The parliamentary control over government and administration in India is more theoretical than
practical. Discuss.

  • Introduce with a short note on the doctrine of separation of powers.
  • Highlight why some parliamentary control over the government and administration is important.
  • Discuss the various modes through which the Indian parliament exercises control over the executive.
  • Mention some reasons behind the ineffectiveness of the same.
    The Constitution establishes a Parliamentary form of government in which the executive is responsible
    to the Parliament for its acts and policies. Members of the cabinet are chosen from legislature itself. The
    ministers are collectively responsible to the Parliament in general and Lok Sabha in particular. They
    continue to be in the office as long as they enjoy confidence of the majority of members in the Lok
    The Parliament exercises control over the executive through the question hour, zero hour, short
    duration discussion, tools such as calling attention motion, adjournment motion, no-confidence motion,
    censure motion, etc. It also supervises the activities of the executive through its committees such as
    Committee on Government Assurance, Committee on Subordinate Legislation, etc.
    Any legislation to be enacted requires approval from a majority of members of both houses of the
    Parliament. Even the rules and regulations coming out of delegated/executive legislation need to be
    tabled before the Parliament for their examination.
    The Parliament also exercises the budgetary control and post budgetary control over the executive in
    financial matters. No tax can be levied or collected and no expenditure can be incurred by the Executive
    without the approval of the Parliament. The Parliament also scrutinizes government spending and
    financial performance with the help of its committees.
    However, in reality the parliamentary control over the executive is more theoretical than practical. The
    following factors are responsible for this:
  • The administration has grown in volume and the Parliament has neither the time nor the expertise
    to control it.
  • Parliamentarians are usually laymen who face difficulty in understanding the demands for grants
    which is technical in nature.
  • The Executive enjoys legislative leadership owing to majority support. Consequently, it plays a
    significant role in formulating policies and minimises the possibility of effective criticism.
  • The public expenditure is examined by the committees after it has been incurred not before it.
  • The scope of financial control has also been reduced due to increased recourse to ‘guillotine’.
  • The expansion of ‘delegated legislation’ has increased the powers of the bureaucracy and reduced
    the law making powers of the parliament.
  • Lack of strong, steady and principled opposition has also reduced the effectiveness of legislative
    control over administration.
    Since, the parliamentary control is quite sporadic, general and political in nature, thus it can inferred that
    legislative control over the government and administration in India is more theoretical than practical and
    the control is not that effective as it ought to be.


Why did the Constituent Assembly replace the original plan to have elected governors in favour of
appointment by the President? Also, bring out the arguments that are raised against the current form
of appointment of Governors.

  • Discuss why the Constituent Assembly replace the original plan to have elected Governors in favour
    of appointment by the President.
  • State the arguments raised against the current form of appointment of Governors.
  • Mention the recommendations of various Committees in this regard.
  • Conclude on the basis of the above points.

The Governor is the Chief Executive head of a state in India. There was a unanimous understanding in
the Constituent Assembly that Governors will be agents of the Central government, almost like the
Governors appointed during the British rule. However, the Assembly was initially divided on the
method of election of the Governor and his/her role in the state.
Eventually, the Assembly concluded that a directly elected Governor would challenge the authority of
the Chief Minister. They did not want alternate centres of power at the state level. Further, they
adhered to the Parliamentary Executive system, wherein the heads of the state and government were to
be elected indirectly and directly respectively. Also, since the Governor plays a unique role in the
balancing the scheme of Indian federal system, thus, it was agreed that the Governor would be
appointed and removed by the President, who shall hold office during the ‘pleasure of the President’.
The arguments that are raised against the current form of appointment of Governors include:

  • Instability: The appointment and removal of the Governors are deemed to be abrupt as they are
    frequently changed when there is a change in the government at the Centre. In B.P. Singhal Vs.
    Union of India (2010), the SC stated that Governors should not be removed or transferred arbitrarily.
  • Nepotism: The ruling parties have often used the office of the Governor to reward loyalists and thus
    it has become retirement home for politicians.
  • Misuse of Constitutional provisions: There have been instances when the Governors have arbitrarily
    imposed Article 356 in the states upon the directives of the Central government. E.g. imposition of
    Article 356 in Uttarakhand in 2016, Jammu and Kashmir in 2018, etc.
  • Seen as representatives of the center: The Governors are deemed as ‘agents of the Centre’ by the
    state governments who feel that they serve the interests of the Centre as opposed to states’
  • Misuse of discretionary power: The Governor’s discretionary power under Article 163 has been
    misused despite it being a limited power. In 2016, the SC struck down the unilateral actions of the
    Governor of Arunachal Pradesh in summoning an Assembly session and sending messages to the
    Assembly as unconstitutional.
    Thus, the arguments against the current form of appointment are centered on the issue of arbitrary
    decision-making and exclusion of the state Executive in this regard. In this context, the Venkatachalliah
    and Punchhi Commissions have argued for the security of tenure of the Governors and localizing of
    Emergency provisions under Articles 355 and 356 of the Constitution.
    Similarly, the Sarkaria Commission opined that the Governors should be allowed to complete their
    tenure of five years except for extremely compelling reasons. Governorships should be given to eminent
    persons with impeccable credentials rather than treating it as a post-retirement job for politicians.
    The Governor is the head of the state. Therefore, it is pertinent to maintain the integrity of his/her office
    by addressing the concerns related to the current form of appointment of governors.