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Current Affairs

President’s rule in Maharashtra

Date: 13 November 2019 Tags: Constitution

Issue

President Ram Nath Kovind has approved a proclamation imposing President’s Rule in Maharashtra, following a recommendation from Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.

 

Background

The Union Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, met and approved a recommendation to the President to issue a proclamation under Article 356(1) of the Constitution.

 

Details

  • In his report to the President, the governor said a situation had arisen in which it was impossible to constitute or form a stable government in the State, and the government could not be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

  • Under the proclaimation, the Legislative Assembly will be kept under suspended animation and functions of the state will be carried out by the governor on behalf of the President.

State Emergency or President’s rule

  • The president's rule is the suspension of state government and imposition of direct central government rule in a state.

  • Under Article 356 of the Constitution of India, in the event that a state government is unable to function according to constitutional provisions, the Central government can take direct control of the state machinery.

  • Subsequently, executive authority is exercised through the centrally appointed governor, who has the authority to appoint other administrators to assist them.

  • The president's rule has been imposed under any one of the following different circumstances:

  • A state legislature is unable to elect a leader as chief minister for a time prescribed by the Governor of that state, at the Will of Governor.

  • Breakdown of a coalition leading to the Chief minister having minority support in the house and the Chief minister fails/will definitely fail to prove otherwise, within a time prescribed by the Governor of that state.

  • Loss of majority in the assembly due to a vote of no-confidence in the house.

  • Elections postponed for unavoidable reasons like war, epidemic or natural disasters.

  • Article 356 state that the president can invoke president rule in a state on the report of the governor if the state machinery/legislature fails to abide by constitutional norms.

  • If approved by both houses, president's rule can continue for 6 months. It can be extended for a maximum of 3 years with the approval of the Parliament done every 6 months.

  • If the Lok Sabha is dissolved during this time, the rule is valid for 30 days from the first sitting of the Lok Sabha provided that this continuance has already been approved by Rajya Sabha.

  • The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 introduced a new provision to put a restraint on the power of the Parliament to extend the president's rule in a state.

  •  According to this provision, the president's rule can only be extended over a year every 6 months under the following conditions:

    • There is already a national emergency throughout India, or in the whole or any part of the state.

    • The Election Commission certifies that elections cannot be conducted in the concerned state.

  • President's rule can be revoked at any time by the president and does not need the Parliament's approval.

Criticism

  • Article 356 gave wide powers to the central government to assert its authority over a state if civil unrest occurs, and the state government does not have the means to end it.

  • The practice was limited only after the Supreme Court established strict guidelines for imposing president's rule in its ruling on the S. R. Bommai v. Union of India case in 1994. This landmark judgement has helped curtail the widespread misuse of Article 356.

  • The Sarkaria Commission Report on Centre-State Relations 1983 has recommended that Article 356 must be used very sparingly, in extreme cases, as a measure of last resort, when all the other alternatives fail to prevent or rectify a breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state.