GS Mains Model Question & Answer: Examine the whole aspects
before imposing the President’s rule in a state with the special reference to
recent Uttarakhand crisis
Q. Examine the whole aspects before imposing the
President’s rule in a state with the special reference to recent Uttarakhand
crisis. (12.5 Marks)
(General Studies Mains Paper II- Polity : Issues and challenges pertaining
to the federal structure)
Model Answer :
According to Article 356, 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.
The imposition of President’s rule in the Uttarakhand has brought the focus
back on Article 356 of the Constitution – used and misused for decades by
successive governments irrespective of their political ideology.
Breakdown of State constitutional machinery
The expression “breakdown of constitutional machinery” has
not been defined in the Constitution and can happen due to political reasons
such as 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.
Whatever may be the reason, the President has to be satisfied about of
breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state.
Governor’s report or source otherwise
The governor sends a report in this regard to the Centre and it’s his/her
report that forms the basis for the Union Cabinet’s recommendation to the
President for invoking Article 356 to impose President’s rule.
The provision also says that the President can take such a
decision even “otherwise” (i.e. even in the absence of governor’s report). But
in any case, the President has to be satisfied that the constitutional machinery
has broken down in the state.
Discretion of Governor
While sending a report to the Centre, the governor is not supposed to go by
the advice of the state cabinet and is exercises his or her own discretion.
On the contrary, the President has to go by the advice of the Union Cabinet.
But he can seek clarifications from the council of ministers.
Imposition of President’s rule and its Implication
Once President’s rule is imposed, the assembly ceases to function and the
state comes under the Central government’s direct control. The executive power
shifts from the council of ministers to the governor.
The powers of the state assembly become exercisable by or
under the authority of Parliament. Once imposed, President’s rule must be
approved by Parliament within a period of two months. It can’t last for more
than six months unless its extension is approved by Parliament.
Supreme Court ruling in SR Bommai case
In the SR Bommai case, the Supreme Court ruled in 1994 that
courts can’t question the Union Cabinet’s advice to the President but they can
question the substance of the material behind the satisfaction of the President
regarding breakdown of constitutional machinery.
Buta Singh case in Bihar (2006)
The Supreme Court in January 2006 held that the governor’s
report could not be taken at face value and must be verified by the council of
ministers before being used as the basis for imposing President’s rule. It
declared the dissolution of the Bihar assembly as null and void.