Supreme Court Judgment in S.R. Bommai Case

Somappa Rayappa Bommai (6 June 1924 to 10 October 2007) was the 11th Chief Minister of Karnataka.

He was also the HRD minister in the United Front Government from 1996 to 1998 and served with both the PM H.D.Deve Gowda and I.K.Gujral.

The Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgment in the S.R.Bommai Versus Union of India case in 1994 that has protected the rights of the states greatly.

S.R.Bommai was the Chief Minister of Karnataka and his government was dismissed in 1994 by the central government leading to the filling of the case in the Supreme Court.

The judgment protected the states from arbitrary dismissal at the hands of the hostile central government.

The main features of the judgment

Article 356 is an exceptional power to the Union Government and it should be used only occasionally to meet the exigencies of special occasions.

Emergency under this article can be imposed only on certain grounds signifying constitutional breakdown.

For Example, if no party or coalition can generate majority support after the Legislative Assembly elections resulting in a hung Assembly;

If constitutional directions from the central government are disregarded by the state government or state government actively assists in internal subversion.

An emergency cannot be imposed on certain grounds as they do not constitute a constitutional breakdown.

For example, a mere law and order problem cannot be construed as a constitutional breakdown.

And, an emergency cannot be imposed if the ruling party in the state lost heavily in the Parliamentary election.

The Governor’s report on the breakdown of the constitutional machinery in the state must be placed in Parliament.

The report should be a thorough one detailing the exceptional situation in the state.

The Legislative Assembly of a state cannot be dissolved before the proclamation of the president is approved by both the houses of the Parliament.

The court has the power to determine the validity of the imposition of emergency under Article 356 of the constitution.

If the court finds the grounds of imposition unconstitutional it can and will nullify the proclamation and restore the dismissed state government to life.

To put it succinctly the Supreme Court possesses the power of Judicial Review over the imposition of Article 356.

The Supreme court delivered the Judgement that the state governments ruled by opposition parties have been protected from arbitrary dismissal by the central government with a different ruling party.

Dr Ambedkar called Article 356 to the Constitution as it neglects the federal character of the Indian Political System and the Popular Sovereignty of an elected government.

* * All the Notes in this blog, are referred from Tamil Nadu State Board Books and Samacheer Kalvi Books. Kindly check with the original Tamil Nadu state board books and Ncert Books.
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