Supreme Court stays Andhra Pradesh HC order on breakdown of constitutional machinery, finds it disturbing

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court asking the Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy government to examine if there was a constitutional breakdown in the state. Terming the High Court order disturbing, the bench headed by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde listed it for hearing after the Christmas vacation.

In October, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had directed the state government to assist the court in recording the finding whether there was a constitutional breakdown in the state. The HC had issued the order while hearing over 14 habeas corpus petitions filed by detained individuals complaining of police excesses. The order of the High Court was challenged by the Reddy government in the top court saying it infringes upon the power of the President of India, who has the right to question if the constitutional machinery has broken down in a state under Article 356. It said the judiciary was not empowered to question the same. The Andhra Pradesh government had said, "this is a power exclusively vested in the Executive and cannot be exercised by the Judiciary."

Taking cognizance of the matter, the bench comprising CJI Bobde, Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian observed, "In any case, have you seen an order like this? As an Apex Court, we find it disturbing. Issue notice, stay. List immediately after vacation." 

Article 356 deals with the failure of constitutional machinery in a state. Under this, the President is empowered to impose President's Rule if satisfied that the government in a state is not functioning in accordance with the Constitution of India upon receipt of a report from the Governor.

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