Saturday, 27 July 2013


  • The CentreState relation is described in constitution under Part XI
  • The Constitution provides a federal system of government in the country even though it describes India as ‘a Union of States’. The term implies that firstly, the Indian federation is not the result of an agreement between independent units, and secondly, the units of Indian federation cannot leave the federation. Therefore, Indian federal structure isoriented towards strong Centre.
  • In Indian federation there is clear division of legislative, executive and financial powers between the Center and the States. However, distribution of powers is more inclined towards Centre.

(a) Legislative Relations-
  • The Constitution divides legislative authority between the Union and the States in three lists- the Union List, the State List and the Concurrent List.
  • The Union list consists of 99 items. The Union Parliament has exclusive authority to frame laws on subjects enumerated in the list. These include foreign affairs, defence, armed forces, communications, posts and telegraph, foreign trade etc.
  • The State list consists of 66 subjects on which ordinarily the States alone can make laws. These include public order, police, administration of justice, prison, local governments, agriculture etc.
  •  The Concurrent list comprises of 46 items including criminal and civil procedure, marriage and divorce, economic and special planning trade unions, electricity, newspapers, books, education, population control and family planning etc. Both the Parliament and the State legislatures can make laws on subjects given in the Concurrent list.However, in case of conflict between the law of the State and Union law on a subject in the Concurrent list, the law of the Parliament prevails.
  • Residuary powers (Art. 248) rest with the Union government.
  • Parliament can also legislate on subjects in the State list if

  1. RajyaSabha passes a resolution by two-third majority that it is necessary to do so in the national interest. (Art. 249)
  2. During times of emergency, Parliament can make laws on subjects in the State List. Under Article 356 relating to the failure of constitutional machinery in the state, Parliament can take over the legislative authority of the state.
  3. For the implementation of international treaties or agreements, Parliament can legislate on state subjects. (Art. 253)
  4. If two or more states make a joint request to it to do so. (Art. 252)

Thus, the Centre enjoys more extensive powers than the states.

(b) Administrative relations-

The Indian Constitution made central administration strong in comparison to the state.

  • The executive power of every State must comply with the laws made by the Parliament (Art 256).
  • The Centre can direct the states in matters of national importance for example construction and maintenance of the means of communications declared to be of national or military importance, on the measures to be adopted for protection of the railways, for the welfare of the scheduled tribes and for providing facilities for instruction in mother tongue at primary stage to linguistic minorities
  • The Centre acquires control over states through All India Services.
  • Parliament can alone adjudicate in inter- state river disputes through River Water Tribunal (Art. 262).
  • During a proclamation of national emergency as well as emergency due to the failure of constitutional machinery in a state, the Union government assumes all the executive powers of the state.

(c) Financial Relations –
  • The financial relations between the Centre and State are derived from the Government of India Act of 1935.
  • In this sphere also the States are greatly dependent on the Centre for finances. The major source of finance for states is grants-in-aid given by Centre from the consolidated fund.
  • The Centre can exercise control over state finances through the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
  • During financial emergency the President has the power to suspend the provision regarding division of taxes between the Centre and the states.
  • The distribution of the tax-revenue between the Union and the States stands as follows.
(1) Taxes belonging to the Union exclusively:

Customs, Corporation Tax, Taxes on capital value of assets of individuals and companies, Surcharge on Income Tax, Fees in respects of matters in the Union List.

(2) Taxes belonging to the States Exclusively:

Land Revenue, Stamp duty except in documents included in the Union List, Succession duty, Estate duty, and Income tax on agricultural land, taxes on passengers and goods carried on inland waterways taxes on lands and buildings, mineral rights.
Taxes on animals and boats, on road vehicles, on advertisements, on consumption of electricity, on luxuries and amusements, etc. (This is being supplemented by a new system of Value Added Tax i.e. VAT).

(3) Duties Levied by the Union but Collected and Appropriated by the States:

Stamp duties on bills of Exchange, etc., and Excise duties on medical and toilet preparations containing alcohol. (Article 268)

(4) Taxes Levied as Well as Collected by the Union, but Assigned to the States:

Duties on succession to property other than agricultural land, Estate duty in respect of property other than agricultural land terminal taxes on goods or passengers carried by railway, air or sea taxes on railway fares and freights and so on.

Co- operative Federalism

  • Co- operative Federalism is to promote cooperation between Centre and States. The Indian Constitution provides for a number of mechanisms to promote co-operative federalism.
  • Article 263 empowers the President to establish Inter-State Council to promote better co-ordination between the Centre and States.
  • Under Article 262, the Parliament has passed the Inter-States Water Disputes Act, 1956 to set up Inter-States Water Dispute Tribunal to adjudicate any dispute with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of inter-State rivers.
Inter -State Council

  • It was formed on the recommendations of Sarkaria Commission in 1990.
  • It is headed by the Prime Minister and includes six Cabinet ministers of the Union and Chief Ministers of all the states and union territories.
  • The Functions of the Council is to discuss subjects, in which some or all of the States or the Union and one or more of the States have a common interest; and for the better coordination of policy.
Zonal Councils

  • Zonal Councils were set up under the State Re-organization Act, 1956, to ensure greater cooperation amongst states in the field of planning and other matters of national importance and foster balanced socio economic development of the respective zones.
  • The act divided the country into six zones and provided a Zonal Council in each zone.
  • Each council consists of the Chief Minister and two other ministers of each of the states in the zone and the administrator in the case of the union territory.
  •  The Union Home Minister has been nominated to be the common chairman of all the zonal councils.

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