Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy UPSC Civils Daily Mains Question 07th July -2021

Federalism in the modern age is a principle of reconciliation between two divergent tendencies, the widening range of common interests and the need for local autonomy. Examine this statement with respect to India. 
Federalism implies the sharing of constituent and political power, that is, the power to govern at two levels but there may be local governments also within a state. Every federal system requires division of powers between the Union and State Governments and both are independent in their own sphere and not subordinate to one another. To avoid the chaos and conflict between the two competing jurisdictions, the power has been divided between the centre and the States and division of power is one of the most important features of the federal constitutions.
Federalism in Indian perspective:
• In a country like India the importance of federalism is vital because different people from different background and culture live together. Neither it would be possible for a single government to make laws for the whole country nor is it desirable in the interest of the people with varied cultures, language and diverse backgrounds.
• So, the Central government may make laws for the whole and any part of territory of India and the respective State governments may make and implement the laws according to social, economic and
• Till 1935, we had unitary system in India, the Government of India Act, 1935 envisaged the federal scheme and first time introduced the federal concept in India and made legal use of the word ‘Federation’, even though, the process of decentralisation and devolution of power had started since the earlier Government of India Act, 1919.
• Indian federal system is not a result of any treaty or agreement amongst the constituent units/states.
• In India, unitary system of government was converted into a federal one by giving certain powers and responsibilities to the states under the constitution.
• The framers of the Indian constitution aimed at establishing a federal system in India in view of the social diversities and the vast size of the country.
• The constitution of India enumerates various items of legislation in three lists:
? Union List, Concurrent List and State List in the VII Schedule of the Constitution.
? The three legislative lists respectively enumerated the powers vested in the Parliament, the state legislature and to both of them concurrently.
? However, if a matter was not covered by any of the three Lists that would be treated as a residuary power of the Parliament.
? The independent judiciary plays an important role as final interpreter of the Constitution in federal structure and uphold the constitutional values.
• In Keshavanada Bharti v. State of Kerala, Sikri C.J. and other judges of the full bench considered the federal character of the constitution as a basic feature of our constitution.
• In S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, a nine judge bench has clearly enunciated that Indian Constitution is federal.
• In Kuldip Nayar v. Union of India, the Parliament in 2003 amended the Representative of People Act, 1951 wherein it deleted the requirement of “domicile” in the State concerned for getting elected to the Council of States.
? The issue in this case was: Whether 2003 amendment Act violated the principle of Federalism, a basic structure of the constitution?
? The petitioner contended that the impugned amendment to section 3 of the Representative of People Act 1951offended the principle of federalism.
? The court rejected the petitioner’s contention and held
• In UCO Bank v. Dipak Debbarma, the court has made several observations on the federal character of our constitution and the need to maintain the federal balance which has been envisaged in our constitution to prevent any usurpation of power either by the centre or the states.
? This judgment reflects that even there is doctrine of federal supremacy but it does not mean that state have no autonomy.
? The state is supreme within their allotted sphere and centre has no authority to transgress the limits. If centre will do so, the court has to interpret the entries by giving widest possible interpretation to each entry.
Indian constitution has all the features of federal constitution, the centre and states are independent to make laws in their respective field assigned by the constitution. However, the centre has supremacy in certain situations that is also mentioned in the Constitution itself. If either government tries to transgress the limits an independent judiciary plays an important role as the apex court is considered the protector and guarantor of the Constitution. The concept of federalism in India keeps changing since the commencement of the Constitution. With the change in the political system i.e. from dominance of one- party rule to the era of coalition government. Following the rise of regional parties and fragile coalition governments, the federation has to grow more flexible and conciliatory, particularly in its financial aspects.

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