Essay on the meaning of ‘breakdown of constitutional machinery’

ADVERTISEMENTS:

It is a duty of the Union to ensure that the government of every state is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution (Article 355). So, the President is empowered to make a proclamation, when he is satisfied that the Government of a state can’t be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution, either on the report of the Governor of the state or otherwise [Article 356(1)]. Such proclamation may also be made by the President where any state has failed to comply with, or to give effect to, any directions given, by the Union, in the exercise of its executive power to the state (Article 365).

By such proclamation, the President may (a) assume to himself all or any of the functions of the Executive of the State or of any other authority save the High Court; and (b) declare that the powers of the Legislature of the State shall be exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament. In short, by such proclamation, the Union would assume control over ail functions in the state administrations.

It is clear that the power to declare a proclamation of failure of constitutional machinery in a state has nothing to do with any external aggression or armed rebellion; it is an extraordinary power of the union to meet a political breakdown in any of the units of the federation (or the failure by such unit to comply with the federal directives (Article 365), which might affect the national strength. It is one of the coercive powers at the hands of the union of maintain the democratic form of government, and to prevent factional strifes from paralysing the governmental machinery, in the states.

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