Oath is co-terminus: Orissa Governor in illegal incumbency

Subhas chandra Pattanayak

assemblyThe budget session of Orissa Assembly commenced on the Valentine’s Day with M. C. Bhandare reading out his customary address as Governor of Orissa.

As he started addressing the House, he faced protests from the Opposition that culminated into a boycott.
The boycott by the Congress party proceeded from its protest against the insipid address of the Governor, as to it, that was nothing but vomit of the State Government’s vapid versions, aimed at reducing the House podium to a medium of its political propaganda.

But the BJP boycott was against misuse of the Assembly by Bhandare who has lost his legitimacy to address the Assembly.

Bhandare is discernibly the most controversial Governor the state has ever had. When he has failed to act as expected of a Governor in times of need of democracy, he has made mockery of the role of Chancellor of Universities to the detriment of education and embarrassment of educationists.

However, by not leaving the Raj Bhawan on completion of his term in August 2012, he has belittled the dignity of the post of Governor.

He has invoked Art.156 (4) of the Constitution of India which is a proviso to Clause 3 of the Article. It allows the Governor to “continue to hold office until his successor enters upon his office”. Bhandari is not entitled to take advantage of this proviso.

From the scheme of this proviso, it is clear that a person may continue in the office of the Governor till his “successor” enters upon his office. This means, when somebody is appointed to become the “successor”, but under certain circumstances he/she is taking time to join, the outgoing person shall continue to hold office during that transit period only. Otherwise, the Governor is to relinquish office at the end of stipulated term of five years, by handing over the charge to the Chief Justice of the State, from whom he/she had taken the oath of office under Art.159.

Both the Articles read together make it unambiguously clear that the Oath of Office a Governor is bound to be administered with at the time joining, is co-terminus with the term of his/her tenure of five years.

It is shocking that Bhandare is continuing as Governor sans a valid oath of office. And, the government of Naveen Patnaik, known for inability to understand the laws and ability to violate the laws, has allowed him to address the Assembly on commencement of its budget session.

Sad, the Legislative Assembly has been used by the State government as a slaughter house of Law relating to the Governor by allowing Bhandare to address it as the Governor when clearly he is in illegal incumbency.

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  1. It is high time Shri M C Bhandare quits a governor. The question is not of his legitimacy to continue as such. The problem is that it is not expected of the governor to bring his own office into controvercy. If the president so desired, he could have been given a further appointment which is available in the constitution itself. But what is the rationale behind this stop-gap arrangement? It is like appointing the governor on an ad hoc basis just as the government appoints the lower level employees and subsequently fires them. My appeal to the president of India: please give him a regular appointment or recall him.

  2. Is the position of Advocate General of Govt. of Odisha now a defunct one ???

    May I pl. ask you if the Office of CJ, HC of Odisha has any role to play, since The CJ only is empowered to administer the OATH of office !!!

    Enlightening Article !
    We the common citizens of this country knew raping (bus driver and other associates in Delhi) in different context but that the DRIVERS of the country also do rape (the law of the land) so openly in broad daylight is a NEWS by orissamatters, interesting.

    • I quite agree with your sentiments Dr Mishra. But in the constitutional set-up that we have adopted for ourselves, the advocate general or the chief justice of the high court have practically no role to play in a situation of this type.As you are aware the advocate general himself is an appointee of the governor and the division of responsibility in the system does not saddle him with any role in the matter. As far as the chief justice is concerned, he only administers the oath of office to the governor before the later enters upon his office. After the oath is administered on the incumbent, the chief justice has no role to play. The appropriate authority in these matters is the president of India who is again guided by the advice tendered by the union cabinet. The real authority is these matters is the union cabinet. But a public spirited individual can always go to the court in a public interest litigation to challenge the continuance of the incumbent.

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