Disapproving the practice of replacing Governors after a new government comes to power at the Centre, the Supreme Court said on Friday that the governors of states cannot be changed in an arbitrary and capricious manner with the change of power.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan held that a governor can be replaced only under "compelling" reasons for proven misconduct or other irregularities.
The apex court said though the Governor is appointed and remains in office at the pleasure of the President, he or she cannot be removed merely because they are "not in sync" with the party in power.
The bench said the Governor can be removed only under "compelling reasons" and what the compelling reasons are depends on facts and situations of a particular case.
During the arguments, the Centre had contended that the conflict of Governor's view with the national policy could invite his/her removal from the office by cutting short the five-year tenure.
The Centre had said that the Governors act as a bridge between the Centre and the state governments and as such they cannot disagree on their own with the views of the government.
Under the mandate of democracy if a particular party is voted to power with particular socio-economic agenda, the Governors cannot say they do not agree with that, it had argued.
The bench also comprising Justices SH Kapadia, RV Raveendran, B Sudershan Reddy and P Sathasivam gave an unanimous verdict on the issue.
The landmark decision came on a PIL filed was in 2004 by then BJP MP BP Singhal challenging the removal of Governors of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana and Orissa by the previous UPA government.
The PIL had contended that the President could not have removed the Governors of four states on the advice of the Centre disregarding the Constitutional provision which fixed five-year term for them.
Vishnu Kant Shastri, Babu Parmanand, Kailashpati Mishra and Kidarnath Sahni had then been removed from their gubernatorial posts in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Goa respectively.