What is President’s Rule?

President's rule in India

President’s rule in India is a constitutional statue that deals with the method in which the centre needs to function when there is breakdown of administrative machinery in the states. According to Article 356 of the Constitution of India when the state is unable to function through the Governor appointed by the Centre, the central government can take direct control of the state administration. This is also known as “State Emergency”.

This provision of the constitution has been put to use many times since independence in the country. This makes the centre to dissolve or prorogue the state legislature. And the election Commission is also forced to conduct a re-election within six months.

Why is the President’s Rule imposed on the states?

There are many reasons why state emergency is declared and President’s Rule is implemented in states. Some of them are:

  1. To ensure sound administration in states.
  2. To make sure that the state government is running the state based on the provisions of the constitution.
  3. When the result of state election is not clear and when the council of ministers and Governors do not succeed in deciding the Chief Minister of the state, the centre takes the responsibility of the administration of this state.
  4. To ensure a constitutional breakdown does not affect the regular administration of the state.
  5. To avoid undemocratic administration at the state level.
  6. When the collision government is not functioning effectively and there is a fracture in their collaboration.
  7. When there is loss of majority in the assembly due to a vote of no-confidence in the house.

When and How can the President rule imposed on states?

President Rule in India is imposed on states on two grounds namely:

  1. Article 356: When the President of the country is satisfied that the state cannot be run in accordance with the provisions of the constitution, article 356 comes into picture. In such circumstances the centre decides to impose president rule and President imposes it under his stamp.
  2. Article 365: This is a ground for imposition of president rule when the state government fails to comply with the norms set by the central government in administration aspect. In such cases also the central government has the constitutional stand to impose president rule in India.

Amongst both these grounds article 356 is the most used one and there is clear procedure to implement this constitutional statute. The centre, state, the governor and the President need to follow this procedure collectively. The protocol of implementing President Rule is

  1. When there is a constitutional breakdown in the state the Governor writes to the President in his or her fortnightly report.
  2. Then if the President is satisfied and convinced that there is non-compliance of centre orders in a particular state or breakdown of constitutional framework he or she issues a proclamation of President’s Rule.
  3. All this is done on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
  4. After President issues a proclamation it needs to be approved by both the houses of the Parliament within a period of two months.
  5. The approval of this proclamation needs simple majority of the houses of the parliament.
  6. Once the proclamation of the president rule is passed it continues for six months and can be extended further any number of times with a similar approval from both the houses of the Parliament every time.

Incidents Where President’s rule was imposed in India

There were many instances of President’s Rule being imposed in India. The state that was brought under President Rule the most number of times was Uttar Pradesh. President Rule was imposed in Uttar Pradesh for nearly 10 times. Punjab was the state that was kept under President Rule for maximum number of days. It was under state emergency for almost 1000 days. Some of the much talked about instances of imposing President Rule are:

  1. President’s Rule was imposed in Maharashtra very recently in the year 2019. The situation developed after Mahashtra could not elect a leader even after its 2019 election for 19 days leading to a Hung Parliament. Then the central government has brought the state legislature under suspended animation. Then the central government has imposed President Rule in Maharashtra.
  2. From 1966 to 1977 the President’s Rule was imposed as many as 39 times by the then central government in several states. This was widely criticised by many political thinkers as it violated the federal fabric of the country.
  3. In the post emergency period also state emergency was declared 9 times in several states.

What are the consequences of President’s Rule in India?

In a state that is under President’s Rule the President acquires extraordinary powers in administration of the state. Some of them are:

  1. He takes up the powers of state executive authority or Governor.
  2. He can declare that the state’s legislative power is in the hands of the Parliament.
  3. He can take steps to suspend the constitutional authorities of states.

When imposing President’s Rule is improper?

  1. When the governor makes his own assessment of the election result and does not provide the ministry an opportunity to prove his or her majority in the floor of the house.
  2. When internal disturbances do not amount to internal subversions or breakdown of administration.
  3. When the Central government and its policies are being criticised b a state government authority.

The Bottom Line

Though President’s Rule is Constitutional statute it is the most misused provisions of the constitutions. It is like a tool with the central government to suspend and dissolve state legislatures when the state is ruled by opposition party. Taking into cognizance the number of times this provision was misused The Supreme Court has given a judgment saying that the decision of the central government is under judicial review and the central government can be questioned.

This provision of the constitution is laid to ensure proper governance of the states. Since India is a Quasi-judicial country where the final authority lays in the hands of the central government in most cases, this provision was included to uphold that principle and ensure efficient governance in the states.

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