President’s Rule

Andhra Pradesh High Court and the CM Row

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Art. 356

Mains level : Presidents' Rule

The Supreme Court has stayed an Andhra Pradesh High Court order intending to embark on a judicial enquiry into whether there is a constitutional breakdown in the State machinery, requiring a declaration of President’s rule.

A backfire from the AP High Court

  • Andhra Pradesh CM had earlier sparked controversy by writing to the CJI complaining about a Supreme Court judge for allegedly influencing posting of cases in the State High Court.
  • The alleged Judge is slated to be the next Chief Justice of India, and some judges of the AP High Court have opened sharp criticism over AP CM’s move.

What did the Supreme Court say?

  • The apex court found the enquiry highly disturbing. Hence it decided to stay the order.
  • Solicitor General Tushar Mehta asked why the High Court “should go into whether there is a constitutional breakdown in the State”.
  • The Solicitor General of the state government argued that it was not up to the High Court to enquire and recommend President’s rule in a State.

Citations for the President’s Rule in a State

  • President’s rule is the suspension of state government and imposition of direct central government rule in a state.
  • It is Article 356 that deals with the failure of constitutional machinery in a State.
  • This power to impose President’s rule exclusively vests in the Central Executive.
  • Under Article 356, this move can be taken- if the President, on receipt of the report from the Governor of the State or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen…..
  • The power in this regard, like sending a report either to the President of India or to the Governor of the concerned State or to record a finding in that regard, cannot be exercised by the judiciary.

How did the AP govt respond?

  • The AP govt said that the High Court’s observation violated the Basic Structure doctrine of the Constitution.
  • Under the constitutional framework, it is not for the courts to decide as to whether there is a constitutional breakdown in a State.
  • The said power has been specifically conferred upon a different constitutional authority – and rightly so.
  • It is needless to mention that the constitutional courts do not have any judicially discoverable and manageable standards to determine if there has been a constitutional breakdown,” the petition contended.

Back2Basics:

President’s Rule

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

How it is imposed?

  • President’s Rule implies the suspension of a state government and the imposition of direct rule of the Centre.
  • This is achieved through the invocation of Article 356 of the Constitution by the President on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers.
  • Under Article 356, this move can be taken “(1) If the President, on receipt of the report from the Governor of the State or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution…”

How long President’s Rule can last

  • A proclamation of President’s Rule can be revoked through a subsequent proclamation in case the leader of a party produces letters of support from a majority of members of the Assembly, and stakes his claim to form a government.
  • The revocation does not need the approval of Parliament.
  • Any proclamation under Article 356 —which stands for six months — has to be approved by both Houses in the Parliament session following it.
  • This six-month time-frame can be extended in phases, up to three years.

The S.R. Bommai Case

  • R. Bommai v. Union of India (1994) was a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court of India, where the Court discussed at length provisions of Article 356 of the Constitution of India and related issues.
  • The judgement attempted to curb blatant misuse of Article 356 of the Constitution of India, which allowed President’s rule to be imposed over state governments.
  • Article 356 (1) has been deliberately drafted in a narrow language by the Founding Fathers so that political parties in the Centre does not misuse it to subvert federalism, it had noted.
  • The expression used in the Article is ‘if the President is satisfied”, the court had observed.
  • In other words, the President has to be convinced of or should have sufficient proof of information with regard to or has to be free from doubt or uncertainty about the state of things indicating that the situation in question has arisen.
  • The court had stated that although the sufficiency or otherwise of the material cannot be questioned, the legitimacy of inference drawn from such material is “certainly open to judicial review”.

What it directed?

  • The judgment had explained that in a multi-party political system, chances are high that the political parties in the Centre and the State concerned may not be the same.
  • Article 356 cannot be used for the purpose of political one-upmanship by the Centre.
  • Hence there is a need to confine the exercise of power under Article 356[1] strictly to the situation mentioned therein which is a condition precedent to the said exercise,” the court had said.

Conditions for Prez Rule

  • Where after general elections to the assembly, no party secures a majority, that is, Hung Assembly.
  • Where the party having a majority in the assembly declines to form a ministry and the governor cannot find a coalition ministry commanding a majority in the assembly.
  • Where a ministry resigns after its defeat in the assembly and no other party is willing or able to form a ministry commanding a majority in the assembly.
  • Where a constitutional direction of the Central government is disregarded by the state government.
  • Internal subversion where, for example, a government is deliberately acting against the Constitution and the law or is fomenting a violent revolt.
  • Physical breakdown where the government willfully refuses to discharge its constitutional obligations endangering the security of the state.
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments