President’s Rule

In news: President’s Rule


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: President Rule, Article 356

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • Amidst an escalating confrontation, Punjab Governor gave stern warning of invoking Article 356 (President’s Rule) in the state.

Grim Situation in Punjab

  • Rampant Drug Abuse: The Governor cites reports from various agencies indicating widespread drug abuse in Punjab, raising significant concerns.
  • New Drug Sales Trend: An emerging trend of selling drugs within government-controlled liquor vends is noted by the Governor.
  • Ludhiana Liquor Vend Incident: Specific instances like the sealing of 66 liquor vends in Ludhiana by the Narcotics Control Bureau [NCB] and Chandigarh Police highlight the gravity of the issue.
  • Disturbing Law and Order Indicators: The Governor references a recent report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee indicating alarming drug exposure or addiction levels, implying a breakdown in law and order.
  • Public Response: The Governor underscores villagers’ resorting to street protests and forming their own defence committees against drug-related threats.

Governor’s Discontent

  • Unfulfilled Information Requests: The Governor expresses dissatisfaction with CM’s reluctance to provide the requested information, highlighting Article 167’s mandate for the CM to respond to the Governor’s requests.
  • Alleged Deliberate Silence: The Governor implies that the Chief Minister’s apparent failure to respond might be a deliberate act of evasion.

About President’s Rule

  • Article 356 of the Indian Constitution, commonly known as President’s Rule, empowers the President to impose central rule in a state where the constitutional machinery has broken down.
  • While initially intended for extraordinary circumstances, it has often been misused by central governments for political purposes.

Provisions of Article 356:

  • Imposition of President’s Rule: Article 356 allows the President to withdraw the executive and legislative powers of a state government when it cannot function in accordance with the Constitution.
  • Triggering factors: The President can invoke Article 356 based on a report from the Governor or suo motu if the constitutional machinery has broken down in the state.
  • Duration: It can be imposed for six months at a time, with a maximum duration of three years.
  • Parliamentary approval: Every six months, Parliament’s approval is required to continue the imposition of the President’s Rule.

Historical Origins

  • Inspiration from the Government of India Act, 1935: Article 356 was inspired by Section 93 of this act, which allowed the Governor of a province to assume the powers of the government under certain circumstances.
  • Controlled democracy: The provision provided some autonomy to provincial governments while enabling British authorities to exercise ultimate power when necessary.

Political Misuse of Article 356

  • Early instances: During Congress’s dominance, Article 356 was used against governments of the Left and regional parties in states. Jawaharlal Nehru’s government utilized it six times until 1959, including to dislodge Kerala’s elected communist government.
  • Increasing misuse: In subsequent decades, Article 356 was used frequently against state governments by various central governments, including those led by Indira Gandhi and the Janata Party.

Landmark Judgment: S R Bommai Case

  • Landmark Supreme Court ruling: In the 1994 R. Bommai v. Union of India case, the Supreme Court provided detailed guidelines on the use of Article 356.
  • Specific instances for imposition: The court stated that the President’s Rule can be invoked in cases of physical breakdown of the government or a ‘hung assembly.’
  • Curbing arbitrary use: The judgment emphasized the need to give the state government a chance to prove its majority or instances of violent breakdown before imposing the President’s Rule.


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