Q. Discuss the key tension areas in centre state relations.
The Constitution of India provides a dual polity with a clear division of powers between the Union and the States, each being supreme within the sphere allotted to it. Though the Centre and the states are supreme in their respective fields, the maximum harmony and coordination between them is essential for the effective operation of the federal system. Hence, the Constitution contains elaborate provisions to regulate the various dimensions of the relations between the Centre and the states.
KEY TENSION AREAS IN CENTRE STATE RELATION
- An important and irritating ingredient in centre-state relations is the office of the Governor. The very mode of his appointment and the misuse of his discretionary powers for :
- The appointment of Chief Ministers
- During splits in the ruling party
- Mode of appointment and dismissal of governor have been the centre of controversy and disenchantment between centre and state.
- Absence of Fiscal Federalism: In a federation, the resources of revenue are distributed between the centre and federating units in a way to allow the unit’s sufficient amount of autonomy in the financial sphere also. But in India the resources allocated to the states are far from satisfactory. All-important sources of revenue are given in the Union List and the position of the states is so weak that they exist at the doles of the centre. Grants are given by the centre to the states, but political or partisan strings may also be traced behind them. That is why, the opposition leaders have often complained of the centre’s step-motherly attitude towards.
- Imposition of President’s rule: India has a federal structure and Article 356 directly interferes with the power of states. Misuse of Article 356 is rampant in and governments use this for political reasons, mainly to dismiss opposition-ruled state governments or to prevent the opposition parties from forming state governments after the elections. Example: The imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh in January 2016, while there was an elected government in the State, created a bizarre incidence in the constitutional history of India.
- Encroachment by the Centre on the State List: The centre should keep out of matters of state list. Example: Agriculture, land and intra-state markets are state subjects where the Union government and its bodies like the Niti Ayog cannot interfere, inform or persuade unless they have specifically been asked to do so by a state government.
- Management of All-India Services (IAS, IFS and IPS): States have minimum authority to take disciplinary action against members of the All India Services whom are appointed by the Centre.
- Deployment of central forces in the states to maintain law and order at the absolute discrete of the centre. It undermines the state’s authority.
- Reservation of state bills for the consideration of the President often hampers the autonomy of the state and creates rift between centre-state.
- Central Laws on concurrent list:
- Parliament has enacted laws on subjects in the concurrent list which require states to allocate funds for implementation. States are required to comply with these laws but may not have the resources to do so.
- The second issue is with respect to the balance between uniformity and flexibility across states when a law is made on issues in the concurrent list. Example: The Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill However, it reduces the flexibility for states to tailor the law for their local (and possibly very different) conditions.
- The third issue relates to central laws on subjects that are in the domain of state legislatures. Indeed, this issue was discussed in the debate on the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill which had provisions relating to state government officials.
There is no dichotomy between a strong Union and strong States. Both are needed. It needs to be remembered that only the spirit of “cooperative federalism” can preserve the balance between the Union and the States. The Centre should
- Consult the states before making a law on concurrent list.
- Use article 356 in extreme cases and only as a last resort.
- Should get clear guidelines for appointment of Chief Ministers so that Governor does not mis-uses his discretionary powers in this context.