Comment upon the distribution of legislative subjects between the Centre and states. Under what circumstances does the Parliament make laws on matters enumerated in the State list?

Comment upon the distribution of legislative subjects between the Centre and states. Under what circumstances does the Parliament make laws on matters enumerated in the State list?

Answer:

Articles 245 to 255 in Part XI of the Constitution deal with the legislative relations between the Centre and states. The division of legislative powers is done with respect to both the territory and the subjects of legislation and is contained in the three-fold distribution of legislative subject i.e. Union list, state list and concurrent list under Schedule 7 of the Indian Constitution.

  • The Parliament has exclusive powers to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the Union List which generally comprises of the matters of national importance and the matters which require uniformity of legislation nationwide.
  • The state legislature in normal circumstances makes law with respect to any matters enumerated in the State list. Few examples include matters like police, public order, public health etc.
  • Both Parliament and State legislature can make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent list. The matters on which uniformity of legislation is required but is not essential are placed in the concurrent list.
  • The power to make laws with respect to residuary subjects i.e. the matters which are not enumerated in any of the three lists is vested with the Parliament.

The Constitution ensures the predominance of the Union list over the State list and the Concurrent list and that of concurrent list over the state list. In case of a conflict between the Central law and the state law on a subject enumerated in the Concurrent list the Central law prevails over the state law. However, if the state law has been reserved for the consideration of the President and has received his/her assent, then the state law prevails in that state.

This unique distribution of legislative powers in the current scheme ensures that the diversity of India is taken into consideration while integrity and uniformity is maintained wherever required.

Circumstances under which Parliament can make laws on matters enumerated in the State list:
  • Article 249: When Rajya Sabha passes a resolution supported by two-thirds of the member present and voting, declaring that it is necessary in national interest that Parliament should make laws on matter in the State list.
  • Article 250: During a national emergency, Parliament acquires the power to legislate with respect to matters in the State list.
  • Article 252: When the legislature of two or more states pass resolution requesting the Parliament to enact laws on a matter in the state list, then Parliament can make laws for regulating that matter. A law so enacted applies only to those states which have passed the resolutions.
  • Article 253: The Parliament can make laws on any matter in the State list for implementing the international treaties, agreements or conventions.
  • President’s rule: During President’s rule in a state, Parliament becomes empowered to make laws with respect to any matter in the State List in relation to that state.

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