The article 356 of the constitution which focuses on the failure of the Constitutional machinery of the State is often termed as the President’s rule. There are various reasons for which President’s rule can be imposed on a State. The failure of the State government to function as per the constitution is the first step towards this. Other factors include the loss of majority, break down of law and order, indecisive outcome of elections, no alternate claimant to form the government, insurgency, defections and break-up of coalition.
Emergency Provisions of the Constitution
Before understanding the President’s rule, let us know about emergency provisions present in our Constitution. Part XVIII of the Constitution deals with emergency provisions.

The emergency provisions can be classified into three categories:
(a) Articles 352, 353, 354, 358 and 359 relates to emergency by war or external aggression or armed rebellion
(b) Articles 355, 356 and 357 which deal with imposition of President’s rule in States in a certain situation
(c) Article 360 deals with financial emergency.

(a) National Emergency
Article 352 says that “If the President is satisfied that a grave emergency exists whereby the security of India or of any part of the territory thereof is threatened, whether by war or external aggression or armed rebellion, he may, by proclamation, make a declaration to that effect in respect of the whole of India or of such part of the territory thereof as may be specified in the proclamation”.

The words “in respect of the whole of India … in the proclamation” were added by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976

The words “armed rebellion” were substituted by the Constitution (44th Amendment) Act, 1978 for the words “internal disturbance”.

National Emergency was declared in the following occasions:

  • Between 26 October 1962 to 10 January 1968 during the India-China war — “the security of India” having been declared “threatened by external aggression”.
  • Between 3 December 1971 to 21 March 1977 originally proclaimed during the Indo Pakistan war, and later extended along with the third proclamation — “the security of India” having been declared “threatened by external aggression”.
  • Between 25 June 1975 to 21 March 1977 under circumstances of political instability under Indira Gandhi’s prime ministership — “the security of India” having been declared “threatened by internal disturbances”.

(b) President Rule
Article 355 imposes an obligation upon 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”.

Article 356 says If the President, on receipt of a 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 this Constitution, the President may by Proclamation –

  1. Assume to him/her all or any of the functions of the Government of the State and all or any of the powers vested in or exercisable by the Governor or anybody or authority in the State other than the Legislature of the State;
  2. Declare that the powers of the Legislature of the State shall be exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament;
  3. Make such incidental and consequential provisions as appear to the President to be necessary or desirable for giving effect to the objects of the Proclamation, including provisions for suspending in whole or in part the operation of any provisions of this Constitution relating to anybody or authority in the State.

President’s Rule in a simple understanding is implemented under the following circumstances:

  • If a state is unable to elect a leader as its Chief Minister
  • If the state’s coalition government fails
  • If the state’s elections are postponed for unavoidable reasons
  • If the state is unable to comply with the constitutional norms

Recent President’s Rule in States and their probable reasons

State Date of Proclamation Reasons
Arunachal Pradesh 25 January 2016 21 Congress MLAs joined hands with 11 of the BJP and two Independents, making the current government a minority government.
Jammu and Kashmir 8 January 2016 Death of chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed
Jammu and Kashmir 9 January 2015-1 March 2015 Failure of Government formation after fractured verdict in Assembly elections.
Maharashtra 28 September 2014- 31 October 2014 Govt. dismissed since Congress Separated from its allies NCP and Others
Andhra Pradesh 28 February 2014- 8 June 2014 Political impasse following the resignation of Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and several other congress party legislators from the Government as well as the Party, in protest against Indian Parliament passing Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill to bifurcate united Andhra Pradesh and create a separate Telangana State. President’s rule revoked from Telangana areas on 2 June 2014 and bifurcated Andhra Pradesh areas on 8 June 2014.
Delhi 14 February 2014-11 February 2015 Arvind Kejriwal resigned as Chief Minister after failing to table the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Delhi Assembly.

(c) Financial Emergency:
Article 360 says “If the President is satisfied that a situation has arisen whereby the financial stability or credit of India or of any part of the territory thereof is threatened, he may by a Proclamation make a declaration of financial emergency”.

During financial emergency, the President can reduce the salaries of all government officials, including judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts. All money bills passed by the State legislatures are submitted to the President for his approval. He can direct the state to observe certain measures relating to financial matters.

The financial emergency has so far not been declared by the Indian President.