The role of Governors in Indian states, as highlighted in cases like that of Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, raises critical concerns about the impact on India’s federal structure. Governors, appointed by the President on the advice of the Central Government, are meant to function as neutral facilitators between the Union Government and the States. However, instances of Governors acting in a partisan manner, as seen in the refusal to convene special sessions of the state legislature or involvement in political controversies, undermine the spirit of cooperative federalism enshrined in the Constitution.
The impact of such actions is multifaceted. Firstly, it disrupts the balance of power between the Centre and the States, encroaching upon the autonomy of State Governments. This is contrary to the vision of federalism where both the Centre and the States coexist with distinct powers.
Secondly, it erodes the trust in the institution of the Governor, which is supposed to be an apolitical and unbiased office. This politicization can lead to a lack of confidence in state administrations and can trigger constitutional crises.
To address these challenges, a re-evaluation of the constitutional design regarding the appointment and role of Governors is essential. One potential reform could be the establishment of a transparent, non-partisan process for the appointment of Governors, possibly involving a committee that includes members from both the Centre and the State, along with legal and constitutional experts. This could reduce the influence of the Central Government in these appointments, fostering impartiality.
Another modification could involve clearer guidelines and limitations on the powers of the Governor, especially in matters related to the convening and dissolution of state legislatures. These guidelines should be framed to respect the mandate of the elected state governments and to prevent misuse of power for political gains. Additionally, a mechanism for accountability, such as a review committee to oversee the actions of Governors, might be instituted to ensure that their actions are in line with constitutional principles.