Srinagar, Aug. 28: The inter-state council meeting here wound up by finally laying to rest the long political debate on the Centreís use of Article 356 to dismiss a state government.
The Centre retained the right to wield the constitutional provision, but only as a last resort and with ample restrictions to prevent misuse.
The councilís focus since its inception in 1990 has been the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission to strengthen the countryís federal system.
The council said at the meeting that a governorís report recommending dismissal of a government should be in the nature of a speaking document, which means all reasons should be clearly explained.
The Centre accepted the commissionís recommendation that an Assembly should not be dissolved before the proclamation has been laid before Parliament for it to consider the adequacy of the grounds.
The chief ministers gathered at the meeting, however, found unacceptable the commissionís suggestion that a government defeated on the floor of the Assembly should not continue in office as caretaker.
Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani emphasised the countryís growing healthy, cooperative federal structure. ďMy experience with states ruled by Opposition parties has been very good. Our discussions have always been healthy and non-partisan,íí he said.
According to Advani, these were pointers to the growing political maturity of the countryís democratic structure. Another pointer was the consensus on all the councilís decisions; the Centre formalised what was more or less cleared by the councilís standing committee earlier.
From the next session, however, the council will focus on good governance, thus moving away from the earlier sessionsí exclusive emphasis on the Sarkaria Commission report.
For the purpose, the Prime Minister will choose a sub-committee of chief ministers to draw a blueprint. Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted the council secretariat to focus on monitoring the action plan for good governance.
Discussing Article 355 that lays down the Centreís duty to protect states against external aggression and internal disturbance, the council felt prior consultations with a state may not always be possible before deploying the armed forces there when the country is faced with a security threat.