nothing in this article shall prevent the appointment of the same person as Governor for two or more States.[i][ii]
The Governor is the head of a state just like the President is the head of the republic. All state actions of executive nature is taken in the name of the Governor.[iii] However, it might not be the same in reality like on paper since he is the person who gives merely his consent to various executive actions taken by the state. The Governor does not possess any powers involving major decisions. The actual powers in executive dealings of the state vest with the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers.
Apart from the governors in the states, Lieutenant governors are appointed in Union Territories of Delhi, Andaman Nicobar Island and Pondicherry. All other union-territories are governed by an Administrative Head (an IAS officer).[iv] The only exception is Chandigarh. The governor of Punjab is also the lieutenant governor of Chandigarh. The powers of the Lieutenant Governor of a union-territory are equivalent to the powers of a Governor of a state in India. Both are appointed by the President of India for a term of 5 years.[v]
Indian system of governance is a three-tiered federal structure possessing executive functions. As per the Constitution of India, the Central Government is the highest executive body in India. It represents some of its powers to its constituent political elements that contains the State Governments in each state. This is the second tier of the federal structure. Every state is entrusted with complete executive powers, managed by the ruling governments of each state. The third tier in the federal structure is the local-level governance of the Panchayats and the Municipalities.
Like the President of India, the Governor of a state has certain powers of executive, legislative and judicial nature. He also has some discretionary or emergency powers. But, unlike the President, the Governor has no diplomatic or military powers.
- The Governor possesses the powers to appoint the Council of Ministers including the Chief Minister of the state, the Advocate General and other 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 from the President.
- The President consults the Governor in the process of appointment of Judges of the state High Courts. The Governor has the powers to appoint Judges of the District Courts.
- In all states with a bicameral setup, the Governor possesses the right to nominate members to the Legislative Council.
- The Governor being an integral part of the State Legislature, has the right to address and send messages, summon, defer and dissolve the State Legislature. Though the Governor has these formal powers, he is required to use the guidance of the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers in taking such decisions.
- The Governor has powers to lay the annual financial statement and also makes demands for grants and recommendation of ‘Money Bills’ before the State Legislature.
- The Governor constitutes the State Finance Commission. He 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. 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.[vi]
- The Governor has powers to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remission for punishments to criminals and offenders. He also possesses the powers to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of a person convicted of an offence as under the law.
- While appointing the Chief Justice to the High Court of a particular state the Governor is always consulted.
- Where no political party has a majority in the assembly of a state, the Governor holds his discretion to select the Chief Minister.
- In cases of particular emergency in the state, the Governor holds the power to impose ‘President’s Rule’ on the President’s behalf. In such circumstances, the Governor’s powers override the advice or functions of the Council of Ministers and the nature of workings of the state.
The powers and functions of the Members of the Legislative Assembly may be classified in the following criterion:
The Members of the Legislative Assembly in every state exercise some governmental powers of executive nature. They manage the activities and actions taken by the Chief Minister including the Council of Ministers. The ruling government is answerable to the law-makers for all the choices and decisions taken on their behalf. A vote of no-confidence are often passed solely by the MLAs in any state, if passed by a majority, has the power to force the ruling government to resign. Question Hour, Cut Motions and Adjournment Motions are often exercised by the Members of the Legislative Assembly so as to limit the executive body of the state government machinery.
One organ of Government that holds absolute powers in relation to finance the state is the Legislative Assembly. Financial bills of different types, especially Money Bill can be originated only from within the Legislative Assembly and the consent of the Members of the Legislative Assembly is required to approve any kind of expenses made from the State Treasury. Further, in states with a bicameral legislature, the Legislative Council has powers to pass the Bill through or suggest changes to the Bill within a period of 14 days of its receipt although these members are not completely bound by the changes suggested. Further, all grants and tax-raising proposals must be authorised by the MLAs for them to be executed and implemented for the development of the state.
One of the most pivotal functions of a Member of the Legislative Assembly is the act of law-making. The Indian Constitution states that members of the Legislative Assembly may exercise their powers on matters of legislation where the Parliament cannot legislate. An MLA, a member of legislative assembly had the right to exercise this power of his on items of the State and Concurrent List. Even though a Member of the Legislative Assembly have predominant powers amongst the organs of the State government, their legislative powers are not outright.
All Members of the Legislative Assembly possess electoral powers as under:
1. Members of the Legislative Assembly who are elected includes the Electoral College that elects the President of India.
2. MLAs have the right of election of the members of the Rajya Sabha, who represent a particular state.
3. The MSpeaker and the Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly are elected by the MLAs.
4. In states with a bicameral legislature, one-third of the members of the Legislative Council are elected by the MLAs.
Thus, we see that the powers, functions and roles played by the Governor and the Legislative Members under the same governance is completely different from each other yet both of them are necessary to complete the governance of the country.
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
[i] The Constitution of India – Art.153