Understanding State Emergency under Article 356 of the Indian Constitution: A Comprehensive Guide

Article 356

Article 356 stands as a pivotal provision addressing the delicate balance between democracy and the necessity for effective governance in the Indian constitutional framework. Article 356 of the Indian Constitution grants the President the authority to impose President’s Rule in a state when the constitutional machinery in that state fails. Since India’s independence, this provision has been invoked multiple times, leading to discussions about its efficacy and the possibility of misuse. Let us delve into the nuances of Article 356, examining its historical context, scope, and implications.

Article 356 of the Indian Constitution: An Overview

Article 356, often referred to as the “Constitutional Atom Bomb,” grants the President the authority to assume control of a state’s administration if the Governor submits a report asserting the incapacity to govern in line with the constitutional provisions. Rooted in the principles of federalism, this provision seeks to preserve the nation’s integrity while addressing crises at the state level.

Historical Context of Article 356

Article 356 in the Indian Constitution, inspired by British Rule experiences and framed to address provincial breakdowns, seeks to balance central authority and state autonomy. Despite its historical significance, concerns about misuse have emerged over time. Rooted in Section 93 of the Government of India Act, 1935, Article – 356 was retained with modifications to ensure stability and integrity in the newly formed republic.

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Grounds for Imposing President’s Rule under State Emergency Article 356:

Article – 356 comes into play for two primary reasons:

Constitutional Machinery Failure: This occurs when the state government can’t operate within constitutional bounds. Reasons may range from political instability to widespread violence or natural calamities.

State Security Threat: If the President deems a serious threat to a state’s peace and security, Article 356 allows for the imposition of President’s Rule. This threat could arise from internal disturbances, external aggression, or any situation jeopardizing the state’s sovereignty.

Procedure for Imposing President’s Rule under Article – 356:

  • Governor’s Report: The Governor submits a detailed report to the President, outlining the reasons for the breakdown of constitutional machinery or a threat to the state’s security.
  • President’s Proclamation: Based on the Governor’s report, the President issues a proclamation declaring President’s Rule in the state.
  • Suspension of Legislative Assembly: The state’s legislative assembly is either dissolved or suspended, allowing the President to take control through the Governor.
  • Duration and Extension: President’s Rule initially lasts for six months but can be extended with parliamentary approval, ensuring periodic scrutiny and preventing misuse of emergency powers.

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Online Legal Advice from Insaaf99

Implications of Article – 356 of Indian Constitution:

The invocation of President’s Rule under Article – 356 carries profound consequences. Upon activation, the elected state government undergoes a temporary dissolution, placing the state directly under the control of the President.

  • Suspension of State Government: The imposition of President’s Rule leads to the suspension of the elected state government. During this period, the Governor assumes the role of the head of the state administration, temporarily displacing the elected leadership.
  • Central Control: The central government takes charge of the state’s administration, exercising direct control over various aspects, including law enforcement, taxation, and public services. This centralization of authority is a distinctive feature of the President’s Rule.
  • Curtailment of Democratic Rights: The suspension or dissolution of the state’s legislative assembly curtails democratic processes at the state level. With the imposition of central rule, the ordinary functioning of democratic institutions within the state is temporarily halted, raising concerns about the limitations on democratic rights during this period.

The utilization of Article 356 is not devoid of controversy. Critics contend that it can be manipulated for political motives, undermining the tenets of federalism and democratic governance. Instances have arisen where Article 356 was seemingly invoked arbitrarily, sparking apprehensions about its potential misuse as a political tool.

Checks and Balances:

To prevent arbitrary use, the Constitution embeds checks and balances for invoking Article 356. Safeguards ensure President’s Rule is a last resort, not a political tool.

Sarkaria Commission Guidelines:

The 1980s Sarkaria Commission proposed guidelines, emphasizing:

  • Careful assessment before invoking Article 356.
  • Clear, justifiable reasons for President’s Rule.
  • Consultation with the state Governor.
  • Supreme Court Judgment – Bommai Case:
The 1994 Bommai case reinforced Sarkaria guidelines, laying down principles:

In the landmark Bommai case (1994), the Supreme Court reinforced the Sarkaria Commission guidelines. It established principles, including:

  • A prima facie case of constitutional machinery breakdown.
  • Proportionality in imposing President’s Rule.
  • Governor’s detailed report with the proclamation.
Parliamentary Approval:

Article 356 requires Parliament’s approval within a specified period. This crucial step safeguards against emergency power misuse, subjecting the decision to thorough scrutiny and debate, preventing hasty or politically motivated actions..


Article 356 of the Indian Constitution, while addressing exceptional circumstances, poses federalism risks. Balancing national unity and state autonomy is challenging. Sarkaria Commission guidelines, reinforced by the Bommai case, safeguard against arbitrary use. As India evolves, judicious application is crucial. Ongoing discussions among policymakers, experts, and citizens ensure the provision guards the constitutional order, not political manipulation. Preserving the delicate balance between federalism and effective governance is vital for a strong democratic nation.

Empowering Justice: Insaaf99’s Role in Article 356 Cases

Insaaf99, an innovative online legal consultation platform, proves invaluable in Article 356-related cases. With a network of legal experts, it offers prompt and accessible legal advice, aiding individuals and entities navigating complexities surrounding constitutional breakdowns. Insaaf99‘s user-friendly interface ensures swift assistance, fostering informed decisions and robust legal strategies in the face of challenges arising from the application of Article 356 of the Indian Constitution.


What is article 356?

Article 356 of the Indian Constitution empowers the President to impose President’s Rule in a state if the constitutional machinery in that state fails.

How many times is article 356 used in India?

Article 356 of the Indian Constitution has been invoked 13 times since its inception in 1950.

Some people argue that it is an undemocratic provision, others say Article 356 is a necessary safeguard against the breakdown of constitutional machinery in the states.

What is article 356 of the Indian constitution and when and who can emergency be imposed?

Article 356 permits the President to impose President’s Rule in a state due to a breakdown in constitutional machinery, based on the Governor’s report or other grounds. It’s invoked to address extraordinary situations threatening state governance.

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