All you need to know about President's Rule

With less than twenty-four hours left before the polls to elect the fourteenth President of India, here is a quick look at Article 356 of the Indian Constitution and the President's Rule.

Published: 16th July 2017 12:27 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th July 2017 07:17 PM   |  A+A-

Indira Gandhi's tenure as the Indian PM from 1966- 77, and 1980- 84, it was imposed for a total of fifty times.

Indira Gandhi is the Indian Prime Minister to have imposed the most number of President' Rule in the history of the country. A file photo of Indira with then President S Radhakrishnan (PTI)

By Online Desk

What is President's Rule in the Indian context?

  • The imposition of Article  356 of the Constitution on a State following the failure of constitutional machinery is called President's Rule in India. Once the President's Rule has been imposed on a state, the elected state government will be temporarily dissolved, and the Governor, who is appointed by the government at the Centre, will replace the Chief Minister as the chief executive of the State.

  • The state will fall under the direct control of the Union government, and the Governor will continue to be head the proceedings, representing the President of India - who is the Head of the State.

  • Article 356 is inspired by sections 93 of the Government of India Act, 1935, which provided that if a Governor of a province was satisfied that a situation had arisen in which the government of the province cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the said Act, he could assume to himself all or any of the powers of the government and discharge those functions in his discretion.

  • The imposition of the President's rule requires the sanction of both the houses of Parliament. If approved, it can go on for a period of six months. However, the imposition cannot be extended for more than three years, and needs to be brought before the two houses every six months for approval.

When can President's Rule be imposed on a state?

  • State Legislature is unable to elect a leader as Chief Minister

  • Collapse of a Coalition due to disagreements, parting ways within the members

  • Serious breakdown law and order

  • Elections postponed due to ineludible reasons

  • Loss of majority in the state assembly

  • Shoot up of insurgency or rebellion

President's Rule: Some interesting facts

  • Article 356 has been widely criticised for giving provisions for the party/coalition in the Centre to misuse democratic powers for political gains. Dr BR Ambedkar called it 'the death letter of Indian Constitution'. The rival parties running governments in various states were dissolved by those at the Centre by making use of the Article. The dismissal of the EMS Namboodiripad-led Communist government in Kerala by Jawaharlal Nehru in July 1959, and the 21 instances during the period 1975-1979 are often considered as examples of the misuse of the President's Rule.

  • Uttar Pradesh is the Indian state upon which the President's Rule has been imposed for the most number of times. When UP went under it for a record nine times, Bihar comes second with eight times. The Governor's Rule imposed on Jammu and Kashmir for a span of six years (19 January 1990 - 9 October 1996) is the longest one the country has ever witnessed. Chattisgarh and Telangana are the only Indian states that have never slipped to President's rule.

  • Indira Gandhi tops the chart of Indian Prime Minister's who imposed the most number of President's rule upon states. During her tenure as the Indian PM from 1966- 77, and 1980- 84, it was imposed for a total of fifty times. The two-year term of Morarji Desai from1977-79 saw the provision being imposed for sixteen times.

  • In 1994, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgement in the SR Bommai vs Union of India case, introducing certain guidelines to check the unwarranted intrusion of the central government and the imposition of Article 356 for political gains.

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