S.R. Bommai v. Union of India [1994 AIR 1998]

S.R. Bommai v. Union of India [1994 AIR 1998]

By Sakshi Kumari (Fairfield Institute of Management & Technology, New Delhi)


SR Bommai who was the leader of Janta Dal’s party won the Karnataka state election with a huge majority and became chief minister in 1988 of Karnataka. After a year due to some dispute in the party, his government became unstable and the president’s rule imposed in the state without testing the majority of the Janta Dal in assembly. SR Bommai also asked for an opportunity to prove his majority in the assembly but the governor refuses to so. Later he filed a writ petition in the Karnataka high court but the court dismissed the plea. After that, he filed an appeal in the supreme court of India and the court held that the proclamation of the president’s rule under article 356 is not absolute.

Facts of the case

In the year 1988, the two political parties namely the Janta party and Lok dal formed a new party called Janta dals. the same year in March with huge support this party formed the government in Karnataka and SR Bommai became the chief minister.

After a year in 1989, many members of this party withdraw their support, and then questions were being arises on the stability or majority of the government in the house.

At that time P. Venkatasubaih was the governor of Karnataka. Chief minister SR Bommai advised him to organize a gathering in the assembly to prove his majority and check the strength of the government in the assembly but he refuses to do so and neglected the opportunity of SR bommai to prove his majority. 

So, governor Mr. P. Venkatasubaih refuses the gathering and also doesn’t test the opportunity of other parties in the state to form their government. 

And after this communicated to the president that Janta dal’s government had lost its majority in the house and also no other party in the state is eligible to form the government in the state.

On April 19, 1989, He demanded the proclamation of the president’s rule under section 356(1) of the Indian constitution. 

As a result of this on 20 April 1989, the president of India Ramaswamy Venkataraman imposed the president’s rule in Karnataka under section 356 (3) of the Indian constitution. 

On April 26 1989 the validity of this proclamation of President’s rule had been challenged into the Karnataka high Court where 3 judges bench had quashed this writ petition.

After all this a plea was filed in the honorable Supreme Court of India challenging the validity of this President’s with some other issues and after 5 years of filing this case, a division of  9 judge bench delivered the order.


If the president’s rule applied in this situation was valid or not?

What is the scope of the judicial review of the proclamation of the president’s rule?

What is the meaning of the phrase a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried in under the provision of the constitution used in article 356 (1)?


A division of 9 judges bench (justice S R Pandian, A M Ahmadi, Kuldip Singh, J.S. Verma, P.B. Sawant, K.Ramaswamy, S.C. Agarwal, Yogeshua Dayal,  B.P. Jeevan Reddy.) On 11th March 1994.

The President’s power to the proclamation of the president’s rule is not absolute in nature which is provided under section 356 clause 3. Use only the power when approved by both houses of parliament biotin president can only suspend the Legislative Assembly it is the floor of assembly only who decided The majority and dissolve the government. Court also approved the suggestion of the Sarkaria commission which given a report on the use of article 356 of the Indian Constitution that is is a Prior notice is given to the state and all the steps have been taken to resolve the issue of dissolution of the a government. If the parliament was unable to fulfill the proclamation then after 2 months the proclamation had been dissolved and the state government restores itself in the assembly.

The high courts and the supreme court have the power to entertain the writ petition questioning the proclamation of the president’s rule in the state. If the question satisfies all the necessary and basic requirements then Court may stay the demise of the state assembly.

Article 356 clause 3 is used to regulate of president’s rule, not the declaration, which can be obtained only by the state government and Council of States.

If the declaration is found invalid, even it is approved by the Parliament the court is open to restoring the status quo of the proclamation.

In cases where the government lost the majority, it was assumed that appropriate evaluation of the strength of the department was a test under the house but in case whoever but it is not possible where the ground of test is already reflecting.

In this case of SR bommai versus Union of India the concept of Judicial review of the proclamation of the president’s rule under Article 356 of the Indian constitution had arrived.


This was the landmark decision of this case where the power of president rule had been curtailed and a concept of and the concept of Judicial review of president’s rule had arisen. Before that case Centre was used to dissolve the state government by not following the process of the floor test. This case manages to survey the legitimate instrument and looking through the entire zone of protected goals on Focal State relations and the conflicts part of State Lead representatives calling President’s standard. The way that under the arrangement of our Constitution incredible force is talked about upon the middle opposite the states doesn’t imply that the States are little indices of the Middle. The States are the best strength inside the fields which are doled out to them. The Middle can’t temper with their forces. This choice is recognized to be a significant judgment as it has stopped the self-assertive ejection of State Governments under Article 356 needs to work. The judgment assumed that the force of the president isn’t outright however an acclimated power and the official decree isn’t pardoned from the legal investigation.

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