Yesterday the Prime Minister reshuffled his Cabinet and inducted four cabinet ministers and four ministers of state. Since the beginning of the UPA II government, there have been three major Cabinet reshuffles and a number of minor readjustments in the portfolios of ministers. Analysing changes in the portfolios of ministers gives an insight into the churn in the political leadership of the different ministries of the government of India. Until recently there was no central online resource where information could be collated about cabinet reshuffles. The information was scattered between the websites of the President, the Prime Minister and the Press Information Bureau. Since 2012, the Cabinet Secretariat has started putting details about changes in the portfolio of the council of ministers in the public domain. However analysing this information becomes difficult as the information is split into different files and details about the Cabinet reshuffle do not go back till 2009. We have tried to collate data about changes in Cabinet portfolios since May 2009, so that it becomes easily accessible and can be analysed by interested individuals. The raw data file can be accessed here. This data could be analysed to see which Ministers have shifted across ministries or the average length of tenure of Ministers in different ministries. If you spot interesting trends in the raw data above, please share them with us on twitter@prslegislative We have done a preliminary analysis of the data to see which ministries have had the most changes in Cabinet Ministers since May 2009: - Railway Ministry portfolio has been held by six different Cabinet Ministers [Mamata Banerjee, Dinesh Trivedi, Mukul Roy, C P Joshi (twice), Pawan Kumar Bansal and now Mallikarjun Kharge] - Ministry of Law and Justice, Corporate Affairs and Science and Technology: Four Cabinet Ministers. - Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Civil Aviation, Rural Development, Tourism and Youth and Sports: Three Cabinet Ministers. - Ministries like Finance, Home, External Affairs, Communications and Information Technology, Human Resource Development: Two Cabinet Ministers. - Ministries like Agriculture and Non Conventional Energy Sources have the same Ministers from May 2009. This data also helped us put together a brief chronology of Cabinet reshuffles since the beginning of the term of the UPA II government:
|23 & 28- May-09||Cabinet sworn in.|
|31-May-09||Meria Kumar resigns as Minister of Water Resources to become Speaker of Lok Sabha.|
|19-Apr-10||Shashi Tharoor resigns as Minister of State from the Ministry of External Affairs.|
|15-Nov-10||A Raja resigns as Minister of Communications and Information Technology. Kapil Sibal gets additional charge of the ministry.|
|19-Jan-11||First major cabinet reshuffle. Most ministries affected.|
|12-Jul-11||Second major Cabinet reshuffle. Dinesh Trivedi assumes charge of Railway Ministry after Mamata Banerjee, Salman Khursheed becomes Law Minister, Jairam Ramesh moves to Rural Development. New Ministers like Rajeev Shukla (Parliamentary Affairs) and Jayanthi Natarajan (Environment and Forest) get inducted.|
|18-Dec-11||RLD joins UPA. Ajit Singh inducted as Minister of Civil Aviation.|
|20-Mar-12||Dinesh Trivedi resigns and Mukul Roy becomes Railway Minister.|
|27-Jun-12||Pranab Mukherjee resigns as Finance Minister to fight the presidential election.|
|31-Jul-12||P Chidambaram moves from Home to Finance Ministry and Sushil Kumar Shinde moves from Power to Home Ministry.|
|22-Sep-12||Trinamool withdraws support to UPA. All TMC ministers resign. C P Joshi assumes additional charge of Railway Ministry.|
|28-Oct-12||Third major reshuffle. S M Krishna resigns from Ministry of External Affairs and Salman Khursheed takes over. Ashwani Kumar comes in place of Salman Khursheed in Law and Justice. Ambika Soni resigns and Manish Tiwari takes charge of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Ajay Maken moves from Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to Housing and Urban Poverty Alliviation.|
|21-Mar-13||DMK withdraws support. All DMK Ministers resign.|
|11-May-13||Ashwani Kumar and Pawan Kumar Bansal resign. Kapil Sibal takes charge of Ministry of Law and Justice and C P Joshi takes charge of Railways.|
|16-Jun-13||Ajay Maken and C P Joshi resign.|
On June 13, 2022, the West Bengal government passed a Bill to replace the Governor with the Chief Minister, as the Chancellor of 31 state public universities (such as Calcutta University, Jadavpur University). As per the All India Survey on Higher Education (2019-20), state public universities provide higher education to almost 85% of all students enrolled in higher education in India. In this blog, we discuss the role of the Governor in state public universities.
What is the role of the Chancellor in public universities?
State public universities are established through laws passed by state legislatures. In most laws the Governor has been designated as the Chancellor of these universities. The Chancellor functions as the head of public universities, and appoints the Vice-Chancellor of the university. Further, the Chancellor can declare invalid, any university proceeding which is not as per existing laws. In some states (such as Bihar, Gujarat, and Jharkhand), the Chancellor has the power to conduct inspections in the university. The Chancellor also presides over the convocation of the university, and confirms proposals for conferring honorary degrees. This is different in Telangana, where the Chancellor is appointed by the state government.
The Chancellor presides over the meetings of various university bodies (such as the Court/Senate of the university). The Court/Senate decides on matters of general policy related to the development of the university, such as: (i) establishing new university departments, (ii) conferring and withdrawing degrees and titles, and (iii) instituting fellowships.
The West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 designates the Chief Minister of West Bengal as the Chancellor of the 31 public universities in the state. Further, the Chief Minister (instead of the Governor) will be the head of these universities, and preside over the meetings of university bodies (such as Court/Senate).
Does the Governor have discretion in his capacity as Chancellor?
In 1997, the Supreme Court held that the Governor was not bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, while discharging duties of a separate statutory office (such as the Chancellor).
The Sarkaria and Puunchi Commission also dealt with the role of the Governor in educational institutions. Both Commissions concurred that while discharging statutory functions, the Governor is not legally bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. However, it may be advantageous for the Governor to consult the concerned Minister. The Sarkaria Commission recommended that state legislatures should avoid conferring statutory powers on the Governor, which were not envisaged by the Constitution. The Puunchi Commission observed that the role of Governor as the Chancellor may expose the office to controversies or public criticism. Hence, the role of the Governor should be restricted to constitutional provisions only. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 also mentions this recommendation given by the Puunchi Commission.
Recently, some states have taken steps to reduce the oversight of the Governor in state public universities. In April 2022, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed two Bills, to transfer the power of appointing the Vice-Chancellor (in public universities) from the Governor, to the state government. As of June 8, 2022, these Bills have not received the Governor’s assent.
In 2021, Maharashtra amended the process to appoint the Vice Chancellor of state public universities. Prior to the amendment, a Search Committee forwarded a panel of at least five names to the Chancellor (who is the Governor). The Chancellor could then appoint one of the persons from the suggested panel as Vice-Chancellor, or ask for a fresh panel of names to be recommended. The 2021 amendment mandated the Search Committee to first forward the panel of names to the state government, which would recommend a panel of two names (from the original panel) to the Chancellor. The Chancellor must appoint one of the two names from the panel as Vice-Chancellor within thirty days. As per the amendment, the Chancellor has no option of asking for a fresh panel of names to be recommended.