Presidents Rule

Presidents Rule

It is the duty of the Union Government to ensure that governance of a State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

Under Article 356, the President may issue a proclamation to impose emergency in a state if he is satisfied on receipt of a report from the Governor of the State, or otherwise, that a situation has arisen under which the Government of the State cannot be carried on smoothly.

In such a situation, a proclamation of emergency by the President is called ‘proclamation on account of the failure (or breakdown) of constitutional machinery.’

In popular language, it is called the Presidents Rule.


Parliamentary Approval and Duration

Like National Emergency, such a proclamation must also be placed before both the Houses of Parliament for approval. In this case approval must be given within two months; otherwise, the proclamation ceases to operate.

Every resolution approving the proclamation of President’s Rule or its continuation can be passed by either House of Parliament only by a simple majority, that is, a majority of the members of that House present and voting.

If approved by the Parliament, the proclamation remains valid for six months at a time.

It can be extended for another six months but not beyond one year.

However, emergency in a State can be extended beyond one year if

[1] a National Emergency is already in operation; or if

[2] the Election Commission certifies that the election to the State Assembly cannot be held.

This type of emergency has been imposed in most of the States at one time or the other for a number of times.

It was in 1951 that this type of emergency was imposed for the first time in the Punjab State.

In 1957, the Kerala State was put under the Presidents Rule.

There have been many cases of misuse of ‘constitutional breakdown’.

For example, in 1977 when the Janata Party came into power at the Centre, the Congress Party was almost wiped out in the North Indian States.

On this excuse, Desai Government at the Centre dismissed nine State governments where Congress was still in power.

This action of Morarji Desai’s Janata Government was strongly criticised by the Congress and others.

In 1980, (after Janata Government had lost power) Congress came back to power at the Centre and dismissed all the then Janata Party State Governments.

In both cases, there was no failure of Constitutional machinery, but actions were taken only on political grounds.

After 1995 the use of this provision has rarely been made.


Effects of Imposition of President’s Rule in a State

The declaration of emergency due to the breakdown of Constitutional machinery in a State has the following effects:

The President can assume to himself all or any of the functions of the State Government or he may vest all or any of those functions with the Governor or any other executive authority.

The President may dissolve the State Legislative Assembly or put it under suspension.

He may authorise the Parliament to make laws on behalf of the State Legislature.

The President can make any other incidental or consequential provision necessary to give effect to the object of proclamation.


The 38th Amendment Act of 1975 made the satisfaction of the President in invoking Article 356 final and conclusive which could not be challenged in any court on any ground. But, this provision was subsequently deleted by the 44th Amendment Act of 1978 implying that the satisfaction of the President is not beyond judicial review.

The Sarkaria Commission which was appointed to review the Centre-State relations also recommended that Article 356 should be used only as a last resort.

The Commission also suggested that the State Legislative Assembly should not be dissolved unless the proclamation is approved by the Parliament.

It further suggested that all possibilities of forming an alternative government should be fully explored before the Centre imposes emergency in a State on grounds of the breakdown of Constitutional machinery.

The Supreme Court held in the ‘Bommai case’ that the Assembly may not be dissolved till the Proclamation is approved by the Parliament.