TAG: GS 2: POLITY
THE CONTEXT: The Supreme Court’s recent ruling on December 11 emphasized that the declaration of State emergency under Article 356 and subsequent actions by the President must exhibit a “reasonable nexus.”
- This implies that the actions taken by the President during the period of State emergency are subject to judicial scrutiny, and they should align with the objective of the emergency declaration.
Context of the Jammu and Kashmir Crisis
- The crisis in Jammu and Kashmir arose when Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti resigned on June 19, 2018, following the withdrawal of support by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
- The Governor then issued a Proclamation under Section 92 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution, assuming the powers and functions of the State government in case of a constitutional breakdown.
- Subsequently, the State Legislative Assembly was dissolved on November 21, 2018, leading to the invocation of Article 356 by the President, which extended the President’s rule until July 3, 2019.
Key Legislative Actions and Constitutional Changes
- On August 5, 2019, the President issued the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, applying all provisions of the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir.
- Additionally, a new provision, Article 367(4), was introduced in the Indian Constitution to replace the requirement for a recommendation from the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly with that of the Legislative Assembly.
- This facilitated the abrogation of Article 370 without the former Assembly’s recommendation.
Open Question on the Proclamation of Article 356
- The Supreme Court left open the question of whether the objective behind the proclamation of Article 356 in December 2018 had a “reasonable nexus” with the subsequent actions of the President and Parliament in August 2019.
- The revocation of Article 356 in Jammu and Kashmir occurred only in October 2019.
Judicial Scrutiny of President’s Actions
- Chief Justice highlighted that the actions undertaken by the President during a State emergency are subject to judicial review.
- The Court can examine whether the actions of Parliament align reasonably with the objective sought to be achieved by the Proclamation of President’s rule under Article 356.
Burden of Proof and Shifting Onus
- The onus lies initially on the challenger to prima facie establish that the President’s actions during the emergency were a “mala fide or extraneous exercise of power.”
- If a prima facie case is established, the burden shifts to the Centre to justify that the exercise of power during the emergency had a reasonable nexus with the emergency’s objective.
- The recent Supreme Court ruling underscores the requirement of a reasonable nexus between the declaration of a State emergency under Article 356 and subsequent actions of the President and Parliament.
- It highlights the scope for judicial scrutiny of the President’s actions during an emergency and the shifting burden of proof in challenging the exercise of power during such times.