Working of Federal System of Government in India

Though the term Federal is absent in the Indian constitution, yet experts believe that the working of Government under the Indian Constitution based on Federal system. The division of powers between the Centre and states was conceived at a time when a newly independent India reeled under the turmoil and disruption caused by Partition.

Ambedkar explained to those having apprehensions about there being too much centralization, the fundamental principle on which is based the distribution of powers between the Centre and the states thus:

“The States are in no way dependent upon the Centre for their legislative or executive authority. The States and the Centre are coequal in this matter.”

Whatever the Centre is more capable of dealing with such as defense and external affairs, as the state government is, with regard to police, agriculture and irrigation should be so distributed. There are three lists: List I for the Centre, List II for the states and List III where both Centre and States have the jurisdiction to act.

The various arrangements governing Centre-State relations, are contained in the Constitution and cover the following:

1. The Centre has emergency powers (Arts 352-60 of the Constitution).

2. There is a single judiciary and uniformity in fundamental laws, civil and criminal;

3. The president appoints the governor of each state. The governor is generally appointed after consultation with the state chief minister. The governor has a great responsibility in recommending President’s Rule when he feels that there is no possibility of any group forming a government in the state. He also has the power to send Bills of the legislature to the president for assent.

4. The Centre can impose duties on the state in any matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;

5. The government of India’s para-military forces (for example, CRPF) can be sent to aid civil authority in the states;

6. The central government has created the All India Services whose members serve in the state but come to the Centre on tenure basis;

7. The Centre helps the states to tackle inter-state disputes;

8. With the help of the Planning Commission, a non-constitutional body, the Centre’s writ in shaping economic development in the country is notable;

9. Revenues are assigned to states by a Finance Commission appointed by the president every five years, on the basis of principles recommended by it. Besides this and grants that can be given under Art. 275 of the Constitution under certain conditions, central assistance is made available under the Plan also, as block loans and block grants;

10. The language policy is also to be determined by the Centre in consultation with the states. In July 1994, the prime minister proposed that ‘Hindi’ be promoted as a ‘link’ language.

Every one of these aspects and more has been touched upon by the Sarkaria Commission appointed in 1983. The Commission submitted its report in October 1987, but little action has been taken on it so far.

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