It is generally seen that prime ministers (with the support of their party) have the power to call a snap election.

Do CMs of states have the same power, generally speaking? Or the central government will enforce President's rule on the state? I'm especially interested in the case of UTs like Delhi as well.

  • 1
    Probably not a general trait throughout the world. You have to lookup the relevant constitutions. Here for example, the government can make a motion if confidence and if the parliament votes against it the president would dissolve the parliament. Not exactly the same as in France or the UK but similar in practical consequences. Commented Jun 17 at 10:22
  • You're talking specifically about elections to state assemblies? The governor or lieutenant governor has presidential-style powers over states, although Delhi's system is a bit different to most Indian states.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 17 at 11:50
  • Good question, although I don't know the answer to it. The easiest way to show it would be to find a new article reporting a snap election in a state government in India.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jun 17 at 19:30

1 Answer 1


The Indian constitution does allow a Chief Minister of a State to request the Governor to prorogue or dissolve the State assembly. (Dissolution refers to the termination of the existence of the Legislature before the completion of its full term.)

This power is granted in Article 174 (2) of the Indian Constitution (Sessions of the State Legislature, prorogation and dissolution):

(2) The Governor may from time to time —
(a) prorogue the House or either House;
(b) dissolve the Legislative Assembly.

So yes, if the Chief Minister was running a majority government, resigns and requests the dissolution of the legislative assembly (while retaining majority), this would automatically result in a 'snap' election. This is because Article 172 (Duration of State Legislatures) requires, and the Representation of the People Act, 1951, Section 15 (Notification for general election to a State Legislative Assembly) states that, under normal conditions, an election has to be held under such circumstances:

(1) A general election shall be held for the purpose of constituting a new Legislative Assembly on the expiration of the duration of the existing Assembly or on its dissolution.

(2) For the said purpose, 2[the Governor or Administrator, as the case may be ], 3*** shall by one or more notifications published in the Official Gazette of the State on such date or dates as may be recommended by the Election Commission, call upon all Assembly constituencies in the State to elect members in accordance with the provisions of this Act and of the rules and orders made thereunder ...

Thus, under such circumstances, the Centre / Governor cannot resort to President's rule.

However, if the Chief Minister was running a minority government, the Governor can explore if another coalition government may be formed, and post pone the decision to recommend an election (provided the term of the Legislature has not ended).

Union Territories are directly administered by the Centre. But the National Capital Territory of Delhi and Puducherry also have State Assemblies and are thus considered quasi-states. In NCT of Delhi vs Union of India, a constitutional bench had emphasised that representative democracy should be given primacy where dual-systems of administration exists - there by positing that the legislative assembly in Delhi should have more power than the Centre / LG. However, it also noted that the constitution did grant power to the central government appointed LG to refer any "matter of concern" to the President (the Centre).

Note though, that there is precedence of dissolution of the Delhi assembly on the advise of the CM - the Kejriwal-lead AAP government had once recommended dissolution of the house and called for an early election, and the Centre agreed to it after the CM approached the Supreme Court on the "delay" of the LG in taking a decision on that matter (No legal impediment for President to dissolve Delhi Assembly: Supreme Court).

  • In the case of the 2014 article you quote, that was a minority government right? So even in minority government's case, the CM has the power... hmm
    – whoisit
    Commented Jun 18 at 4:23
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    @whoisit A minority government trying to call for an early election takes a risk - if the opposition approach the Governor and say they have the numbers to form a new government, the Governor can allow it instead of announcing new election. That is also what happened in Delhi in 2014 - in the court, Centre and LG said they were exploring options if another government could be formed. The court then cleverly asked the Congress and the BJP whether they were willing to join in an alliance and form a new Government. When both said no, the Centre agreed to dissolve the assembly and hold election.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Jun 18 at 20:51

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