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Article 355 and Article 226

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Indian Constitution/ Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States/ Functioning of the Judiciary


Source: TH

Context: A High Court, under Article 226 (its writ jurisdiction) of the Constitution, does not have the power to issue a direction to the Centre to invoke Article 355.

Article 355 of the Indian Constitution

[Part XVIII (Article 352-360) – “Emergency Provisions”]

DescriptionIt shall be the duty of the Union to protect every state in India against external aggression and internal disturbances and to issue directions to any state to ensure compliance with the Union’s laws and regulations.
SignificanceThe provision is designed to ensure that the government can act swiftly and decisively in the event of any disturbance or threat to the peace and security of the state/country. Recently, it was invoked in Manipur.
Article 355 vs 356Article 356 empowers the President to impose President’s Rule in a state in case of a failure or breakdown of constitutional machinery in a state.
Under Article 356, all of the state machinery is taken under the centre’s jurisdiction. However, under Article 355, only the state’s law and order (a state subject) is taken under the centre’s jurisdiction (duration not specified in the Constitution).
Recommendations to prevent misuseS.R. Bommai’s case (1994), which held that the power of the President to dismiss a State government (under Article 356) is not absolute.
Sarkaria Commission Report, which had explained a whole range of actions on the part of the Centre possible under Article 355.


Writs in the Indian Constitution:

  • Meaning: It is a legal document issued by the court that orders a person or entity to perform a specific act or to cease performing a specific action.
  • Constitutional provisions: Issued by the Supreme Court under Article 32 and by the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
  • Types: Habeas Corpus (to have a body of), Mandamus (we command), Quo Warranto (by what warrant(, Certiorari (to certify) and Prohibition.
  • Article 32 vs 226:


The ruling:

  • The Madras HC passed the ruling while dismissing a writ petition which claimed that the constitutional machinery had broken down due to the attack on IT officials by a mob.
  • The HC held that Article 355 appeared to have been inspired both by the US and the Australian Constitution.
  • The scope of Article 355 enables the Union to render all assistance, even if the State Government has not made any specific request.
  • The incident of IT officials being mobbed would not qualify as an internal disturbance under the purview of Article 355.
  • The expressions –
    • ‘internal disturbance’ could only refer to a sense of domestic chaos (could take the colour of a security threat) and
    • ‘external aggression’ would require a large-scale public disorder (endangering the security and administration of the State).


Insta Links:

Article 355


Mains Links:

Under what circumstances can the Financial Emergency be proclaimed by the President of India? What consequences follow when such a declaration remains in force? (UPSC 2018)


Prelims Links: UPSC 2022

With reference to the writs issued by the Courts in India, consider the following statements:

  1. Mandamus will not lie against a private organisation unless it is entrusted with a public duty.
  2. Mandamus will not lie against a Company even though it may be a Government Company.
  3. Any public-minded person can be a petitioner to move the Court to obtain the writ of Quo Warranto.


Which of the statements given above are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3


Ans: 3