S.R. BOMMAI V. UNION OF INDIA By- Madhvi Patidar@lexcliq

S.R Bommai case:
S.R. Bommai was the Karnataka chief minister between August 1988 and April 1989. he led Janata Dal government which was dismissed on 21st April 1989 when president’s rule article 356 was imposed in Karnataka.

Bench of judges:- S.R. Pandian, A.M. Ahmadi Kuldip Singh, J.S. Verma, P.B. Sawant, K. Ramaswamy, S.C Agarwal ,Yogeshwar Dayal, B.P. Jeevan Reddy
S.R Bommai case give one of the landmark judgements of the supreme court regarding the basic structure doctrine as well as recording the blatant misuse of article 356.

Article 356:
empowers of president to issues state emergency. if he is satisfied that state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. President can act either on a report of governor of the state or otherwise too.

President’s rule or state emergency:

  1. Parliamentary approval and durations must be approved by the both the houses of parliament within two months from the date of its issue by simply majority.
  2. when approve the president’s rule continuous for the six months it can be extended for a maximum period of three years with the approval of the parliament every six months.
  3. it can be resolved by the president only on his own.
  4. article 355 imposes a duty on the centre to ensure that the government of every state is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

Facts of the case:

  1. S.R. Bommai was the chief minister of the Janata Dal government in Karnataka between 13 August 1988 and 21st April 1989.
  2. His government was dismissed on 21 April 1989 under article 356 of the constitution and president’s rule was imposed in what was then a party mostly mode to keep opposition party at bay.
  3. The dismissal was on grounds that the government had lost majority following large scale defections engineered by several party leaders of the day.
  4. Then governor P Venkatasubbaiah refused to give an opportunity to test his majority in the assembly despite the letter presenting him with a copy of the resolution passed by the Janata Dal legislative party.

Karnataka High court:
Bommai went to court against the governor’s decisions to recommend president’s rule and the H.C. which dismissed his writ petition. then he moved the supreme court.
On April the governors sent a report to the president stating there in dissensions and defection is in the ruling party. he further stated that in view of the withdrawal of the support by the state legislature the chief minister Bommai.

I did not command party in the assembly and hence it was inappropriate under the constitution to have the state administration by an executive consisting of council ministers which do not come on the majority in the state assembly. The president that he should exercise power under article 356(1). the governors and yet another report to the president on the same day 20/4/1989 and stated that the chief minister had lost the confidence of the majority in the house and repeated his earlier request for action under article 356 (1)the president issued the proclamation in question with the recitals already referred to above.

The proclamation was there after approved by the parliament as by article 356 (3).
A writ petition was filed on 26 April 1989 challenging the validity of the proclamation. a special bench of three judges of Karnataka High court dismissed the writ petition.


  • the verdict concluded that the power of the President to dismiss a state government is not absolute.
  • the verdict Said the president should exercise the power only after his proclamation imposing her rule is approved by both houses of parliament.
  • the court said the president can only suspend the legislative assembly by the suspending the provisions of constitution relating to the legislative assembly.
  • in case the proclamation does not get the approval of both the houses, it lapses at the end of a period of two months and the dismissed government is revived.
  • the suspended legislative assembly also gets reactivated.
  • the supreme court also stated that the proclamation of the imposition of article 356 is subject to judicial review.

Decision of the court:
Article 356 power on the president appointed on comments made by Dr BR Ambedkar in article 356. He thought that emergency conditions would be appeal to the most unusual situations. the court also approved to the proposals of the Sarkaria commission in regarding the use of article 356. The commission suggested that before invoking article 356 (1) noticed on certain conditions it must be given to the state.

Article 356 does not expressly address the dissolution of the legislature such powers are employed in article 356 (1)(a), articles 174 (2)(b) allowed the government to the legislative assembly and the president under article 356 (1)(a) delegate the powers and duty to both the government and governors.

The court that coordinated power to dissolve the legislature said so article 356 (3) wants the proclamation to the laid before the houses of parliament the president has the power to refute the legislature under article 356(1)(c) before the consent of the announcement by the parliament.

This case deals with assessing the lawful mechanism and searching the whole area of constitution imperative on Central state relations and the contentions role of State governors calling president rule. the fact under the system of our constitution great power is discussed upon the centre vis-a- vis the state does not mean that the states are little appendices of the centre. the centre cannot temper with their empowers.

The decision is acknowledged to be an important judgment as it has put and into the arbitrary explain its position of state government under article 356 has to function the judgement reason that the power of the president is not absolute but a custom power and the presidential proclamation is not excluded from the judicial analysis.

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