A day after the Supreme Court ruled that governors couldn’t be sacked for political reasons, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday emphasised the importance of separation of power, saying the doctrine was acknowledged as one of the basic features of India’s Constitution.
“It is also commonly agreed that all the three organs of the State — the Legislature, the Judiciary, and the Executive — are bound by and subject to the provisions of the Constitution, which demarcates their respective powers, jurisdictions, responsibilities and relationship with one another,” he said.
Speaking at the national conference on ‘Law and Governance’ to mark the Golden Jubilee of the Bar Association of India, Singh said: “It is to be assumed that neither of the three organs of the State, whether it is the judiciary or the executive or the legislature, would exceed its powers as laid down in the Constitution.
Even though their jurisdictions may be separated and demarcated, it is essential that all institutions work in harmony and in tandem to maximise public good,” he added.
A Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, on Friday ruled that the power to remove a governor under Article 156(1) of the Constitution “cannot be exercised in an arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable manner”. It said change in government at Centre was not a ground for removal of Governors.
A governor’s removal was subject to judicial review, it said.
Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap said: “The SC has gone beyond the basic provision under Article 156(1) of the Constitution, according to which a governor holds office during the pleasure of the President. Article 156(3), which talks about a five-year tenure of governors is in fact subject to Article 156(1).”
Maintaining that amending the Constitution was in the domain of Parliament, Kashyap said, “The apex court has clearly exceeded its jurisdiction.” He said unless there was a strong government at the Centre, “this judicial overreach can’t be checked”.