According to a RTI response from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), President’s rule was imposed 115 times till 2016. The indiscriminate use of article 356 has come down following the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court in the SR Bommai case.
When President’s rule was imposed in Uttarakhand in March 2016, it became the 115th instance of imposition of President’s rule since 1950. While the use of article 356 has considerably come down in the last two decades, it still continues to grab headlines.
Article 356 of the Indian Constitution
Article 356 of the Indian constitution provides for imposition of President’s rule in states, provided the President is satisfied that the governance in states cannot be carried out in accordance to the constitution. In other words, it is supposed to be used sparingly when no party/alliance is able to form a government or a government has lost majority in the house or if there is a widespread breakdown of law and order. The president usually acts on the advice of the union cabinet. Over the years since independence, article 356 was used when different political parties/alliances were in power at the center.
President’s rule was imposed in 12 states in 1977
As per the response to a RTI application by Factly, Article 356 (imposition of President’s rule) was first used in June 1951 in Punjab. Since then, it has been used 115 times till date. President’s rule was imposed in 12 states in 1977 after the Janata alliance came to power. This remains the record for a single year till date. Second in the list is 1980 when the president’s rule was imposed in 9 different states after Indira Gandhi came back to power. Other notable years include 1992 when it was used in 6 different states and 1971 when it was used in 7 states including thrice in Orissa.
President’s rule was imposed 63 times in 20 years between 1971 and 1990
The imposition of President’s rule in states has varied across various decades. It was used 20 times between 1950 and 1970. Between 1971 and 1990, it was used 63 times, an average of 3 times a year. In fact, it was used 49 times between 1970 and 1980, highlighting the polarized political atmosphere during those times. Article 356 was used as a political tool during those times.
Between 1991 and 2010, it was used 27 times. Only in 1991 and 1992, it was used 9 times. The indiscriminate use of Article 356 came down significantly following the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in the S R Bommai case in 1994. Between 2011 and 2016, it has been used 5 times including 3 times after the BJP came to power in 2014.
This is the first part of a two part series on imposition of President’s Rule in India. In the second part, the details of states where President’s rule was imposed most number of times, number of days of President’s rule in those states etc. are analysed.
Featured Image: President’s Rule