Governor doesn't have power to dismiss ministers on his own: Legal luminaries

Anand P

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Arif Mohammad Khan I Mathrubhumi

The warning of Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan that ministers who “lowered the dignity of Governor's office” will be dismissed has met with disapproval from the ruling front and the general public. Legal experts view the controversial remark as legally non-binding as it goes against the spirit of the constitution.

Kerala Governor on Monday tweeted: 'The CM and Council of Ministers have every right to advise the Governor. But statements of individual ministers that lower the dignity of the office of the Governor can invite action including withdrawal of pleasure.'

Kerala Advocate General K Gopalakrishna Kurup said the Governor does not have such powers. “The Constitution does not provide any such power on the part of the Governor,' he said.

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Justice K T Thomas, former Supreme Court judge, told that the Governor could not take action without the advice of the cabinet. “As per the constitution, the Governor only has the discretion over selecting the individual to take charge as Chief Minister. The Governor is only appointing the cabinet ministers as per the recommendation of the Chief Minister. He does not have a say on that matter,” he said.

According to legal and Constitutional expert PDT Achari, withdrawal of pleasure means the sacking of a minister or a chief minister by a Governor. “He has to act on the chief minister's advice in the context of Article 164 (1) of the constitution,” he added.

As per Article 164(1), the Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, and the Ministers shall hold office at the pleasure of the Governor.

'The usage - the pleasure of the Governor - means that ministers are holding their offices as long as they enjoy the 'pleasure' of the Governor, and he/she can be removed at any time on the advice of the CM. However, the constitution does not grant the Governor right to remove ministers at his/her discretion,” said Supreme Court advocate Abhilash MR.

“As per Article 164(1) in the Constitution, the Governor does not hold the power to dismiss any cabinet ministers without the recommendation of the Chief Minister. However, in certain situations, the Chief Minister can ask a minister to resign, and if the person refuses to do so, then the CM cannot force him to resign. Here, the minister can be ousted only by the appointing authority- the Governor. But, for this to happen, the Governor should receive the advice of the Chief Minister,' Abhilash MR added.

Khan's 'warning' is the latest development in the ongoing tussle between the ruling LDF in Kerala and the Raj Bhavan over various issues.

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