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Odisha headed by a non-warranted non-notified Governor !

 

Last updated Monday June 09, 2014

ODISHA, GOVERNOR, PRESIDENT OF INDIA, PADMAJA NAIDU, CONSTITUTION OF INDIA  
 

"The confusing part in the Article 156 (3) is that the clause doesn’t clarify how long a Governor can continue without any notification from the office of the President of India. The other question is if there is a time frame for the Office of the President of India to notify for a new governor or extension of term for the reigning Governor.

 

Vivekananda Dash

 
 

Muralidhar Chandrakant Bhandare still continues to stay/ overstay in RajBhavan, the official residence of Odisha Governor, even after his 5 year term is over. He entered into the official residence RajBhavan on August 21, 2007 and took oath as Governor of Odisha after he got appointed as Governor of Odisha by an official warrant from the President of India which was duly registered in the Gazette following the norms described in the Constitution of India (Article 155: The Governor of a state shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal). His 5 year term expired on 20 August 2012.

For Muralidhar Chandrakant Bhandare to continue as Governor of Odisha, there has been no official announcement or notification, as on date of publication (October 21, 2012) since expiry of his term, by the office of the Governor of Odisha or the President of India regarding a fresh appointment or extension of term.

 

Article 156 (3) says, subject to the forgoing provisions of the article, a Governor shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office: Provided that a Governor notwithstanding the expiration of his term, continue to hold office until his successor enters upon his office.

It means, Bhandare's overstay in office is not derived from the first sentence of Article 156 (3) but from the last line of the above referred clause, which has no precedent. Rather, there are instances of Governors quitting RajBhavan on the very day of expiry of their 5 year term by handing over the charge to the Chief Justice, without bothering whether or not their successors had entered upon the office. Thus Justice Gatikrushna Mishra, Justice S K Ray and Justice Ranganath Mishra had to serve their stint as Governor of Odisha.

On verification of the legal implications in such a situation, Constitutional experts and Political Scientists of Odisha, while quoting Article 156 (3), opine that there is nothing wrong in Bhandare continuing in Odisha RajBhavan and discharging the duties as Governor. Some of them also added that because it involves the dignity of the highest constitutional post of the state, he should have vacated RajBhavan on moral ground as no order of an extended term is issued by the President and notified in the Gazette of India.

However, the confusing part in the Article 156 (3) is that the clause doesn’t clarify how long a Governor can continue without any notification from the office of the President of India. The other question is if there is a time frame for the Office of the President of India to notify for a new governor or extension of term for the reigning Governor even though Article 156 (1) describes the term of office of Governor saying that, ‘The Governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.’

A similar situation occurred in West Bengal in the year 1967 where Padmaja Naidu, daughter of Sarojini Naidu and the former Governor of West Bengal, continued to be in RajBhavan even after expiry of her second term anticipating a notification for her third consecutive term. But situation took such a mysterious turn that she preferred to resign and vacate the RajBhavan.

The situation aroused after a colliery owner from Bankura was arrested on the basis of an order from the Governor of West Bengal, the venerable Padmaja Naidu then serving even after expiry of her second consecutive term. Because the client was an important one, the best legal minds of that time such as, E R Meyer, R C Deb, Sidhartha Shankar (Manu) Ray and, of course, Subimal Roy, the nephew of WB Chief Minister Dr. B C Roy, were consulted.

In the course of conference, it was found that Padmaja Naidu’s appointment for the third term was not registered in the Gazette of India and there was no warrant of appointment, though it was obligatory for the President of India to issue a fresh warrant of appointment after the expiry of each five year term! The appointment of Padmaja Naidu was duly registered for the first and second terms but not for the third term. Considering that the Governorship of Padmaja without an official warrant and Gazette notification was invalid, and so was any order passed in her name, it was decided by the team of lawyers to file a writ of habeas corpus and quo warranto under the Specific Relief Act, challenging the appointment of the Governor. The issue became so grave that Niren De, the Attorney General of India then, rushed down from New Delhi to argue the matter on behalf of the Union of India. However, when Padmaja Naidu came to know about the fiasco, she chose to resign.

Now, the President of India is from the same state where validity and legality of a Governor continuing without a formal official warrant and Gazette notification were once challenged. And, making a Governor to continue, after expiry of notified term, without an official warrant and Gazette notification seems to be undermining the significance and constitutional importance of the highest office of the State. So, in order to uphold the dignity of the highest office of a province and avoid any controversy over the validity and legality, as it happened with Padmaja Naidu in West Bengal, officiating Governors must be duly empowered with the official warrant and a proper Gazette notification.

[Author is the Editor of Odia language fortnightly 'Janatantra']

 
 

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