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  Opinion   Edit  07 Jan 2024  AA Edit | Balaji: SC upholds CM’s primacy

AA Edit | Balaji: SC upholds CM’s primacy

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jan 8, 2024, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Jan 8, 2024, 12:00 am IST

The Supreme Court had to remind governors that they hold no veto power over the right of the state legislatures in lawmaking

The Supreme Court of India. (File Image: PTI)
 The Supreme Court of India. (File Image: PTI)

The Supreme Court’s refusal to order the removal of V. Senthil Balaji as a minister without portfolio in Tamil Nadu following his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a case linked to a jobs-for-cash scam and its observation that that a governor cannot remove a minister without the chief minister recommending the same not only resonates with constitutional principles and judicial prudence but also leaves the political executive accountable for its decisions of omission and commission.

Governors of several states in India have of late come to believe that they are the real rulers and that they have the decision-making powers, which is a position they may have enjoyed during the British raj, despite the discussions in the Constitutional Assembly and orders of constitutional courts pointing to the titular nature of the post. The Tamil Nadu governor had in fact ordered the dismissal of Mr Balaji from the council of ministers only to retract it hours later when it dawned on him that he had no such powers. Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan last year “withdrew the pleasure” from a minister for the latter commented on some of his utterances and actions. The Supreme Court had to remind governors that they hold no veto power over the right of the state legislatures in lawmaking after finding that several of them thought otherwise.

The motives of the ED may be suspect in several cases but the larger issue of de-criminalisation of politics and clearing the political space of corrupt characters should engage public discourse. The Madras high court was right when it left the decision of retaining the minister in the council of ministers to the chief minister: It was one way of making the chief minister accountable for his decisions and actions. Judicial intervention is not the silver bullet that can solve all the ills of Indian democracy, making the politician accountable is.

Tags: supreme court, constitutional principles, v. senthil balaji, tamil nadu