Constitutional Crisis Looms as AP Prez Rule Awaits Nod

In yet another glaring example of  governance paralysis in UPA-II, the Centre has landed Andhra Pradesh in a constitutional crisis by not getting Parliament approval for the President’s rule imposed in the state within the stipulated 60 days.

Published: 30th March 2014 08:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th March 2014 08:04 AM   |  A+A-

In yet another glaring example of  governance paralysis in UPA-II, the Centre has landed Andhra Pradesh in a constitutional crisis by not getting Parliament approval for the President’s rule imposed in the state within the stipulated 60 days.

Unless a special session of the Rajya Sabha is convened to adopt the proclamation imposing the President’s rule before April 30, the state will be in a serious constitutional crisis -- it may have no legal validity.

In a three-page “top secret” letter to President Pranab Mukherjee, Andhra Pradesh Governor E S L Narsimhan has pointed to the constitutional crisis awaiting the state.

Worse still, the constitutional imbroglio may also derail the bifurcation, the official creation of new state of Telangana, which  has been slated for June 2.

Upset over the lack of coordination within the government, Pranab is said to have brought to the notice of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that sub-clauses 2 and 4 of Article 356 of the Constitution make it mandatory for the government to get Parliamentary approval of the proclamation within 60 days. Confirming the letter, officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs admitted that the government was indeed staring at a constitutional crisis in the midst of an election.

Sources said the government was tentatively considering calling a session of the Rajya Sabha on April 25 and 26. By then, the six-phases of the nine-phase election will be over.

Seventeen Lok Sabha seats of the Telangana region will go to the polls on April 30 along with the Assemblies, while 25 Lok Sabha seats of Andhra Pradesh will vote on May 7.

According to the Election Commission’s legal counsel, S K Mehendiratta, there is a provision by which the situation can be saved by getting the Rajya Sabh to pass the resolution, which will otherwise lapse.  However, the Centre may be in for trouble there also, as the Rajya Sabha will have a new set of members, changing the number game.

There is a precedence though. In 1991, when the President’s rule was clamped on Tamil Nadu, then President R Venkataraman got the Chandra Shekhar government to similarly call a two-day session of the Upper House to pass the proclamation. The Lok Sabha had been dissolved by then.

In his letter, Narasimhan has listed two or three constitutional provisions by which a crisis can be averted.Sources in the Ministry of Law and Justice said they hadn’t received any communication from the Prime Minister’s Office regarding Narasimhan’s letter so it will not be appropriate to comment. However, they maintained that government needed to act according to Section 3 of Article 356 to prevent a constitutional crisis.

“As per the Act, proclamation of the President rule has to be adopted within 60 days in Parliament. The deadline is April 30 and the government will have to ensure the arrangements before the administration collapses in the state,” a ministry source said.

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