New Delhi: The dramatic developments in Maharashtra on Sunday, which led to the return of Devendra Fadnavis as the Chief Minister for a second consecutive term, as well the swearing-in of NCP’s Ajit Pawar as his deputy, took everyone by surprise. The stunning turn of events took place after Friday saw the Shiv Sena inch closer to sealing a deal with the NCP-Congress combine, with NCP chief Sharad Pawar even saying that the coalition government would be led by Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as the Chief Minister.

However, one question asked by many in the wake of the BJP returning to power in Maharashtra was when and how the President’s Rule, which was imposed in the state on November 12, was revoked, leading to the early morning swearing-in ceremony at the Raj Bhavan.

The answer to ‘when’ is 5:47 AM Saturday, while the answer to ‘how’ is Rule 12.

Normally, President’s Rule can only be revoked on the recommendation of the Union Cabinet. However, Rule 12, which comes under the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961, gives the Prime Minister the power to bypass Cabinet’s approval, if he/she ‘deems it necessary.’

Rule 12, officially titled ‘Departure from Rules,’ states that ‘the Prime Minister may, in case or classes of cases permit or condone a departure from these rules, to the extent he deems necessary.’ However, there should be a detailed justification on the urgency which necessitates the implementation of Rule 12.

Generally, Rule 12 is generally not used to arrive at key decisions. The previous case of the Prime Minister using Rule 12 was the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two separate union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The Supreme Court on Sunday heard the joint Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress petition against the formation of Maharashtra government. It issued notices to the Centre, Devendra Fadnavis, Ajit Pawar and Maharashtra government.

The hearing into the case will resume at 10:30 AM on Monday.