The head of the states is called the Governor, who is the constitutional head of the state as the President is for the whole of India. The Governor of a state has a dual role to play – as the constitutional head of the state and as the agent or representative of the centre. Constitutional Head of State: The Governor is a ceremonial head of the state. The constitution provides for a council of ministers with a Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of this functions except when he can act at his discretion. The council of ministers is collectively responsible to the state Legislative Assembly.
All the executive powers are exercised by the cabinet in the name of the Governor who acts constitutionally on the advice of the council of Ministers. The constitution, however, specifically lay down that except in matters where the Governor is required to act in his discretion, he shall not be bound to follow the advice of the council of Ministers, but act in his discretion. If any question regarding the exercise of the discretion of the Governor arises, the decision of the Governor shall not be called in question on the grouped that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion.
The courts of the land do not have the power to question the action of the Governor taken in his discretion and the decision of the Governor shall be final. the following functions fall within the discretionary powers of the Governor in his role as the head of the State Government. (i) Appointment of Chief Minister, (ii) Dismissal of ministry; (iii) Dissolution of legislature; (iv) Right to advise, warn and suggest; (v) Withhold assent from a bill; and (vi) Discretionary powers of the Governor of Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya.
Governor as agent of the centre: Apart from being the constitutional head of a state, the Governor also acts as the agent or representative of the Central Government. In fact he is the only constitutional link between the centre and the states. As his appointment is made by the President of India on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, he is inclined to remain more loyal to the centre than to the states. He ensures that the directives issued by the centre to the states are carried out and the Government of the state is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.
It is on the recommendations of the Governor that the President usually issues a proclamation of emergency in the state on account of constitutional breakdown of the state machinery. The Governor holds a key position in the state and is a hyphen which binds the relations of the state with the centre. He is the link that fasters the federal state chain, the channel which regulates union-state relations. Thus Governor represents the centre in the state, and the state at the centre. That he does in his periodic reports to the President, in his meetings with the President and, at the time of the Governor’s conferences.
It is he who helps in building up the image of the state and of the state Government at the centre. He focuses on the needs and the interests of the state at the central level. Governors were so Powerless during the 1950-67 period that some of them wondered whether the office they held was of any consequence of all. In his article entitled. “The Governor at work’. K. V. Rao has quoted Sarojini Naidu, Governor of U P, as having said that she considered herself as a bird in a golden cage. Prof. K. V. Rao asserts, “one of the causalities of the Nehru era is the state Governor”.
The role of the Governor was restricted in the Nehru era because there was one political party that was in power in the centre as well as in most of the states. During this period, the channels through which the interaction between the states and the centre took place was outside the office of the Governor and therefore they did not have much opportunity of playing an important role. The Governors came into great prominence after 1967 when they were faced with difficult situation especially as no one political party could secure a clean majority. This provided Governors an opportunity to exercise their discretionary powers.
It was argued that the (Governors were exercising their constitutional powers neither in their discretion nor according to their individual judgement but according to the advice of-the Prime Minister who was abusing the office to advance her own interests and those of her party. Thus, we may conclude that the Governor has two important roles to play. As the representative or the centre in the state, it is his responsibility to see that the federal balance and political stability are not sought to be destroyed or under mind. In his role as the head of the state Government, he has discretionary powers.
He is not merely a figurehead or a nominal head, or a passive spectator. But the exact range of his powers would greatly depend upon the political situation that exists in the state. If there is great deal of political harmony in the state, the burden of the Governor is greatly reduced. If there is great deal of political discharge money in the state and political stability is being undermined the role of the Governor naturally becomes much larger. The Supreme Court has expressly laid down that Governorship is an independent constitutional office which is not subject to the control of the Government of India.