You might have seen or heard this term ‘President’s rule’ many times in newspapers and television. Let’s find out a little about what this means.
What’s in the constitution?
The article 356 of the constitution which focuses on the failure of the Constitutional machinery of the State is often termed as the President’s rule. There are various reasons for which President’s rule can be imposed on a State. The failure of the State government to function as per the constitution is the first step towards this. Other factors include the loss of majority, break down of law and order, indecisive outcome of elections, no alternate claimant to form the government, insurgency, defections and break-up of coalition. It can be imposed initially for a period of six months.
The state comes under the direct control of the Central government. The authority shifts from the Chief Minister and the council of ministers to the Governor. The assembly is kept in suspended animation (temporary cessation). The Governor gets the power to appoint retired civil servants and some administrators to assist him who will take on the role and responsibilities of the Council of Ministers.
There was widespread belief that imposition of President’s rule was more to do with the priorities of the Central government than the constitutional crisis. The judgement of the Supreme Court in 1994 gave a clear definition as to when the President’s rule can be imposed on a state thereby paving the way for the state governments to challenge the Centre if it feels that it has been unduly removed.
The Supreme Court held that a state government could be dismissed only under justifying circumstances and laid down guidelines for the same.
This judgement is called the Bommai judgement after the former Karnataka Chief Minister S R Bommai whose government was dismissed by the Centre and the President’s rule was imposed.
The verdict was in response to his challenging the dismissal. Thereafter further pronouncements by the Supreme Court helped limit the number of cases where the President’s rule is imposed drastically.