Centre-State Relations

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India has a federal structure i.e. there is division of powers between the Centre and the State. These division of powers can be classified into following types :

1. Legislative Powers (enumerated in Articles 245 to 255 in Part XI of the constitution)
2. Administrative Powers (enumerated in Articles 256 to 263 in Part XI of the constitution)
3. Financial Powers (enumerated in Articles 268 to 293 in Part XII of the constitution)

Judicial powers have not been divided among the Centre and the state. As the judicial powers are exercised by an integrated system of judicial courts only with Supreme Court at its apex followed by High Court & then the Subordinate courts.

Why certain provisions were inserted in the constitution that dealt with the relations between centre and state?

  • Federal structure
  • Also, centre and state are supreme in their respective areas.
  • But for India to work as an integrated nation, most important necessity for this is the smooth functioning of centre and state collectively.
  • Hence, for this purpose, certain provisions regarding the same have been added in the constitution.

Difference between the legislative powers of Centre and State

Sr. No. Centre State
1 Centre can make laws for whole or for a particular area of India. State can make laws only for the area which comes under it as territorial area.
2 Centre can also make laws for Union Territory subject to some conditions.* State can’t make laws for Union Territory even when it is located in that particular state. 
3 Centre has the power to make laws that are “extra-territorial” in nature i.e. such laws are applicable outside India. State can’t make such laws.

*Note :
i) If President has the supreme power in the case of Union Territory. If the President thinks that a particular law is not fit for any union territory he can even repeal or amend that act.
ii) Governor of the state has the power to limit or modify the provisions of any law made by Parliament on the grounds of protecting the interests of Scheduled Area.
iii) The Governor of Assam may direct that an act of Parliament does not apply to a tribal area (Autonomous District) in the state or apply with specified modifications and exceptions. The President enjoys the same power with respect to tribal areas (autonomous districts) in Meghalaya, Tripura & Mizoram.

Way of distribution of legislative subject

Subjects in India have been divided into three types according to constitution:
1. Union List
2. State List
3. Concurrent List

Sr. No.  List Description
1 Union List Only Parliament can make laws in the case of a subject listed in the Union list. It has 100 subjects for now.
2 State List Only state can make laws in the case of a subject listed in the State List. It has 61 subjects for now.
3 Concurrent  List

Parliament and state (both) are allowed to make laws on the subjects listed in this list. If both have made laws on the same subject then the central law overrides the state law. It has 52 subjects for now.

42nd Amendment Act, 1976 transferred 5 Subjects from state list to concurrent list. (those five subjects were – education, forests, weights and measures, protection of wild animals and birds and administration of justice; constitution and organisation of all courts except the Supreme Court and the high courts. 

  • Residuary subjects : Only Parliament has the power to make laws on the subjects that are not enumerated in any of the list mentioned. These subjects are called residuary subjects & the power the parliament has in case of them is called residuary powers.
  • This classification of subjects into three lists has been taken by India from the Government of India Act 1935.
  • Order of the list in which they have received power: Union list > Concurrent List > State List.

Conditions in which Parliament can make laws on subject’s mentioned in the State List

 Sr. No. Condition Description
1 During President’s rule in the state centre has the power to make laws on any subject mentioned in the state list. Such laws remain in place even after the end of President’s rule in the state. But state legislature can alter or repeal or re-enact such laws.
2 To implement International Agreement centre has the power to make laws on any subject mentioned in the state list so as to give effect to any international agreement that India has signed.
3 When states make a request

When the state legislatures of two or more states make request to centre to make laws on a subject mentioned in the state list, then centre has the power to make laws on subject mentioned in the state list.

But such laws are only applicable to those states who had passed a resolution for such a request. Other states can also request for such laws.

But they have to pass a resolution of the same in their state legislature. Such laws made by the centre can only be amended or repealed by Parliament alone.

(That request made by the state indicates that state has surrendered its power to make laws on that subject to the centre) 

4 During National Emergency Parliament gets the power to make laws on subjects in state list in case of proclamation of national emergency. Any law created in this period expires after six months after the emergency ceases to operate.
5 When Rajya Sabha passes a resolution

If the Rajya Sabha declares that it is necessary in the national interest that Parliament should make laws on a matter in the state list, then the parliament becomes competent to make laws on that matter.

Such a resolution must be supported by two-thirds of the members present and voting. The resolution remains in force for one year; it can be renewed any number of times but not exceeding one year at a time.

The laws cease to have effect on the expiration of six months after the resolution has ceased to be in force.

 

Other ways in which centre controls state’s legislative powers

Sr. No. Way Description
1 By Governor Governor can reserve some bills passed by the state legislature for the President’s consideration. The President has absolute veto over them.
2 By President State has to take prior permission from President in case of law made on a certain subjects in state list. (like the bill to restrict trade and commerce)
3 By President President can direct the states to reserve money bills and other financial bills passed by the state legislature for his consideration during financial emergency.

Difference between the Executive powers of centre and state

Sr. No. Centre  State
1 Executive power of the centre extends to whole India  Executive powers of the state is limited to the territorial extent of the state 
2 Executive power over laws made on subjects mentioned in the concurrent list doesn’t lie with the centre. Executive power over laws made on subjects mentioned in the concurrent list lies with the state except when a constitutional provision or a parliamentary law specifically confers it on the centre.

 

Restrictions on the use of executive power of the state

Executive power of the state should be used in such a way so
i) as to ensure compliance with the laws made by the Parliament and any existing law which apply in the state.
ii) as not to impede or prejudice the exercise of executive power of the Centre in the state.

Difference between the legislative and executive power distribution

  • Distribution of legislative powers between centre and state is rigid (i.e. it can’t be changed or hard to change)
  • But distribution of executive powers has not been rigid.
  • Constitution provides for inter-government delegation of functions in order to mitigate rigidity and avoid a situation of deadlock.
  • President, may with the consent of the state government entrust to that government any of the executive functions of the Centre.
  • Also, the governor of a state may, with the consent of the Central government, entrust to that government any of the executive functions of the state.
  • This mutual delegation of administrative functions may be conditional or unconditional.

How All-India Services are good for administration ?

  • In India there are three types of All-India Services :

i) IAS (Indian Administrative services)
ii) IPS (Indian police Service)
iii) IFS (Indian Forest Services)

  • It is argued that All-India services violate the principle of federalism. But they are supported on following grounds:

i) They facilitate liaison, cooperation, coordination and joint action on the issues of common interest between the Centre and the states.
ii) they help to ensure uniformity of the administrative system throughout the country
iii) they help in maintaining high standard of administration in the Centre as well as in the states.

Difference between the Taxing powers of centre and state

Sr. No.  Centre State 
1 Parliament has exclusive power to levy taxes on subjects enumerated in the Union List State has exclusive power to levy taxes on subjects mentioned in the State list
2 Parliament can levy taxes on subjects mentioned in the concurrent list. State can also levy taxes on subjects mentioned in the concurrent list. 
3

Residuary power of taxation (i.e. the power to impose taxes not enumerated in any of the three lists) is vested in the Parliament alone.

Under this provision Parliament has imposed gift tax, wealth tax and expenditure tax.

Residuary power of taxation (i.e. the power to impose taxes not enumerated in any of the three lists) is not vested in the state.

Distribution of taxes in the centre and state

Sr. No.  Title Description
1 Taxes levied by the centre but collected and appropriated by the states (Article 268)

i) Stamp duties on bills of exchange, cheques, promissory notes, policies of insurance, transfer of shares and others

ii) Excise duties on medicinal and toilet preparations containing alcohol and narcotics.

2 Service Tax levied by the centre but collected and appropriated by the centre and the states (Article 268-A) Taxes on services are levied by the centre. But, their proceeds are collected as well as appropriated by both the centre and the states. The principles of their collections and appropriation are formulated by the Parliament.
3 Taxes levied and collected by the centre but assigned to the states (Article 269)

i) Taxes on the sale or purchase of goods (other than newspapers) in the course of inter-state trade or commerce.

ii) Taxes on the consignment of goods in the course of interstate trade or commerce.

4 Taxes levied and collected by the Centre but distributed between the centre and the states (Article 270)

 i) Duties and taxes referred to in Articles 268, 268-A and 269 (mentioned above).

ii) Surcharge on taxes and duties referred to in Article 271.

iii) Any cess levied for specific purposes. 

5 Surcharge on certain taxes and duties for purposes of the centre (Article 271) The Parliament can at any time levy the surcharges on taxes and duties referred to in Articles 269 and 270. The proceeds of such surcharges go to the centre exclusively. In other words, the states have no share in these surcharges.
6  Taxes levied and collected and retained by the states These are the taxes belonging to the states exclusively.

Tension Areas in Centre-State Relations:

  • Encroachment by the Centre on the State List
  • Appointment of enquiry commission against the chief ministers
  • Management of All-India Services (IAS, IFS and IPS)
  • Discrimination in financial allocations to the states
  • Deployment of central forces in the states to maintain law and order
  • Discriminatory and partisan role of governors
  • Mode of appointment and dismissal of governor
  • Imposition of presidents rule for partisan interests
  • Reservation of state bills for the consideration of the President
  • Role of Planning Commission in approving state projects
  • Use of electronic media for political purposes
  • Sharing of finances (between centre and state)
Practice Questions
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