Hung Assembly brings role of Governor Vajubhai into focus

BJP leaders B S Yeddyurappa, Ananthkumar, Madhusudhan and Shobha Karandlje met Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala at Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

With the results of the Assembly elections throwing up a hung house, the role of the Governor has come into focus, in regard to whether the single largest party or the leader claiming majority with post-poll alliance should be invited to form the new government.

As a matter of convention, the Governor has to first invite the single largest party to form the government. But the decision has to be an “informed one” and “on sound basis,” with a view to provide a stable government.

The Supreme Court’s Constitution bench, in its landmark judgement in the S R Bommai versus Union of India case (1994), has held the majority of a Council of Ministers has to be tested on the floor of the House. “In a situation, arising after a general election, (where) the Governor has to invite the leader of the party commanding majority in the House or the single largest party/group to form the government,” the apex court had said in the Bommai case.

According to Article 361, the Governor enjoys complete immunity, but the validity of his actions are subject to judicial scrutiny, including on the ground of mala fide.

Pre-poll alliance

In a hung Assembly, the Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State relations (1988) recommended that the leader of a pre-poll alliance and then the leader of the single largest party, if supported by other parties, should be invited to form the government.

The M M Punchhi Commission (2000) said the party or combination of parties claiming widest support in the Assembly should be called to form the government.

In exploring the possibility of government formation, ‘the National Commission to Review the Working Of the Constitution,’ said a reasonable degree of stability of the government and a strong government is important.

In 2016, in the case of proclamation of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh, the Supreme Court’s five-judge bench said, Article 164 of the Constitution which provides for the appointment of the chief minister of the state is to be “based on the postulate that he commands or is expected to command the support of a majority of Members of the Legislative Assembly.”

“The activities within a political party, confirming turbulence or unrest within its ranks, are beyond the concern of the Governor. The Governor must keep clear of any political horse-trading and even unsavoury political manipulations, irrespective of the degree of their ethical repulsiveness. Who should or should not be a leader of a political party, is a political question, to be dealt with and resolved privately by the political party itself. The Governor cannot make such issues, a matter of his concern,” it has said.

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Hung Assembly brings role of Governor Vajubhai into focus

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