S.R. Bommai V. Union of India
Citation No:- 1994(2) SCR 644, AIR 1994 SC 1918
- Kuldeep Singh
- Katikithala Ramaswamy
- Yogeshwar Dayal
- P.Jeevan Reddy
The case of S. R. Bommai v. UOI is a landmark case in defining the powers of the Centre with respect to Art 356 of the Constitution that deals with emergency provision where the President can impose his rule over the State. The Centre State relationship and its efficiency had been dealt in a better manner in this case. Many reports suggested certain recommendations on the smooth functioning of the same without any conflicts. The recommendations were based on (1) Administrative Reforms Commission 1969; (2) Rajmannar Committee 1969; and (3) Sarkaria Commission 1987.
The Governor of Karnataka had reported to the President that there were dissensions and defections in the existing ruling party as nineteen letters were sent to him by the council of ministers from withdrawing their support. He also stated that on the withdrawal of the support in the ruling party, the Chief Minister (S. R. Bommai) also failed to call in for majority of assembly, which is inappropriate under the Constitution. And so, the State is to be administered by the Centre. It was seen that seven out of the nineteen legislators have complained about misrepresentation in their respective letters and therefore, the Chief Minister and the Law Minister met the Governor the same day to summon the Assembly to prove the confidence of assembly in his government. The same was forwarded to the President through telex message. But on the very same day, Governor has sent another report stating that the Chief Minister has lost confidence of the majority of the House and requested for President’s Proclamation under Article 356 and eventually the same was granted.
A writ petition was filed challenging the validity of the Article 356 of the Constitution.
- Whether President Proclamation u/art 356 is justified?
- Whether the President has unrestricted power to proclaim emergency?
- Whether the proclamation can be challenged even after approved by both the houses of Parliament?
- The Proclamation of emergency u/art 356 is subject to Judicial Review. The relevancy and the need of such proclamation shall be struck down by the concerned court if found malafide.
- The Power of President under 356 is subject to restrictions. The opinion is formed is based on the report of the Governor and not sole satisfaction.
- The Supreme Court can struck down the proclamation even if both the houses of Parliament passes the same on Malafide grounds.
The aspects that were put into test are the federal nature of our Constitution; and to what extent is Art 356 justifiable and if so, whether it can be subject to judicial review. A nine bench judge gave seven opinions in this case. President’s Rule in certain states was held to be in violation with the Constitution and eventually restored its original position. But fresh elections had already taken place and the subsequent new Governments were installed. The Court, in its seven opinions has given what the federal nature of the Constitution of India is. They have further stressed that the application of the principle of a Federal State of American Constitution would be misleading on the Indian Constitution. The concept of Federalism cannot be followed in its strict sense in India. The second contention is whether a President’s Rule can be subjected to judicial review. It was seen that the nine Judges in their opinions has given that there is no harm in Art 356 been put to judicial review. There are provisions envisaged in the Art for the President to satisfy. Though the satisfaction is subjective, they rely on the objective facts and so judicial review is permitted. But the parameters in which judicial review can be carried on differed from one opinion to other. They have a few indifferences as to the widening the scope of judicial 356 of the Constitution is the last-resort power in the hands of the President.