Was the appointment of Sheila Dixit hastened to beat model code of conduct?
As per the information provided by the Union Home Ministry to the RTI applicant SC Agrawal, on March 4, 2014, the then home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde recommended appointment of former Delhi CM Sheila Dixit as governor. It was preceded by a one-line resignation letter from the sitting Kerala governor Nikhil Kumar who, in his resignation letter dated March 4 to President Pranab Mukherjee, did not assign any reason for his resignation. His letter read, “I resign as governor of Kerala with immediate effect.” Kumar was appointed initially as the governor of Nagaland for five years in 2009 and his term was likely to expire on October 14, 2014. Subsequently, he was transferred to Kerala where he assumed office on March 23, 2013.
The resignation of Kumar was accepted by the President on the same day and the Karnataka governor HR Bharadwaj was handed interim charge. Again, a letter was issued on the same day (March 4, 2014) in a span of a few hours appointing Sheila Dixit as Kerala governor.
While the power of appointment of governor rests with the president in accordance with Article 155 of the Constitution, the speed of implementation of the appointment has raised eyebrows as the code of conduct was to come into effect from March 5, 2014, just a day later. The note by the home secretary Anil Goswami and Home Minister Sushil Shinde, said that as “indicated by the home minister”, the government had decided to recommend Dixit for the post of Governor.