President's Rule

Ram Nath Kovind (25 July 2017)

The President's Rule (or State Emergency) refers to the imposition of Article 356(1) of the Constitution of India which in terms refers to the suspension of a state government which leads the state to come under the direct control of the central government of India with Governor as its constitutional head.

Under such circumstances, the Election Commission is forced to conduct re-election within six months. Although the Governor is in power, the President can act in accordance with the report of the Governor or without it.

Kerala is no stranger to the President's rule, in fact, our very own first legislative ministry came under the President's Rule. So far, the President's rule was imposed on Kerala for 8 terms after independence.

Why is it implemented?

Article 356 of the Constitution of India gives power to the President if certain conditions are not satisfied by the state government

  • If a state is unable to elect a leader as its Chief Minister within the time prescribed by the Governor.
  • If the state's coalition government fails, with the Chief Minister not having Majority support to rule.
  • If the state's elections are postponed for unavoidable reasons like war, natural disasters or epidemics.
  • If the state is unable to comply with the constitutional norms and experiencing any political unrest.
  • Loss of majority for the ruling party in the Assembly due to a vote of no-confidence in the House.

What is the duration of the President's rule?

In normal conditions, the President’s Rule stands for six months. This time frame can be extended up to three years.

President's Rule can be revoked at any time by the President without the approval of the Parliament.

But according to the 44th Amendment Act of 1978, President's rule can only be extended over a year every 6 months with the approval of both houses of Parliament; if only the following conditions are met:

  • The Election Commission certifies that elections cannot be conducted in the state concerned.
  • There is already a national emergency throughout India or in the whole or any part of the state.
The President's rule came under fire due to the misuse of the power in which the Central Government tried to revoke the Constitutional powers of the state governments which were ruled by political opponents.

As a result, in 1994 the Supreme Court established a set of strict guidelines for imposing the President’s Rule, thus drastically reducing the no.of times it is used.

The lengthiest President's rule in Kerala lasted for 2 years and 177 days in 1964.

Kerala and President's Rule

It is important to note that Kerala came under for 8 terms after independence (1947). However, after the Kerala state was formed in 1956 through the States Reorganisation Act, the President's Rule was imposed on Kerala for 7 terms (4 years).

  • March 23, 1956 – October 31, 1956 (222 days)
  • November 1, 1956 – April 5, 1957 (155 days; General election)
  • July 31, 1959February 22, 1960 (206 days)
  • September 10, 1964 – 6 March 1967 (2 years, 177 days)
  • August 4, 1970 – October 3, 1970 (60 days)
  • December 5, 1979 – January 25, 1980 (51 days)
  • October 21, 1981 – December 28, 1981 (68 days)
  • March 17, 1982 – May 23, 1982 (67 days)

đź“ťSideNotes:

  • First Indian Ministry that was dismissed as per President's RuleEMS Ministry.
  • The presidential rule was enforced for the first time in Kerala – 1956.
  • How many times Kerala came under presidential rule – 7.
  • The presidential rule was enforced for the last time in Kerala – 1982.

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