Indian constitutional law

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Such commissions are appointed to ensure that administration of the state is carried on in accordance to the provisions of the Constitution. However, the abuse of this power for political purposes cannot be ruled out. In his dissenting judgment in State of Karnataka v Union of India[i], the learned Judge held that such enquiry commission by the Union would impinge on the right of the state to function in its limited sphere allowed to it by the Constitution.

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Learned judge held that as there is no specific Article in the Constitution enabling the Union Government to cause an enquiry into Governmental function of the state, the power cannot be assumed by ordinary legislation, but resort must be had to a Constitutional Amendment. The learned judge held that the word ‘enquiries’ in entry 45 of list III should not be given a wide meaning as conferring on the Union and the state governmental powers to enact a provision to embark on an enquiry as to the misuse of governmental powers by the other. ‘Government cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution’ The expression is used in the same sense in Articles 355-356. It has a very wide scope. It means the failure of a state government to work according to the constitution, in circumstances which have no necessary connection with external aggression, internal disturbance or violence, though this maybe the cause of the failure in particular cases. In fact, Article 356 contemplates cases of constitutional breakdown due to causes other than external or internal aggression (in the form of an armed rebellion), for which provision has an earlier been made in Article 352, and the case of financial breakdown which is dealt in Article 360. Thus, the Constitution itself provides that a Proclamation under Article 356 can be issued on the mere ground that the state has failed to carry out any of the directions issued under any of the relevant provisions of the Constitution.[ii] When compared with cl.(1) of Article 352, it is evident that Article 356(1) does not speak of any emergency of any kind; in fact the word ‘emergency’ is not used anywhere in Article 356. It is a proclamation intended either to safeguard against the failure of the constitutional machinery in a state to repair the effects of breakdown. It may be either a preventive or a curative action. A court can however interfere with such an action by the President as has no connection with the breakdown of the constitutional machinery, e.g., if a suspension of a state government is ordered only because the Chief Minister belongs to a particular caste or creed. This would be an instance of ultra vires, that is the use of the power for a purpose other than that intended by the Article.

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