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'Punjab Governor Hasn't Taken Proper Oath Since Assuming Office,' Alleges Lawyer

Although Banwarilal Purohit was administered the oath of office as acting governor, he has not taken oath after being made regular governor of the state.

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New Delhi: A practising lawyer of the Punjab and Haryana high court has alleged that Punjab governor Banwarilal Purohit has still not been administered a proper oath as per the constitution in spite of the fact that he was appointed to the post on September 9.

Purohit, who was earlier governor of Tamil Nadu, had been appointed to discharge the functions as governor of Punjab in addition to his own duties on August 27.

In a representation, advocate Hemant Kumar has stated that the oath Purohit took as acting governor when he was given the additional charge of Punjab was distinctly different from that which is administered when a governor gets full charge of a state.

Speaking to The Wire, he said, the discrepancy appears to have arisen because this was one of those rare cases where an acting governor was subsequently given a regular post. He said, usually, a different person is chosen as a regular governor of a state instead of the post going to an acting one.

Referring to the provisions of the constitution with respect to the oath, Kumar said on August 27, the President of India appointed Purohit, then governor of Tamil Nadu, to discharge the functions as the governor of Punjab, in addition to his own duties until regular arrangements were made.

In pursuance of this order, he said, the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana high court, Justice Ravi Shankar Jha administered the oath to Banwarilal Purohit as (acting) governor of Punjab on August 31, 2021.

Quoting from Article 159 of Constitution of India, Kumar said with respect to “oath or affirmation by the governor”, it lays down that “every governor and every person discharging the functions of the governor shall, before entering upon his office, make and subscribe in the presence of the Chief Justice of the High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to the State, or, in his absence, the senior-most judge of that Court available, an oath or affirmation in the following form,” that is to say —

“I, A.B., do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm________________ that I will faithfully execute the office of Governor (or discharge the functions of the Governor) of ……… (name of the State) and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law and that I will devote myself to the service and well-being of the people of …………. (name of the State).”

As such, Kumar said, Purohit took the oath as acting governor while reading that he will faithfully discharge the functions of the governor of Punjab.

The advocate, then referred to how two months ago, on July 15, 2021 when Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana high court, Justice Ravi Shankar Jha, had administered oath to Bandaru Dattatreya as governor of Haryana, the latter in his oath had read that he will faithfully execute the office of governor of Haryana.

Thus, he said, it becomes crystal clear that when a person takes over as regular governor of a state, he while taking oath or affirmation reads that he or she will faithfully execute the office of governor of that state. On the other hand, when a person takes over as acting governor of a state, he or she while taking oath or affirmation, avows to faithfully discharge the functions of the governor of the given state.

Explaining that “the difference in both the oaths or affirmations is also substantiated when one reads the text of Article 159 of Constitution of India since the words ‘or discharge the functions of the Governor’ are written in the bracket after the words ‘execute the office of Governor’,” Kumar hoped that suitable action would be initiated to ensure adherence to the constitutional norms.