S.R. Bommai v. Union of India

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Article 356[1] of the Constitution is one of the indispensable necessities of law affecting the vast mainstream of the confusing issues classifying the empire of Center-State relationships. According to the Central Government, through Presidential declaration, can take authority of any State government if a condition has ascended in which the State government machinery cannot be approved in agreement with the rules of the Constitution and therefore, materials related to this Article are always intricate in arguments. In a simpler context of words, the President’s Rule is when the state government is postponed and the central government directly controls the state through the office of the governor who is appointed by the President. It is also called State Emergency or Constitutional Emergency.

The Supreme Court gave an important judgement, in the case of S.R. Bommai[2] helps as a leader for all arguments arising out of the usage and the unproven misappropriation of Article 356 and the struggle between the Centre and the states. Article 356 of the Constitution of India is based on Section 93 of the Government of India Act, 1935. This clause faced severe disagreement from the liberty brawl with leaders then and this forced the British government to append it. However, this rule was united in the Constitution for the conservation of consensus, federalism, and firmness in the post-independent period.

The Centre-State relationship and its effectiveness had been distributed in a better way in this situation. Many intelligences recommended certain references on the equal working of the similar without any fights.

But this was nevermore the situation and before the decision in Bommai case, Article 356 has been frequently abused to remove the State Governments established by a political party objecting to ruling party at Centre. Provision for discontinuing elected governments has been done on more than 90 seasons, and in most of the circumstances, it seemed to be of unresolved constitutional validity, as stated by B. P. Jeevan Reddy at one of his meetings in 1998.

Facts of the Case

S.R. Bommai, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, was elected from 1988 till April 21, 1989, signifying the Janata Dal. Janta Dal was the largest party in the state of Karnataka legislature to make the administration[3]. In September 1988, Janata party and Lok dal combined to form the new Janata Dal’s. As a consequence, on April 19, a statement was said to the president affirming that there was a difference of opinion with the ruling party. Thus, his administration was dissolved on April 21, 1989, under Article 356 of the Indian Constitution. President’s Rule was forced because the government was not powerful enough to have a majority due to the defection of many M.L.A.s. Despite receiving 19 letters from Bommai, the then-Governor refused to explain his party’s majority in the Assembly. Bommai filed a suit against the Governor’s resolution to remove his government and force the President’s Rule in the State under the related Article. He approached the High Court first, which removed his writ petition, due to which he tried getting relief from the Supreme Court.

During that time, Indira Gandhi had appointed a council in 1983 directed by Justice Ranjeet Singh Sarkaria on Centre-State connections which presented its statement in 1988. The Sarkaria council recommended that Article 356 must be used only in critical cases, as a rule of last option where all other options have been drained or fail to stop or correct a collapse of statutory machinery in the States, which was also what the aim of the Constitution writers was all along. The Commission’s report was not restraining the government, but the Supreme Court acknowledged the recommendation in the S.R. Bommai case. Apart from the fundamental problem of Article 356[4] and federalism’s executive misapplication, the judgment also discussed secularism. A writ petition was registered before the Supreme Court, which questioned the validity of the declaration.

Issues raised 

The Issue raised in the case of S. R. Bommai case

1. Whether the president’s rule imposed in the six states is constitutionally legal or not?

2. Whether the president has united provisions to announce Article 356(1) of the Indian Constitution. The results are contingent upon the answers to the following issues:

  • If the answer is yes, then what is the possibility of judicial review in this regard?
  • What is the connotation of the expression “a condition has raised in 
  • which the government of the state cannot be approved on under the laws of this constitution” as mentioned in Article 356 (1)?

Contentions of the Petitioner 

The contentions imposed by the petitioner are very serious and question laws relating to declaration of Emergency and termination of Legislative assemblies as per Article 356 of the Constitution of India.

The petitioner argued that Bommai was not allowed to prove his majority. They also contended that the President’s rule in the states was done with a bad intention, based on no reimbursement and was entirely a political stunt. The sole fact that cooperative trouble and examples of incinerating and robbery took place is no ground for compelling the President’s rule. According to the petitioner, the central government has also not exposed what other proof they had recognized based on which the President had taken the stage. The centre’s accountability was to have acknowledged the court as the basis of proof upon which the necessary satisfaction was done, more so because the declarations themselves do not refer to any such material. Article 74(2)[5], it is discussed, does not and cannot release India’s Union of this obligation.

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The allegation of the petitioner that the State Government performed the ban on RSS properly is dismissed. There is no necessity that the statement of the Governor should be discussed to the President. It can also be directed to the Prime Minister. Besides the Governor’s record, another piece of evidence was also possible on which the President had made his content. The charges of mala fide, careless and biased work of power are dismissed. The Presidential Proclamation need not include grounds for the act done.

Contentions of the Respondent

The Respondent argues that there is a variety in the nature and reach of the authority of legal scrutiny in organizational and constitutional law. While in the law field of management, the power of the Court remains to the lawful control of governments in the limit of their lawful authority and thus, not only to restricting additional and waste of authority but also uncharacteristic use of strong point, the extent to which legal analysis is unlawful or unnecessary unauthorized. All that is suggested is that some of the powers of the President and the Government of India are immune. It was also argued on account of the Central Government that only in the view of the cabinet mentioned under Article 74 (1) of the Indian constitution, a declaration under Article 356 (1) may be assured by the President and an investigation into whether or not any information given to M.L.A.s by the President is banned. The legal analysis of the descriptions that led to the publication of the Assertion is also banned.

Summary of Judgement

Article 356 considers unusual authority on the President. This authority should be used appropriately and with great care. The Court pointed to reviews made by Dr B.R. Ambedkar in Article 356. The Court said that he believed that emergency situations would review the most critical and unexpected situations. The Court also admitted the credentials of the Sarkaria Commission concerning the effectiveness of Article 356. The Commission recommended that before entreating Article 356 (1), certain conditions must be imposed, it must be yielded to the State. Every opportunity should be expended to comprehend the position, and all attempts to resolve the problem of State type must be inscribed. 

Though Article 356 does not specifically discuss the dismissal of the Government, such rules are mentioned in Article 356 (1) (a), Article 174(2)(b)[6] which concedes the Governor to suspend the Legislative Assembly and the President, and as per Article 356 (1)(a), the Court can give the authorities and responsibilities to the Administration as well as to the Governor. He terminated the Legislative Assembly as a portion of the communication mentioned in Article 356(1) or by the specific application. The Court that adjusted the authority to terminate the government declared so Article 356 (3) requires the declaration to be stated before both the houses of Parliament. The President has the authority to reject the law under Article 356(1)(c) before the approval of the decision by the Parliament.

The High Court or the Apex Court shall have the freedom to consider a writ appeal questioning the declaration. If it is provided that the writ petition suggests the arguable issue relating to the declaration’s authority. If the condition requires, the Court may also tarry the dying of the Legislative Assembly. Clause (3) of Article 356 is deemed a direction of the President’s powers and not the issuance of a Proclamation, which may be received by the Government of the State and the Council of State.

Assume the matter of a proclamation is found to be cancelled by the Court. In that matter, even if both Houses allow it of Parliament, the Court will be subject to alter the status quo in the declaration and thus restore the Legislature Meeting with the Department.

In all instances where the Department spent the majority’s backing, it was concluded that the relevant subject of evaluation of the power of the Department was an analysis under the House, but in this state where the holding of the reasonable test was considered was not possible.

It was believed that the President’s authorities under Article 356 of the Indian Constitution are constitutional power and not absolute power. The most current sample of Article 356 was the initiation of a Presidential declaration in the State of Uttar Pradesh in 1996. After the removal of Mayawati Government’s, the central Bararat Janata Party (B.J.P.) and the Samajwadi Party did not have any need to form a government. The Governor ordered Presidential rule in the State and also stated that the State Legislature should be kept beneath images until the declaration to be made under Article 356 is approved by the two Houses of Parliament.

Analysis of the Judgement

The Court’s Judgement has shown to be the most suitable to control the unruly misappropriation of authority by the Executive. This case finished the system of arbitrarily rejecting the state government by the Central Government. Earlier, political parties used this Constitution’s mechanism to get political mileage and improve opposition parties’ scores. The Bommai judgement stopped this method to a bigger space. The verdict also mentioned in no undecided conditions that the majority of the Government’s analysis should be done on the Assembly’s basement and is not directed to the Governor’s conclusion. 

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In this case, there was no subject of a constitutional modification, but even so, the notion of fundamental principle was applied. The Supreme Court held that a state government’s orders directed towards an ingredient of the basic structure of the Constitution would be a legitimate reason for the exercise of the fundamental power under Article 356. The Court correctly refused contrasting arguments that the State Administration came under the Central Government by rendering the aim of the Constitution makers with the support of Constituent Assembly discussions.

In the case of Union of India v. H. S. Dhillon[7], another importance in respect to the dispersal of legislative authorities sharpening out is that the residual authority is given under our Constitution, by virtue of Article 248[8] which is to be read with Entry 97 in List I of the VII Schedule[9], on the Union. The States have to largely contingent upon the monetary support from the Union since their power to raise possessions is incomplete. The Economic Planning being a simultaneous subject, every major project must obtain the authorization of the Central Government for its financial help as the control to make scholarships for public resolutions is consigned in the Union or a State, under Article 282[10] even though the aim is one in admiration to which Parliament or State legislature can make laws. Once the project is sanctioned by the Central Government, only then can the State Government perform the same which establishes the handle that the Union has on staples in which the states have the authority to enact.

The Court defined Federalism and Secularism as an essential and vital portion of the Basic Structure. It also overruled the verdict given in State of Rajasthan’s case, which mentioned that the President’s verdict is not appropriate to be a topic matter of Judicial review and it should be analysed by the Central Government only.

The courts saw the power of political parties to interrupt the diverse form of democracy and hence, stated that the judiciary will act as the ombudsman so that such authority is not used in a bad manner. The Court even though gave rules for striking President’s Rule in states, still gave sufficient space for the Union Cabinet and the President’s will. 

There are recent cases as well which shows that this practice is being misused or alleged to be misused. In 2016, the Arunachal Pradesh government was forcibly locked down by the Governor[11], under Article 356, when the twenty-one MLAs of the ruling party absconded to another party and the Governor summoned the Assembly earlier than scheduled with the purpose to collapse the State government. The Supreme Court reinstated the Government in Arunachal Pradesh and criticised the Governor for embarrassing the ruling party. It also asked for a test to determine the Government’s majority. The case developed out to be one of the furthermost mentioned whenever suspended Assemblies were reimbursed and parties knotted to form a government.


The verdict given in S.R. Bommai reinforces the central structure in India by providing the states the due independence and without the intrusion of the Central government in the making of government machinery. The judgement clearly tells the amount of Judicial review, thereby ensuring the measure of checks and balances in dwelling. The judgement intended to solve the political misappropriation of Article 356, but recent events validate how these clauses are used for political advantages by the parties in ruling. These circumstances have been frequently seen even after the declaration of this landmark verdict but the judiciary has actively conserved the federal system. A modification to the Article is needed to decrease the frequency of obligation of the President’s Rule in states. The fact that beneath the process of our Constitution great authority is deliberated upon the centre through the states does not state that the States are little supplements of the Centre. The States are the greatest strong point within the arenas which are provided to them. The Center cannot rage with their powers. This decision is approved to be an important ruling as it has put an end to the arbitrary exclusion of State Governments under Article 356 has to work. The judgement supposed that the authority of the president is not absolute but an adapted authority and the presidential declaration is not exempted from the judicial scrutiny.

[1] The Constitution Of India, 1949, Article 356.

[2] S.R. Bommai vs Union Of India,1994 (3) SCC 2734.

[3] Chidanand Rajghatta, Janata Dal government in Karnataka falls, Governor Venkatasubbiah’s role faces severe flak, 28th October 2013, https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/cover-story/story/19890515-janata-dal-government-in-karnataka-falls-governor-venkatasubbiah-role-faces-severe-flak-816073-1989-05-15.

[4] Danish Hasnain, Dyanamics of Article 356 of the Constitution of India : A Trepindation turns true, https://ujala.uk.gov.in/files/ch11_1.pdf.

[5] The Constitution Of India,1949, Article 74(2).

[6] The Constitution Of India, 1949, Article 174(2)(b).

[7] Union Of India vs H. S. Dhillon, 1972 AIR 1061.

[8] The Constitution Of India, 1949, Article 248.

[9] The Constitution Of India, 1949, Entry 97, List I of the VII Schedule.

[10] The Constitution Of India, 1949, Article 282.

[11] National News, Supreme Court recalls notice to Arunachal Pradesh Governor, The Hindu, 2nd September, 2016, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Presidents-rule-in-Arunachal-Pradesh-Supreme-Court-recalls-notice-to-Governor/article60516507.ece/amp/.