In what may settle the debate over the role of the governor in Schedule V areas,the Law ministry has issued circulars to all law officers stating the Attorney Generals view that the Governor has discretionary powers in such areas will now be the government position.
The ministrys circular is in response to a letter by Minister for Tribal Affairs V Kishore Chandra Deo asking Law Minister Kapil Sibal to consider the matter in light of an affidavit filed by Assistant Solicitor General Fouzia Mirza in the Bilaspur High Court,Chhattisgarh.
Mirza had stated that the governor had no discretionary powers over the formulation of rules,laws and general administration under the Schedule V of the Constitution. Deo,in his letter to Sibal,had said the ASG had taken a contradictory position without any substantive basis and that it was an act of professional impropriety. Law ministry officials said the government is unhappy with Mirzas actions.
Deo had on April 4 written a letter to governors of Schedule V areas stating the powers of the governor in such areas are unbridled and unfettered. The governor may repeal or amend any Act of Parliament or of the legislature of the state or any existing law which is for the first time being applicable to the Area in question,when good governance or peace is disturbed due to issues related either with land or money lending, he stated.
He based his argument on the opinion Attorney General G E Vahanvati in 2010 that said,In performance of the functions and exercise of powers under the Schedule V,the governor is not bound by the aid and advice by the Council of Ministers.
Sibal had on May 23 said the A-G opinion prima facie appeared to be correct. He ,however,said the issue needed to be examined based on the circumstances under which Mirza had filed her submissions.
The circular to all law officers was issued last month. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs,however,is yet to receive an official response from Sibal.
Deo has been urging governors of Schedule V areas to use their powers to protect tribal rights by preventing mining activities in such areas. He recently wrote to Orissa Governor S C Jamir on the issue following the Supreme Court judgment over bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hills.