In the party mouthpiece 'Deshabhimani', CPI (M) State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan wrote that the Governor shouldn't have used the word 'summoned.'

Can a Governor summon a CM CPI M says it is against federal system
news Politics Saturday, August 05, 2017 - 14:13

The past week saw a series of political attacks unfold in the state capital Thiruvananthapuram. While CPI (M)- BJP/RSS clashes have become a common problem in politically-sensitive districts like Kannur, the fact that a number of political attacks were reported from Thiruvananthapuram in a matter of three days, is alarming. 

As the Kerala state government deployed additional police personnel in the capital city in an attempt to restore peace, the state's Governor P Sathasivam met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Director General of Police (DGP) on Sunday.

After the Governor met both of them, he shared it via a series of Tweets. The first one read: 

"Summoned Chief minister @CMOKerala and State Police Chief to know about the action taken by State govt on law and order issues in Trivandrum." 

However, days after the CM and the DGP apprised the Governor of the action taken against the recent political attacks, there have been debates over the kind of language used by the Governor. 

Several critics and political observers opined that the Governor shouldn't have used the word "summoned" in the context of seeking a meeting with a state's Chief Minister, who is an elected representative in a democratic setup. 

While the CM himself has remained silent on the controversy, CPI (M) State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has now made his objection public. 

On Friday, the senior Communist leader wrote in the party mouthpiece 'Deshabhimani' that the Governor should have restrained himself from using the word 'summoned'. Kodiyeri said that it was not in accordance with the spirit of a federal system. 

"Law and order is a state subject. The state government will not let anyone interfere in it and rule the state. In this case, the Governor's role is only one of an adviser. If the CM hadn't met the governor at the Raj Bhavan when the former sought a meeting, then that would have created a huge controversy by itself. Their meeting was cordial. But post the meeting, the governor tweeted that he had summoned the CM, which is against the spirit of a federal nation. The governor should have restrained himself from making such a Twitter post," Kodiyeri wrote. 

Kodiyeri also said that a Governor's post was constitutional, an ornamental one. 

Further, he wrote that the central government often use Governors as their political tool to act against state governments ruled by their rival political parties.  

"The RSS-backed BJP central government, in fact, is using many Governors to topple the state governments and for their own political gains. The Modi government and the Sangh Parivar's intention is to destabilise the Pinarayi Vijayan government," Kodiyeri wrote. 

Saying that the LDF government is mature enough to understand this plot, Kodiyeri said that they do not see the Governor's intervention—trying to restore peace in the state—as the beginning of a war between the state and the centre.

Now, can a Governor really "summon" a Chief Minister? 

Live Law recently published an article on the controversy, in which they explain the constitutional validity of making such a statement. 

Saying that the Governor's intervention was not faulted, the report states: 

"However, his use of the phrase “summoned” to seek a meeting with the Chief Minister is inconsistent with Constitutional propriety, more so because both the Governor and the Chief Minister are Constitutional functionaries." 

While 167 (a) of the Constitution says that it is the duty of a CM to communicate to the Governor all decisions by the Council of Ministers, 167 (b) says that a Governor can call for that information, according to which, the CM shall furnish the said information. 

The article further reads: The language used in Article 167(b) makes it clear that there is nothing wrong if the Governor wants the Chief Minister to furnish information relating to the law and order of the State. The word “summon” carries an element of direction, which is missing in Article 167(b).   If the  Governor calls for some information, the Chief Minister is required to furnish it."