2023 GS2 Answer

Q. Account for the legal and political factors responsible for the reduced frequency of using Article 356 by the Union Governments since mid 1990s.

Question from UPSC Mains 2023 GS2 Paper

Model Answer: 

Article 356 of the Constitution of India

gives the President of India the power to impose President’s Rule in a state if the state government is unable to function according to constitutional provisions. However, the use of this article has been reduced significantly since the mid-1990s. The reasons for this reduction are multifaceted, and they encompass both legal and political factors.

Legal Factors:

1. Supreme Court’s Intervention: The landmark judgment in the S.R. Bommai vs Union of India case in 1994 by the Supreme Court of India played a significant role in restricting the misuse of Article 356. The court held that the power of the President to dissolve a State Legislative Assembly is not absolute, and it can be subjected to judicial review.

2. Constitutional Safeguards: The Constitution (44th Amendment) Act, 1978, added several safeguards to prevent the misuse of Article 356. It stipulated that the President’s Rule can only be imposed after receiving a report from the Governor of the State or otherwise.

3. Judicial Review: The Supreme Court, in its various judgments, has made it clear that the imposition of President’s Rule is subject to judicial review. This has acted as a deterrent to the arbitrary use of Article 356 by the Union Government.

Political Factors:

4. Coalition Politics: The advent of coalition politics at the national level since the mid-1990s has made it difficult for the Union Government to impose President’s Rule in states ruled by its allies, thus reducing the frequency of the use of Article 356.

5. Regionalism: The rise of regional parties and the decline of single-party dominance have also contributed to the decreased use of Article 356. The Union Government often requires the support of regional parties and hence, avoids invoking Article 356 in their ruled states.

6. Federalism: There is a growing recognition of the importance of federalism and respecting the autonomy of states. This change in political culture has also contributed to the reduced use of Article 356.

7. Political Will: The political will of the ruling party at the Centre also plays a role. Governments that respect democratic norms and principles are less likely to misuse Article 356.

8. Public Opinion: The increased awareness and sensitivity of public opinion towards democratic norms and values have also acted as a deterrent to the misuse of Article 356.


The reduced frequency of the use of Article 356 since the mid-1990s is a positive development for Indian democracy. It reflects the maturing of Indian democracy and the strengthening of federalism. However, it is essential to remain vigilant to prevent any potential misuse of this provision in the future. The judiciary, civil society, and the media have a crucial role to play in this regard.

More Questions:
UPSC Factory App
Get everything you need for upsc preparation with just one click! Install now!