President’s Rule

Role of Governor in State govt. formation


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hung Assembly

Mains level : Role of Governor in State govt. formation


  • Usually, the moment an election is won or lost, the CM resigns and is then asked by the Governor to continue as ‘caretaker’ until a new government is in place.
  • It has been two weeks since the results of the Assembly election were announced, but no party has staked claim yet to form a government.

What is the Governor’s role in such circumstances?

  • The Governor would be expected to go as per an order of preference set out in the Sarkaria Commission recommendations, which have also been ratified by the Supreme Court.
  • By the order of preference, the Governor can invite
  1. a pre-poll alliance of parties;
  2. invite the single largest party which stakes a claim to form the government;
  3. invite a post-poll alliance of parties, with all the partner in the coalition joining the government or
  4. invite post-poll alliances of parties, with some becoming part of the government and some supporting from outside.

What happens if any of these parties is invited to form the government?

  • Once any formation is sworn in, it will need to pass the floor test, which will reveal whether the executive enjoys the confidence of the legislature as mandated by the Constitution.
  • In the floor test, the person sworn in as the CM has to prove that s/he enjoys the confidence of the House.
  • If the confidence motion fails, the Chief Minister has to resign.
  • If more than one person stake claim to form the government and the majority is not clear, the Governor has the powers to call a special session to assess who has the majority.
  • The date for the floor test is decided by the Governor in consultation with the new government.

If no government can be formed is President’s rule likely?

  • Article 356 of the Constitution provides for the imposition of President’s Rule in a state in “case of failure of the constitutional machinery in the state”.
  • As per the constitutional stipulation, it can be imposed in cases where the President, on receipt of report from the Governor of the state or otherwise, is satisfied.
  • This is in a situation in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

When is Prez Rule likely?

  • In Maharashtra’s current case, imposition of the President’s rule is still a remote possibility.
  • According to legal experts, Governor would first need to exhaust all options and possibilities of government formation before making any such recommendation.
  • He will first have to hold consultations with all parties to examine if any one of them is in a position to cobble together the numbers required.
  • Only after he is satisfied that no party or alliance can form a stable government would he recommend imposition of President’s rule.
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