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The imposition of President's Rule over a State of India is dealt with in Article 356. When a state is placed under President's Rule, the elected state government (headed by the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers) is sacked, the Council of Ministers is suspended at the legislature, and the Governor of the state is in charge of administration.

Between 13 August 1988 and 21 April 1989, SR Bommai was the chief minister of the Janata Dal government in Karnataka. On April 21, 1989, his government was dismissed under Article 356 of the constitution, and president's rule was established in what was then a party-based system to keep the opposition at bay. The dismissal was based on the fact that the administration had lost its majority as a result of large-scale defections orchestrated by a number of party leaders at the time. Despite a letter giving him with a copy of the resolution passed by the Janata Dal parliamentary party, then governor P Venkatasubbaiah declined to grant an opportunity to test his majority in the assembly.


The Court determined that presidential declaration under Article 356 is not absolute, and that the president's power under Article 356 is conditioned. The Supreme Court ruled that judicial scrutiny of a presidential proclamation is not barred. Furthermore, if the presidential proclamation is shown to be unlawful, the legislature that was dissolved by the proclamation can be reinstated. It was also argued that Article 74(2) prohibits the court from enquiring into the information on which the proclamation is based, but this argument was dismissed by the court.


  1. The case put an end to the arbitrary dismissal of State governments by a hostile Central government.

  2. The verdict ruled that the floor of the Assembly is the only forum that should test the majority of the government of the day, and not the subjective opinion of the Governor, who is often referred to as the agent of the Central government.

  3. Judgment ruled that an improperly dismissed government could be restored to office. Thus it established faith in federalism and judiciary.

  4. In this judgment Supreme Court showed signs of becoming a strong bulwark of constitutional right and propriety.

  5. Bommai doctrine is applied to protect states from discretion and political games of Central government.




This case examines the legal procedure as well as the entire domain of constitutional imperatives on Central-State relations and the role of State Governors in calling for President's control. The fact that under our Constitution's arrangement, tremendous power is debated at the federal level in relation to the states does not imply that the states are merely appendices to the federal government. Within the fields to which they are assigned, the States are the most powerful. The powers of the Center cannot be tampered with. This ruling is widely regarded as a landmark decision since it has put an end to the arbitrary removal of state governments under Article 356.The judgement presumed that the power of the president is not absolute but an accustomed power and the presidential proclamation is not excused from the judicial analysis.


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