The imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh has brought the focus back on Article 356 of the Constitution.
HT explains the legal position on the controversial provision of the Constitution. According to Article 356, President’s rule can be imposed in a state if a situation arises in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
The expression “breakdown of constitutional machinery” has not been defined in the Constitution. It can result from a hung assembly, the government losing majority in the assembly, failure of any political grouping to form a government, defections or insurgency. Whatever may be the reason, the President has to be satisfied about breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state.
The governor sends a report to the Centre and it’s his/her report that forms the basis for the union cabinet’s recommendation to the President for invoking Article 356 to impose President’s rule. However, the provision also says that the President can take such a decision even “otherwise” (that is even in the absence of governor’s report).
While sending a report to the Centre, the governor is not supposed to go by the advice of the state cabinet and she/he exercises her/his own discretion. On the contrary, the President has to go by the advice of the Union cabinet. But he can seek clarifications from the council of ministers.
Once President’s rule is imposed, the assembly ceases to function and the state comes under Centre’s control. The assembly is kept in suspended animation. The powers of the state assembly become exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament. The executive power shifts from the council of ministers to the governor.
Once imposed, President’s rule must be approved by Parliament in two months. It can’t last for more than six months unless Parliament approves an extension.