Article 356 deals with the imposition of President’s rule in a state. It gives the President the power to assume both the executive and legislative powers of a state. It has been inspired from the Government of India Act of 1935, when it was known as ‘controlled democracy’.
The grounds for imposition of Article 356 as mentioned in the constitution:
- On receipt of a report from the governor of the state or otherwise that the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution
- The President is satisfied with such a report or he otherwise feels that such a situation has arisen
- In case of the complete breakdown of the constitutional machinery of the state
The matter of concern:
When invoked with validity, the article is indeed an appropriate one. But unfortunately, it has been used several times, about 115 times at least till now. There are several reasons for using it so often. Some of them are:
- When the party in power at the centre is not the same as that in a state, there is a tendency of the centre to control the working of the state governments
- Under article 355, it is the duty of the centre to protect the states against ‘internal disturbances’, a term which has been misinterpreted time and again
- The governor of a state is appointed by the President on advice of the cabinet. This at times, makes the governor an agent of the central government and he acts in the interest of the party in power at the centre
- The governors also at times send reports that are biased, motivated and distorted in an attempt to impose the President’s rule.
- There is no security of tenure of the governor, he can be removed from office or transferred at any place and any time according to the will of the President.
So the question is that should article 356 be repealed totally?
Well, the acts are made in good faith but time and again they are misused. So, the misuse needs to be controlled rather than repealing the acts.
Article 356 is not immune from judicial review.
In the SR Bommai case 1989, the Supreme Court had held that Article 356 is subjected to judicial review. In case the court finds that the exercise of the power has been mala fide, it can strike down the proclamation and restore the dismissed government.
India is a federal country and the states have equal rights in running the governments. The state governments are chosen by the people and democracy has to be respected.
It is the duty of the governor to work impartially and in the best interests of the state. He should help the state governments in governing fairly and smoothly. And it is his responsibility to stay away from politics.
Therefore, except under really exceptional circumstances, when the conditions are actually satisfied, article 356 should not be used. But as far as the spirit of the law is concerned, it is a laudable one.