11 May, 2021

A Shot Of ‘Presidential’ Tyranny

If the Centre can function without President’s rule, surely the states too can. So why do we still have Article 356 in our Constitution?

Illustration by Saahil
A Shot Of ‘Presidential’ Tyranny

In 1935, when governor’s rule provisions were introduced by the British Parliament in 1935, Colonel Wedgwood asked whether the emergency would be “real or contrived”. Churchill went further: “Since we are in such a happy mood, could the right Hon’ble member arrange for the breakdown (of constitutional machinery) now.’ India’s experience has been along those lines, with every imposition of President’s Rule politically contrived and stage-managed.

The BJP’s invocation of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand subverts ‘basic structure’ principles of the Constitution: federalism, parliamentary democracy, rule of law and best governance. Arunachal happened while the Supreme Court was hearing the matter and it was a move laden with political opportunism, where the Congress was both in power and in opposition. The court was helpless.

And then, unfortunately for the BJP, the Uttarakhand High Court boldly went where no court had gone before. On March 29, a single-judge bench directed the...

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