Friday, August 29, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Article 356 to be used only with safeguards
Inter-State Council arrives at consensus
Satish Misra and Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 28
The Inter-State Council meeting, which concluded here today, chalked out a road-map for country’s cooperative federalism as it paved the way for an action plan on good governance including a multi-purpose national identity card (MNIC) and evolved a consensus for preventing the “misuse” of Article 356.

Addressing newspersons after the conclusion of the two-day meeting, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, said it was decided that Article 356 should be used as a measure of “last resort” and not as an initial preference .

Mr Advani announced that since the work of the council with regard to the recommendation of the Sarkaria Commission had been wrapped up, it had been decided that the forum of the Inter-State Council should, hereafter, be utilised for sorting out important issues of cooperative federalism and socio-economic concerns.

Mr Advani said that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was soon going to appoint a sub-committee of Chief Ministers to prepare a blueprint for the action plan on good governance which would be discussed at the next meeting of the council.

For consolidating the ongoing economic liberalisation process, the meeting was informed that a draft Bill to amend the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 would soon be brought before Parliament.

Summarising the discussions on the subject, Mr Advani stated that since the trend was in favour of the transfer of subjects relating to labour laws from the Concurrent List to the State List, it had been decided that an Inter-Ministerial Standing Committee would be established to expeditiously clear amendments on labour laws being proposed by various state governments. The meeting agreed to retain Articles 256 and 257 as no proclamation under Article 356 had been issued based on Article 365.

Regarding ‘emergency provisions’, the council observed that the safeguards contained in the Bommai judgement were adequate to prevent the misuse of Article 356 and it was decided that the Union Government would take steps to ensure that essential features of the Bommai judgement were suitably incorporated in the Constitution.

The meeting accepted that the Governor’s report would hereafter be a “speaking document” which would transparently give reasons and causes for the imposition of President’s rule in the state.

Rejecting the view that since Article 356 already existed, Article 365 had become redundant, the council took note that no consultation with the state government before deploying Union Armed Forces in that state suo motu would be possible.

However, in other circumstances, it would be desirable to have consultation with the state government, as recommended by the Sarkaria Commission, wherever feasible, even though it was not obligatory.

The meeting also accepted the commission’s recommendation for the introduction of a system of interchange of the officers among the Union and State Armed Police Forces.

The council, however, was of the opinion that large-scale transfer of officers may not be feasible.

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