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President’s rule imposed in Uttarakhand

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Uttarakhand: With reports of Uttarakhand assembly Speaker Govind Kunjwal disqualifying nine rebel Congress MLAs emerged on Saturday night, President Pranab Mukherjee dismissed the Congress government headed by Harish Rawat and placed the assembly under suspended animation on the recommendation of the Union Cabinet.

The imposition of President’s rule in the state has brought the focus back on Article 356 of the Constitution – used and misused for decades by successive governments irrespective of their political ideology.

According to Article 356, President’s rule can be imposed in a state if a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

Breakdown of constitutional machinery

The expression “breakdown of constitutional machinery” has not been defined in the Constitution. It can happen due to political reasons such as hung assembly, the government losing majority in the assembly, failure of any political grouping to form a government, defections and break-up of coalition or because of insurgency etc. Whatever may be the reason, the President has to be satisfied about of breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state.

Governor’s report or otherwise

Generally, the governor sends a report in this regard to the Centre and it’s his/her report that forms the basis for the Union Cabinet’s recommendation to the President for invoking Article 356 to impose President’s rule.

However, the provision also says that the President can take such a decision even “otherwise” (i.e. even in the absence of governor’s report). But in any case, the President has to be satisfied that the constitutional machinery has broken down in the state.

Governor’s discretion

While sending a report to the Centre, the governor is not supposed to go by the advice of the state cabinet and is exercises his or her own discretion. On the contrary, the President has to go by the advice of the Union Cabinet. But he can seek clarifications from the council of ministers.

Implications of President’s rule

Once President’s rule is imposed, the assembly ceases to function and the state comes under the Central government’s direct control. The assembly is generally kept in suspended animation. The powers of the state assembly become exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament. The executive power shifts from the council of ministers to the governor.

Once imposed, President’s rule must be approved by Parliament within a period of two months. It can’t last for more than six months unless its extension is approved by Parliament.

SR Bommai case

In the SR Bommai case, the Supreme Court ruled in 1994 that courts can’t question the Union Cabinet’s advice to the President but they can question the material behind the satisfaction of the President regarding breakdown of constitutional machinery. It also said that the use of Article 356 was justified only when there was a breakdown of constitutional machinery and not that of administrative machinery.

Bihar assembly dissolution case

The Supreme Court in January 2006 declared the dissolution of the Bihar assembly as null and void in the Buta Singh case. It held that the governor’s report could not be taken at face value and must be verified by the council of ministers before being used as the basis for imposing President’s rule. The “drastic and extreme action under Article 356” cannot be justified on whims and fancies of the governor and the council of ministers should not accept it as “gospel truth”.

Credits: HT

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President Of Sri Lanka Suspends The Parliament, Political Turmoil

Under his government, dozens of journalists were killed, abducted and tortured and some fled the country fearing for their lives.

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Sri lanka
Sri Lanka's former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, front left, is sworn in as prime minister before President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo, Sri Lanka. VOA

Sri Lanka ’s president suspended parliament Saturday even as the prime minister he fired the previous day claimed he has majority support, adding to a growing political crisis in the island nation.

Chaminda Gamage, a spokesman for the parliamentary speaker, confirmed that President Maithripala Sirisena had suspended parliament until Nov. 16.

The suspension came while ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was holding a news conference in which he asserted that he could prove his majority support in parliament.

Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe and his Cabinet Friday and replaced him with former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa, creating what some observers said could be a constitutional crisis in the South Asian island nation.

 

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Sri Lanka’s ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe reacts during a news conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka, VOA

 

Constitutional crisis

Wickremesinghe said parliament should be allowed to resolve the political crisis.

“As far as the prime ministership is concerned, the person who has the majority support in parliament has to be the prime minister, and I have that majority of support,” he said. “When a motion of no confidence was moved (in the past), we defeated it showing that the house has the confidence in me.”

“It is not necessary for us to create a crisis. It is not necessary for the people of the country to suffer,” Wickremesinghe said.

Tensions have been building up between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe for some time, because the president did not approve of some of the economic reforms being introduced by the prime minister. Sirisena was also critical of police investigations into military personnel accused in the abductions and disappearances of civilians and journalists during Sri Lanka’s long civil war, which ended a decade ago.

 

sri lanka
Sri Lankan former President Mahinda Rajapakse addresses journalists at his residence in Colombo, Sept. 22, 2018. Rajapakse has been appointed the Sri Lanka’s new prime minister. VOA

Strongman returns

Rajapaksa ruled Sri Lanka as president for nine years beginning in 2005, accumulating immense power and popularity among the country’s majority ethnic Sinhalese after overseeing the military’s brutal defeat of ethnic Tamil rebels in May 2009, ending the 25-year civil war. Some supporters hailed him as a king and savior.

But he also was criticized for failing to allow an investigation into allegations of war crimes by the military. Under his government, dozens of journalists were killed, abducted and tortured and some fled the country fearing for their lives. He lost a bid for re-election in 2015 amid mounting allegations of corruption and nepotism.

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His return to power as prime minister could signal that Sri Lanka is sliding back to an era of violence against political opponents, critics and journalists, observers said. (VOA)