In a landmark decision on December 11th, 2023, the Supreme Court of India has imposed stricter limitations on the use of Article 356, which allows the President to impose central rule over a state if he feels the state government is unable to function in accordance with the Constitution. The Court held that any decision to impose President’s Rule must be demonstrably linked to a “reasonable nexus” with the stated goal of the emergency, and that this nexus must be demonstrably present in any subsequent actions taken by the President.
This judgment represents a significant victory for federalism and the rule of law in India. Article 356 has been criticized for being prone to misuse, and the Court’s ruling establishes a clear legal standard that will make it more difficult for the Central government to arbitrarily impose its will on states.
The Court’s decision also underscores the importance of judicial review in safeguarding the democratic rights of Indian citizens. The “reasonable nexus” test will require the Central government to provide concrete evidence justifying its actions, thereby ensuring that state governments are not arbitrarily dismissed and their elected representatives are not denied the opportunity to govern.
While the full implications of the Court’s decision are yet to be seen, it is clear that it has set a new standard for the use of Article 356. This ruling will likely make it more difficult for the Central government to impose President’s Rule in the future, and it will also serve as a deterrent against the misuse of this powerful provision.