The need of the hour is to maintain the decorum of the both legislative houses with Governor’s address in Telangana,  keeping apart the differences. No political grudges will work on constitutional rights. The big questions are – Does the Governor have a right or authority to address the Assembly session? And As the formal head of Legislature, can summon the session and decide to address the Assembly and Council jointly? Here, finds answer with accurate and authentic information.

MP Jain’s ‘Indian Constitutional Law’ (P 328) says, “the Governor’s . Without completion of this formality, the Legislature cannot be said to have legally met. The courts have emphasised that the Governor’s speech is not an idle formality as its purpose is to announce the executive policies and the legislative programme and, therefore, it serves as a springboard for discussions in the Legislature, either for approval or disapproval of administrative policies”.

Anyway, these principles apply in ideal situations, where all constitutional office-holders perform their roles as per the Constitution.

What does the Constitution say?

The Constitution says that the Governor has a right to address and summon the House from time to time. What does it mean? Article 174 deals with the Sessions of the State Legislature, prorogation and dissolution. It says that:

  • • “The Governor shall from time to time summon the House or each House of the Legislature of the State to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit, but six months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session”.
  • • The Governor may from time to time, (a) Prorogue the House or either House; (b) dissolve the Legislative Assembly. Article 175 starts with the expression Right of Governor to address and send messages to the House or Houses. But the text says ‘may’. In law, may always includes ‘may not’.
  • • The Governor may address the Legislative Assembly or, in the case of a State having a Legislative Council, either House of the Legislature of the State, or both Houses assembled together, and may for that purpose require the attendance of members.
  • • The Governor may send messages to the House or Houses of the Legislature of the State, whether with respect to a Bill then pending in the Legislature or otherwise, and a House to which any message is so sent shall with all convenient dispatch consider any matter required by the message to be taken into consideration.
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Article 176 which provided for “Special address by the Governor” said that “the Governor shall address every session of the Legislative Assembly. It was amended within one year of the Constitution, by first amendment in 1951. Amended article says “…at the commencement of first session, after each general election and at the commencement of the first session of each year, the Governor shall address …”. It is, thus mandatory. Governor can summon, and address the joint session or Assembly if there is no council.

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Council’s Advice Essential

However, there is a major limitation on the power of the Governor, who cannot prorogue or summon without the advice of the Council of Ministers. It is the Council of Ministers that decides the business of the House for a session of the Legislature and not the Governor.

As per the rules, the session of House comes to an end only when it is prorogued by the Governor on the advice of the Council of Ministers. The advice of the Council of Ministers decides the Governor’s power to summon and to address, as per the provisions of the Constitution. This is not a convention but a provision of the Constitution spelt out in Article 163(1) which says:
Article 163. Council of Ministers to aid and advise Governor: “There shall be a council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is by or under this constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion”.

Second Meeting of 8th Session

Telangana Legislative Secretary V Narasimha Charyulu issued a letter on 28 Feb 2022 intimating that “the second Meeting of the Eighth Session of the Second Telangana Legislative Assembly will commence at 11.30 AM on Monday, the 7th March 2022…”

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Incidentally, the session which was adjourned a few months ago was not prorogued by the Governor as there was no advice from the Council of Ministers. This means there is no need to summon the House for the next session. It is enough if the Secretary convenes the next meeting of the session because it is a continuation of the Eighth Session. Though the meeting ended sine die, the next meeting is commencing on 7th March as per the notification of the Secretary of Legislature. The contention appears right that this is not the first Session in the new calendar year 2022, and hence, it need not begin with Governor’s address as mandated by Article 176.

Recently, the political atmosphere heated up with the aggressive statements coming from the Chief Minister of Telangana, the Central government as well as the BJP and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). There is no more “friendship between the Governor and the CM” like it was during the first term of K Chandrashekhar Rao as Chief Minister and Governor Narasimhan.

If the Governor and the Chief Minister are on good terms without any friction, generally the Assembly sessions in the new year begin with the address of the Governor. #KhabarLive #hydnews 

(About the author: The author Madhubashi Sridhar is Dean, School of Law, Mahindra University, Hyderabad, and former Central Information Commissioner.)