Case Analysis: H.S. Verma V. T.N. Singh, 1971 Air 1331, 1971 Scr 1
Authored by Pavitra Somani
Keywords: Council of ministers, Collective responsibility, Article 163, Chief Minister, Governor, Head of the State, Qualification.
In India, Chief Minister is the elected head of the each state and also the Union Territories. Although the Constitution of India mentions the Governor to be the head of the State, the Chief Minister gets the executive authority de facto.
Chief Minister’s term usually lasts as per the length of Assembly’s life i.e. a maximum of five years. A Chief Minister leads and heads the council of ministers of the State government and can also be assisted and deputed by the Deputy Chief Minister.
This article deals with the case of H.S. Verma v. T.N. Singh which deals with the issue of appointment of a person as a Chief Minister of U.P., but was not a part of either house of the legislature.
Chief Minister of a State is appointed by the provisions of Constitution of India, which provides that the person should be a citizen of India and also of 25 years of age or more than 25 years. It also provides that the person should be a member of state legislature and if he/she is not a member of the legislatures then he/she must take a sign from the governor. It is also mentioned that if an individual is appointed as a chief minister but is not the member of legislature, he/she will be considered as chief minister if he/she gets elected to the State Legislature within six months of the date of the appointment and if this condition is not fulfilled the individual will cease to be the Chief Minister.
Name of the case: Har Sharan Verma v. Tribhuvan Narain Singh
Name of the Parties: Petitioner: Har Sharan Verma
Tribhuvan Narain Singh, Chief Minister U.P. & Anr.
Citation: 1971 AIR 1331, 1971 SCR 1
Date of Judgement: 16th March, 1971
Bench: Justice S.M. Sikri, Justice J.M. Shelat, Justice C.A. Vaidialingam, Justice A.N. Grover, Justice A.N. Ray.
Concerned Provisions of Law: Article 163(1), 164, 164(4), 132 and 177 of the Constitution of India.
The appellant here is a rate-payer of the Constituency of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly. The first respondent, Tribhuvan Narain Singh was appointed on the 18th day of October in year 1970 as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. His appointment as the chief minister was challenged on the ground of that he was neither a member of lower house nor the upper house. The appellant filled an appeal in the Supreme Court.
The appellant in this case filed a petition in the High Court first under the Article 226 of the Constitution of India challenging and questioning the appointment of the first respondent i.e. T. N. Singh as a Chief Minister in the State. The petition was dismissed by the High Court but it also granted a certificate under Article 132 of the Constitution of India and then the appeal was made to the Supreme Court.
Whether or not the appointment of a person as a chief minister who is not a member of either house of legislature is valid?
Contentions from the side of appellants:
The appellant argued that the Clause (4) of the Article 164 applies only to the ministers who is the member of State Legislature. The appellant brought the Court’s attention towards the Article 175 and Article 177 of the Constitution of India to put forth the contention of the presence of the members of the Houses of Legislature addressed by the Governor.
Contentions from the side of respondents:
The counsel for the respondents put forth the process of appointing a Minister in England without being a member of House of Lords or House of Commons. The counsel contended that the scope of the Clause (4) cannot be broken down and whittled as there is no mention of the warrant in the language of the Article.
· The writ was refused in the Court as according to the Court the appointing a non-state legislative member as a chief minister of the State is valid under the Article 164(4) which approves of such appointment for a period of six months.
· It was held that the Article 164 of the Constitution must be read together and must be interpreted with the Article 163(1) of the Constitution. The Bench mentions that Clause (1) of Article 164 does not provide for any qualification that a person should pursue to be selected as a Chief Minister by the Governor and also states that the Chief Minister is to be appointed by the Governor and other ministers to be appointed by the Governor on the advice of Chief Minister. And they all hold power during the term of the particular Governor.
· It was also stated that Clause (2) makes the Council of Ministers to be responsible wholly and collectively to the State Legislative Assembly as the only condition on the behalf of Constitution as prescribed.
· It was observed that no alteration to the meaning of Article 164 should be done in any manner. And also that the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly and also the positions in the countries like England, South Africa and Australia stand by the meaning to be given correctly to the Article 164(4).
· If the appointment of the Minister or the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers, who are neither the members of Legislative Assembly, and the State Assembly is made by the Governor, there is nothing which would make this appointment of the ministers to be invalid or illegal.
· The presence of the Ministers during the address of the Governor, who are not the members of Legislature, is not challenging as they are entitled to be present at the meeting of Legislature addressed by the Governor under the provision of Article 177 of the Constitution.
This case states the qualifications and the conditions an individual needs to be appointed as a Chief Minister. A chief minister is the de facto head of the executive authority of the state even if the Constitution of India provides the Governor as the head of the State.
It can be concluded that a person who is not the member of houses of legislature can be appointed as Chief Minister provided that he/she gets himself/herself elected to the legislature within 6 months.
 (1) The chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, and the Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor: Provided that in the State of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, there shall be a Minister in charge of tribal welfare who may in addition be in charge of the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and backward classes or any other work (2) The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the State (3) Before a Minister enters upon his office, the Governor shall administer so him the oaths of office and of secrecy according to the forms set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule (4) A Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the State shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister