The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to respond to a petition that has questioned the manner in which the Modi government has been easing out governors appointed by the previous UPA government.
In an urgent hearing on Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi's petition, a bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha issued a notce to the Centre and sought the government's reply in six weeks. The bench also referred the matter to five-judge Constitutional bench to decide on the issue raised by Qureshi.
In his plea, Qureshi had said that he had received calls (on July 30 and August 8) from Home Secretary Anil Goswami, who asked him to resign otherwise he would be removed. On August 12, Raj Bhawan received a letter from the home ministry which said that the President is yet to take a decision.
"The home secretary of the Government of India has no authority to call the Governor of a state, who is his constitutional superior, and ask for his resignation," stated Qureshi's plea. "If the conduct of the Centre and the home secretary will be allowed to continue and not forthwith proscribed, it will jeopardise the constitutional scheme."
On Thursday, the apex court asked Qureshi's counsel, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, if President can't call the Governor to resign, can it be communicated through somebody else?
Sibal said that the Presidential Secretariat, and not the home secretary, can indeed communicate such a thing. Referring to the top court's earlier judgment, Sibal said that a five-judge bench had held that "with the change of government at the Centre, the governors cannot be removed without any reason".
There are three scenarios that can bring to an end the term of office of a governor: when the pleasure of the President ceases, when the term of five years ends and when the Governor resigns.