Font Size



Menu Style

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
(Justice Sarkaria- Edited Image Courtesy: Inter-State Council)
Late Justice R.S. Sarkaria would be turning in his grave at the audacity of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA, Adarsh Shastri, to invoke his name in AAP’s battle against Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and the Centre. 
Earlier this week, Mr. Shastri, who is Arvind Kejriwal’s confidante and AAP spokesperson, had proposed a resolution in Delhi State Assembly seeking amendment of the Constitution to empower State assemblies to impeach governors. He later told reporters that impeachment of governors had been recommended by Sarkaria Commission. 
According to a news story, “he was just making a point in line with the views expressed by the Sarkaria Commission (set up in June 1983) and various courts of law for reforming the federal structure of the Constitution.”
The fact is exactly the opposite. The Commission on Centre-State Relations chaired by Justice R.S. Sarkaria, had trashed the suggestion from different quarters to empower state assemblies to impeach governors. 
In chapter IV of its report submitted in January 1988, Sarkaria Commission concluded: “The fact that it will be impossible to lay down a concrete set of standards and norms for the functioning of a Governor will make it difficult for a Parliamentary Committee or the Supreme Court to inquire into a specific charge against a Governor. Further, while discharging his role as a constitutional sentinel and a vital link between the Union and the State, the Governor may have incurred the displeasure of the political executive in the State.”
It continued: “Therefore, removal of a Governor through a process of impeachment by the State Legislature or in pursuance of a written request from the Chief Minister, followed by a resolution of the Legislative Assembly, may not ensure objectivity and impartiality. The Inter-State Council, too, being a political forum, there is a danger that investigation by it of a charge against a Governor may not be totally free from political bias. Therefore, it would not be the appropriate body to investigate charges against Governors. Thus, none of the procedure suggested in para 4.8.01— (i) can be supported by us.”
Certain constitutional experts have, however, erred in dubbing Mr. Shastri’s proposal as ‘childish’ or ‘absurd’ or as ‘a cheap publicity stunt’.  
The impeachment proposal was considered by two subsequent commissions and was indeed recommended by the one that submitted its report in 2010. More of  this later. 
The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRC), which submitted its report in March 2002, also endorsed Sarkaria Commission’s recommendation.
In its Chapter on ‘Union-State Relations’, NCRC merely recorded the fact that it had issued a consultation paper with a questionnaire on the office of the Governor for eliciting public opinion. The issues raised and the suggestions made in the consultation paper related to amending articles 155, 156, 200 and 201 of the Constitution with a view to entrusting the selection of Governors to a Committee, making the five-year term a fixed tenure, providing for removal only by impeachment and limiting his powers in the matter of giving assent to Bills and reserving them for the consideration of the President.
In May 2001, the consultation paper had advised NCRC to recommend constitutional amendments to facilitate governors’ impeachment by state assemblies on the pattern of Parliament’s power to impeach the President of India. 
The proposal for impeachment of governors also figured extensively in the Supreme Court’s verdict on public interest litigation (PIL) relating to dismissal of four governors by UPA-I regime in July 2004.
In the judgment dated 7th July 2010, the Apex Court, however, did not take any stand on the impeachment proposal. 
The impeachment idea was upgraded into a formal recommendation by the Commission on Centre-State Relations (CCSR) that submitted its seven-volume report in April 2010 under the chairmanship of former Chief Justice of India, Justice Madan Mohan Punchhi.
In the Report’s Volume II on ‘Constitutional Governance and the Management of Centre-State Relations’, CCSR observed: “This Commission is of the view that politicization of the office of Governor to an extent where his appointment is based on whims and fancies of the Central Government is not in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution.”
Punchhi Commission thus recommended: “It is necessary to provide for impeachment of the Governor on the same lines as provided for impeachment of the President in Article 61 of the Constitution. The dignity and independence of the office warrants such a procedure. The "pleasure doctrine" coupled with the lack of an appropriate procedure for the removal of Governors is inimical to the idea of Constitutionalism and fairness. Given the politics of the day, the situation can lead to unsavory situations and arbitrariness in the exercise of power. Of course, such impeachment can only be in relation to the discharge of functions of the office of a Governor or violations of Constitutional values and principles. The procedure laid down for impeachment of President, mutatis mutandis can be made applicable for impeachment of Governors as well.”
Both UPA and Modi regimes have ducked the recommendations of Punchhi Commission as both believe in paying lip service to cooperative federalism. 
Taking these facts in view, Mr. Shastri should again do his groundwork. He should first ask AAP Cabinet whether the predecessor Delhi Government had given its views on Punchhi Commission’s recommendations to Inter-State Council, which is a constitutional body. 
If the previous Government’s views are contrary to AAP Government’s stance on Delhi’s empowerment, then he should urge Kejriwal Cabinet to disown this ‘legacy bag.’ In any case, there is no harm in Kejriwal Government putting on record its stand on Punchhi commission’s recommendations to ISC. 
You are here: Home Miscellaneous AAP Should First do Homework in its Battle Against LG