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Q. President’s rule-Article 356: In the background of president’s rule in Uttarakhand comment on misuse of article 356 of our constitution.
Apr 22, 2016 Related to : GS Paper 2

Ans :

In news- 

Recently Uttarakhand High Court quashed the imposition of President’s rule in the Uttarakhand. Earlier President dismissed the Uttarakhand government due to alleged horse trading of legislators and placed the assembly under suspended animation on the recommendation of the Union Cabinet.

Introduction-

  • According to Article 356 of our constitution, President’s rule can be imposed in a state if a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

  • Generally the governor of the state will send the report about breakdown of the constitutional machinery in the state and that forms the basis for the Union Cabinet’s recommendation to the President for invoking Article 356 to impose President’s rule. However, the President can take such a decision even otherwise i.e. even in the absence of governor’s report.

Issues related to Article-356

  • The expression ‘breakdown of constitutional machinery’ has not been defined in the Constitution. Such situation may arise due to political reasons like hung assembly, the government losing majority in the assembly, failure of any political grouping to form a government, defections and break-up of coalition or because of insurgency etc.

  • This provision, most of the times have been misused by the central government to dismiss state governments where the party in power is not the same as that ruling at the Centre.

  • In the background of increased misuse of this provision, the Supreme Court in its landmark S.R.Bommai judgment (1994) laid down clear standards for imposition of president’s rule. The governor was to carry out a floor test to determine the legitimacy of a state government, rather than rely on subjective judgment of his own. A state government’s existence could no longer be upturned at the whim of the central government.

  • Even after Apex court ruling, many times state governments were dismissed without the necessary floor test. Imposition of president’s rule with political motive reflects the travesty of constitutional mandate and it is subjugation of federal principles.

Conclusion-

To promote cooperative federalism in the country, central government should not utilise article 356 for partisan purpose. It should follow Supreme Court rulings in S.R.Bommai case in both letter and spirit. Being one the matured democracy in the world imposition president’s rule should be matter of last resort.


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