Essay on the Article 356 of the Constitution of India

If a given State continues to perform at a low level for two or three years running, then it becomes a fit case for action under Article 356 to ensure that India remains a socio-economic democracy, without which political democracy ceases to have any meaning.

Provision and contents of Article 356 in the Constitution are specific to our country. For its origin one has to go back to the Government of India Act, 1935, which provided that in the event of a breakdown of the constitutional machinery, the Governor General could assume all or any power vested in federal authorities.

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Similar provision existed in the case of provinces, where in the case of a breakdown of constitutional machinery, the government could by proclamation assume all powers vested in or exercisable by any provincial authority.

India’s Constitution provides three types of emergencies:

(i) When the security of India is threatened (Article 352);

(ii) When a State government is not functioning in accordance with the provision of the Constitution (Article 356); and

(iii) When the- financial stability or credit of India is threatened (financial emergency).

Article 188 says that the Governor of a State could assume powers at his discretion as may be given out in the proclamation, and if he is satisfied that a grave emergency has arisen which threatens the peace and tranquility of the State, subject to concurrence of the President who should also feel that the law and order situation is grave and hence the federal government should take over the governance until next elections.

Articles 39, 39A, 41, 42, 43, 45, 47, 48 and 49 of the Constitution clearly outline the directions which may be given to the Chief Minister of a State in furtherance of the objective of economic and social democracy along with the maintenance of political democracy.

Failure in the areas like education, health, provision of drinking water, job avenues, development of agriculture and allied items should be good reasons to threaten the State Government with Article 356.

The Seventh Schedule of the Constitution clearly spells the subjects to be dealt with by the States in social and economic sectors public health, agriculture, rural ‘infrastructure like roads, irrigation, industries, etc. The Chief Ministers of States are to see that social and economic aspects of the democracy could be achieved only by the constructive co-operation of the State Governments.

What happens when a State fails to achieve its objectives? It will be highly retrogressive. Things could go worse, particularly if the elections are far away.

Our Constitution is quite a good one. It has all the ideals that a Constitution should have. But the time has come when it should be made more practicable. The very election system is thoroughly bad. To get elected to the Parliament one needs a lot of money.

Many rich dullards happen to be law makers. There is no minimum qualification required for becoming a law maker. Neither a law degree nor any research qualification. Some of our law makers are interested in politics as it gives them power to make money by hook or crook, or else they will not spend the money on election. Their first effort is to recover the money spent on being elected and then reap rich harvest.

It is desirable that the law makers should be political philosophers of repute who may be invited to seek election but the government should meet their expenses. Law makers should be initially chosen by educational bodies or professionals like the economists, or even scientists and engineers of standing and then let them get elected.