Account for the legal and political factors responsible for the reduced frequency of using Article 356 by the Union Governments since mid-1990s.

Model Answer


Article 356 of the constitution says that if the President, on receipt of a report from the Governor of the State or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the State cannot be continued per the provisions of the Constitution, President may impose President’s Rule over the state.


Dr. Ambedkar had observed that Article 356 would remain a ‘dead letter’ as he believed that Union and States will function harmoniously under the constitution. But unfortunately, Article 356 has been invoked more than 100 times and has been often subjected to political abuse. But due to several legal and political factors its frequency has drastically reduced.


SR Bommai case (1994) Judgement

  • Decision to impose president’s rule was subjected to judicial review.
  • President’s satisfaction has to be based on objective material and court will review the objective material to establish whether grounds were sufficient or not.
  • The power of dissolving the Legislative Assembly shall be exercised only after the Proclamation is approved by both Houses of Parliament. Until such approval, the President can only suspend the Legislative Assembly.
  • If the court strikes down the Proclamation, it has the power to restore the dismissed Government and revive the Legislative Assembly wherever it may have been dissolved or kept under suspension. 
  • By this the Court put an end to the arbitrary dismissal of State governments under Article 356. Ex. Former President K.R. Narayan returned the cabinet’s recommendation in 1997, to impose President’s Rule in the State of U.P.

Rameshwar Prasad Vs Union of India (2006): 

  • Power under Article 356 is an emergency power and not the absolute power. This interpretation has limited the arbitrariness in imposition of Article 356.


Rise of Coalition Politics

  • National Parties at the union needed support of regional parties(in power at the states) to maintain majority.
  • Political alliances and break ups were occurring across parties as such National parties were accommodative towards regional parties in hope for future alliances.

Aware Citizenry & Media

  • Rise in awareness due to greater political awareness due to technology and rise of media

Cooperative Federalism

  • LPG reforms and attracting global investment required a stable political set up at the states
  • Union appreciating the role of States in meeting national planed targets.


Apex court regarding the issue of ‘federalism’ held in Bommai case, that the Constitution of India has created a federation with a bias in favour of the Centre. But within the sphere allotted to the States, they are supreme. Federal structure of Indian state is a basic structure of Indian Constitution.

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