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ARTICLE 356 OF CONSTITUTION OF INDIA (STATE EMERGENCY)

Article 356

Firstly, to understand the concept of Article 356 of India’s constitution for state emergency let’s examine its history and enactment.

The Indian Constitution provides for emergency arrangements in line with Article 352-360. 

Moreover, Article 355 of India’s constitution places on the central government the duty to protect:

  1. External violence 
  2. Internal disruption of peace
  3. Respecting constitutional clauses

Dr. BR Ambedkar said the following statements concerning the incorporation of Article 356 during the post-independence framing of the constitution:

“I think the first thing the president will do is to send a direct notice to a state that has made an error that things have not progressed in the way the law was meant to do. If that warning fails, the second thing he will do is to call an election that will allow citizens to resolve issues by themselves. Only after such two remedies fail, would he resort to this article 356 and take state under the regime of the president.”

The socio-political history of the Constitution’s drafters made them cognizant that the country’s security and its policy’s stability certainly could not be overlooked.

The vast difference in social, cultural, and political life, the variety of languages, ethnicity, and area will present the fledgling republic with many tough situations.

SCOPE AND APPLICATION ON ARTICLE 356 FOR STATE EMERGENCY:

Article 356 provides for the implementation of emergency measures in the event of constitutional mechanism breakdown in States.

According to the article, on receiving a declaration from the state governor or otherwise, the president imposes emergency situations as provided for in Article 356 where the government of the State is not carrying in compliance with constitutional provisions. Article 356’s two principal elements are:

  • On receiving of a report from chief minister or otherwise, and
  • A condition has emerged in which the state government is not able to follow constitutional clauses.

In plain terms, the rule of the President is when the state government faces downfall. The central government directly administers the state through the president’s office.

IMPLEMENTATION OF ARTICLE 356 UNDER:

It was seen that the rule of the President was enforced when either of the following situations occurred:

  • The state legislature cannot elect a member as the chief minister for a certain period.
  • The disintegration of an alliance in the state government, which leads the CM to have minority support in the assembly, and the CM is unable to show its majority within the president’s time.
  • A vote of no confidence is passed in the national assembly leading to a majority defeat.
  • Postponing elections because of unforeseen causes such as a natural catastrophe, an outbreak or a war. 

WHAT PRECISELY PRESIDENT’S RULE IMPLIES?

  • Can assume state executive powers.
  • Has the power to allow the Government to perform state legislature responsibilities.
  • He may take all other required measures involving the revocation of constitutional provisions in respect of any state authority.

Firstly the President dismisses the chief minister of state. Then, he either revokes or disintegrates the regional government and their duties are then exercised by the parliament.

The President, through the Governor, exercises the executive authority with the assistance of the State Chief Secretary or the Government-designated advisors. 

Parliamentary approval is essential for any State to be subject to the rule of the President. Within two months of its issue, the declaration of President’s Rule should pass acceptance, in both houses of Parliament. The authorization is by a majority vote. 

Control of the President is primarily for a six-month duration. The continuation can be for a term of three years, with parliamentary approval in every six months.

The 44th Constitutional amendment imposed certain limits on the enforcement of the President’s law beyond a one-year term. It states that the authority of the President shall not exceed more than a year unless:

  • India has a national crisis.
  • India’s Election Commission verifies that, due to difficulties in conducting assembly elections to the legislature, it is appropriate to continue the President’s rule in the state. 

REVOCATION OF PRESIDENT’S RULE

The Rule of the President can be repealed at any point after such a declaration has been made by the President with a corresponding decree. A declaration of termination needs no legislative approval. In short, Article 356 granted specific powers to the central government to enforce its jurisdiction upon it. 

ABUSE OF POWER

While it was intended only as a way of maintaining the country’s independence and stability, it was deliberately used to overthrow state governments led by the center’s opponents.

Because of its ambiguity, the features of article 356 of Indian constitution attract a comprehensive review.

The role of the two aspects has not been conventional until now, which has left them open for discussions and critique.

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court put stringent rules on every state for imposing Article 356. The apex court put forth that:

  • The Centre will explain the implementation of Article 356. If the reasons for the declaration are unconstitutional, the court has the power to restore the suspended or dissolved State government.
  • Severe charges of corruption and financial instability against the state ministry are not criteria for enforcing Article 356.
  • Article 356 cannot be imposed to settle any internal party problems. 
  • When the State Ministry steps down or lacks a vote, then the Governor cannot allow the President to enforce this article unless the Governor takes adequate measures to establish an alternative government.
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