India is one of the democratic countries which follow indirect democracy, where the citizens of the country aged 18 and above elect their representatives to the State Legislature to govern them. In India few states like Karnataka, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, etc, have ‘Bilateral Legislature. Generally, the Chief Minister and other Ministers are appointed from among either house of the State Legislature, but Article 164(4) of the Constitution provides an exception which states that if a Council of Minister is not a member of either house of the legislature, he shall continue to be a Minister and for six consecutive he is not elected as a member, then he shall cease to be a Minister. The case of H. S. Verma vs. T. N. Singh is regarding the appointment of Chief Minister who was not a member of the legislature. The case is discussed hereinafter.
|Case name||H.S Verma v. T.N Singh|
|Citation||1971 AIR 1331: 1971 SCR 1|
|Year of the case||1971 decided on 4th November 1970|
|Appellant||Har Sharan Verma|
|Respondent||Tribhuvan Narain Singh|
|Bench||Justice Sikri (CJ), Justice Vaidyalingam, Justice J.M. Shelat, Justice C.A. Grover, and Justice A.N. Ray|
|Important Provisions||Article 163, 164, 175 of the Indian Constitution|
Har Saran Verma vs. Tribhuvan Narain Singh, a landmark judgment was pronounced by the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court of India comprising of 5 Judges, namely: Justice Sikri, Justice Vaidyalingam, Justice J.M. Shelat, Justice C.A. Grover and Justice A.N. Rayon 16th March 1971. Generally, Ministers are appointed from the Legislature. A member who is not a member of the Legislature can also become a Minister under a condition which has been provided in the Indian Constitution under Article 164(4) stated as, “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”.
Article 164 of the Constitution contemplates the appointment of a Minister who is not a member of the State Legislature and also a continuation in the office of a person as Minister after he ceases to be a member of a State Legislature. In both cases, the Minister can hold office for not more than six consecutive months. The matter related to this Article came before the Supreme Court in the instant case.
Background of the Case
The question, in this case, has arisen in connection with the appointment of Shri Tribhuvan Narain Singh as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh who was not a member of either house of the legislature at the time of his appointment.
The appellant, who is a rate-payer of the Lucknow Constituency to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly, challenged the appointment of the respondent T. N. Singh as a Chief Minister of U.P. on 18/10/1970 who was not a member of the Legislature at the time of his appointment. The High Court dismissed the writ of Quo warranto filed under Article 226 but granted a certificate under Article 132 of the Constitution.
The appeal went before the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court, after referring to the constituent assembly debates, English practices and similar provisions in the Australian constitution and South African Constitution of 1909, concluded that Article 164(4) allows a person to be appointed as a Chief Minister, who at the time of appointment is not a member of the legislature of the State concerned. Thus, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.
Facts of the Case
- The first Respondent was appointed as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh on 18th October 1970.
- His appointment was challenged by the petitioner under Article 226 of the Constitution on the ground that he was not a member of either house of Legislature at the time of his appointment.
- The High Court dismissed the petition but granted a certificate under Article 132 of the Constitution, and the appeal was before the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the appointment of Respondent No. 1 as the Chief Minister.
- Whether a person who is not a member of the State Legislature at the time of his appointment can be appointed as a Chief Minister?
- Is Article 164(4) is confined only to the Council of Ministers, or does it applies to the Chief Minister as well?
Article 132 of the Indian Constitution
Under this Article, an appeal lies to the Supreme Court from any Judgement, decree or final order of a High Court, whether in civil, criminal or other proceedings if the High Court certifies that the case involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution.
Article 226 of the Indian Constitution
This Article empowers the High Courts to issue, to any person or authority, including the government (in appropriate cases), directions, orders or writs, including habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari, quo warranto or any of them.
Article 163(1) of the Indian Constitution
This Article provides that there shall be a Council of Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is by or under this Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion’.
Article 164(1) of the Indian Constitution
This Article states that 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.
Article 164(2) of the Indian Constitution
This Article provides that, the Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the State.
Article 164(4) of the Indian Constitution
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 ceases to be a Minister.
Article 175(1) of the Indian Constitution
This Article states that the Governor may address the Legislative Assembly or, Legislative Council, or both the Houses assembled, and may for that purpose require the attendance of the members.
In this case, the petitioner contended that Art. 164(4) should be confined to a case where a minister who is a member of the legislature loses his seat. The idea behind Article 164(4), he argued, was to give the Chief Minister, a period of six months to get himself re-elected. He further contended that Art. 164(4) applied only to a Minister and not to a Chief Minister. He also contended that if the interpretation put by the High Court is correct it would be possible for a Governor to appoint a Chief Ministers and Ministers none of whom are Members of the State Legislature. He said that this could not have been contemplated.
He also dragged the attention of the Bench to Article 175 of the Constitution, which states that “the Governor may address the Legislative Assembly or, in the case of a State having a Legislative Council, either House of the Legislature of the State, or both houses assembled and may for that purpose require the attendance of Members.” He said that it would be rather strange that the Ministers, who were not members of the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council would not be present.
The appellant made thecontention that Article 164(4) is applied only to a person who was already a member but for some reason or the other ceases to be a minister and such person can continue for 6 months but there cannot be an initial appointment of a non-member of the legislature of a State as Minister. This contention was negatived by the Constitutional Bench. The Chief Justice Sikri speaking for a unanimous Constitution Bench, observed as follows:
“3. It seems to us that Article 164(4) of the Constitution must be interpreted in the context of Articles 163 and 164 of the Constitution. Article 163(1) provides that there shall be a Council of Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as is by or under this Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion’. Under Article 164(1), the Chief Minister has to be appointed by the Governor and other Ministers have to be appointed by him on the advice of the Chief Minister.
They all hold office during the pleasure of the Governor. Clause (1) does not provide any qualification for the person to be selected by the Governor as the Chief Minister or Minister, but Clause (2) makes it essential that the Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the State. This is the only condition that the Constitution prescribes in this behalf.”
For the contention made by the appellant regarding Article 175, it was opined by the Bench that, under Article 177 the Ministers, even if they are not members of a legislative Assembly or Legislative Council would be entitled to be present at the meeting.
The Constitution Bench referred to the position as prevailing in England. It was observed that invariably all Ministers must be members of the Parliament but if in an exceptional case, a Minister, is not a member of the Parliament, he can continue to be the Minister for a brief period during which he must get elected to continue as a Minister.
By considering the above rule, the Supreme Court upheld the Judgement of the High Court and rejected the challenge to the appointment of Shri T.N. Singh as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh given Article 164(4) of the Constitution. The Court opined that the Governor has the discretion to appoint, as a Chief Minister, a person, who is not a member of the Legislature at the time of his appointment but the Chief Minister is required to, to continue as a Chief Minister, get himself elected to the legislature within six months from the date of his appointment. Thus, the appeal stood dismissed.
S. R. Chaudhari vs. State of Punjab & Ors.
Decided on 17/08/2001 by the Bench comprising of CJI R.C. Lahoti and K.G. Balakrishnan, where Respondent No. 2 Tej Prakash Singh was appointed as a Minister in the State of Punjab on the advice of the CM of Punjab Har Charan Singh Barar on 9/9/95. But at the time of his appointment, he was not a member of the Legislature of Punjab. He failed to get himself elected as a member of the Legislature of the State of Punjab within six months and submitted his resignation from the Council of Ministers on 8/3/96. During the term of the same Legislative Assembly, there was a change in the leadership of the ruling party. Smt. Rajinder Kaur got elected as a Chief Minister on 21/11/96. The Respondent No. 2 who had not been elected as a member of Legislature even till then was once again appointed as a Minister. The appellant filed a writ petition seeking a writ of Quo Warranto against Respondent No. 2. It was stated in the petition that Respondent No. 2, has been appointed as the Minister for the second time during the same legislature, without being the member of Legislature which is violative of constitutional provisions, and hence, bad. The Division Bench of the High Court dismissed the petition. The appeal was taken to the Supreme Court under the special leave petition.
Taking into account the instance case and other cases, the Court held that the reappointment of Respondent No. 2 as Minister is unconstitutional, as he cannot continue as a Minister beyond six months without being elected as a member of Legislature and hence, the ‘reappointment’ was held invalid.
S. P. Anand, Indore vs. H. D. Devegowda and others
Where the appointment of Shri H. D. Deve Gowda as a Prime Minister, who was not a member of either house of the Parliament, was challenged in this case. After observing various provisions of the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court while upholding his appointment observed:
“A Constitution Bench of this Court needed to consider whether a person who is not a member of either house of the State Legislature could be appointed a Minister of State and the question was answered in the affirmative on a true interpretation of Articles 163 and 164 of the Constitution which, in material particulars, correspond to Articles 74 and 75 bearings on the question of appointment of the Prime Minister….” and went to say that the Article 75(5) of the Constitution has permitted a person who was not a member of either House of Parliament to be appointed as a Minister for six consecutive months and if during the same period he was not elected to either House then he would cease to be a Minister.
In this appeal by the certificate granted by the High Court under Article 132 of the Indian Constitution a short question as to the interpretation of clause (4) of Article 164 of the Constitution arose. This question has arisen in connection with the appointment on October 18, 1970, of Sri Tribhuvan Narain Singh as Chief Minister of UP who was not a member of either house of the legislature of the State of Uttar Pradesh at the time of his appointment.
Accordingly, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as the appointment of a non-member of the State Legislature as the Chief Minister was found valid given Article 164(4) of the Constitution which allows such appointment for six months.
Therefore, the Supreme Court highlighted that any person who is not a member of the State Legislature can be appointed as a Chief Minister, but before the completion of six consecutive months from the date of his appointment to the office, he must become the member of the legislature under Article 164(4) of the Constitution to continue in his respective office.
1. Legislative Immunity of a Minister:
2. Har Saran Verma vs. Tribhuvan Narain Singh, on 16 March 1971 https://indiankanoon.org/doc/334033/
3. Article 32 of the Constitution, writ of quo warranto:
4. S. R. Chaudhari vs. State of Punjab & others, (2001) 7 SCC 126 at http://judis.nic.in/17907.pdf
5. Question of conviction: https://timesofindia.com/articleshow/41951957.cms?utm
6. Appointment of a non-member of Parliament or State Legislature as Minister- Scope from https://www.ebcindia.com/lawyer/articles/2005_2_69.htm
 1971 AIR 1331: 1971 SCR 1
 Constitution of India, 1949
 (2001) 7 SCC 126
 (1996) 6 SCC 7