IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


13th December, 2023 Polity


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Picture Courtesy: lawplanet.in

Context: The SR Bommai judgment played a significant role in the Supreme Court's recent verdict on Article 370, particularly regarding the legality of the President's rule in Jammu and Kashmir during the abrogation process.


  • The SR Bommai judgment, delivered by a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court in 1994, is a landmark case that interpreted Article 356 of the Indian Constitution, which deals with the imposition of President's rule in states.
  • The case has significance in understanding the Supreme Court's approach to the relationship between the central government and state governments, particularly in the context of dismissing state governments and imposing the President's rule.

Background of the Bommai Case:

  • In 1989, the Union government dismissed the Karnataka state government by imposing the President's rule. The dismissal was based on the grounds that the Chief Minister, SR Bommai, did not command a majority, and no other political party was in a position to form the government. However, the move was controversial, and the Governor did not ascertain Bommai's view before making his report to the President.

Key Rulings of the Bommai Case

  • The power of the President under Article 356 is not absolute, but subject to judicial review on certain grounds.
  • The President should exercise this power only when there is a breakdown of constitutional machinery in a state, not on account of political instability or maladministration.
  • The President should act based on objective material and not on mere advice or opinion of the Governor or the central government.
  • The President should give an opportunity to the state government to explain its position and prove its majority before taking any action.
  • The President should not dissolve the state assembly until both Houses of Parliament approve his proclamation.
  • The floor test is the only conclusive test to determine whether a state government enjoys majority support or not.
  • The court can restore the dismissed state government and revive the dissolved assembly if it finds that the President's action was unconstitutional or mala fide.

Relevance to J&K and Article 370

  • In the context of the recent Supreme Court verdict on Article 370 and the abrogation of special status in Jammu and Kashmir, the Bommai judgment was relied upon. The key question was whether Article 370 could be abrogated when the state was under President's rule.
  • The Supreme Court, drawing from the Bommai ruling, held that the actions of the President in consenting to the revocation of J&K's special status were constitutionally valid. The Court asserted that the Bommai ruling established that actions taken by the President after issuing a proclamation were subject to judicial review.


  • The Bommai judgment, which defined the limitations and procedures for the imposition of the President's rule, played a crucial role in shaping the Supreme Court's perspective on the constitutional validity of actions taken during the President's rule, including the revocation of special status in Jammu and Kashmir.


Q. How does the concept of centre-state relations in India contribute to the country's federal structure, and what key constitutional provisions govern the distribution of powers and responsibilities between the central government and the state governments?