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SC stays Andhra HC order to study ‘constitutional breakdown’ in State

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

SC stays Andhra HC order to study ‘constitutional breakdown’ in State:


Context:

The Supreme Court has stayed an Andhra Pradesh High Court order intending to embark on a judicial enquiry into whether there is a constitutional breakdown in the State machinery under the Jagan Mohan Reddy government, requiring a declaration of President’s rule.

What’s the issue?

High Court, on October 1, while deciding habeas corpus petitions filed by relatives of persons remanded in judicial custody or on bail, had suo motu summoned the State counsel to assist it in deciding “whether in circumstances prevailing in the State of Andhra Pradesh, the court can record a finding that there is constitutional breakdown in the State or not”.

What has the Supreme Court said?

  • It was not up to the High Court to enquire and recommend President’s rule in a State.
  • It is Article 356 that deals with failure of constitutional machinery in a State. This is a power [to impose President’s rule] exclusively vests in the Executive.

Observation by the state government:

  1. The High Court’s observation violated the Basic Structure doctrine of the Constitution.
  2. The constitutional courts do not have any judicially discoverable and manageable standards to determine if there has been a constitutional breakdown.
  3. This is a serious encroachment on the powers of the executive as enumerated under the Constitution and is thus violative of the doctrine of separation of powers.

What is President’s Rule in the Indian context?

Article 356 of the Constitution of India gives President of India the power to suspend state government and impose President’s rule of any state in the country if “if he is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution”.

  • Upon the imposition of this rule, there would be no Council of Ministers. The Vidhan Sabha is either dissolved or prorogued.
  • The state will fall under the direct control of the Union government, and the Governor will continue to head the proceedings, representing the President of India – who is the Head of the State.
  • The imposition of the President’s rule requires the sanction of both the houses of Parliament.
  • If approved, it can go on for a period of six months. However, the imposition cannot be extended for more than three years, and needs to be brought before the two houses every six months for approval.

Revocation:

  • A proclamation of President’s Rule may be revoked by the President at any time by a subsequent proclamation. Such a proclamation does not require parliamentary approval.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is President’s Rule?
  2. Article 356 is related to?
  3. How and when it is imposed?
  4. Revocation.
  5. The doctrine of separation of powers under the Indian Constitution.

Mains Link:

Discuss the issues associated with President’s Rule and the role of Governor of a state in recommending that.

Sources: the Hindu.