The Governors and Lieutenant-Governors of the states and territories of India have similar powers and functions at the state level as that of the President of India at Union level. Governors exist in the states while Lieutenant-Governors exist in union territories and in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The Governor acts as the nominal head whereas the real power lies in the hand of the Chief Ministers of the states and the Chief Minister's Council of Ministers.
In India, a Lieutenant Governor is in charge of a Union Territory. However the rank is present only in the union territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Delhi and Pondicherry (the other territories have an administrator appointed, who is an IAS officer). Lieutenant-Governors hold the same rank as a Governor of a state in the list of precedence. The Governors and Lieutenant-Governors are appointed by the President for a term of 5 years.
Powers and functions of GovernorsThe Governor enjoys many different types of powers:
1. Executive powers related to administration, appointments and removals,
2. Legislative powers related to lawmaking and the state legislature, that is Vidhan Sabha or Vidhan Parishad,
3. Discretionary powers to be carried out according to the discretion of the Governor.
1. Executive Powers of GovernorsThe Constitution vests in the Governor all the executive powers of the State Government. The Governor appoints the Chief Minister who enjoys the support of the majority in the Vidhan Sabha. The Governor also appoints the other members of the Council of Ministers and distributes portfolios to them on the advice of the Chief Minister.
The Council of Ministers remain in power during the 'pleasure' of the Governor, but in the real sense it means the pleasure of the Vidhan Sabha. As long as the majority in the Vidhan Sabha supports the government, the Council of Ministers cannot be dismissed.
The Governor appoints the Chief Minister of a state. He/she also appoints the Advocate General and the chairman and members of the State Public Service Commission. The President consults the Governor in the appointment of judges of the High Courts and the Governor appoints the judges of the District Courts.
2. Legislative Powers of GovernorsThe Governor summons the sessions of both houses of the state legislature and prorogues them. The Governor can even dissolve the Vidhan Sabha. These powers are formal and the Governor while using these powers must act according to the advice of the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister.
The Governor inaugurates the state legislature by addressing it after the assembly elections and also at the beginning of the first session every year. The Governor's address on these occasions generally outlines new policies of the state government.
A bill that the state legislature has passed can become a law only after the Governor gives assent. The Governor can return a bill to the state legislature, if it is not a money bill, for reconsideration. However, if the state legislature sends it back to the Governor for the second time, the Governor must assent to it. The Governor has the power to reserve certain bills for the President.
When the state legislature is not in session and the Governor considers it necessary to have a law, then the Governor can promulgate ordinances. These ordinances are submitted to the state legislature at its next session. They remain valid for no more than six weeks from the date the state legislature is reconvened unless approved by it earlier.
3. Financial Powers of GovernorsMoney bills can be introduced in the State Legislative Assembly only on the prior recommendation of the Governor. He/she also causes to be laid before the State Legislature the annual financial statement which is the State Budget. Further no demand for grant shall be made except on his/her recommendation. He can also make advances out of the Contingency Fund of the State to meet any unforeseen expenditure. Moreover, he constitutes the State Finance Commission. In Vidhan Sabha he nominates 1 person.
4. Discretionary Powers of GovernorsThe Governor can use these powers:
- If no party gets an absolute majority, the Governor can use his discretion in the selection of the Chief Minister;
- During an emergency he can override the advice of the council of ministers. At such times, he acts as an agent of the President and becomes the real ruler of the state;
- He uses his direction in submitting a report to the President regarding the affairs of the state; and
- He can withhold his assent to a bill and send it to the President for his approval.
RemovalThe term of Governor's office is normally 5 years but it can be terminated earlier by
1. Dismissal by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister of the country, at whose pleasure the Governor holds office.
2. Resignation by the governor
There is no provision of impeachment, as it happens for the President.