Calcutta High Court dismisses plea seeking removal of Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar
The petitioner had claimed that Dhankhar was a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party and was acting as its mouthpiece.
The Calcutta High Court on Friday dismissed a plea seeking direction to the Union government to remove Jagdeep Dhankhar as the governor of West Bengal, reported Live Law.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajrashi Bharadwaj said that according to Article 361 of the Constitution a governor cannot be given notice for any court proceedings.
It also said that such immunity to the governor can only be interfered with when a personal malafide, or an act carried out in bad faith, has been proven. The court said that it was not satisfied with the material provided by the petitioner to make his case.
The public interest litigation has been filed by lawyer Rama Prasad Sarkar, claiming that Dhankhar was a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party and was acting as its mouthpiece, reported Bar and Bench.
Dhankhar and the West Bengal government have been at loggerheads over several matters since he took over as the governor in 2019. Dhankhar has been a vocal critic of the Mamata Banerjee government. Meanwhile, Banerjee has alleged that Dhankhar interferes with the state government’s functioning.
In his petition, Sarkar claimed that the West Bengal government could be dismissed under Article 365 of the Constitution based on the governor’s report citing “failure of constitutional machinery in the State”. He claimed that a “game plan” was being chalked out to achieve this.
The petition stated that Dhankhar’s observations about the government’s functioning have deeper political repercussions as they can affect the federal structure and amount to a misuse of political office.
“Federalism is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution,” the petition said. “This fundamental feature of the Constitution ought not to be ignored. Therefore, the governor cannot treat an elected state government as a second fiddle. The longer Mr Dhankhar stays as governor, there is a chance of the situation going from bad to worse, in which the governor himself is a party.”
It said that the Centre can remove governors but it was deliberately not taking any action against Dhankhar as the central government’s political interests were being served.
Sankar also argued against the immunity against court proceedings given to governors under Article 361.
“Any failure of the governor to perform her duties under this provision is subject to judicial review by the court, and any mala fide intent or wilful negligence would result in liability being placed on such officer, as provided for under Article 361(1),” he said. “‘Pleasure of the President’ merely refers to this will and wish of the central government.”
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