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Administration of Oath in legislature

Topics Covered:

Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.


Administration of Oath in legislature

What to study?

For Prelims: How is oath administered?

For Mains: Can it be altered? Who is the ultimate authority to decide?


Context: Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has alleged that the oath-taking ceremony of the new government had violated the Constitution- The format of the oath was not followed.


What the constitution says?

Article 164(3) says: “Before a Minister enters upon his office, the Governor shall administer to him the oaths of office and of secrecy according to the forms set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule.”

The Third Schedule requires the taker of the oath to either “swear in the name of God” or to “solemnly affirm” to “bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution…”.


Can it be altered?

Art 164 makes it clear that the text of the oath is sacrosanct, and the person taking the oath has to read it out exactly as it is, in the given format.

If a person wanders from the text, it is the responsibility of the person administering the oath — in this instance the Governor — to interrupt and ask the person being sworn in to read it out correctly.


Role of the Governor:

The Governor’s approval is key.

  • According to experts, if the person administering the oath approves the oath, the matter is closed. Immediately on taking the oath, the person who has been sworn in, must sign a register.
  • The register is attested by the Secretary to the Governor, which means it has been approved by the Governor.
  • Once Governor takes it as read, and the Secretary to the Governor has attested that the oath has been administered, and the gazette notification has come out, then it is no longer an issue, it cannot be legally challenged.

Sources: the Hindu.