October 14, 2020 11:41:26 pm
Constitutional and legal experts on Wednesday said Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari – who sent a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday, mockingly asking if he had turned “secular” — has committed constitutional impropriety and deserved to be sacked.
“The Maharashtra Governor has… committed constitutional impropriety and is politically motivated. The Governor is under oath to protect the Constitution and should under no condition violate constitutional provisions. But here, he has blatantly violated the Constitution,” said Constitution expert Ulhas Bapat.
Bapat said the Governor has to act on the advice of the Council of Ministers. “At best, he can make suggestions and is not supposed to issue directions,” he said.
In this case, Bapat said the Governor was behaving in a politically motivated manner. “Koshyari is the Governor of the state and not a political leader. He should remember this in every action of his, but in this case his action is politically motivated as the BJP has been holding protests, seeking the opening of places of worship, and the Governor is siding with the party,” he said.
However, Bapat said the Governors appointed during the Congress’s regime were no different. “Governors during Congress regime also functioned as the party’s agents. They, however, did not get a chance to openly express their sentiment against the government’s action. The Congress, which often enjoyed two-third majority, indulged in frequently dismissing the state governments on the basis of reports submitted by the governor to the President…The President also has to act on the advice of the Council of Ministers.”
Bapat said now that the Governor has “violated the Constitution openly”, the President should sack him. “Since whatever the Governor has said violated the Constitution, it becomes a fit case for his sacking. The President should immediately recall him,” he said.
Former Supreme Court judge, Justice P B Sawant, said Governor Koshyari has violated the Constitution as well as conventions. “The day he gave the oath at 6.45 am to Chief Minister (Devendra Fadnavis) and Deputy Chief Minister (Ajit Pawar), he had violated the Constitution and the convention…From that day, he has continued till day,” he said.
Terming the Governor’s latest action an affront to the Constitution, Justice Sawant said, “I doubt the President will take any action against the Governor because of obvious reasons.”
Former Bombay High Court judge, Justice B G Kolse-Patil, said, “The Governor’s behaviour is not surprising. Since 2014, ‘manuvadi’ forces have taken over all the constitutional machinery in the country. The ‘manuvadi’ forces are trying to rule the country as per the Manusmriti, not as per the Constitution.”
Expressing doubts on whether the President will sack the Governor, the former judge said, “When the Governor installed the BJP-led government last year in the early hours of morning, he should have been sacked that time itself. He violated the Constitution then and has been repeatedly violating the Constitution since… but he has been allowed to continue.”
Alleging that the Governor was functioning as the “Governor of BJP”, Justice Kolse-Patil said, “Koshyari is functioning like a BJP leader and trying to carry out the BJP’s agenda… the Governor cannot dictate terms to the government, he has to act on the advice of the Council of Ministers..”
The Chief Minister’s letter, said Kolse-Patil, was a befitting reply to the Governor’s attempt to “trample upon the Constitution”.
Demanding recall of the Govenor, NCP spokesperson Ankush Kakade said, “The Governor’s action was unwarranted and a clear violation of the Constitution. He is playing politics, which he is not supposed to do. We have urged the President to immediately recall him. If the President is serious about the sanctity of our Constitution, then we are confident he will sack the Governor.”
Congress spokesperson Gopal Tiwari said,”The Governor is behaving like the leader of a political party. He is carrying forward the agenda of the BJP. He is trying to spread false information about the Maha Vikas Aghadi government by stating that we are anti-Hindu. Since he is behaving like a political party leader, he has no right to remain the governor of Maharashtra.”
“There is some dignity attached to the Governor’s office. There are certain protocols and conventions the Governor has to follow. He has blatantly thrown them to the wind,” said NCP leader Umesh Patil.
Shiv Sena leader and deputy speaker of State Legislative Council, Neelam Gorhe, said,”The closure of places of worship belonging to all faith has been taken by the government in the interest and safety of citizens. It has not been done to hurt anyone’s religious sentiments. In places of worships, the chances of the virus spreading is more as a large number of faithful visit them.”
“For Hindu Hriday samrat Balasaheb Thackeray, nationalism was Hindutva and Hindutva was nationalism. …it will take time for the government to come up with SOPs. The faithful can always pray from the confine of their homes,” said Gorhe.
Kishore Tiwari, who heads the state government-run Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission, said, “The Governor has time to meet an actress but has no time for the distressed farmers who are committing suicide.”
Tiwari said the Governor is not doing anything to uphold the Constitution which he is duty-bound to do. “Instead, he is repeatedly violating the Constitution. And it is shocking to find that no action is being taken against him. When he illegally and unconstitutionally installed a BJP-led government, he should have been sacked. He was allowed to continue, which has emboldened him to violate the Constitution repeatedly,” he said.
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