Governor’s rule or Governance

Kr Swarn Kishore Singh

At the outset I won’t shy away from accepting that there is a strange sort of relief in the state since the fall of Government. And not only relief but the people all over the state are hopeful that the new development in the state will yield some significant results. A popular  Urdu couplet of Rahat Indori will help in exact de-scription of the Governor’s rule and the consequent relief we the people of Jammu & Kashmir are experiencing these days. It goes like:
Intezamaat naye sire se sambhale jayein,
Jitne kamzarf hain mehfil se nikaale jayein;
Gam salamat hai to pite hi rahenge lekin,
Pehle maikhane k halaat sambhaale jayein.
Whenever there is some uncertainty in formation of Government in a state or if the Government fails to comply with the constitutional norms, then under Art.. 356, the President of India takes charge via Governor of that particular state. Now the question is how come this Art. 356 crossed the minds of members of drafting committee of the Constitution of India ? Actually section 45 & section 93 of Government of India Act, 1935 which was passed by British Parliament are somehow the point of origin for Art. 356 of Constitution of India. Just draft of ar-ticle 356 of Constitution of India and section 45 & 93 of Government of India Act further ratifies my claim.
It is no strange thing that formation of Government takes time or Government falls without completing its tenure given the fact that we are multi-party political set up, the fracturing of mandate is very much understandable. And when the mandate is so much fractured the Government is ostensibly brittle. The political parties due to pressure of their rigid ideologies and their rhetoric campaigns take a lot of time to form Governments. Although I find it no shame when there is some problem in formation of Government just because the mandate is not clear. The distribution of seats is divided between different parties and the onus is on them either to forge some alliance or stay out of power. The fractured mandate just reflect the power of opinion of different people of our country. It just shows that every one holds the same amount of power as any other individual in this country. That is what we call power of democracy. Dissents and difference of opinions is a sine-qua-non in a democratic set up, we should value those disagreements as well.But in some cases it even effectuates fall of Governments because some of the actions of the Government could have possibly hurt the political agendas of one of the coalition partners and for which they are going to be answerable in next elections, hence the timings of formation of Government and its fall as well are to be well managed, otherwise it can backfire as well. And specifically in Jammu and Kashmir, if a Government runs into rough weather, it is never a surprise. We are a state wherein transfer of some barren land to a religious board catalyses fall of Government.
President rule; its imposition and its tenure have always been controversial. Right from the dismissal of a democratically elected majority Government of  CPI in Kerala(1957) and subsequent imposition of President rule till the recent cases of Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh in 2016, Art. 356 has been used as a political tool to murder the federalism which forms the basic structure of our constitution. In 1957, Pt. Nehru toppled the Government in Kerala, just because it was the first democratically elected leftist Government of free India; and having left as a power sharer; this idea did not go well with him, thereby toppling the Government. Similarly Indira Gandhi had imposed President’s rule 50 times during her tenure as Prime Minister and Morarji Desai had imposed President’s rule 12 times in first year of his tenure. Let me cite one such instance when immediately after winning general election in 1980, Indira  Gandhi issued a royal patent thereby dismissing state Government of 9 states, which were having Janta Dal Governments and Congress won 8 of them. Such was the misuse of Art. 356 that the Prime Ministers used this provision perpetually to make sure they were in power at every stage.
This fear had found expression in the constituent assembly as well as to what could be repercussions if this amount of power is vested in the hands of the ex-ecutive. The autonomy of states reduced to just a farce, instability due to excessive intervention of Central Government, politically motivated impositions; these were some of the fears. Dr. Ambedkar admitted but he had said “the proper thing we ought to expect is that such article will never be called into operation and that they would remain a dead letter”. But Alas!
Then in 1983, a commission was set up to be headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice Ranjit Singh Sarkaria to examine the relationship and balance of power between state and central Governments in our country. The commission submitted a 1600 page report in 1988 which came up with a lot of specific recommendation as far as centre-state relations and role of Governor are concerned. But it was only after the Apex Court intervened via a 9-judges judgment in case titled S.R. Bommai Vs. Union of India, the ambiguity vanished and relations found boundaries. This judgment was the landmark by virtue of which the blatant misuse of Article 356 was curbed. The best part of the judgement was; the immunity from judicial review was taken away and the distinction between breakdown of constitutional machinery and administrative machinery was clarified as well. And then after a lot of times Supreme Court intervened and has even invalidated such misuse of Article 356; the fresh ones being the cases of Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Since a democratically elected Government reflects the will of the people and its functioning means the system is working to fulfil the aspirations of people it represents. Sadly, but it is true that more often than more Governments work is such a manner that economic growth and productivity is give a break just to ac-commodate the momentary aspirations of the people and to address their issues. It is such a form of governance which is probably directly in contact with the realm and therefore the resolution is just around the corner. That is why when we have a democratically elected representatives conducting policies, actions and affairs of our system, we call it a Government i.e. they dispense governance which is supposed to be sensitive to the aspirations of the people. While when there is a proclamation under Article 356, the reign is called the President’s rule. The process of appointment of Governor wherein the post has been reduced to a retirement package for politicians; speaks implicitly about the arbitrariness which could be possibly devised while in office. In short one can easily say Art. 356 is a just tool to inject dictatorial connotations into political diatribes. With Governor as incharge the sensitivity which one would have experienced while the Government was at place suddenly vanishes, things work in a mechanical manner with no human elements in governance; apparently insensitive and clumsy.
Anyhow, if a state comes under President’s rule, it is supposed to be a momenta-ry first aid only and not the final diagnosis. Art. 356 of Constitution of India, is an instrument by virtue of which central Government takes charge when the constitutional norms are not being adhered to. For imposition of President rule the Government has to get sanction from both houses of Parliament, only after that it can go for a period of 6 months. For example in Punjab, four constitutional amendments were passed to extend the President’s rule beyond 3 years but in case of J&K by virtue of Art. 370, just an executive order suffices, with no legislative approval. Hail 370!
In the state of Jammu and Kashmir, there is neither proclamation under Article 356 of Constitution of India nor the instant President’s rule. Here the proclama-tion is made under section 92 of constitution of Jammu & Kashmir and we have Governor’s rule instead. Normally fall of Government without completion of tenure isn’t received well by the people of any state but here in J&K, the fall of previous Government was celebrated like anything, but for a reason. The previous Government was so impervious that people found it better to have the  Governor at the helm of affairs so that direct political intervention could be diminished. Normally it is said that politics trumps the economy but here politics trumped welfare; politics is supposed to mobilise public opinion but here politics disrespected the public opinion. Politics is supposed to protect the resources for the people but here politics looted them. Politics makes the tawdry system work but here politics stalled the system. Politics is supposed to make the lazy bureaucracy work but here the politics itself was too cloddish to get things in order. The people of this state had got so distressed that the feeling of injustice got so numb that we were no longer able to feel it as we had gradually started to accept it as a norm. Here Ghalib describes us so very well;
Ranj se khugar hua insaan to mit jaata hai ranj;
Mushkilein mujh par padi itni ki aasaan ho gyi.
Then both the coalition partners are shifting the onus onto each other for the failure of the Government but it should be admitted that barring a couple of mi-nisters, the whole cabinet failed the Government and the people of the state in-cluding the Chief Minister. The ministers and legislators were so much engulfed into protocols and ribbon-cutting activities that they started getting immune to the public opinion. Now when Mehbooba Mufti comes up and says Kashmir needs empathy, some questions come across such as; did she devise empathy when she was in office? Obviously not, but surprising is the audacity of the lady, what is she demanding now! Empathy ? We have just come out of a very very dark period, you please don’t prescribe us anything for treatment as you are yourself the infected one.
On daily basis we find one or the other news in media with regard to forging of an alliance to form a Government. Whether it’s desperation of Congress to come back in power or the urge of PDP to get back into the lobbies of secretariat, but one thing we people are sure about is that the Government will not be formed for the welfare of the people but to accumulate funds for the next election. We people have found some relief in the Governor’s rule, I wish the political parties will renounce the idea of formation of Government with the present mandate. And lastly since Mehbooba Mufti has reignited those old feelings for MUF & Hizbul Mujahideen Chief Salah-ud-din, I wish to quote a dialogue from a play written by Shakespeare i.e. “But from deceit bred by necessity; for how can tyrant govern home, unless abroad they purchase great alliance?”.
(The author is an advocate and a
political and legal analyst)


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