A trend started by Janata govt

A trend started by Janata govt

The confrontation between governors and the Central government after a change in regime is not a new thing. Governors first faced the axe in 1977 when the Janata Party assumed power at the Centre.

As the first non-Congress government inaugurated a new trend of dismissing governors appointed by the previous regime, the Sarkaria Commission in 1988 said governors should not be appointed without consulting the states they were being sent to and that they should not be sacked unless there is “some extremely compelling reason”.

In 1977, removing governors was not easy as the then acting President B D Jatti returned the proposal of the Morarji Desai-led government without signing it. The Cabinet sent the proposal again and the President had to sign it as per constitutional norms. 

As the Janata government showed the way, subsequent governments made it a practice. In October 1980, then Tamil Nadu governor Prabhudas Patwari was dismissed by the Indira Gandhi government, while a year later then Rajasthan governor Raghulal Tilak, too, was axed. In both cases, no reason was attributed.

After the Congress, who regained power in 1980, was once again ousted in 1989, the then V P Singh government asked all governors to resign.

In 1998 when the BJP came to power, it was reported that the then Union home secretary B P Singh asked governors of Gujarat, Goa and Mizoram to put in their papers.History repeated itself in 2004 when the UPA dismissed Kidar Nath Sahni (Goa), Kailashpati Mishra (Gujarat), Babu Parmanand (Haryana) and Vishnu Kant Shastri (Uttar Pradesh). This time, too, no reason was assigned. The BJP cried foul and then Rajya Sabha MP B P Singhal approached the Supreme Court in 2004 against the move. 

A six-year legal fight ended in 2010 when the apex court ruled that governors cannot be changed in an arbitrary and capricious manner with the change in government. The Congress had then defended itself saying they were political appointees and they were “for a long time associated with the Sangh Parivar”. 

However, the UPA did not dismiss NDA appointees like T N Chaturvedi (Karnataka), Madan Lal Khurana (Rajasthan) and M Rama Jois (Jharkhand).

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