State Emergency/President’s Rule – Article 356

Article 355 – Duty of Union to Protect States

Under article 355, the obligation of the Union to protect the state arises in the following situation-

  1. External aggression
  2. Internal disturbance
  3. when the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the constitution.

Sarbananda Sonowal VS. Union of India 2005 SC

The Supreme Court held that, since the state of Assam is facing external aggression and internal disturbance on account of large scale illegal migration of Bangladeshi Nationals, it is the duty of the union of India to take all measures to protect the state of Assam as enjoined in article 355.

Articel 356 – Failure of Constitutional Machinery in States

  • The President on receipt of report from the governor of a state or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, he may proclaim Emergency.
  • Such proclamation may be revoked or varied by a subsequent proclamation.
  • Such proclamation must be approved by both the houses of the Parliament with Simple majority within two months of such proclamation.

Grounds of Proclamation

The President rule can be proclaimed on two grounds:

  1. Article 356 empowers the president to issue a proclamation, if he is satisfied that the situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. The president can act either on a report of the governor of the state or otherwise to.
  2. Article 365 says that whenever a state fails to comply with or give effect to any direction from the center, it will be lawful for the President to hold that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

Approval and duration

  • A proclamation imposing President’s rule must be approved by both the Houses of Parliament within two months from the date of its issue.
  • If the proclamation of president’s rule is issued at a time when the Lok sabha has been dissolved or dissolution takes place during the period of two months without approving it, then the proclamation survives until 30 days from the first sitting of the Lok Sabha after its reconstitution provided the Rajya Sabha approves it in the meantime.
  • If approved by both the Houses of Parliament, the president ruled continues for six months.
  • For its approval only simple majority is required.
  • It can be extended for a maximum period of three years with the approval of the parliament on every six months.

By 44th amendment act 1978

Beyond one year, the president’s rule can be extended by six months at a time only when the following two conditions are fulfilled –

  1. A proclamation of national emergency should be in operation if the whole of India or in the whole or any part of the state; and
  2. The Election Commission must certify that the general elections to the legislative assembly of the state concerned cannot be held on account of difficulties.

Consequences of President rule

In this situation, the president acquires the following extraordinary powers-

  1. He can take up the functions of the state government and powers vested in the governor or any other executive authority in the state.
  2. He can declare that the powers of the state legislature are to be exercised by the parliament.
  3. He can take all other necessary steps including the suspension of the constitutional provisions relating to any body or authority in the state.

When the State legislature is thus suspended or dissolved 

  1. The Parliament can delegate the power to make laws for the state to the president or to any other authority specified by him in this regard.
  2. The Parliament or in the case of delegation, the president or any other specified authority can make laws conferring powers and imposing duties on the center or its officers and authorities.
  3. The President can authorize, when the Lok Sabha is not in session, expenditure from the state consolidated fund pending it’s sanctioned by the parliament.
  4. The President can promulgate when the parliament is not in session, ordinances for the governances of the state.

Article 356 when ?

  1. No party in assembly has majority to be able to form the government. [Hung assembly]
  2. Government in office looses its majority due to defections and no alternative government can be formed.
  3. A government may have majority support in the house but it may function in a manner subversive before constitution.

Case laws on article 356

Rajasthan vs Union of India 1977 S.C

The Supreme Court held that-

  • It could not interfere with centre’s exercise of power under article 356 unless some specific constitutional provisions was infringed.
  • Article 74(2) disables the court from inquiring into the ministerial advice to the President.
  • Court will not question President’s satisfaction unless it is shown to be grossly perverse and unreasonable so as to constitute patent misuse of this power.

SR Bommai vs Union of India 1994 SC

The following propositions have been laid down by the Supreme Court judgement dealing with article 356 –

  1. Presidential proclamation dissolving a state legislative assembly is subject to Judicial Review.
  2. Burden lies on Government of India to prove that relevant material existed to justify the imposition of the president’s rule.
  3. Courts would not go into the correctness of the material.
  4. If the court strikes down the proclamation, it has power to restore the dismissed state government to the office.


Also Read:

National Emergency- Article 352

Financial Emergency – Article 360

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