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Article 355:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution.

 

Context:

Congress party in West Bengal has demanded that the law and order situation in West Bengal is completely broken and Article 355 should be invoked to ensure the State is governed as per the provisions of the Constitution.

 

What’s the issue?

On 21st March 2022, there was a violent fight between two groups of the ruling party in Bogtui village in Birbhum district.

  • The Deputy Pradhan, Shri Bhadu Sheikh was killed and in retaliation houses in the area were attacked and set on fire resulting in 12 deaths including that of women and children. All the members belong to the minority community.

 

What is Article 355?

Article 355 refers to the provision in the Constitution that states that “It shall be the duty of the Union to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance and to ensure that the government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”.

 

There are several angles to the second part of this duty – to ensure that the Government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

 

  1. The law & order angle:

The “public order” and “police” are state subjects and states have exclusive power to legislate on these matters.

 

  1. Alleged justification of emergency:

Although this article has been seldom used; it is seen as an instrument to justify imposition of emergency under articles 352 and 356.

While article 352 empowers the centre to impose emergency when an armed rebellion occurs, such proclamation cannot be for internal disturbance – thus said SC in SR Bommai Case.

  • So, the Supreme Court interpretation was that article 355 itself does not give power to the centre to impose emergency because mere internal disturbance short of armed rebellion cannot justify a proclamation of emergency under Art. 352 nor can such disturbance justify issuance of proclamation under Art.

Sources: the Hindu.