Case against T.N. Governor R.N. Ravi not maintainable, rules Madras High Court

The Madras High Court Thursday dismissed a petition seeking disqualification of Tamil Nadu Governor TN Ravi from the post for holding “office of profit” as the chairperson of governing body in Auroville Foundation, while also serving as the Governor of State.

A bench of acting Chief Justice T Raja and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy held that the plea filed by by one M Kannadasan, district President of the socio-political group, Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam was “not maintainable.”

The Court said that the Governor enjoys immunity from being questioned by a High Court given that Article 361 of the Constitution of India states that the President of India and Governor of a State shall not be answerable to any court for any act done in discharge of their official duties.

It said that Ravi was, therefore, not liable to give any answers to the High Court on the issue raised in the present petition.

Kannadasan had argued that the Constitution of India prohibits Governors of States from occupying any office of profit.

He had said that following his appointment by the Central government as the Auroville Foundation Chairperson in October 2021, Ravi had been drawing a salary as the Foundation’s chairperson and had also been availing provident fund and other benefits even as he continued to be the Governor of Tamil Nadu.

Therefore, Ravi being the Foundation’s chairperson meant he had been occupying an office of profit and was, therefore, liable to be disqualified from the post of TN Governor, the petitioner had submitted.

“I state that a disqualified person cannot continue in the office of Governor. As on date the office of Governor the 3rd respondent is holding is not valid. It is submitted that the moment the 3rd respondent entered the office of chairman of Auroville Foundation he had violated Article 158(2) of Constitution of India and ceases to be Governor of State of Tamil Nadu,” the petiton said.

However, on December 15 last year, while reserving orders on the maintainability of the plea, the High Court had said that it would have to examine how it could issue a notice to a serving Governor of a State given the bar under Article 361.

A gazette notification was issued in October 2021 by the Ministry of Education that administers Auroville, which announced the appointment of a nine-member board with a term of four years to administer the functioning of the Auroville Foundation.

The same notification mentioned the appointment of Ravi as the Foundation’s chairperson.

Senior Advocate S Doraisamy, who appeared for the petitioner, had argued that the provisions of Article 361 is applicable only when a case pertained to the performance of the official duties of a Governor or the President.

He had contended that in the present case, heading the governing board was not the Governor’s official duty.

Doraisamy had also cited the judgement passed by the Madras High Court in a case filed by Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict S Nalini against the Governor.

He had urged the Court to “issue notice to the Governor to explain “under what authority he was continuing to hold the post of Governor while simultaneously holding an office of profit.”

But the Court in its order passed today, turned down the plea.

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