The government will have to give “concrete reasons” to President Pranab Mukherjee if it goes ahead with the plan to remove governors appointed by the previous UPA regime.
The home ministry, which has informally asked seven governors to step down, would have to convince Mukherjee that its decision would stand judicial scrutiny, sources said. The grounds for removal in each case would have to be specified separately as blanket reasons might not hold, said sources.
Uttar Pradesh BL Joshi resigned Tuesday but some of his counterparts in other states are in no mood to oblige. With a tussle looking inevitable, the president’s office, it is learnt, has started consulting constitutional experts.
“The President’s order is not sacrosanct and can be challenged in the court,” said a source. A governor is appointed and removed by a presidential order.
Maharashtra governor K Sankaranarayanan said Wednesday he had received two calls from home ministry officials but would not quit immediately.
Though the President has to go by the government’s advice, experts said he could return the proposal the first time. “The President returning a government file for reconsideration itself is an embarrassment,” an official said.
Karnataka governor HR Bhardwaj, who met home minister Rajnath Singh in the afternoon, is also on his way out. The Centre, however, may allow him to complete his term that ends this month. Assam’s JB Patnaik, also in the firing line, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mukherjee, said sources, might want details to ensure that the Centre’s power to remove governors was not exercised in an “unreasonable manner.”
A 2010 Supreme Court judgment says a governor cannot be simply removed because he is out of sync with the policies and ideologies of the party in power.