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Essay on “Centre State Relations” Complete Essay, Paragraph, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Centre State Relations

The Constituent Assembly, in the Objectives Resolution adopted on Jan. 22, 1947, declared the Assembly’s firm and solemn resolve to make India Independent Sovereign Republic, where in the States shall possess and retain the status of autonomous units. By July 1947, the question of partition was resolved with the fulfilment of the demand for Pakistan. Hence, the provision for autonomy to the States was dropped in favour of a strong Centre. While speaking in the Constituent Assembly on the issue related to federalism, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar said, “Though India was to be federal, the federation was not the result of agreement by the states to join a federation. Not being the result of an agreement, no State has a right to secede from it.” Thus, the federal framework created y the Constituent Assembly Provided for a strong Centre. In the Constitution, India is proclaimed as a ‘Union of States’ rather than as a federal State. The distribution of powers between the Union and the States, makes them subordinate to the Centre.

The Constitution has formally divided the legislative, administrative and financial powers between the Centre and the States. The legislative powers are distributed in three lists namely, the Union, the State and Concurrent. The Union List gives the Centre the authority to act in matters of national importance which include defence, foreign affairs, currency, communication, banking, services, income, taxation and customs duties. The State List entrusts matters to the State which include law and order, local government, public health, education and agriculture and economic and social planning among others. Laws passed by the Parliament prevail over those matters which are passed by the State legislatures in the Concurrent List. The residual powers lie with the Union over the States. The administrative powers also give preference to the Union over the States. The Constitution provides that, the executive power of every State shall be so exercised as to ensure compliance with the laws made by the Parliament and the existing laws under Article 256 of the Constitution. Under Article 355, the Union has the duty to protect the States against internal disturbance and to ensure that the governance of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. The distribution of revenue source is especially critical in determining the nature of the State’s relationship with the Centre. The Planning Commission and the Finance Ministry monitor the transfer of finances to the States. Raising of loans through financial institutions like the LIC, Provident Fund and others are governed by the Central Government. A glance at the distribution of powers between the Centre and States indicates that the Centre is more powerful than the States.

India has inherited the federal structure from the Government of India Act, 1935, which prescribed a federal type union of autonomous provinces, whose governments were to derive their powers directly from the Crown. Such a decision was taken because, during the post independence era, India was divided into various segments and empowering them could hamper the democratic working of the country. It was also believed that the socio-economic development of the country required centralised planning without any hindrance from the States.

The Amendment in Article 352 implied that, even without a constitutional breakdown, a State or a part of it could be brought under the emergency powers of the Union. In the 1977 elections, the Congress was routed out of power, which led to the installation of the first non-Congress government at the Centre. The one-party dominance of the Congress at the Centre and the States, gave way. Though, committed towards decentralisation, the Janta Party could not accomplish and its task because of its brief rule which was a result of bitter infighting. The 44th Amendment of 1978, limited the powers of the Government to proclaim internal emergency. After the mid-term polls of 1980, Indira Gandhi emerged as the winner and began her efforts of restoring Central control over the States.

Legislative powers are vested in the Union and the States, but the power of the Union Government remain dominant over the States. Article 249 empowers the Rajya Sabha to assume legislative powers and by a two thirds majority make laws for a temporary period on any matter in the State List, which it feels is ‘necessary require expedient’ action in the ‘national interest’. Article 252 empowers the legislatures of two or more States to authorise the Parliament to make a law on any matter in the State List. During financial emergency, under Article 360, all money or other Bills may either give has assent or direct the Governor to place it for reconsideration before the state legislature with his comments. However, the president is not bound to give assent, if the Bills is passed for the second time by the State also are in favour of the former. The Constitution provides under Article 256 that the exec-utive power of a State should be so exercised as to ensure compliance with the laws made by the Parliament and the existing, laws. Confrontation between the State and the Centre could lead to the use of Article 356 in the State. It empowers the President to dissolve the State legislature, on the recommendation of the cabinet, for the breakdown of the constitutional machinery at the State level .and proclaim President’s rule in the State. The imposition of President’s rule can lead to the deployment of the Central forces in the State to maintain law and order. As maintenance of law and, order is a state subject, the role of the Centre in violating the authority has been questioned.

The provision for the imposition of President’s rule in the States under Article 356 has been often abused as nauseam. This was evident in the S.R. Bommaivs Union of India case in 1989 in which Governor P. Venkatasubbaiah’s decision to dismiss the Karnataka Chief Minister S.R. Bommai was held ‘unconstitutional’ by the Supreme Court. Indira Gandhi during her 1966-1977 and 1980-1980 tenures invoked this article 48 times, while the Janta Party government during 1977-1980 used it 17 times. During Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure, it was misused to dismiss non-Congress legislatures. In Punjab, President’s rule was imposed for almost five years from May 1987 to February 1992. The misuse of this article began as early as in June 1951, when Pt. Nehru used it against the Punjab Government and later, the Communist Government in Kerala in 1956: The Supreme Court in March 1994, in the Assembly dissolution case, upheld the dismissal of the BJP State Government of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh in Dec. 1992. The judgement was passed because their ant secular action was inconsistent with the secular character of the Constitution.

But a majority of the incidents were held unconstitutional and Centre was asked to be careful in the use of the article. There has been a demand for consensus and co-operation between the Centre and the States for the smooth functioning of the democracy. In order to find a way to ease the tension between the two, the Sarkaria Commission was appointed in March 1983, under the leadership of Justice (Retd.) R.S. Sarkaria. The Commission favoured a strong Centre to safeguard the national unity and integrity but viewed the centralisation of power as dangerous for national integration. It observed that, “many a time, the actions of the Centre, its discretionary approach towards some States, its lack of understanding of local problems, its abject in sensitiveness and the blatant misuse of authority vis-a-vis the States, have all distanced it from the people.” It recommended that Article 356 should be used sparingly as a last resort, when all other alternatives fail. It also recommended that bills reserved for President’s assent should be done with the consultation of the State Chief Ministers. The Commission noticed that the governors being the agents of the Centre, in itself strains the federal structure but also the constitutional intent.

Thus, for the survival of the democracy and the federal spirit of a multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-racial country like India, the politicians should rise above their vested partisan interests, and strive towards the welfare of the country.


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