Article 355 Of The Constitution:
Citing post-poll violence in Birbhum district, West Bengal, many political leaders have urged the president to invoke Article 355 of the Constitution to ensure that the state government functions in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
- The petitioner has asked for imposition of Article 355 on account of breakdown of constitutional machinery.
- Article 355 refers to the provision in the Constitution that states that “It shall be the duty of the Union to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance and to ensure that the government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”.
- The Article 355 is part of emergency provisions contained in Part XVIII of the Constitution of India, from Article 352 to 360.
- It is this duty in the performance of which the centre takes over the government of a state under Article 356 in case of failure or breakdown of constitutional machinery in a state.
- This is popularly known as ‘President’s Rule’.
- The president’s rule can be proclaimed under Article 356 on two grounds:
- Article 356 empowers the President to issue a proclamation if he is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of a state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.
- Article 365 says that whenever a state fails to comply with or to give effect to any direction from the centre, it will be lawful for the President to hold that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.
- A proclamation imposing the president’s rule must be approved by both the houses of parliament within two months from the date of its issue.
- The President acquires the following extraordinary powers when the President’s rule is imposed in a state:
- He can take up the functions of the state government and powers vested in the governor or any other executive authority in the state.
- He can declare that the powers of the state legislature are to be exercised by the parliament.
- He can take all other necessary steps including the suspension of the constitutional provisions relating to any body or authority in the state.
- The 38th Amendment act of 1975 made the satisfaction of the President in invoking Article 356 final and conclusive which would 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.