Discretionary Power of Governor: Constitutional and Situational Discretion

By Aarna Tiwari|Updated : January 16th, 2023

The Discretionary Power of Governor comes under the authority of any executive. A governor can exercise the Discretionary Power of the Governor whenever they see fit. As per Indian law, a governor can exercise discretion without the court's interference. Any discretionary power can be offered in two major ways- offering discretionary power to a person and offering discretionary power based upon convention.

The topic of the Discretionary Powers of Governor is one of the important segments to be studied under the polity section of the UPSC Syllabus. In the UPSC Exam, over the years, questions have been asked about the role and powers of the Governor. The article discusses all the important aspects of the Discretionary Power of Governor.

Table of Content

Governor

The Governor is quite similar to that the President of India. He/She performs the same duties as President but for the State. Everything related to the Governor has been discussed under Article 153 to Article 162 of the Indian Constitution. The Governor is the constitutional head of the state, as well as functions as an important link between the Union Government and the State Government. 

The President appoints the Governor under his hand and seal and is an independent constitutional office. The Governor can hold office for five years. However, his term is subject to the pleasure of the President.

In India, Governors are the executive heads of the state. Situations may arise when the CM of any state cannot make a decision or is unavailable. In such a situation, Governors are important as they are the executive heads of the state.

Discretionary Power of Governor

A governor can exercise the Discretionary Power of the Governor whenever they see fit, without the court's interference. In India, there are several Governor's Discretionary Powers.

The Discretionary Powers of the Governor can be offered in two major ways.

  • The first way is by offering discretionary power to a person. It can also be offered to a body of persons in India. 
  • The second way of offering discretionary power in India is based upon convention. 

If discretionary power has been conferred, it is prone to outside intervention.

The Discretionary Power of Governors in India falls under two main categories as follows:

  • Constitutional discretion is mentioned in the Indian Constitution.
  • Situational discretion depends on the socio-political situation of a state.

Constitutional Discretion of Governor

The following are the Constitutional Discretion of the Governor of a state:

  • A governor can reserve a bill for the consideration of the president.
  • Governor can recommend the decision of the president's rule in any state.
  • A governor can ask the CM of the state for information regarding administrative/legislative matters.
  • If a governor gets an additional charge for a neighbouring UT, he can exercise the Discretionary Power of the Governor.
  • For mineral exploration, the governments of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram have to pay a royalty to the Tribal District Council. The governor is responsible for determining the amount of royalty to be paid.

Situational Discretion of Governor

The following are the Situational Discretion of the Governor of a state:

  • The governor plays a role in deciding the CM of the state when no party has won the majority votes. The same goes when a state CM dies unexpectedly with no successor.
  • When council ministers fail to show the confidence of the legislative assembly, a governor can dismiss them.
  • Following the president's directives, governors across India must perform several duties.
  • A governor has to consult the CM and his council of ministers before acting on the president's directives.
  • President's directives for governors in many states like Gujrat, Maharashtra, Assam, Manipur, and others.

Discretionary Powers of Governor UPSC

Governor, his/her roles, and Discretionary powers are all covered under the polity section of the UPSC Syllabus. In UPSC Prelims, factual and to-the-point questions are asked, whereas, in Mains, critical analysis of any aspect is asked. The topic is crucial for the UPSC Exam, and one should not miss it. 

Discretionary Power of Governor UPSC Questions

Question: Which of the following are functions to which the scope of the discretionary powers of the Governor is limited?

  1. The appointment of the Chief Minister
  2. The dismissal of the Ministry
  3. The dissolution of the Legislative Assembly
  4. Assent to Bills

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below:

  1. 1, 2 and 3
  2. 1, 2, 3 and 4
  3. 1, 3 and 4
  4. 2, 3 and 4

Answer: Option A

Question: Assertion (A): Reservation of a State Bill for the assent of the President is a discretionary power of the Governor.

Reason (R): The President of India can disallow a Bill passed by a State Legislature or return it for reconsideration.

Codes:

  1. Both A and R are individually true, and R is the correct explanation of A
  2. Both A and R are individually true, but R is not the correct explanation of A
  3. A is true, but R is false
  4. A is false, but R is true

Answer: Option B

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FAQs on Discretionary Power of Governor

  • A governor can exercise the Discretionary Power of the Governor whenever they see fit. As per Indian law, a governor can exercise discretion without the court's interference. Some examples include- If no party gets an absolute majority, the governor can use his discretion in the selection of the CM of the state, he/she has power for the Dissolution of the Legislative Assembly, can advise the President for the Proclamation of the Emergency, etc.

  • The Discretionary Power of Governor allows the Governor to hold a bill passed in the state legislative assembly for the president's consideration.

  • The two types of Discretion of the Governor are- Constitutional Discretion and Situational Discretion.

  • Governor and President have been embedded with certain discretionary powers to deal with unforeseen issues. Both are Nominal heads with similar Executive, legislative & judicial powers, with stress on neutrality. However, the Governor has wider Discretionary powers provided explicitly in the constitution.

    • The Governor has the right to decide whether a particular matter lies within the discretionary powers of the governor or not.
    • The Governor can give directives for the convenient business transaction in the state.
    • The 42nd Amendment made Ministerial advice binding on the President but not Governor.
  • The discretionary power of the governor is studied under the Article 163 of the Indian Constitution.

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