Invoking President’s rule in states - Pros and Cons

Invoking President’s rule in states – Pros and Cons


Article 356 of the Indian Constitution is one of the most debated provisions ever since its formation. It calls for imposition of President’s rule or direct control of the central government in case the state government fails to function properly as per the Indian constitution. The recent stir calling for imposition of President’s rule is on Uttrakhand while previously the same was being called for Arunachal Pradesh.

This act was invoked thrice during the first few years of the constitution, 21 times between the years 1957 to 1970, and 10 times between the years 1980 to 1987. It has often been invoked only when the ruling the party of a state is not the same as the party that rules the centre. Therefore, it is being said that the act is only an absurd use of power.

In recent times the act was invoked due to undue crisis arising out of political reasons, for instance in Delhi when Arwind Kejriwal resigned as CM in the year 2014. Failed machinery is one reason but unnecessary political crisis invoking the act only to turn the tide in their favor is a direct abuse of the article 356.


1. Strengthens rule of government : When Article 356 is invoked in a state, it gives the Governor the ultimate power to impose rules in the state. Since the governor rules under the President who stays under the aid and advice of Prime Minister, it ultimately makes the PM the ultimate ruler of the state. The centre government gets the power to impose rules and regulations in the state which was not possible earlier due to any crisis not being handled by the state government.

2. Break down prevention : Break out of constitutional machinery, as mentioned in Article 356, is not a good situation for any state. When the state government doesn’t cooperate and comply with the orders of centre, there is utter confusion and negligence of law in the state. People resort to unlawful means to make the state government surrender to their needs which leads to chaos. Imposing President’s rule in such a situation is the need of the hour and there is no other constitutional way to tackle it.

3. Better governance : In a state of President’s rule, the governance ultimately gets better. Top bureaucrats virtually replace state ministers who might not be capable enough to have such powers bestowed on them. It is the inefficacy of a state government and its ministers which leads to the invoking of President’s rule in a state. Under the supervision of Governor, President and Prime Minister as well, the governance of the state is usually seen to get better if the rule continue of a certain period.

4. Rectifying mistakes : People elect someone and then when the party fails to deliver, they are left with regrets only. When President’s rule is invoked, people get a fair chance to rectify the mistake and chose another candidate if re-elections are held during the period. If the state government fails to maintain law and order in their state or leads to uncontrollable chaos or has chances where damage control would become difficult if action is not taken, the centre cannot simply sit and watch. It has to take over and do all that it could to bring the situation under control. This was the basic reason why article 356 was added to the constitution in the first place.


1. Snatching of power : President’s rule is just a considerate term for snatching power and misusing them to one’s own benefits. State government is usually left out with its autonomy snatched and history can attest to the fact that the power has always been used in atrocious ways. It has always been seen that the act is invoked in states where the ruling party at centre is not in power hence bending the rules in their favor and using the power for their own benefits.

2. Ignoring people’s choice : Democracy loses its meaning as and when people of the state are deprived of the right to enjoy their freedom of choosing who gets to rule in their state. Chief Minister, who is elected by the people of state, loses his powers when President’s rule is invoked and the votes of people become simply useless. If democracy is not respected in a rule, we have no right to call ourselves a democratic nation.

3. No major decision is taken : During President’s rule, the centre simply enjoys the power bestowed upon them even though they might not be officially ruling in that state. No policies are made or major bills are passed even though the powers go straight to the top authorities. The centre government has been known to never invoke article 356 in a state under the power of its own party.

4. Dead letter : During the days of constitution formation, the constituent assembly was apprehensive about this article and shifting of power directly to the centre. B. R. Ambedkar overrules them by saying and hoping that such articles will never be called into operation and that they would remain a dead letter. It was supposed to be used a last attempt in a situation where all other options have failed and there is no other way left than to invoke the rule. The exact opposite happened and is still happening.

5. Sorting out intra-party disputes : Keeping rivalry with the opposition aside, it is worth noting that President’s rule has also been invoked to settle intra-party disputes. According to Sarkaria Commission, “The proclamation of President’s rule in Punjab in June 1951 and in Andhra Pradesh in January 1973 are instances of the use of article 356 for sorting out intra-party disputes.”

6. An undefined term : The phrase “breakdown of constitutional machinery” has remained undefined in the constitution since its conception. Hence, the term is misused and taken advantage of, making almost all parties to use the article 356 to their own advantage when in power.


Article 356 of the constitution indeed needs amendment to make it more reliable and less prone to being misused by parties for their political benefits. The interest of the state and its people needs to come first which has been lacking ever since the conception of the article.

The terms needs to be well defined so as to maintain the dignity of the provision and to ensure that the drawbacks of the President’s rule are tackled along with the changes that could come with the amendment. Bestowing power is not wrong in emergency situation, which is the reason why the article was thought of in the first place.
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  • RE: Invoking President’s rule in states – Pros and Cons -bhawesh mishra (05/03/16)
  • many it seems it become obstacle in the way of development of state through wasting ruling time under any govt .when president rule imposed in any state the purpose behind it to over turn the ruling govt not to repair the any bad conditions like law and order "passing of new bills i think this article 356 is become a source to snatch the power and nothing else/