'You have no power to dismiss my ministers, it is my prerogative': CM Stalin tells Governor

The CM also took strong exception to the governor alluding to the ‘breakdown of constitutional machinery’, in his letter and described it as a veiled threat. 
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin

Chennai: Chief Minister MK Stalin on Friday, in a strongly-worded letter, told governor RN Ravi that the latter has no power to dismiss a minister since it is the prerogative of the elected chief minister and that his letters on Thursday in this regard ‘require an outright disregard.

The CM also took strong exception to the governor alluding to the ‘breakdown of constitutional machinery’, in his letter and described it as a veiled threat. 

“You have no power to dismiss my ministers. That is the sole prerogative of an elected chief minister. Your unconstitutional communication dismissing my minister without my advice is void ab initio and non-est in law and hence has been disregarded,” said the chief minister in his six-page response to the governor.

The CM underscored the fact that the aid and advice of the CM and the cabinet were neither sought nor given for both letters of the governor. Also, within a few hours of issuing a strongly worded first letter, even alluding to the "breakdown of constitutional machinery", a not so veiled threat, the governor withdrew it "to seek the opinion of the Attorney General".

 “This shows that you had not even taken a legal opinion before such an important decision. The fact that it needed the Union Home Minister's intervention to direct you to take a legal opinion on this matter itself shows that the governor had acted in haste with scant regard to the Constitution of India.

Stating that his cabinet and MLAs enjoy the confidence of the people who are the ultimate sovereign, the CM said their strongest asset is the trust of the people of the state, who are firmly behind them. “Hence, high constitutional authorities like the governor while dealing with an elected government must act with dignity and not stoop to levelling veiled unsubstantiated threats about the "breakdown of constitutional machinery".

The CM, quoting elaborately from various judgments, said the SC had unambiguously held that disqualification is attracted only after conviction. “ Senthil Balaji has only been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for investigation and not even a charge sheet has been filed against him till now.”

Thus, the Constitutional bench of the SC has left it to the wisdom of the PM or CM to decide whether a person should continue as a minister or not in their cabinet. Therefore, merely because an agency has commenced an investigation against a person, he or she does not become legally incapacitated to continue as a minister.

Reiterating the Constitutional provisions about the removal of a minister, the chief minister said, “Under Article 164(1), the governor appoints and removes ministers only on the advice of the CM. The governor has no power to decide who should or should not be part of the cabinet. That is the sole prerogative of the CM. The CM and his council of ministers are, in turn, answerable to the elected legislative assembly under Article 164(2).”

The CM also pointed out that the governor chose to write a five-page letter on Balaji but continues to maintain inexplicable silence on the state government's request for sanctions to investigate/ prosecute former ministers and public servants for offences committed during the previous AIADMK government and they have been languishing in Raj Bhavan for months together.

“Even the request of CBI for sanction of prosecution in the Gutka case has not been acted upon by you. In fact, these selective actions expose not only your unhealthy bias but also the real intent behind such dual standards adopted by you,” the CM said.

Denying the charge of the governor that he had used intemperate language, the CM said the state government has always given due respect and regard to the governor and his office.

“We have always been pleasant, courteous, and respectful towards you in line with our Tamil culture. However, that does not mean we have to abide by unconstitutional directives issued by you,” he added. 

With regard to the observations of the SC about Balaji, the CM said, “It is not a conclusive finding on the allegations against him and hence has no relevance to deciding about the disqualification of a minister.”

On the allegations of assault and other associated incidents relating to the IT department officials, cases have been registered and action has been taken in accordance with the law.

“Your allegations about the same amount to interfering with the administration of justice since the said issue is seized by the court and investigating authorities. Also, your apprehension that Balaji may interfere with the investigation, in this case, is unfounded and baseless,” he added.

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