No arbitrary removal of governors: Supreme Court

Posted by on May 7th, 2010 and filed under Immigration/Law/Rights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) In an indictment of the Congress-led ruling combine’s first term, the Supreme Court Friday ruled that the governors cannot be removed on grounds of ‘lack of confidence’ or ‘conflict of political and ideological opinions’ with the party in power at the centre.

A constitution bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice B. Sudarshan Reddy, Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice P. Sathasivam said the arbitrary removal of a governor was subject to a ‘limited judicial review’.

The court gave its verdict while disposing off a petition challenging the removal of the then governors of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana and Goa July 2, 2004 by the United Progressive Alliance government after it took over from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance.

The court said ‘change in government at the centre is not a ground for removal of governors holding office to make way for others favoured by the new government’.

Writing the judgment for the constitution bench, Justice Raveendran said that under the constitution there was no need to assign the reasons for the removal of a governor.

‘As there is no need to assign reasons, any removal as a consequence of withdrawal of the pleasure (of the president on the advise of central government) will be assumed to be valid and will be open to only a limited judicial review.’

The judgment said that if a governor, removed without assigning reasons, moved the apex court and is able to ‘demonstrate prima facie that his removal was either arbitrary, malafide, capricious or whimsical, the court will call upon the government to disclose to the court the material upon which the president had taken the decision to withdraw the pleasure’.

The judgement said: ‘If the government does not disclose any reason, or if the reasons disclosed are found to be irrelevant, arbitrary, whimsical or malafide, the court will interfere. However, the court will not interfere merely on the ground that a different view is possible or that the material or reasons are insufficient.’

The court said though no reasons were needed to be assigned for discontinuance of the pleasure of the president under Article 156(1), the exercise of such a power could not be in ‘an arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable manner’.

The exercise of such powers should only be in ‘rare and exceptional circumstances for valid and compelling reasons’, the Supreme Court maintained.

The judgment said that the compelling reasons would not only be confined to physical/mental disability, corruption and behaviour as enumerated by the petitioner but would be of much ‘wider amplitude’ depending on the ‘facts and circumstances of each case’.

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