Rajya Sabha

August 4, 2016

SS Roy speaks during Short Duration Discussion on the power of the Governor

SS Roy speaks during Short Duration Discussion on the power of the Governor

Sir, with the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand, it became the 115th instance since 1950. All States except Chhattisgarh and Telangana had to face President’s Rule at least once. In this respect, according to the latest Home Ministry figures, made available through RTI application, UP leads the chart: in UP, President’s Rule was imposed 10 times, followed by Bihar with nine times, Kerala, Manipur, Punjab and Odisha with eight times.

Out of 115 times, Congress and Congress-led coalitions imposed President’s Rule 84 times, that is, 73% of the total number of such instances. The BJP or BJP-led Governments imposed President’s Rule seven times. And interestingly, the Janata Party Government (the BJP’s erstwhile outfit, the Bharatiya Jan Sangh merged with Janata Party) in power from 1977 to ’79, that is, two years, imposed President’s Rule 16 times, on some flimsy and unprecedented grounds.

Sir, all of us know that the makers of our Constitution, to some extent, followed Article IV Section 4 of the American Constitution while incorporating Articles 355 and 356 in our Constitution. Sir, the background is that in 1861, when Abraham Lincoln was the President of the United States, he had to face some internal disturbances on the issue of slavery and the South wanted to secede from the Union. That is why he wanted to use some sweeping powers to checkmate the situation, to arrest the situation. This is how Article IV Section 4 of the American Constitution came into being.

But our Article 355 and 356 are also patterned on Section 93 of the Government of India Act, 1935; the only exception being that, under the Government of India Act, 1935, it was the Governor or the Governor-General, now the powers are vested with the President of India.

Now, the Chairman of the Drafts Committee of our Constitution, Dr BR Ambedkar said – “In short, I share the sentiments that such Articles will never be called into operation and they would remain a dead letter. If at all they are brought into operation, I hope the President, who is endowed with these powers, will take proper precautions before actually suspending the administration of the provinces.”

Sir, We have not learnt from the lessons of Dr BR Ambedkar. Sir, in spite of the nine-judge Constitution Bench judgement of the Supreme Court in the SR Bommai case, no Government at the Centre had abided by the ruling of the Supreme Court and this is how the present Government has burnt its fingers intrhe case of Aruncahal and Uttarkhand.

Sir, insofar as the role of the Governors is concerned – because this discussion has two parts, one is Article 356 and the other is the role of the Governors – it seems that some of them act as agents or agents provocateurs of the ruling party at the Centre in some States. Sir, recent happenings in Arunachal and Uttarakhand have proved this once again.

Sir, now, ek Rajyapal, ek mahamahim Rajyapal, jab ki woh koi rajya mein Mukhya Mantri they, aur ek dharmiya dhancha ko giraya giya – who abhi doosre kahin Governor hain – unhone hamare national anthem ke khilaf publicly bol diya, disgraceful remarks he made against our national anthem in a public function. I made a petition to the Honourable President. I preferred substantial motion here in the House. Twice it was listed as ‘No-Day-Yet-Named-Motion’ during two sessions in quick succession – in the Budget Session and the Winter Session last – but the Government ran away from discussion. That motion was never taken up because I wanted to tell this august House that how a Governor, who has taken an oath under the Constitution, can question our national anthem; they have gone to that extent also.

How these people are appointed as Governors? This is why my party, All India Trinamool Congress, demands that Article 157 of the Constitution, which deals with the appointment of the Governor, must be reviewed and more specific and broad criteria and /or eligibility and/or qualification must be provided in the appointment of Governors if we at all want that this institution should continue.

Sir, to conclude, I would like to refer, with your permission, to one short point from a consultation paper on Article 356 of the Constitution by an Advisory Panel of National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution. So, it is a Government document. From this Government document I want to refer to only one point, my last point, and then I will conclude:

“We therefore think it advisable to suggest that Article 356 be amended to provide for the following” (there are many suggestions; I am placing only one suggestion here) – “whether the Ministry is a State has lost the confidence of the Legislative Assembly or not should be decided only on the floor of the Assembly and nowhere else. If necessary, the Central Government should take necessary steps to enable the Legislative Assembly to meet and freely transact its business. The Governor should not be allowed to dismiss the Ministry so long as it enjoys the confidence of the House. Only where a Chief Minister of the Ministry refuses to resign after his Ministry is defeated on a motion of no-confidence, should the Governor dismiss the State Government.”

Therefore, even the ruling party at the Centre, did not have any respect for the provisions of the Constitution, for the spirit of the Constitution, on what the Constitution-makers, particularly Dr BR Ambedkar, while drafting the Constitution, had given warning that you should be treated as a dead letter. The dead letter has been alive for 115 times since 1950. If we do not put a stop, it will continue for an indefinite period. The time has come that this august House must decide on this issue.

Yeh tu-tu main-main karne se kuch hone wala nahin. kabhi idhar khushi kabhi udhar gham, kabhi idhar gham udhar khushi. Yeh silsila nahin chalna chahiye. Is mein thora end lana chahiye. Is liye mein aap se nivedan karta hoon, hamare sabhi Honourable Members se, is gambhir vishay ko aur bhi charcha kare, vistar se charcha kare, aur isko review kiya jaaye whether Article 356 should be there or not, and whether the Governors, who are essentially the agents and agents provocateurs of the ruling party at the Centre, should be appointed in the States to curb the democratic elected Governments’ activities.

It must come to an end.

This is my humble submission to this august House on behalf of All India Trinamool Congress.

Thank you, Sir.