SC: Irreversible changes can be made under Article 356
NEW DELHI: Holding that the President had the power under Article 356 to make irreversible changes in a state,
A five-judge bench refused to give credence to the petitioners’ argument the President’s power under Article 356 could be challenged on the ground that it gave rise to irreversible consequences.It said once the presidential proclamation was approved by both Houses ofParliament, so as to reflect the will of the people, the President had the power under Article 356 to make irreversible changes, including the dissolution of a state assembly.
The bench of CJI D Y Chandrachud and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, said the proclamation under Article 356 was subject to judicial review but the scope of review would nonetheless be limited and the court could not examine the validity of each and every decision taken during President’s rule in a state.
“During President’s rule, there may be hundreds, if not thousands of decisions that need to be taken by the President and Parliament on behalf of the state government to ensure day-to-day administration of the state and the impact of President’s rule on the daily life of citizens is reduced. If every action taken by the President and Parliament on behalf of a state was open to challenge, this would effectively bring to the court every person who disagreed with an action taken during President’s rule. Such an approach would be contrary to the express text of Articles 356(1)(a), 356(1)(b) and 356(1)(c) which entrusts the governance of the state with the Union executive and Parliament during the period of President’s rule,” the CJI said.
“There is another reason why the level of judicial oversight over the actions taken during imposition of President’s rule may not be as strict as suggested by the petitioners. Most actions taken by the President for the interim governance of the state can be reversed by the state government when it returns to power. Any orders passed, appointments made, decisions taken by the President can subsequently be rescinded or reversed by the state government upon a return to normalcy. Similarly, even if Parliament were to enact legislation on behalf of the state legislature, such legislation could subsequently be repealed by the state legislature upon the proclamation under Article 356 ceasing to operate. Thus, the political process can correct itself and any differences that have arisen between the democratic will of the people exercised through their elected representatives in the state, and the decisions taken by the President and Parliament, can be ironed out upon a return to normalcy. For these reasons, we do not believe that the court ought to sit in appeal over every decision taken by the President during the imposition of Article 356,” he said.