Doctrine of Pleasure

Doctrine of Pleasure

News: The Governor of Kerala has warned ministers that the statements of individual ministers that lower the  dignity of the Governor’s office can invite action including withdrawal of pleasure.

What is the Doctrine of Pleasure?
• The pleasure doctrine is a concept derived from English common law, under which the crown can dispense  with the services of anyone in its employ at any time.
• In England, the moral rule is that a civil servant of the Crown holds office at the pleasure of the Crown. This  means his services can be terminated at any time by the Crown, without assigning any reason.

Constitutional Provisions in India:
• In India, Article 310 of the Constitution says every person in the defense or civil service of the Union holds  office during the pleasure of the President, and every member of the civil service in the States holds office  during the pleasure of the Governor.
• However, Article 311 imposes restrictions on the removal of a civil servant. It provides civil servants being  given a reasonable opportunity for a hearing on the charges against them.
• There is also a provision to dispense with the inquiry if it is not practicable to hold one, or if it is not  expedient to do so in the interest of national security.
• In practical terms, the pleasure of the President referred to here is that of the Union government, and the  Governor’s pleasure is that of the State government.
• Under Article 164, the Chief Minister (CM) is appointed by the Governor; and the other Ministers are  appointed by the Governor on the CM’s advice.
• It adds that Ministers hold office during the pleasure of the Governor. In a constitutional scheme in which  they are appointed solely on the CM’s advice, the ‘pleasure’ referred to is also taken to mean the right of the  CM to dismiss a Minister and not that of the Governor. In short, the Governor of an Indian State cannot  remove a Minister on his own.

What has been Supreme Court’s stand?
• In Shamsher Singh and Anr vs State of Punjab (1974) – A seven-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme  Court said that the President and Governor, custodians of all executive and other powers under various  Articles, shall exercise their formal constitutional powers only upon and in accordance with the advice of  their Ministers save in a few well-known exceptional situations. 
• In Nabam Rebia vs Deputy Speaker and Ors (2016) - the Supreme Court cited the observations of B R  Ambedkar: “The Governor under the Constitution has no function which he can discharge by himself; no  functions at all. While he has no functions, he has certain duties to perform, and the House will do well to  31 NOVEMBER 2022 GS-2 bear in mind this distinction.” SC ruled that Article 163 of the Constitution does not give the Governor a  general discretionary power to act against or without the advice of his Council of Ministers
• In Mahabir Prasad vs Prafulla Chandra (1969) - The case revolved around the question of the nature of  the governor’s pleasure under article 164(1). The governor's pleasure under article 164(1) is subject to  Article 164(2). Thus, the withdrawal of the governor's pleasure must coincide with the withdrawal of  support to the ministry by the assembly.

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