There have been a lot of debates and tweets of unsavoury nature on the above topic with reference to my State of Tamil Nadu.

At the outset it must be mentioned that the distinction between the Articles 175 and 176 of the Constitution is obvious. Article 176 is the Special Address, which is a Ceremonial Address by the Governor either at the beginning of a term of the State Legislature or at the beginning of every Calendar year. Therefore the Special Address by the Governor is designed when a new Government is formed in the State or when a new calendar Year dawns in any state of the country.

Therefore contextually when we look at the intent of the Constitution makers it is obvious that when a new government, as the expressed will of the people of a state, takes charge of the governance, their Statement of Intent has to be expressed through the document. Therefore the State Government- which means the State Cabinet would have to formulate its Address and with the approval of the Governor that statement has to be delivered by the Governor within the State Legislature, and in the place assigned for the congregation of all the elected representatives of the people of that State, as he is the Ceremonial head of the State.

The address is to be solemn in its content and delivery. The objections if any should be ironed out between the Governor and his State Government. Therefore a draft has to be sent and once the approval of that draft is obtained, considering the solemnity of the occasion and the expression of intent of the course, the Governor has to follow the text.

This is no occasion for the Governor to indulge in editing, which should have been followed prior to the event.

But the rights that flow out of Article 175 is distinct and different from Article 176. By virtue of Article 175, the Governor, being the agent of the President of India for that particular State, it would be within the Governor’s remit to alert the President through the Union Government concerning the National issues relating to List 1 and List 3 of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution and have an oversight over any legislative threat, anxiety or attempt to bring into conflict a Union List entry with that of the State List entry; or any administrative measure that might undermine the sovereignty of the Union’s functions, in such a scenario, the Governor should advise the State Government and if the Cabinet is not amenable, then the Governor has a constitutional Right to summon the State Legislature and voice his/her concerns and even admonish them. A discussion could be held by the State Legislature and remedial measures taken. It is that right which is to be exercised by the Governor under Article 175.

The confusion has risen more from the Rules enacted in terms of the rule making power given by the Constitution to the State Legislature.

The Tamil Nadu legislative assembly rules

11. At the first sitting of the Assembly after the Governor has addressed the House under Article 176 or under Article 175 of the Constitution a copy of the Governor’s address shall be placed on the Table of the House.

12.(1) Under Article 176(2) of the Constitution, the Speaker shall, in consultation with the Business Advisory Committee allot the time necessary for the discussion of the matters referred to in the Governor’s Address under Article 176(1):

Provided that, if the Business Advisory Committee has not been Constituted or is not functioning the Speaker shall, in consultation with the Leader of the House, allot the time referred to in the above sub-rule.

Let us now advert to the Article 176:

176. Special address by the Governor.

(1) At the commencement of the first session after each general election to the Legislative Assembly and at the commencement of the first session of each year, the Governor shall address the Legislative Assembly or, in the case of a State having a Legislative Council, both Houses assembled together and inform the Legislature of the causes of its summons.

(2) Provision shall be made by the rules regulating the procedure of the House or either House for the allotment of time for discussion of the matters referred to in such address.

There is no conflation of Article 176 and 175, and the directive to make provisions in the Rules are specific to Article 176 – which is Governor’s Special Address.

Whereas when we read Article 175, it is clear that the Governor addresses his concerns for “consideration” and “remedial measures” by the State Legislature. But if the Legislature is insistent and the Governor is of the opinion that he has to take some steps, then he can send a report to the Union Government, thereby requesting for usage of the Presidential powers (under the aid and advice of the Union Government).

Hence the Governors are not entirely helpless, if there are issues relating to domains for which the States are not competent, then the Governor could report the trenching, referrals of alert on administrative matters but the Governor is definitely not in a state to express his/her opinions on political matters or to shape it according to his will or judgement- for whatever reason. The Governor should always be aware of his/her office as one with solemnity and ceremony and that he is a NOMINATED REPRESENTATIVE of the Union Government and not a DIRECTLY ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PEOPLE.

Skipping pre-approved drafts of Special addresses, delivered under Article 176 of the Constitution of India, is to be considered as a serious affront to the will of the people of Tamil Nadu.