Article 356 of the Constitution

Apropos  ‘Perceptions’ on ‘misuse of article 356’  of the Constitution of India(IE April 12, 1993). Justice R.S.Sakaria rightly commented stating “Article 356 is comparable to a very potent medicine.” Article 356 is one of the major tools in the hands of  Union Government enabling it to check any disruptive and separatist tendencies in their infancy. In order to keep our unique Federal system with its strong Unitary features in fact this potent medicine cannot be dispensed with.

The malady of misuse of this Article 356 can be checked effectively by making some changes in Article 155 – 156 with respect to rules regarding offices of Governors of Indian States.  

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Whereas the President, head of  Indian Union is elected (indirectly) through an Electoral College his counterpart in a State is nominated. Often a Governor, thus appointed,  would have neither academic qualifications  nor have Mandate of the people of the State, still heads the State Administration. ​Moreover, a Governor holds his Office at the pleasure of the President (in practice Central  Cabinet – Council of Ministers headed by Prime Minister ) and hence he is supposed  to serve His Masters’( at ) New Delhi’s  political ends. 

In fact, Draft Constitution was for “Elected” Governors. 
But Constitutional Assembly rejected the recommendation on the plea that  — “If the Governor were to be elected by ‘direct’ vote, then he might consider himself superior to the Chief   Minister, who was merely returned from a single constituency and this might lead to frequent friction between the Governor and Chief Minister.”

It is interesting to note that there was no contemplation at that time to make it for “indirect election” similar to  that of the President of India.

I would like to suggest the following procedure to bring sanctity to the Offices of the Heads of States :

(i) Governor of the States must be elected indirectly.

ii) A person contesting for Governorship of a State must be qualified for election to the Parliament and he must have completed the age of 35 Years.

iii) He must not have born in that State and must not belong to the majority linguistic group of that State

(This would prevent any collusion between Governor and Chief Minister to seceded from the Union

iv) Electoral colleges be formed (different for each State) giving 50 percent weightage to the votes of that State Legislators and 50 percent Weightage to the council of States (Upper house of Parliament).

v) State Legislators must have right to remove the Governor by the process of impeachment moving a motion in the Council of States.)

If this is effected it would give new lease of life to India’s Federal democracy apart from checking the malady of misuse of Article 356

Ambetkar on Federal structure

Dr. B R Ambetkar’s introduction note on the political status of States in the Federal structure of Indian Union needs no further explanation as to why India is Union of States and not a Federation of States, it reads as follows:

” The Drafting committee wanted to make it clear that though India was to be a Federation, the federation was not the result of an agreement by the States to join in a federation and that the federation not being the result of an agreement, no State has right to secede from it. The federation is a Union because it is indestructible. Though the country and the people may be divided into different States for convenience of administration, the country is one integral whole, its people a single people living under a single imperium derived from single source.”

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Presidential form of Govt.

Presidential form of Government fails in India because India is a multi lingual and multi regional country. If we have to adopt Presidential form of Government, States must be made autonomous just like the US federal system. Coming to the point of Military rule for India. I have served in Military Engineer services earlier. When I wondered about prevalence of corruption there my immediate boss told me coolly that ‘military is the only department where corruption is ordered’. 

Ideal types of military personnel depicted in movies are not true in practice because whether it is military or other department, it is the power that corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. 

Now we are under absolutist rule from New Delhi. 

We will be disappointed if we expect honesty from any one whether it is Politicians or military. 

One Mr. Joginder Singh former CBI director said once that ‘after all who are these politicians ? Politicians are the product of the society people get leaders they deserve ‘! 

If there exist any  Statesmen they will become role models for at least some politicians. But in fact there is dearth of Statesmen in Indian Polity. This comment was written by me in TOI against news item ‘: “Digvijaya Singh takes a dig at judiciary for calling CBI a ‘caged parrot’” dt 13.5.13 in TOI.

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