The imposition of Article356 of the Constitution on a State following the failure of constitutional machinery is called President’s Rule in India.
President’s rule is the suspension of state government and imposition of direct Union government rule in a state.
President’s Rule is imposed when the state or union territory’s government is suspended and the Centre takes direct control of the region. In President’s Rule, the Governor becomes the constitutional head of the state.
During the President’s rule, the Council of Ministers is dissolved, vacating the office of Chief Minister. Furthermore, the Vidhan Sabha is either prorogued or dissolved, necessitating a new election.
Article 356 is inspired by sections 93 of the Government of India Act, 1935, which provided that if a Governor of a province was satisfied that a situation had arisen in which the government of the province cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the said Act, he could assume to himself all or any of the powers of the government and discharge those functions in his discretion.
WHEN PRESIDENT’S RULE CAN BE IMPOSED ON A STATE
- State Legislature is unable to elect a leader as Chief Minister
- Collapse of a Coalition due to disagreements, parting ways within the members
- Serious breakdown law and order
- Elections postponed due to ineludible reasons
- Loss of majority in the state assembly
- Shoot up of insurgency or rebellion.
RECENT INCIDENTS WHEN THE PRESIDENT RULE IS IMPOSED
IN THE YEAR 2019
Maharashtra, November 12-November 23: The state went under President’s Rule when the elections led to fractured results, with no clear majority. Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari became incharge of the state when all the four major parties in the state, which were the BJP, Congress, Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party, did not stake claim to form a government.
IN THE YEAR 2018
Jammu and Kashmir, June 19-October 30: PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti resigned as the CM after the BJP withdrew its support from the coalition, sending the state under the President’s Rule from June 19 to October 30. On October 31, the state was split into two separate union territories, giving the Centre power in the state through Lieutenant Governor.
IN THE YEAR 2016
Uttarakhand, March 27-April 21, April 22-May 11: Chief Minister Harish Rawat’s government collapsed after a split in the Congress party. The President’s Rule was imposed in the state twice within a span of three months.
Arunachal Pradesh, January 25 February 19: After some Congress MLAs defected to the BJP, destabilising the government in the state, the President’s Rule was imposed. The Congress government was later reinstated by the Supreme Court, calling the imposition as ultra_vires.
Jammuu and Kashmir, January 9-March 1, 2015: The state went under the President’s Rule due to a hung verdict in the 2015 elections.
CRITICISM OF THE RULE
Article 356 has been widely criticised for giving provisions for the party/coalition in the Centre to misuse democratic powers for political gains. Dr BR Ambedkar called it ‘the death letter of Indian Constitution’. The rival parties running governments in various states were dissolved by those at the Centre by making use of the Article. The dismissal of the EMS Namboodiripad-led Communist government in Kerala by Jawaharlal Nehru in July 1959, and the 21 instances during the period 1975-1979 are often considered as examples of the misuse of the President’s Rule.
MAXIMUM TIME IMPOSED
- Uttar Pradesh is the Indian state upon which the President’s Rule has been imposed for the most number of times. When UP went under it for a record nine times, Bihar comes second with eight times. The Governor’s Rule imposed on Jammu and Kashmir for a span of six years (19 January 1990 – 9 October 1996) is the longest one the country has ever witnessed.
Chattisgarh and Telangana are the only Indian states that have never slipped to President’s rule.
Indira Gandhi tops the chart of Indian Prime Minister’s who imposed the most number of President’s rule upon states.
- During her tenure as the Indian PM from 1966- 77, and 1980- 84, it was imposed for a total of fifty times.
- The two-year term of Morarji Desai from1977-79 saw the provision being imposed for sixteen times.
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