Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan's predecessor and former Chief Justice P Sathasivam said the Governor had the right to seek a report or clarification on any issue from the state government. “He can ask for the clarification till he is satisfied,” Sathasivam told Onmanorama on Tuesday.
Governor Khan had sought a report from the state government on why it had filed a suit in the Supreme Court challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act without informing him. Nonetheless, Sathasivam only smiled when he was told that Governor Khan was not satisfied with the explanation given by the chief secretary.
The former Governor was non-committal when asked whether it was legal for a state government to bypass the Governor while moving the court on an important issue. “No such sensational issues had cropped up during my five-year tenure. So I cannot comment. Moreover, these questions would be eventually settled by the Supreme Court,” he said.
Sathasivam but was clear that the head of the executive (the Chief Minister) should “as as matter of courtesy” apprise the head of the state (the Governor) of all important issues.
“The Chief Minister or his law minister can meet the Governor and brief him about the proposal at hand. If they are moving the Supreme Court on any major issue of law, they can tell him why the state is moving the court and what were the clauses in the law that the state had found improper and were in disagreement with. This should, as a matter of courtesy, happen in all sensational and important issues,” Sathasivam said.
According to him, there was also nothing unconstitutional about a state Assembly passing a resolution against a Central Act. “A state legislature has the right to express its views,” he said.
However, the former Chief Justice found Governor Khan's media-friendliness extremely amusing. “During the five years I was in Kerala I had taken part in programmes where the media was in attendance. Have you ever seen me talking to the press,” Sathasivam said. “If I had something to tell the Chief Minister, the Governor's office will formally intimate the Chief Minister's Office. And if the Governor had anything to tell the press, especially in his role as Chancellor, the Governor's office will issue a press release,” he said.