Constitution and Article 356 of the Indian Constitution

Article 356

When the constitutional machinery of a State of India fails to follow the adequate provisions mentioned as under Part XVIII of the constitution of India, and if the president has received a satisfactory report made by the Governor of that State on the  same then the former may issue a proclamation, assuming himself authorized to,

• take care of all the functions vested on the governor of the state or anybody or authority in the State other than the Legislature of the State;

• declare that all powers coming under the Legislature of the State shall be exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament;

• make any incidental or consequential provisions if he thinks fit for the current situation and make any provisions to suspend a particular part the operation of any provisions of this Constitution relating to anybody or authority in the State.

“Apart from all these if the President thinks to add or revoke any such proclamation it can be done only by passing another proclamation.”

Also, the President is not authorized to assume the powers of the High Court or to suspend any constitutional functions rendered by it.

In a compiled statement, Article 356 says “in the event of failure of constitutional machinery, i.e. a state government is unable to function according to constitutional provisions, the Central Government means the President himself can take direct control of the state machinery. To execute this, the state’s governor has to issue a proclamation, after obtaining the consent of the President of India.”

In Union Territories, this Article 356 is not applicable, just like in UT of Delhi the president’s Rule is applied on the basis of Article 239 AB of the Constitution of India. Also, there are many ways with the help of which the President’s Rule can be imposed through many other Legislative means.

President’s Rule is functional under Article 356

In the event of failure of constitutional machinery, i.e. a state government is unable to function according to constitutional provisions, the Central Government means the President himself can take direct control of the state machinery. To execute this, the state’s governor has to issue a proclamation, after obtaining the consent of the President of India.

After receiving a report from the Governor, a Proclamation is prepared by the President and after it gets approved by both the Houses the ‘Emergency on State’ starts to executed from the date. After the imposition of the President’s rule, both the houses are to approve for the same within 6 months of it.

A President’s Rule can be imposed in the following cases:

1. When a State is not able to elect its leader.

2. In case the breakdown of a coalition and the ruling party is a minority, and

3. If elections are postponed due to war, epidemics, and natural disasters.

Duration of the Presidential Rule under Article 356;

i. From the date on which the proclamation starts the period granted for it is 2 months.

ii. The approval for the same before implementation should be received from the Parliament.

iii. If the Parliament grants that the Emergency can be extended for 6 months, then only instead of 2 months the President can rule the state for 6months.

iv. Also, State Emergency can exist for 3 long years, but in every 6 months, approval for the same should be taken from the Parliament.

Before it, to continue the emergency for 3 years, it is important to remember if the ‘Emergency’ continues for more than 1 year then it must fulfill the following conditions;

i. A National Emergency is in Operation and

ii. The Election Commission will certify that the election can’t be held in the state.

(Proclamation issued under clause (1) on the 6th day of October 1985 with respect to the State of Punjab)


The President can revoke this Emergency at any time if he thinks fit, without taking permission from any statutory body.

There are three types of Emergencies existed in the Indian constitutional system as follows;

  • National Emergency (Article 352)
  • State Emergency (Article 356)
  • Financial Emergency (Article 360)

Also, Part XVIII of the Indian Constitution permits the state to suspend all the political and constitutional liberties of certain federal principles during the Presidential Proclaimed State Emergency.

The imposition of President’s Rule

As aforementioned this is the duty of the Central Government to look after the smooth functioning of the state’s Governor and if it is complying with the rules and regulations as provided by the Government of India or not. Article 356 is the result of a failed government in a state and cause of imposition of the Presidential Emergency Rule. Mainly President’s Rule is the suspension of the state government and application of direct Central government rule in the state.

This kind of situation when the president imposes Emergency Rule is called ‘proclamation on account of the failure (breakdown) of constitutional machinery’ or the ‘President’s Rule’.

Like National Emergency, such a proclamation must also be placed before the Houses of Parliament for its approval. In this situation approval must be given within two months, otherwise, the proclamation ceases to operate. If during these two months, the Lok Sabha is dissolved and the Rajyasabha has approved it, then the proclamation shall cease to operate on the expiration of 30 days from the date on which the Loksabha first sits after its reconstitution, unless it is approved by the Loksabha before the expiration of this period.

An approved Proclamation, unless revoked, cease to operate on the expiration of a period of six months from the date of issue of the proclamation. Unless revoked, its life can be extended by six months each, several times, but in no case beyond three years. Thereafter, the President’s Rule must come to an end, and the normal constitutional machinery must be restored in the state.

The 44th Amendment introduced a new provision to put a restraint on the power of Parliament to the extent a proclamation issued under Article 356 beyond One Year.

In Case of Revocation

  • As said above, any proclamation can be revoked through a subsequent proclamation issued by the President. And the procedures to be followed are as under,
  • Before completion of two months if the proclamation fails to get the approval from the House of People, then it shall lead to be ceased.
  • After two months of its making it will cease to operate if it does not get approval from the House of People.
  • When the six months come to an end, the proclamation again needs to get approval from the Parliament to run for a further 6 months.
  • In this procedure the proclamation can continue to operate not more than 3 years, from which to continue beyond 1 year it has to prove the reason behind it should comply as under;
  • A National Emergency is in operation.
  • The Election Commission certifies that the election in the state cannot be held.
  • The date on which the President of India issues a proclamation of Revocation, according to Article 356(2).

Effects of Article 356 on the Indian Constitution System

Article 356 gave wide powers to the central government to advocate its authority over a state of civil unrest occurs, and the state government does not have any method to wind it up. Though the goal of this article is to give more powers to the central government to conserve the unity and integrity of the nation, it has often been misused by the ruling parties at the center, who used it as a ploy to plot a break-down of the state governments ruled by political opponents. Thus, it is seen by many politicians and intellectuals as a threat to the federal-state system. Since the adoption of the Indian constitution in 1950, the central government has used this Provision of Law several times to dissolve elected state governments by imposing president’s rule.

Article 356 has always been the center of attention of a wider debate of the federal structure of the government in Indian politics. In the year of 1983, the Sarkaria Commission Report on Centre-State Relations has recommended that Article 356 must be used “very sparingly, in extreme cases, as a measure of last resort, when all the other alternatives fail to prevent or rectify a breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state”. Dr.Ambedkar also said that it would be like a “dead letter” (i.e. would be used rarely).


Article 356 of the Constitution of India empowers the President to withdraw from the Union the executive and legislative powers of any state “if he’s satisfied that a situation has arisen during which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution”. As discussed, it can be used in the rarest of cases when the situation goes out of hand and the center has to take charges of the State.

“The views of the authors are personal

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Sarkaria Committee Report?

In the year of 1983Sarkaria Commission was set up to examine the connection and balance of power between state and central governments and suggest changes within the framework of the Constitution and Legislative. However, the diplomatic powers of the Governor offer him or her vast liberty in actions. Of which this Article 356 is the bright result came out.

Tulsi Rajeswari Sahoo
Tulsi Rajeswari Sahoo, BA.LLB Graduate in 2018 fro Utkal University Law College, Odisha. Former Compliance Associate manager at Eminent India Pvt.Ltd,New Delhi. Possessing Keen Interest in Legal Writing and Drafting