INDIA as a FEDERATION-PUC History Notes - MahitiLok

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Federation is a result of union of states. Federation is a modern constitutional system its theory & practice is not in order as the American federation. A federal country follows double government i.e. the union government & state government.

They were some factors which make India adopt a federal system the responsibility of uniting the provinces of former British India with the native states compel the constituent assembly to accept a federal system. The British provinces & the native states where of vastly differences in sizes & population. Moreover India had always a land diverse languages & culture. A unitary system of government would not have suited the social, political & economic condition prevailing at the time of independence & the need for decentralization for preserving the regional cultures. Finally the federal scheme was already embodied in the government of India act 1935, which was a major source for the drafting of the Indian Constitution.


The following are the features of Indian federal system:
1.    Dual Polity: A federation has dual government i.e. union government at the center & state government thus, the constitution of India has provided for a common government as a center & one government each for states.
2.    Written and Rigid Constitution: The most important feature of federal system is written constitution which is also rigid in nature. The Indian Constitution is written & it defines the structure, organising & powers of the Central & State government. The Indian Constitution is also the lengthiest constitution in the world. The constitution of India is rigid. The provision that relate to the federation can be amended only by a difficult procedure involving approval by the state government.
3.    Division of Powers: A federal constitution calls for a statutory division of powers between the federal & state governance. Accordingly the constitution of India enumerates 3 list.
a.    Union list - containing 99 subjects upon which the Union government enjoys the exclusive power to make laws.
b.    State list - containing 66 subjects on which the state government have exclusive power to make laws. Ex. Law & order, agriculture, public health.
c.    Concurrent list – containing 52 subjects both the centre &  the state can make laws.
d.    Education, marriage & divorce, electricity, etc.
4.    Supreme of Constitution: One of the important features of a federation is the constitution being supreme. The constitution of India is above laws – both national & state. The central & state governments have to function within the boundaries prescribed by the constitution failing which the laws become invalid.
5.    Supreme Court: The existence of an independence judiciary is one of the important features of the Indian federal system. The Supreme Court which is the apex court in Indian acts as a guardian of the constitution. It is empowered to declare any law or order invalid, if it violate any provision of the constitution. The Supreme Court ensures that the central & state government work within their jurisdiction.
6.    Bi-Cameral Legislature: Federal constitution provides for a bi-cameral legislature & so does the constitution of India. The parliament consist of 2 houses L.S. & R.S. The L.S. consist of representatives directly elected by people on the basis of universal adult franchise & the R.S. consist of the representatives of the state, the constitution of India thus maintain a balance between direct representation of the people & representation of units.
An analysis of the Indian federal system makes it clear that the constitution of India is federal in form but unitary in spirit.

The union list combines with the concurrent list provides the major share of legislation to the centre, moreover during emergencies & under certain other circumstances the Union Parliament gets the power to make laws on subject in the state list.

Under the constitution of India residuary powers belong to the parliament. The practice of appointment of the governors by the President of India is an important federal feature. The governors enjoy office during the pleasure of Union government. The Governor can recommend President for the imposition of President’s rule in the state.

In U.S.A. the citizen enjoys dual citizenship. In India there is only one citizenship.

While India has single constitution in U.S.A. there are separate constitution for the state.

Common-all-India-Serivce, single election commission & a single office of the comptroller & the auditor general of India are the other unitary feature of Indian federation.

Central State Relations:

A federation is composed of constituent units (state). A federation can succeed only when there is relationship & corporation between the Union & its units. The constitution of India has incorporated charter on central state Indian relations which is categorized into – legislative, administrative & financial relations.

1.    Legislative Relations: The legislative power in the federation of India is divided into 3 list – Union, state & concurrent list.

The Union government in a federation of India can legislate on subjects mentioned in the state list under the following circumstances:
a.    If a resolution is passed by 2/3rd majority of the members of the members of R.S. present & voting, in the interest of the nation, the Union parliament can legislate for the state.
b.    The governor of the state is empowered to reserve a bill passed by the state legislature for the assent of the President
c.    Some bills in the state legislature can be introduced only upon the recommendation of the President of India.
d.    In times of emergency the Union parliament is empowered to make laws for the whole nation.
e.    It is the union which gives effect to the treaties signed by the state with foreign countries.
f.    In case of conflict between the Union & the state on the subject of concurrent list the constitution says that it is law of the union government at shall prevail.

Thus, the Union enjoys the predominance over the units in matters of legislative relations.

2.    Administrative Relations: The executive power of Union is exercised over the subject falling under the Union list & similarly the executive power of the state is exercised over the subject falling over the states list with respect to concurrent list it is the state which are given executive power & even the power to administer the subject. The constituent unit of the Indian federation of subordinate to the Union. The administrative relation between the Union & the state can be listed below:
a.    The executive of the state government in exercising its power shall comply with the executive of union government.
b.    The Union enjoys the exclusive prerogite to determine the size of the state. Disputes concerning boundary river waters & so on shall be decided by the Union by establishing a separate tribunal.
c.    The Union government shall give orders to the state to improve national Highways to facilitate transport & communication it is also the duty of the state the railways.
d.    The constitution calls for a common all India services.
e.    The governors of the state are appointed by the government.
f.    The governors of the state are appointed by president.
g.    Single election commission which are unchanged with the Union parliament & the state.
3.    Financial Relations: The constitution of India speaks about financial relation between the union & the state. The duties which belong to the centre & the state are listed below:
a.    There are some duties which are levied by the Union but collected by the state.
b.    Stamps & exercise duties on medicine d& toiletries.
c.    Some duties levied by the union & collected by the Union but appropriated by the state – Duties in agriculture, property inherited, duties on estate, newspaper & advertisements & also duties on goods & passengers carried by rail, air & water. They are levied & collected by the state – duties on profession & trade & commerce within the state & between the state.
d.    The state also receive grant-in-aid from the consolidated fund of India.

Sarkaria Commission:

In order to improve the central state relations the government of India appointed a sarkaria commission headed by S.R. Sarkar. The commission was to review, investigate & examine the relation so that the federation is functioned as cohesive unit. The constitution after much introspection submitted its report in 1998.

In its report the commission suggested 247 recommendations – 12 constitutional amendments & 20 new legislation. Some of the recommendations are:
1.    The chief minister of the state to be taken into concurrence while appointing a governor.
2.    Judges of the High Court to be transferred only with their consent.
3.    Article 356 to be used sparingly (Only under emergence circumstances).
4.    Greater autonomy to All India Radio & Doordarshan.
5.    The consent of the states to be taken to deploy the arm force to aid civil authorities in the state.

These are some of the recommendation made by Sarkaria Commission in the light of greater autonomy, more financial resources demanded by the state.






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