DC Edit | Kerala gov must be reined in
The threat of Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan that he will “withdraw pleasure” from ministers who make statements that “lower the dignity of the office of the governor” betrays his total lack of respect for the Constitution and disregard for the system of democratic governance. President Droupadi Murmu, at whose pleasure Mr Khan remains in office, must ensure that the Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram is occupied by a person who adheres to constitutional principles.
The Constitution does say that ministers remain in office during the pleasure of the governor but the basic premise of democracy and the interpretations of the Constitution by courts say that such “pleasure” is not individual but that the governor acts only on the advice of the council of ministers. Mr Khan clearly refuses to go by the Constitution and, instead, has inadvertently, or not, challenged it.
Reports suggest that Mr Khan was provoked by a statement by higher education minister R. Bindu saying that he follows the diktat of the RSS. He is very well within his rights to think that the statement lowers the dignity of his office. There are provisions in the Constitution that stipulate the grounds that make a minister ineligible to remain in office, but making statements against the governor is not one among them. By insisting otherwise, Mr Khan has invented a new law unto himself that is tantamount to undermining the Constitution.
Ministers are expected to work for the welfare of the people as guided by the provisions of the Constitution. Holding a threat to them will clearly put them under stress, and come in the way of their ability to function. Mr Khan is thus guilty of not only violating his oath of office that he will work for the welfare of the people but also of obstructing other constitutional offices from doing their jobs.
If there is anyone to lose his job for lowering the dignity of the office of the governor, it is none other than Mr Khan. The President and the Union government must stop him from committing more acts in breach of the Constitution.