Administrative Relations between Centre and State (Art. 256 to 263)

The framers of Indian Constitution made detailed provisions in the Constitution in regard to administrative relations between the Centre and State to ensure minimization of conflict between the two. They have been elaborated below:

a) Directives by the Union to the State governments: 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.

This provision is looked upon with suspicion in many countries.

Dr. Ambedkar explained the aim of Article 256 through two important propositions:

“The first proposition is that generally the authority to execute laws, which are related to what is called the Concurrent field, whether the law is passed by the Central Legislature or is passed by the State Legislature shall ordinarily apply to the State.

The second proposition it lays down is that if, in any particular case, Parliament thinks that in passing a law, which relates to the Concurrent field, the execution ought to be retained by the Central Government, Parliament shall have the power to do so.”

This power of the Union extends to the limit of directing a State in a manner it feels essential for the purpose.

For instance, the Union can give directives to the State pertaining to the construction and maintenance of means of communication, declared to be of national or military importance, protection of railways within the State, the provisions of adequate facilities for instructions in mother tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups in the State and for the drawing up and execution of the specified schemes for the welfare of the Schedule Tribe in the State.

This is essential to ensure the implementation of Parliamentary laws throughout the country. Non-compliance of the directives might lead to a situation mentioned under Art.365 and then it shall be lawful for the President to hold that a situation has arisen in which the government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

Thus, the Union can invoke Article 356, for the imposition of President’s rule in the State and take over the administration of the State.

b) Delegation of Union functions to the States: Usually executive powers are divided on the basis of subjects in the lists, but under the constitutional provision of Article 258(1) the President may, with the consent of the State government, entrust (either conditionally or unconditionally) to that government any of the executive functions of the Centre.

Under Art 258(2), the Parliament is also entitled to use the state machinery for enforcement of the Union laws, and confer powers and entrust duties to the State. Under Art 258A, the State can also, with the consent of the Union government, confer administrative functions to the Union. In respect of matters in the Concurrent list, executive powers rest with the State, except when a constitutional provision or a Parliamentary law specifically confers it to the Centre.

c) All India Services: Besides the Central and State services, the Constitution under Article 312 provides for the creation of an additional “All-India Services“, common to both the Union and States. The State has the authority to suspend the officials of All India Services, but the power of appointment and taking disciplinary action against them vests only with the President of India.

The idea of having an integrated well-knit All India Services to manage important and crucial sectors of administration in the country was incorporated in our Constitution. Their recruitment, training, promotion, disciplinary matters are determined by the Central government. A member of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), on entry into the service is allotted a State, where he/she serves under a State government.

Though, it can be argued that the All India Services violate the principle of federalism, but such an arrangement, wherein a person belonging to the All India Service being responsible for administration of affairs, both at the Centre and States, brings cooperation in administration and helps to ensure uniformity of the administrative system throughout the country. Currently, there are three All India Services, namely IAS, IPS and IFoS (the Indian Forest Service was created as the third All India Service in 1966 by Art.312).

d) Constitution of Joint Public Service Commission for two or more States: When two or more states, through a resolution to that effect, in their respective legislatures agree to have one such Commission, the Parliament may by law, provide for a Joint Commission.

There is also a provision in the Constitution, wherein on request by two or more States, the UPSC can assist those states in framing and operating schemes of joint recruitment to any service for which candidates with special qualifications are required.

e) Inter-State Council: India is a Union of States, wherein the Centre plays a prominent role, but at the same time is dependent on the States for the execution of its policies. The Constitution has provided for devices to bring about inter-governmental cooperation, effective consultations between the Centre and States so that all important national policies are arrived at through dialogue, discussion and consensus.

One such device is the setting up of the Inter-State Council. The President is given powers under Article 263 of the Constitution to define the nature of duties of the Council. The Council is to inquire into and advise upon disputes, which may have arisen between the States.

In addition, it may investigate and discuss subjects of common interest between the Union and the States or between two or more States, in order to facilitate co-ordination of policy and action. The inter-state council was set up under Article 263 of the Constitution in 1990. The ISC has held 10 meetings so far and has taken several important decisions. Some of them are:

  1. Time-bound clearance of bills referred for the President’s consideration
  2. Approved the Alternative Scheme of Devolution of Share in Central Taxes to States
  3. Indiscrete use of Article 356 in the country

f) Inter-State river water dispute: Article 262 states that the Parliament may, by law, provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-state river or river valley and it may by law provide that neither the Supreme Court, nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute.

Apart from this, Art.355 imposes duties on the Centre to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbances and to ensure that the Government of every State is carried on, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

In case of National Emergency (Art. 352), the Centre becomes entitled to give executive directions to a State on any matter.

Similarly, during President Rule (Art. 356), the President can assume to himself the functions of State government and the power vested in Governor or any other executive authority in the State.

During operation of Financial Emergency (Art.360), the Centre can direct the States over certain financial matters and the President can give other necessary directions, including reduction in salary of persons serving in the State and the Judges of the High Court.

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