Who is S.R. Bommai?

Who is Somappa Rayappa Bommai, and why should you know him?

Somappa Rayappa Bommai was the 11th Chief Minister of Karnataka in India.

From 1996 to 1998, he served as the United Front government's Human Resource Development Minister. He may be best known because of the role he played in the Supreme Court of India's landmark verdict, S. R. Bommai v. Union of India.

The S.R. Bommai v. Union of India case created a historical change in Centre-state relations. Before the judgement, according to article 356 of the Indian Constitution, the Union Government could dissolve a state government if it deems that government unable to function according to Constitutional provisions. In the years post-independence, this article was abused multiple times by the federal government. 

When S.R. Bommai’s government was dissolved by the Centre, he went to the Supreme court to plead against the decision of the Governor of Karnataka to impose President’s rule. This led to a five year legal battle which culminated in a historical judgement delivered by an extremely rare nine-person bench. It put an end to a hostile central government’s ability to arbitrarily dissolve a state.