\President Ram Nath Kovind has approved a proclamation imposing President’s Rule in Maharashtra, following a recommendation from Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. The Assembly will be kept under suspended animation. 

  • The Governor's decision comes  after the exhaustion of all the available options, to explore the possibility of forming a government in the State.


Grounds of Imposition

  • Article 355 imposes a duty on the Centre to ensure that the government of every state is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
  • 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 of constitutional machinery in the state. This is popularly known as President’s Rule. It is also known as State Emergency or Constitutional Emergency.

The President’s Rule can be proclaimed under Article 356 on two grounds - one mentioned in Article 356 itself and another in Article 365:

  1. 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. 

Notably, the president can act either on a report of the governor of the state or otherwise too (i.e., even without the governor’s report).

  1.  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.

Parliamentary Approval and Duration


Continuation after one year

The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 introduced a new provision to put restraint on the power of Parliament to extend a proclamation of President’s Rule beyond one year. Thus, it provided that, beyond one year, the President’s Rule can be extended by six months at a time only when the following two conditions are fulfilled:

  1. A proclamation of National Emergency should be in operation in the whole of India, or in the whole or any part of the state; and
  2. the Election Commission must certify that the general elections to the legislative assembly of the concerned state cannot be held on account of difficulties.


A proclamation of President’s Rule may be revoked by the President at any time by a subsequent proclamation. Such a proclamation does not require parliamentary approval.

Consequences of President’s Rule

The President acquires the following extraordinary powers when the President’s Rule is imposed in a state:

  1. He can take up the functions of the state government and powers vested in the governor or any other executive authority in the state.
  2. He can declare that the powers of the state legislature are to be exercised by the Parliament.
  3. He can take all other necessary steps including the suspension of the constitutional provisions relating to anybody or authority in the state.
  • Therefore, when the President’s Rule is imposed in a state, the President dismisses the state council of ministers headed by the chief minister. 
  • The state governor, on behalf of the President, carries on the state administration with the help of the chief secretary of the state or the advisors appointed by the President. 
  • This is the reason why a proclamation under Article 356 is popularly known as the imposition of President’s Rule in a state
  • Further, the President either suspended or dissolves the state legislative assembly. The Parliament passes the state legislative bills and the state budget.

When the state legislature is thus suspended or dissolved:

  1. The Parliament can delegate the power to make laws for the state to the President or to any other authority specified by him in this regard,
  2. The Parliament or in case of delegation, the President or any other specified authority can make laws conferring powers and imposing duties on the Centre or its officers and authorities,
  3. The President can authorize, when the Lok Sabha is not in session, expenditure from the state consolidated fund pending its sanction by the Parliament, and
  4. The President can promulgate, when the Parliament is not in session, ordinances for the governance of the state.

Similar precedents

This is not the first time President’s Rule has been imposed following an election that did not lead to government formation. 

  • For instance, no party could mobilize a majority in the Bihar Assembly following elections in February 2005. President’s Rule, which was imposed on March 7, 2005, lasted 262 days until November 24. It was lifted after fresh elections in October-November.
  • A hung verdict in the Jammu and Kashmir elections of 2002 led to the imposition of President’s Rule for 15 days, from October 18 to November 2 that year. The National Conference had emerged the single largest party, but was short of a majority. 

Scope of Judicial Review

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.

Bommai case (1994) 

A nine-judge Constitution Bench of the court in the Bommai case, which is the reigning authority on the use and misuse of Article 356, had held that political whim or fancy cannot form the basis for the President to proclaim central rule in a State

The following propositions have been laid down by the Supreme Court on imposition of President’s Rule in a state under Article 356:

  1. The presidential proclamation imposing President’s Rule is subject to judicial review.
  2. The satisfaction of the President must be based on relevant material. The action of the president can be struck down by the court if it is based on irrelevant or extraneous grounds or if it was found to be malafide or perverse.
  3. Burden lies on the Centre to prove that relevant material exists to justify the imposition of the President’s Rule.
  4. The court cannot go into the correctness of the material or its adequacy but it can see whether it is relevant to the action.
  5. If the court holds the presidential proclamation to be unconstitutional and invalid, it has power to restore the dismissed state government and revive the state legislative assembly if it was suspended or dissolved.
  6. The state legislative assembly should be dissolved only after the Parliament has approved the presidential proclamation. Until such approval is given, the president can only suspend the assembly. In case the Parliament fails to approve the proclamation, the assembly would get reactivated.
  7. Secularism is one of the basic features of the Constitution. Hence, a state government pursuing anti-secular politics is liable to action under Article 356.
  8. The question of the state government losing the confidence of the legislative assembly should be decided on the floor of the House and until that is done the ministry should not be unseated.
  9. Where a new political party assumes power at the Centre, it will not have the authority to dismiss ministries formed by other parties in the states.
  10. The power under Article 356 is an exceptional power and should be used only occasionally to meet the requirements of special situations.

Order of preference

As per the Sarkaria Commission report, if there is a single party having an absolute majority in the Assembly, the leader of the party should automatically be asked to become the Chief Minister.

However, if there is no such party, the Governor should select a Chief Minister from among the following parties or groups of parties by sounding them, in turn, in the order of preference indicated below:

  1. An alliance of parties that were formed prior to the Elections.
  2. The largest single party staking a claim to form a government with the support of others, including “independents.”
  3. A post-electoral coalition of parties, with all the partners in the coalition joining the Government.
  4. A post-electoral alliance of parties, with some of the parties in the alliance forming a Government and the remaining parties, including “independents” supporting the Government from outside.

Sarkaria Commission on Centre–state Relations (1988) 

The Supreme Court in Bommai case (1994) enlisted the situations where the exercise of power under Article 356 could be proper or improper13.

Imposition of President’s Rule in a state would be proper in the following situations:

  1. Where after general elections to the assembly, no party secures a majority, that is, Hung Assembly.
  2. Where the party having a majority in the assembly declines to form a ministry and the governor cannot find a coalition ministry commanding a majority in the assembly.
  3. Where a ministry resigns after its defeat in the assembly and no other party is willing or able to form a ministry commanding a majority in the assembly.
  4. Where a constitutional direction of the Central government is disregarded by the state government.
  5. Internal subversion where, for example, a government is deliberately acting against the Constitution and the law or is fomenting a violent revolt.
  6. Physical breakdown where the government willfully refuses to discharge its constitutional obligations endangering the security of the state.

The imposition of President’s Rule in a state would be improper under the following situations:

  1. When the governor recommends imposition of President’s Rule without probing the possibility of forming an alternative ministry.
  2. Where the governor makes his own assessment of the support of a ministry in the assembly and recommends imposition of President’s Rule without allowing the ministry to prove its majority on the floor of the Assembly.
  3. Where the ruling party enjoying majority support in the assembly has suffered a massive defeat in the general elections to the Lok Sabha such as in 1977 and 1980.
  4. Internal disturbances not amounting to internal subversion or physical breakdown.
  5. Maladministration in the state or allegations of corruption against the ministry or stringent financial exigencies of the state.
  6. Where the state government is not given prior warning to rectify itself except in case of extreme urgency leading to disastrous consequences.
  7. Where the power is used to sort out intra-party problems of the ruling party, or for a purpose extraneous or irrelevant to the one for which it has been conferred by the Constitution.


That is why the framers of the Constitution had taken pains to specify that President should proclaim central rule in a State only, and only, if a situation arises in which governance of the State is either disabled or prevented from continuing "in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution". Any other “situation” does not empower the President to proclaim Central rule in a State.

Source 1

Source 2