Kochi: Senior leaders of the ruling CPI(M) and the Opposition Congress on Thursday, November 17, 2022, were of the same view that Governors were being used by the Centre to allegedly subvert or create a nuisance for the elected governments in non-BJP ruled States. The partymen were in agreement also on issues like: Governors ought not to indefinitely hold on to bills enacted by the State Assembly and that they (governors) are bound to function as per the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
While the two agreed on the Constitutional powers of Governors, they differed on whether the gubernatorial position should be done away with and on the present contentious issue of appointments in the State universities.
Speaking at a conference on the powers of a Governor under the Constitution held at the Kerala High Court, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly V D Satheesan said reports on the conflict between the State governments and Governors were coming from several parts of the country.
“There are complaints of Governors creating a nuisance for elected governments,” the Congress leader said at the event organised by the Kerala High Court Advocates Association and Constitution Debate Club.
A similar view was shared by senior CPI(M) leader and former State Finance Minister Thomas Isaac. He said, “Governors are being used as a political instrument to subvert every non-BJP government.”
The Chief Minister and the Ministers of his Cabinet do not hold office at the pleasure of the Governor, the two leaders said with Isaac terming the same as a laughable proposition. The remarks assume significance as Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has been allegedly dithering on assent to two Bills enacted by the legislature regarding Lok Ayukta and State universities.
Khan recently sought Constitutionally-appropriate action against State Finance Minister K N Balagopal by writing to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan that Balagopal no longer enjoys the pleasure of the Governor. The two political leaders were, on the other hand, divided on whether the position of Governor should be abolished and the issue of appointments being made in the Kerala universities.
While Satheesan said he was of the view that the post of Governor should be done away with, Isaac disagreed by saying there should be a nominal Constitutional head to dissolve, prorogue Assemblies and monitor whether an elected government enjoys majority, among others. Isaac, too, was of the view that what was happening in connection with the universities was allegedly an attempt to subvert the university education. He said whether UGC regulations were superior to State legislation was not a settled issue.
However, Satheesan said the Supreme Court has held that UGC regulations are to be followed while appointing Vice-Chancellors to universities and therefore, it was settled position of law presently. He claimed that the State government was interfering in the functioning of the universities, which Isaac did not agree with.