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FEDERALISM AND STATES IN INDIA

SYLLABUS: GS MAINS PAPER 2

Recently, various state governments raised objection about central unilateralism in the enactment of critical laws on subjects in the concurrent list [seventh schedule].

FEDERALISM

1. It is a system of government in which the power is divided between a central authority and various constituent units of the country. This vertical division of power among different levels of governments is referred to as Federalism.

2. In a federal system, power is shared by the national and state governments.

3. The Indian model of federalism is quasi-federalism. It contains features of both federation and a union.

4. There are two types of federalism:  Competitive Federalism and Cooperative Federalism.

CONCURRENT LIST

1. The concurrent list under seventh schedule of constitution contains subjects of common interest to both union as well as the states.

2. The aim of the concurrent list was to ensure uniformity across the country where independently both centre and state can legislate.

OBJECTIONS RAISED BY STATES AGAINST CENTRE

1. It is not in the essence of federalism for the central government to legislate unilaterally on the subjects which are in the concurrent list of the seventh schedule of constitution.

                                                                                                                                             – Kerala Chief Minister

2. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister raised the issue by calling other chief ministers against the central government usurping powers under the state and concurrent list.

RECENT EXAMPLES REGARDING BILLS/LAWS THAT WERE MADE BY UNION GOVERNMENT WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF STATES

1. Farm Laws: Parliament passed the farm laws without the consent of states. The laws, which are related to Entry 14 [agriculture clause] belonging to state list but parliament bring them up as Entry 33 [trade and commerce clause] in the concurrent list. The lack of consultation led to massive farmers protest.

2. Major Ports Authorities Act 2021: This act passed by parliament but state government of Goa objected to the law, stating that it would led to the redundancy of the local laws.

3. Non Major Ports, the field for legislation is located in Entry 31 of the concurrent list. According to the Indian Ports Act 1908, the power to regulate and control the minor ports remained with state governments.

However, the New Draft Indian Ports bill 2021, proposes to transfer of powers and change the status quo related to planning, developing and regulation of non-major ports to the Maritime State Development Council [MSFC], which is overwhelmingly controlled by the union government.

4. Electricity Amendment Bill 2021: The field related to electricity is traceable to Entry 38 of concurrent list.

The power to regulate the sector was vested with the State Regulatory Commissions [SERCs] which were manned by individuals, appointed by the state government.

According to proposed amendment, there will be establishment of a National Selection Committee, whose members nominated by the union government that will make appointments to the SERCs.

The amendment also proposes the establishment of a Centrally-appointed Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority [ECEA] as the sole authority having jurisdiction over matters regarding the performance of obligations under a contract related to sale, transmission or purchase of electricity.

In this way, the power to regulate the electricity sector would be taken away from the state government.

RECCOMENDATIONS

1. Sarkaria Commission Report

i) It recommended that there should be coordination in all areas of concurrent or overlapping jurisdiction through a process of mutual consultation.

ii) It was further recommended that union government, while exercising powers under concurrent list must limit itself to the purpose of ensuring uniformity in basic issues of National policy.

2. National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution [NCRWC] or Venkatachaliah Commission: As per this recommendation, individual and collective consultation with the states should be undertaken through the Inter-State council established under Article 263 of constitution.

JUDGEMENT

In SR Bommai vs Union of India case, Supreme Court held that states are not mere appendages of the union.The Union Government should ensure the power of the states is not trampled with.

CONCLUSION

Federalism is the basic structure of Indian constitution which cannot be altered or destroyed through constitutional amendments under the constituent powers of the parliament without undergoing Judicial Review by the Supreme Court. Centre must consider the various commission reports, judgements and constitutional provision before taking any decision. Otherwise, it will always lead to problems like massive protest.

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