New Delhi: Non-BJP ruled states raised the issue of misuse of Article 356 by the Central government on Saturday while Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar went to the extent of demanding abolition of the post of Governor altogether.
Nitish said that the existing federal democratic structure does not warrant continuance of the post of Governor.
His remarks at the Inter-State Council meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came against the backdrop of the Supreme Court's severe criticism of the Arunachal Pradesh Governor over dismissal of the Congress government in the state and some opposition-ruled states accusing the occupants in Raj Bhawans of working politically at the Centre's behest.
Nitish’s demand was echoed by the Chief Ministers of West Bengal and Tripura- Mamata Banerjee and Manik Sarkar- who criticised the role of Governor and the Centre’s repeated move to usurp powers of the state in the name of internal security during the meeting.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal suggested that the Council pass a resolution that President’s Rule should not be imposed in any State unless the government fails to prove its majority on the floor of the assembly.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who was represented at the meeting by her finance minister O Panneerselvam, called for preventing “adventurism by governors”.
NDA ally Shiromani Akali Dal accused Centre of reducing states to the status of “mere beggars”, according to a statement issued by the office of party president Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Nitish, in the meeting, said that if it is not possible to do away with the constitutional post, the discretionary powers that go with it be curtailed. He also said the Chief Minister of a state should have a role in the appointment and removal of the Governor.
"Existing federal democratic structure does not warrant continuance of the gubernatorial post. However, if it is not possible to do away with it, then our opinion is that provisions relating to the appointment of Governor must be
clearly defined and made transparent.
"Besides, the Chief Minister of the state should also be consulted and the criteria laid down by Sarkaria Commission should be followed in the Governor's appointment. The propensity to change the Governor, whenever a new Government is formed must be curbed by making constitutional provisions," JD(U) President said.
The state's Chief Minister must be formally consulted before removal of incumbent Governor and, if required, Article 155 of the Constitution may be amended to provide for such consultation, he added, according to an official statement.
Referring to the Punchhi Commission report on the Centre- state relations, he said it has also recommended that for a Chief Minister's removal, the Governor must give the Leader of the House an opportunity to prove majority on the floor of the House.
"This must be followed in letter and spirit," he said. The Modi government's decision to impose President's Rule in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand invited criticism that it misused constitutional provisions. The apex court's
verdicts in both the cases led to the restoration of Congress governments.
Kumar, who has imposed prohibition in Bihar, pitched for a complete ban on selling and consuming liquor across the country and said the Constitution also mentions it.
Nitish Kumar said his government was not getting desired support from the neighbouring states, which include Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, in enforcing total prohibition and urged them to not give licences for opening liquor shops within two km of their borders with Bihar.
He also spoke against raising a new central institution or mechanism in matters relating to law and order and said it may turn out to be a hindrance in the Centre-State relations.
"Any step in such sensitive matters should be taken only after detailed discussions with the state government and after forming a consensus," he said.
Bihar, he noted, is the first state to have a law for confiscating the property acquired through proceeds of crime by left wing extremists and this initiative has paid "dividends". Kumar said other states may emulate it.
He asked the Finance Ministers to delegate the state police the power to seize assets up to Rs 5 crore under the Money Laundering Act and said it will be a "game changer" in controlling organised crime.
The Chief Minister also made a fresh pitch for special category status to Bihar and other backward states.