What is breakdown of constitution machinery?


‘Breakdown of constitutional machinery’ refers to inability of a State to work in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and thus, invoking state of emergency wherein the President takes over the entire administration of the State notifying that the Parliament shall assume jurisdiction over the State is subjects for the State’s concern. However, the President cannot take over the powers conferred upon the High Court.

Once emergency is invoked, the following are its effects:

On Executive – State Government is dismissed and centre takes over the powers conferred on it and its executive powers would be exercised by the Union.

On Legislature – State Legislation Assembly is either suspended or dissolved. Thus, the State Legislature Assembly does not function to do its legislative functions. It can be assumed by, Parliament.

On Financial Relations – There is no effect on financial relations, except the Centre would be acting as custodian of the state’s finance and the State budget would be presented in the Parliament.

There were many instances in the past when this Article was misused by ruling party in the Centre to topple rival parties in a State. But after the judgment in S.R. Bommai Case, the Supreme Court of India made it clear that Article 356 can be implemented only to meet the exigencies of special situation. Moreover, implementation of Article 356 is open to judicial review which will help its misuse on flimsy grounds.

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