The administrative relationship between the union and states is defined under Article 256-263. The relationship has been further classified as (i) Centre-State relations in normal times; (ii) Centre-State relations during emergency. A federal scheme involves setting up of dual government i.e. State & Central and division of powers. The success and the strength depend upon the maximum co-operation and co-ordination between the Union and the States. The adjustment between the two is one of the hectic problems in a federal government.
The framers of the Constitution had included the detailed provisions to avoid the clashes and disputes between the Central, States and also local bodies. But in the emergency period, the government of India will exercise all the powers with the full control over the states and other local bodies.
Article 243 of the Constitution provides the states to empower the local bodies such as Panchayats and Municipalities with power to sue and authority to enable them to work as an institution of self-government. States have the legal power over localities whereas localities balance state power by having political power.
Centre-State relations in peacetime:
There are various techniques which are exercised by the Union government to control over the states under normal circumstances. The states will not interfere in the policies of the Union government made by legislative & executive and also to ensure the efficiency and strength of each unit which is an integral part for the strength of the union.
The Legislative and Executive power is vested in the President in relation to states. The President has the power to appoint and Governor and other dignitaries in the state, if they are found to be guilty (Article 155-156). The instructions of President are required for the Governor to make the ordinances relating to the matters specified under Article 213.
In order to safeguard the democracy of India, the father of the constitution has provided several means to control the administrative matters of the states. They are:
Directions by the Union to the State Governments:
This idea of directing is taken from Government of India Act, 1935 in view of the peculiar conditions of this country and particular circumstances out of which the federation emerged. 1 The union government can give the directions to a state government and to secure such compliance with such directions (Article 256).
In Swaraj Abhiyan (V) v. Union of India, 2 The various State government has not established State Food Commission under National Food Security Act, 2013 and neither conducted Social Audit under Sec 28 nor Vigilance Commission has been set up under Section 29 of the Act. This indicates the lack of concern by the State governments to implement these provisions, which was a social justice and social welfare legislation. The court issued the necessary guidelines and held that the Government of India cannot plead helpless in requiring State Governments to implement Parliamentary Laws in view of Article 256.
The power of the Central government also extends to the giving directions to a State Particularly in two matters:
- The construction and maintenance of means of communication which are declared to be of national or military importance.
- The measures to be taken for the protection of Railway within the States.
The President’s rule or the Governor’s rule can be imposed, if the state government is unable to follow the directions of the union government.
Delegations of union functions:
The constitution has the function that the union and the State governments can exchange their administrative functions such as the President with the consent of the state government may entrust an executive function of the union to the states (Article 258). Similarly, State governments with the consent of the government of India confer administrative functions relating to State matters (Article 258-A).
Disputes relating to water:
Parliament has the power to provide for adjudication by law of any dispute or complaint with respect to the distribution, uses or control of waters of any inter-state rivers and river valleys (Article 262). Clause 2 of the said article provides the authority to Parliament to restrict the Supreme Court and the other courts in interfering the disputes and complaints relating to the water of inter-state rivers and river valleys.
Parliament has passed two acts named as River Board Act, 1956 and the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956. The River Board Act is passed for the regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river valleys and the Inter-State Water Dispute Act is passed to empower the central government to set up a Tribunal for resolving such disputes. The decision given by the Tribunal will be the final decision and is binding to all the parties.
The Constitution of India has granted the power to the Parliament to make such grants as he deems necessary to give financial assistance to any state which requires such assistance. The union can correct inter-state disparities in financial resources and can exercise co-ordination & control over the welfare schemes of the states on a national scale (Article 275).
State may ask for financial help from the centre if the state wants to develop its welfare schemes for the people of the state. The union government also provides for specific grants for the development and welfare of Scheduled Tribes and tribal areas.
All India Services – Article 312-
The All India services are those which are common to the union and the states. The examples of All India Services are Indian Administrative Service & Indian Police Service. “The constitution also gives the power to create additional All Indian Services, if the Council of States declares by a resolution supported by at least two-thirds of the members present and voting that is necessary in the national interests”. 3
Inter-State Council – Article 263:
The President of India has the power to establish the Inter-State Council to effect co-ordination between the states if it appears that the public interest would be served by the establishment. The council can deal with legal as well as non-legal matters but its function is merely advisory.
This council has to inquire and advise on the disputes which may have arisen between the states. It also investigates and discusses the matters relating to common interest between the union and the states or between two or more states for example- research in matters like agriculture and forestry. Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State relations has strongly recommended for the establishment of an Inter-State Council to effect the co-ordination between different States
In India,there are few advisory bodies at the union level which co-ordinate the activities of the states. The examples of advisory bodies are the National Planning Commission (1950) and National Integration Council (1986).
In Emergency Time:
The Constitution of India provides three kinds of emergency: National, State and Financial emergency. National Emergency is imposed under Article 352 when there is a war, external aggression or armed rebellion. The second situation is when there is the constitutional machinery breakdown in the state there will be imposition of President’s rule under Article 356. The third situation is a financial emergency which is imposed under Article 360 of the constitution.
Under the proclamation of emergency, the Government of India shall acquire the power to provide directions to a state on any matter. The state government will not be suspended but it will be under the control of union executive. In the emergency period, Parliament shall have the power to legislate only the matters in the State List. It can also alter the provisions of the constitution relating to the allocation of financial resources.
Article 256 to 263 deals with the administrative relation between the union and state. These are classified into two parts: relation in normal times and relations at the time of emergency. Article 256, 258, 262, 275 & 312 specifically deals with the centre-state relation in normal times. The second phase i.e. the emergency is defined under Article 352, 356 & 360. Article 352 talks about National emergency, Article 356 deals with the failure of Constitutional State Machinery and Article 360 provides the conditions and provisions of Financial Emergency. There is the hierarchy in the powers of the centre, state and local bodies. Local bodies include Panchayats and Municipalities which works as a self-government institution.
“The views of the authors are personal“
- D.D. Basu Introduction to the Constitution of India, p. 263.
- AIR 2017 SC 3516