A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking the removal of West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar was dismissed by the Calcutta High Court on Friday.
Lawyer Ram Prasad Sarkar filed the petition claiming that the Governor was acting as a mouthpiece of the Bharatiya Janata Party. According to Sarkar, the Governor was interfering in the functioning of the state of affairs and maligning the image of West Bengal government.
The bench of Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava and Justice Rajshri Bharadwaj referred to Article 361 of the Indian Constitution which states that “a Governor cannot be made answerable to any court for the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of his office or for any act done or purporting to be done by him in the exercise and performance of those powers and duties.”
The plea contended that the governor cannot treat an elected state government as a second fiddle.
“The governor ought not to perform any executive functions in a personal capacity. Federalism is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution. This fundamental feature of the Constitution ought not to be ignored. Therefore, the governor cannot treat an elected state government as a second fiddle. The longer Mr. Dhankar stays as Governor, there is a chance of the situation going from bad to worse, in which the Governor himself is a party.”
Sarkar stated that no security of tenure for Governor of the state makes it difficult for him to take decisions impartially and independently.
“Immunity, as guaranteed to the Governor under Article 361 of the Constitution of India, is not absolute and that actions of the Governor are subject to judicial scrutiny when challenged for arbitrarines, dishonesty and bad faith.”
The court observed that there is a complete bar on the issue of notice to the Governor in any court proceeding and such immunity granted to the Governor can only be interfered with in a case where personal malafide has been proven.
“It has been clarified that such judicial review is permissible when a case is made out on the ground of arbitrariness and malafides. A consensus to the extent that a governor can be removed only for valid reasons and that physical and mental incapacity, corruption and behaviour unbecoming of a governor are the valid grounds for removal has been taken note of.”
The bench referred to the other judgements of Supreme Court in Nabam Rebia vs Registrar General, Gauhati High Court and Ora and the Madras High Court judgment in M. Kannadasan vs the Union of India to prove that the Union government cannot be given a direction to remove the Governor of the state.
The court also said that it is not satisfied with the on record material and thus there is no ground to issue any directions to the respondent as prayed in the petition.
“We find that the writ petition is based upon some tweets, one letter of the Governor and the publication made by one newspaper. We are not satisfied that the material placed along with the petition furnishing any ground to entertain the petition or to issue any such direction to the respondent no. 1 as prayed in the petition. Hence, the petition is dismissed.”
Sarkar had also wrote to the Union government and the President requesting the removal of the governor Dhankhar but he received no response.