Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Explained: Inter-State Council


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Inter-State Council

Mains level: Not Much

Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin wrote to PM asking that at least three meetings of the Inter-State Council should be held every year to “strengthen the spirit of cooperative federalism”.

What is the news?

  • TN CM suggested that bills of national importance should be placed before the Council before being tabled in Parliament.
  • He said this was because there is no “effective and interactive communication” between the states and the Centre on issues of common interest.

What is the Inter-State Council?

  • The Inter-State Council is a mechanism that was constituted “to support Centre-State and Inter-State coordination and cooperation in India”.
  • It was established under Article 263 of the Constitution, which states that the President may constitute such a body if a need is felt for it.
  • The Council is basically meant to serve as a forum for discussions among various state governments.

Its establishment

  • In 1988, the Sarkaria Commission suggested the Council should exist as a permanent body, and in 1990 it came into existence through a Presidential Order.

Functions of the Inter-State Council

  • The main functions of the Council are:
  1. Inquiring into and advising on disputes between states
  2. Investigating and discussing subjects in which two states or states and the Union have a common interest
  3. Making recommendations for the better coordination of policy and action

Its composition

  • The Prime Minister is the chairman of the Council, whose members include the Chief Ministers of all states and UTs with legislative assemblies, and Administrators of other UTs.
  • Six Ministers of Cabinet rank in the Centre’s Council of Ministers, nominated by the Prime Minister, are also its members.
  • Its procedure states that the council should meet at least three times a year.

What issues has TN CM raised?

  • The leader has flagged the lack of regular meetings.
  • The Council has met only once in the last six years — and that there has been no meeting since July 2016.
  • Since its constitution in 1990, the body has met only 11 times,

Recent development: Reconstitution of the Council

  • The CM appreciated the reconstitution of the Council, carried out last month.
  • The body will now have 10 Union Ministers as permanent invitees, and the standing committee of the Council has been reconstituted with Home Minister Amit Shah as Chairman.
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, UP, and Gujarat are some of the other standing committee members.

Why did TN raise this issue?

  • Many CM frequently disagreed with the central government’s policies on matters of taxation, on the medical examination NEET, and often talked about the rights of states.
  • What could be settled amicably among the executive branches is often taken to the doorsteps of the judicial branch.

Role of TN in the Council’s formation

Tamil Nadu has long advocated the need for a Council.

  • In 1969, late leader M Karunanidhi, spoke about setting up an expert committee to study Centre-state relations.
  • Months later, his government appointed a committee headed by P V Rajamannar, a former Madras High Court Chief Justice, which submitted a report in 1971.
  • It then recommended “the Inter-State Council should be constituted immediately”.

What happened in the last meeting of the Inter State Council?

  • In 2016, the meeting included consideration of the Punchhi Commission’s recommendations on Centre-State Relations that were published in 2010.
  • At the time, M Karunanidhi had criticised then CM J Jayalalithaa for not personally attending the meeting.
  • The meeting saw detailed discussion on the recommendations.
  • States asked for maintaining the federal structure amid growing “centralisation”.
  • Imposition of Article 356 of the Constitution, which deals with the imposition of President’s Rule in states, was a matter of concern.
  • Bihar Chief Minister demanded that the post of Governor should be abolished!


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