Starting at what could turn into a constitutional crisis, the government is mulling convening a short session of Parliament later this month to get it to ratify the Presidential proclamation of bringing Andhra Pradesh under President’s rule.
The President had issued the proclamation on March 1 and it will have to be ratified by April 30 when the two-month deadline expires.
Unless the proclamation is approved by both House of Parliament within two months, it ceases to operate, resulting in a constitutional crisis since Assembly elections are being held along with the general election.
The new Assembly will be constituted only in mid-May.
Sources said Andhra Pradesh Governor E S L Narasimhan has also brought the issue to the notice of the Union Home Ministry as well as Rashtrapati Bhavan.
However, there is a problem: how to get the Lok Sabha MPs, majority of who are busy campaigning in order to get re-elected to the Lower House, to come to Delhi for the purpose. Under Article 356, which deals with the imposition of President’s rule in a state due to failure of constitutional machinery – in case of Andhra Pradesh this was done after the then chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy resigned on February 19 in protest against the passage of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill in Parliament — the proclamation issued by the President has to be “approved by resolutions of both Houses of Parliament” within two months.
“Yes, we are considering holding a session to get the proclamation approved. However, it is easier said than done. No politician, especially those who are busy with the Lok Sabha elections, would be ready to participate in the session. We are also going to consult the Law Ministry,” said a government functionary associated with the process.
Legal experts say that even though the Lok Sabha election process is on, the House will have to be convened along with Rajya Sabha to get the proclamation approved. “It’s a constitutional requirement. There is no way out. Unless Lok Sabha stands dissolved — ongoing general election doesn’t mean it has been dissolved — both Houses have to sit and approve it,” said a source.
Compounding the government’s problems is the absence of any clear-cut precedent in such a situation.