President rule/state emergency under Article 356 of Indian constitution – proclamation & impacts

President rule/state emergency under Article 356 of Indian constitution – proclamation & impacts

President’s Rule is imposed in a State or Union Territory when the Government of the State or UT is suspended and the Union Government takes direct control of the administration in the state or UT. The state assembly is either dissolved or prorogued. This provision to impose President’s rule is mentioned in Art 356 of the Constitution which is based on Sec 93 of the Government of India Act, 1935. The Union Government administers the state through a Governor which is Centrally appointed.

  • Grounds of imposition of State emergency

    President’s Rule under Article 356 can be imposed on the ground of breakdown of constitutional machinery. This breakdown is of two types :-

  1. If the President is satisfied that the state’s condition is such that the State government cannot carry on governance in accordance with the provision of the Constitution, the President can impose State Emergency. The Governor of the State can inform the President about the situation of the state and the President may there upon take necessary steps to impose the emergency. (Article 356)
  2. President’s Rule can also be imposed if the State fails to comply with the directions given by the Central Government on matters it is empowered to. (Article 365)
  • Parliamentary approval and duration

    President’s rule must be approved by both the houses of the Parliament within two months. If the Lok Sabha gets dissolved before approving the President’s Rule (i.e.within two months), then the proclamation survives till 30 days from the first sitting of Lok Sabha provided if Rajya Sabha approves it.

If the proclamation is approved, the emergency can continue for 6 months which can be extended for a period of 3 years. If the Lok Sabha is dissolved during this period then the proclamation survives till 30 days from the first sitting of Lok Sabha provided Rajya Sabha approves it. Simple majority is required in both the houses for the proclamation of state emergency.

The 44th Constitutional Amendment Act brought many changes in the emergency provisions. This amendment provided that beyond one year of President’s Rule, it can be extended by 6 months at a time only when-

  1. Proclamation of National emergency should be in operation in the whole or part of the State or in the country.
  2. Election Commission should clarify that the general election to the legislative assembly of the concerned state cannot be conducted on the ground of various difficulties.

The President can revoke the President’s rule without requiring any Parliamentary approval.

  • Consequences of President’s Rule

  1. The President can take up functions of the state government and the power vested in the governor of the state or any other executive authority.
  2. The President can declare that the power of the legislature of the state is to be exercised by the Parliament. This means that the Central government can make laws on the subjects enshrined in the state list as well.
  3. The President can suspend any constitutional provision relating to anybody in the state.
  4. The state assembly is either suspended or dissolved by the President.
  5. The President can also promulgate ordinance with respect to state’s administration, when the Parliament is not in session.
  6. The laws made by the President during state emergency remains operative even after the President’s rule is revoked.
  7. High Courts of the state function as per their normal rule.
  • Scope of Judicial Review

    According to the 38th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1975, President’s rule was taken out of the ambit of Judicial review. But after the 44th

    Constitutional Amendment Act of 1978, President’s Rule was included under the ambit the ambit of judicial review to prevent the Central government from misusing the power of imposing the power to invoke state emergency in any state. This amendment also had the provision that the satisfaction of the President should be based on reverent material and the burden lied on the center to prove relevance. If the court proves that the President’s rule is invalid, it can restore back the state legislature that was suspended.
  • Cases of proper use of the provision

  1. If no party has secured absolute majority in the assembly election(hung assembly) and there is no alternative then the President can impose State Emergency.
  2. If the party having the majority declines to form government, then in this case, state emergency can be invoked.
  3. State emergency can also be invoked when the ministry resigns and there is no other alternative.
  4. If the state government is deliberately acting against the constitution then the emergency can be invoked.
  • Cases of improper use of the provision 

  1. If no party in the state gets absolute majority but alternative is available.
  2. If the governor of the state does not allow any party to prove its majority on the floor of the house.
  3. When the state government has not been given prior warning in case of breakdown of constitutional machinery
  4. The power is used to solve intra party problems.

In independent India there have been various incidents when the Central government has misused its power of imposing state emergency. In 1989, the Maharashtra government was dismissed by the governor on the ground that Bommai Government had lost its majority. The Governor refused to give Bommai an opportunity to test his majority in the Assembly despite the latter presenting him with a copy of the resolution . Bommai went to court against the Governor’s decision. The Court ruled that the power of the President to dismiss a State government is not absolute and the President should exercise the power only after his proclamation (imposing his/her rule) is approved by both Houses of Parliament.

“The dissolution of Legislative Assembly is not a matter of course. It should be resorted to only where it is found necessary for achieving the purposes of the Proclamation,” the Court said.

Author: Yatharth Tripathi,
1st year, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi/ Student

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