Governor’s to fast decision triggers debate

In response to a call by Gandhian organisations against dowry

Governor Arif Mohammed Khan’s decision to join a fast against the practice of dowry on Wednesday has triggered an intense debate with some legal experts questioning the Constitutional propriety of the decision.

Mr. Khan has decided to go on a fast in response to a call made by some Gandhian organisations. The Governor will join the fast from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the day “to create awareness against giving and taking dowry,” according to an official communication from Raj Bhavan.

He will attend a prayer meeting to be held from 4.30 p.m. at Gandhi Bhavan, Thycaud, the communication said. Incidentally, Mr. Khan had paid a visit to the house of the alleged victim of the social practice and consoled her parents.

Matter of propriety

C.P. Sudhakara Prasad, former Advocate General of Kerala, said the Governor himself was the right person to gauge the Constitutional propriety of his decision to fast. However, there was no legal issues involved in his decision. The call for fasting was given by a few Gandhian organisations, Mr. Prasad said.

However, T. Asaf Ali, former Director General of Prosecution, Kerala, felt that the decision of the Governor was something unheard of in the Constitutional history of the country. The Governor abdicated his Constitutional responsibilities by deciding to fast. Upholding his gubernatorial responsibilities, Mr. Khan should have called for a report from the Chief Minister of the State on dowry deaths and related issues rather than staging a public fast, Mr. Ali said.

A first

Noting that it would be for the first time in the Constitutional history of the country that a Governor had decided to join a fast organised by some public organisations, Mr. Ali said the act of the Governor went against his own high office.

The Governor is bound to uphold the Constitutional principles and can report to the President, instances of break down of law and order situation and the Constitutional mechanism. If the Governor was of the view that the law and order situation had worsened in the State or the Constitutional mechanism failed, he should invoke the provisions of the Constitution to address the situation, Mr. Ali said.

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