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History of President’s Rule in Indian states

Facts of President’s Rule:

Which is the Indian state where president’s rule was imposed for the first time?
Article 356 was used for the first time during Vimochana samaram to dismiss the democratically elected Communist state government of Kerala on July 31, 1959.

Vimochana samaram: On 1 November 1956, the state of Kerala was formed by the States Reorganisation Act merging the Malabar district, Travancore-Cochin and the taluk of Kasargod, South Kanara. In 1957, elections for the new Kerala Legislative Assembly were held, and a reformist, Communist-led government came to power, under E. M. S. Namboodiripad. It was the first time a Communist government was democratically elected to power in India. It initiated the pioneering land reforms and educational reforms by introducing new bills in the state assembly. The opposition of the Catholic church in Kerala, the Nair Service Society and the Indian Union Muslim League, along with the manoeuvres of the political front led by the Indian National Congress Party, against the land reform and the education policies of the government finally broke out to an open struggle and statewide violence against the government machinery and institutions. These events finally culminated in the dismissal of the state government on 31 July 1959, by the Central Government of India, which was led by the Indian National Congress during that period.

How many times was the president’s rule imposed in India and in which states?
125 times till 27th January 2016.

Andhra Pradesh: 3 times                                   Arunachal Pradesh: 2 times
Assam: 4 times                                                  Bihar: 8 times
Delhi : 1 time                                                      Goa: 5 times
Gujarat: 5 times                                                 Haryana: 3 times
Himachal Pradesh: 2 times                               Jammu and Kashmir: 6 times
Jharkhand: 3 times                                            Karnataka: 6 times
Kerala: 4 times                                                  Madhya Pradesh: 4 times
Maharashtra: 2 times                                        Manipur: 10 times
Meghalaya: 2 times                                            Mizoram: 3 times
Nagaland: 4 times                                              Orissa: 6 times
Pondicherry: 6 times                                         Punjab: 9 times
Rajasthan: 4 times                                             Sikkim: 2 times
Tamil Nadu: 5 times                                           Tripura: 3 times
Uttar Pradesh: 9 times                                       West Bengal: 4 times

What is the lowest duration of President’s or Governor’s Rule?
Karnataka 10-Oct-90 17-Oct-90 7 days
West Bengal 01-Jul-62 08-Jul-62 7 days

What is the longest Duration of President’s or Governor’s Rule?
Jammu and Kashmir [3] 19-Jan-90 09-Oct-96 6 years, 264 days

What is the difference between the president’s rule and Governor’s rule?

President rule : Article 356: All states except JnK.
Governor’s rule : Article 92: Only in JnK (due to special provisions in article 370)

History of Presidential Rule in States: Article 356
Article 356 of the Constitution of India, which deals with presidential discretionary powers of emergency, has long been the favored topic of political debate and, at times, the cause of much ire withing the legal intellectual community in India and political parties. President rule or governor rule is imposed when there is failure of democratic machinery. What it means that when there is failure of constitutional machinery or a democratically elected government is unable to form government, mainly due to lack of majority, the state is governed by Central Government, through Governor of the state.

If Article 356 (or article 92 for J&k) is invoked then the state comes under direct control of central government with executive authority exercised through governor.

Article 356 in the Constitution gives the Central Government the right to recommend President’s Rule if the “the situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on”. But, it has almost always been used to sack a state government headed by the party in power in Central Government.

First misuse of Article 356:

In July 1959, when Jawaharlal Nehru dismissed the EMS Namboodiripad government in Kerala, in spite of the Communist CM having the support of the majority in the House, he started a tradition that has become a bane of Indian democracy. Later, during the 1970s and the Emergency, Indira Gandhi and the Janata government turned Indian democracy into a game of musical chairs by dismissing elected governments just to teach their rivals a lesson, or sneak into power through the backdoor.

Sarkaria Commission, headed by Justice Ranjit Singh Sarkaria, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, was set up in June 1983 to examine the relationship and balance of power between state and central governments in the country and suggest changes within the framework of Constitution of India.

The Commission pointed out that the use of Article 356 has been rising with the passage of time and gave many suggestions which have not been implemented by Indian National Congress in last 30 years. “Whereas between 1950 and 1954, it was invoked only on three occasions, it was invoked on nine occasions between 1965 and 1969; it rose to 21 instances during the period 1975-1979 and to 18 during the period 1980-1987.”
Democracy, in fact, became a relay-race of political farce between 1975 and 1980 when Indira dismissed several non-Congress governments and, in retaliation, the Janata government dismissed most of the Congress government after winning the 1977 election. In 1980, when Indira returned to power, she dismissed governments led by Opposition leaders.
The ugly game stopped under Rajiv Gandhi a bit, but only because the Congress emerged victorious in many states during the period. Then in 1992, the PV Narasimha Rao government sacked the BJP governments in four states in the wake of the Ram Mandir agitation.

Arunachal Story:
Congress, which has 47 MLAs seats in the 60-member assembly, suffered a jolt when 21 of them rebelled. Eleven BJP MLAs backed the rebels in the bid to upstage the Nabam Tuki government. Later, 14 rebel Congress MLAs were disqualified.

The governor then called assembly session on December 16 in which deputy speaker revoked disqualification of 14 rebel Congress MLAs and removed Rebia from the post of Speaker. This sitting was held in a community hall in Itanagar.
Various decisions of the governor and the deputy speaker were challenged by Rebia in Gauhati high court which passed an interim order keeping in abeyance these decisions till February one.

Supreme Court’s post-haste action on hearing a petition against President’s Rule in Arunachal is suspect. It is obvious that a large chunk of MLAs have voiced support for another party. In such situation, disqualification of those MLAs is not an option. Constitution has provided enough remedy for this without the necessity of judicial intervention.
Supreme Court should instead fast-track cases of corruption against prominent leaders like Sonia (National Herald), Lalu (Fodder) and others. They have national significance and impact. But in those cases, Supreme Court says it sees no reason to speed up the cases.
Now who will judge the hon. judge?

When is Presidential rule imposed?

In practice presidents rule has been imposed under different circumstances such as
1. State Legislature is unable to elect a leader as Chief Minister
2. Break down of Coalition
3. Irretrievable break down of law and order
4. Rebellion or insurgency in a part of India
5. Elections are postponed due to unavoidable reasons
6. Most often till mid 1990s President rule has been imposed instates due to the misuse of Governors authority in collusion with the decision of the Government in power at the center (Federal Government). However, after a Historic and Landmark Judgment by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the S. R. Bommai (Ex -Chief Minister of Karnataka) Case, such misuse has reduced drastically.

Article 356 of the Indian Constitution has been the victim of bad governance during the last five decades. Otherwise it is in no way incongruous that it would require recast or annulment. By the ignominious acts of the men who wielded absolute governmental power, they got astray from the path of good governance and tried to make the said article appear rogue in its content.The provision of 356 is quite in keeping with the exigencies of art of governance of the states in a manner that the administration of the State runs on proper lines and interference from the Center is neither required nor feasible. Non-interference by the Center is in the interests of the totality of the country. The existence of Article 356 in the Union constitution is a political necessity because in course of time all the diversities shall get absorbed in the system that shall make India look a country having the ingredients of one compact nation with different religions and religious communities walking hand-in-hand and having well of the country at heart.

CRITICISM OF ARTICLE 356:
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute Corrupts absolutely”. -Lord Aldon

Article 356 gave wide powers to the central government to assert its authority over a state if civil unrest occurred and the state government did not have the means to end the unrest. This is one of the articles that gave the Indian constitution some amount of unitary character. Though the purpose of this article is to give more powers to central government to preserve the unity and integrity of the nation, it has often been misused by the ruling parties at the center. It has been used as a pretext to dissolve state governments ruled by political opponents. Thus, it is seen by many as a threat to the federal state system. Since the adoption of Indian constitution in 1950, the central government has used this article several times to dissolve elected state governments and impose President’s rule.

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