The imposition of Article 356 of the Constitution on a State following the failure of constitutional machinery is called President’s Rule in India.
Under this Article if 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, the president can impose president’s rule
Once the President’s Rule has been imposed on a state, the elected state government will be temporarily dissolved, and the Governor, who is appointed by the government at the Centre, will replace the Chief Minister as the chief executive of the State.
The state will fall under the direct control of the Union government, and the Governor will continue to be head the proceedings, representing the President of India – who is the Head of the State.
Article 356 is inspired by sections 93 of the Government of India Act, 1935, which provided that if a Governor of a province was satisfied that a situation had arisen in which the government of the province cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the said Act, he could assume to himself all or any of the powers of the government and discharge those functions in his discretion.
The imposition of the President’s rule requires the sanction of both the houses of Parliament. If approved, it can go on for a period of six months.
However, the imposition cannot be extended for more than three years, and needs to be brought before the two houses every six months for approval.
When can President’s Rule be imposed on a state?
State Legislature is unable to elect a leader as Chief Minister
If the ruling party or coalition does not have numbers to prove majority in the Assembly.
If the breakdown of law and order situation takes place in the state.
Loss of majority in the state assembly
If elections are postponed due to inevitable reasons.
How long President’s Rule can last
A proclamation of President’s Rule can be revoked through a subsequent proclamation in case the leader of a party produces letters of support from a majority of members of the Assembly, and stakes his claim to form a government. The revocation does not need the approval of Parliament.
President’s Rule in India
Manipur and Punjab have seen among the most instances of President’s Rule since Article 356 was enshrined in the Constitution in 1950. Manipur is tied with Uttar Pradesh for the most frequent imposition of President’s Rule, at 10 each.
Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir follow with 9 each. Since 1950, President’s Rule has been imposed a total of 134 times across 29 states and UTs.
In 1977 alone, there were 14 impositions of President’s Rule following a two-year period of Emergency under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. After the Morarji Desai-led Janata Party government defeated the incumbent Congress to win a majority in the 1977 Lok Sabha elections, it dissolved 9 state assemblies citing the electorate’s “lack of confidence” in the state governments. Following the general elections in 1980, in which Indira Gandhi returned to power, she, too, dissolved state Assemblies and imposed President’s Rule in the same 9 states, after claiming the state governments no longer represented the electorate.
The next highest instances of President’s Rule came in 1992 at 6, of which 4 occurred in UP, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh due to communal violence following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, UP.
Since 1950, President’s Rule has been imposed at least once a year in 53 out of 74 years. The 1960s and 1970s saw the most frequent use of President’s Rule. The provision has been applied considerably less frequently since then.
Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab have seen the longest durations spent under President’s Rule, at 4,668 days (12 years, 9 months) and 3,878 days (10 years, 7 months), respectively, owing to the recurring spells of militant and separatist activity, and unstable law and order situations in both regions.
Puducherry, at 2,739 days or 7.5 years, saw the third longest duration of President’s Rule. The UT saw repeated cases of governments losing support in the Assembly due to infighting among coalition partners or defections. The most recent instance of President’s Rule was also in Puducherry in 2021, after the Congress-led government lost power in a vote of confidence.
Despite experiencing the highest number of separate instances of President’s Rule, UP and Manipur saw shorter durations, at 1,690 days (4 years, 7 months) and 1,511 days (4 years, 1 month), respectively. Only 8 states and UTs have seen less than a year of President’s Rule in total. Uttarakhand, a relatively new state, has spent just 44 days under President’s Rule, in 2016.
States and UTs have cumulatively seen 30,478 days under President’s Rule. On average, each instance of President’s Rule in India lasted 228 days (or more than 7 months).