The Modi government has barred governors from stepping out of their state without presidential approval and has restricted them from spending more than 73 days outside the state on official visits.
“No visits shall be undertaken without obtaining the prior permission of the President or in emergent or extra-ordinary circumstances, without prior intimation to the President’s Secretariat,” the new 18-point set of rules notified by home ministry joint secretary Kumar Alok on 10 February said.
In case of last-minute travel plans, governors will have to explain the “compelling reasons” for the trip. The requests for permission to travel outside the state will have to be sent to Rashtrapati Bhavan anywhere between one week to six weeks before the date of travel, depending on whether the tour is official or private and the destination is in India or abroad.
Every request will also have to be marked to the Prime Minister’s principal secretary Nripendra Misra and home minister Rajnath Singh.
To ensure Raj Bhavans do not pass off private visits as official, the governors will also have to send their detailed itinerary to the President for every official visit — domestic or foreign — and keep Rashtrapati Bhavan posted about any changes.
The provisions — incorporated in the Governors (Allowances and Privileges) Rules 1987 — also restrict governors from travelling on official visits for more than 20% of the days in a calendar year.
The new rules were notified after several instances of governors abusing their privileges came to light.
Former Gujarat governor Kamla Beniwal — who was sacked within weeks of transferring her to Mizoram last year — has been the most prominent.
One of the grounds for her removal was that she had used the state aircraft to travel to her home state, Rajasthan, on nearly 53 occasions. The public exchequer footed the bills as her office classified these visits as official. But there are others as well.