Q) “States cannot be reduced to mere rubber stamps enforcing the centre’s legislation.”
Approach to answer:
The answer must discuss the significance of evolving new measures to foster cooperation between Union and state government on crucial constitutional issues.
Remember the thing, if question demands you to critically analyse the statement given, you need to remember two components of the division i.e.,
- Analyse means examine every component of the question given and
- Critically means you should present both the support arguments and the arguments against it.
For every question given the structure of the answer should be in format that
Give a brief introduction about the recent events that affected the state’s will in Implementing Union laws as mentioned below.
India is a federal state where the Centre and the State are the Cooperating units of the polity. Yet India is an asymmetrical federalism, with the balance of power tilting in the favor of the Centre. Article 256 deals with Union-state relation and State’s obligation while Article 365 mandates the state governments to follow and implement the directions of the Central government. Changing dynamics of party system is shaping the trajectory of Federalism from cooperative to confrontationist.
Mention some relevant constitutional provisions in this regard. Define the pros and cons of implementing parliament laws by states uniformly. Suggest a suitable ways to overcome the issue, as given below.
Provisions that favor the Union Government
- Article 355: enjoins the Union “to ensure that the government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”. Example: When State governments raised concerns about the NPR, the Union insisted that States are under a constitutional duty to implement laws passed by Parliament.
- Article 356 not a dead letter: Centre has the power to impose President’s rule under Article 356 if its laws are not complied by states.
- Centrally sponsored Schemes: CSS is the biggest component of Central Assistance to state plans (CA), where states don’t have much flexibility.
- Enforcement of International Treaties and Agreements: This provision enables the central government to fulfill its international obligations under Article 253. The Lokpal and the Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 was introduced in the Parliament through the provisions of this particular article.
- Article 200: Reservation of state Bills by Governor for President’s assent.
- Article 256: mentions that the executive power of every state shall be so exercised as to ensure compliance with laws made by Parliament and any existing laws, which apply in that state, and the executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of such directions to a state as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for that purpose.
However, States are NOT mere administrative agencies. In the landmark judgment i.e. S.R. Bommai case where Supreme Court said that States are not mere “appendages” of the Centre.
- Legislative/Administrative related provisions:
- Separation of Power: Schedule 7 of Constitution provides strict delineation of powers between center and state. (Except during emergencies which comes under judicial review)
- Article 131 of the Constitution, which gives the Supreme Court exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases between states and the Centre. Eg: Chhattisgarh moved SC against NIA Act in Jan 2020. Coalition governments: It has increased states’ bargaining power.
- Financial related Provisions:
- GST Council: Majority decisions have been based on consensus till now, while states gave 2/3rd of votes. Since 10th Finance Commission, state’s share has been continuously increasing till 14th Finance Commission by devolving 42% of share to states.
- NITI Aayog: Replacing the erstwhile Planning Commission, the Aayog is promoting bottom-up approach to development planning.
- Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas involves State’s as equal partners of development.
- There is a move towards competitive and cooperative federalism.
Measures need to be taken to improve federal spirit:
- Strengthening of Inter-State Council: Various committees have recommended strengthening of Interstate Council where the concurrent list subjects can be debated and discussed, balancing Centre state powers. There is far less institutional space to settle inter-state frictions therefore a constitutional institution like ISC can be a way forward.
- Autonomy to states: Centre should form model laws with enough space for states to maneuver. Centre should give enough budgetary support to states so as to avoid budgetary burden. There should be least interference in the state subjects.
- Democratic Decentralization: Decentralization of administration and strengthening governments at all levels in true spirit. Power should be decentralized based on the principle of subsidiary.
Conclude that new measures should be evolved to foster cooperation between Union and state government on crucial constitutional issues. For sample the conclusion can be as given below:
While security concerns might warrant greater powers to the Union, on the development front (education, health etc.) the Centre should respect the autonomy of the other two levels of government and consciously avoid the tendency to centralize powers and functions. Its role should be limited in laying down policies, devolving funds and facilitating co-ordination leaving implementation entirely to States and Local Bodies. Implementation of Punchii Commission recommendations at the earliest is needed for unity of Centre and States.