Art 356 should be the last resort to restore democracy in a state. Discuss. (15 Marks)

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President’s rule is the suspension of state government and the imposition of direct central government rule in a state. 

Grounds of President Rule

  • Article 355 states that it shall be the duty of the Union to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance and to ensure that the Government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
  • Article 356 states that President rule can be imposed in any state on grounds of failure of Constitutional Machinery-
  •  If President on receipt of report by Governor of a State or otherwise is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which govt of that state can’t be carried in accordance with provisions of the Constitution, then President Rule can be imposed.

However, the imposition of President’s Rule in a state which sought to be the last resort had been used more frequently-

  • Where a ministry resigns or is dismissed on losing majority support in the assembly and the governor recommends imposition of President’s Rule without probing the possibility of forming an alternative ministry.
  • Where the governor makes his own assessment of the support of a ministry in the assembly and recommends imposition of President’s Rule without allowing the ministry to prove its majority on the floor of the Assembly.
  • Where the ruling party enjoying majority support in the assembly has suffered a massive defeat in the general elections to the Lok Sabha such as in 1977 and 1980.
  • Internal disturbances not amounting to internal subversion or physical breakdown.
  • Maladministration in the state or allegations of corruption against the ministry or stringent financial exigencies of the state.
  • Where the state government is not given prior warning to rectify itself except in case of extreme urgency leading to disastrous consequences.
  • Where the power is used to sort out intra-party problems of the ruling party, or for a purpose extraneous or irrelevant to the one for which it has been conferred by the Constitution.

Recommendations of different committee on President Rule:

  • Art. 356 should be amended so that the President be empowered to dissolve the State Legislature only after approval by the Parliament.
  • The President’s Proclamation should include the ‘reasons’ as to why the State cannot be run as per the normal provisions of the Constitution.
  • As far as possible, the Centre should issue a warning to the State government before resorting to the use of Art. 356.
  • The party or combination of parties that commands the widest support in the Legislative Assembly should be called upon to form the Government.
  • If there is a pre-poll alliance or coalition, it should be treated as one political party and if such a coalition obtains a majority, the leader of such coalition shall be called by the Governor to form the Government.
  • It needs to be remembered that only the spirit of “cooperative federalism” can preserve the balance between the Union and the States and promote the good of the people and not an attitude of dominance or superiority. The power of governance is distributed in several organs and institutions – a sine qua non for good governance.
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