Center State Relations

Union List 100 items (Exclusive authority of Union)
Concurrent list 52 items (Authority of both center & state)
State List 61 Items ( 5 items transferred to concurrent list by 42 amendment; viz. Education, forests, Justice, Weight & measures and Protection of wildlife, animals & birds)
Under certain conditions, constitution authorizes union government to extend its jurisdiction over matters included in state list viz.


When a proclamation of emergency is in force, parliament can legislate on matters included in all 3 lists
Article 356 On breakdown of constitutional machinery in state, parliament can take over legislative authority of the state
Article 249 Empowers Rajya Sabha to transfer any matter in state list to legislative jurisdiction of parliament by a resolution passed by 2/3rd of the majority
Article 252 If legislature of 2 or more states passes a resolution that a desirable law shall be passed by parliament on any matter enumerated in state list, then parliament can make laws regulating that matter. Any other state can also adopt such law by passing a resolution but these laws can be amended / repealed by parliament only
Article 253 Empowers parliament to make laws for whole or any part of Indian territory for implementing international agreements & conventions, even if the subjects covered by such treaties & agreements falls within state list
Residuary powers have been paced under legislative jurisdiction of the parliament


Central control over state legislation

Apart from above, constitution also provides for centre’s consent, before a bill passed by state legislature becomes a law:

A state law providing for compulsory acquisition of private property shall have no effect without Presidential assent
Article 31A Grants immunity to laws providing for agrarian reforms from article 14 & 19 but immunity of article 31 A shall not be available to state laws unless it receives Presidential assent
Article 200 Directs governor of state to reserve a bill passed by state legislature for the consideration of President, if in his opinion, law if passed, would derogate the powers of HC
Article 288 (2) Authorize a state to levy tax wrt water & electricity, being distributed, used or sold by any authority, established by law made by parliament. But no such law shall be valid unless it has been resent for consideration of the President & have received his assent
Article 304 (b) Authorize a state legislature to impose reasonable restrictions on freedom of trade, commerce & intercourse within the state in public interest, but such law can not be introduced in state legislature without prior sanction of President


Administrative Relations between Center & States

  • Union-state administrative relations in India are organized so as to enable the union government to exercise considerable direction & control over administrative machinery of the state
  • Union government has been armed with the powers of giving directions to state & has been given certain other powers to promote interstate coordination + settle interstate river water disputes
  • For above purpose, President may appoint interstate councils (Advisory in nature) to effect coordination b/w the states


Financial Relations between Center & States

Financially strong centre, so much that states are almost completely dependent upon the union for financial assistance. While proceeds of all the taxes within the state list are entirely retained by the state, proceeds of some of the taxes in union list are allotted wholly or partially to the states.

  • Stamp duties + Duties of excise on medicinal & toilet preparations are mentioned in union list & are levied by central government but collected by state government
  • Taxes levied & collected by union but assigned to states:
  • Duties wrt succession of property other than of agricultural land
  • Estate duty wrt succession of property other than of agricultural land
  • Terminal taxes on goods or passengers carried by railways, sea or air
  • Taxes on railway’s freight & fare
  • Taxes levied & collected by the union but distributed b/w union & states Income tax (Not including corporate tax)


Grant in aids & Loans

  • Prime objective is promoting welfare of STs & raise administration of scheduled areas
  • Parliament make grants to give financial assistance to states to help overcome budgetary deficits
  • Specific budget grants to states, as in case of jute producing states like WB, Assam, Bihar & Orissa, in lieu of share of Jute export duty, levied by government
  • Union can make grants for any public purpose for various national development schemes
  • Union provides many other grants to states from time to time which mean states depend greatly on Union to get loans. A state government can only borrow within India & can not raise a new loan without the consent of Union government, if there is an outstanding on previous loans
  • Constitution provides for appointment of finance commission by President every 5 years to advise him regarding distribution of resources b/w union & states & other revenue matters
  • Niti Ayog also plays a vital role in financial relations b/w centre & states. It decides outlays of the plans for the country which in turn decides amount of money to be given to various states

Center State Relations

Cooperative Federalism

  • In exigencies of war, national interest takes precedence over fine points of centre – state divisions of powers
  • Substitution of primary police state by welfare state, where varied social services or technological advancement requires huge outlays & state government could not meet them on their own resources

Supreme Court Doctrines in context of legislative relations b/w Centre & States

Doctrine of Pith & Substance

  • Within their respected areas of authority, Union & state legislatures are supreme & are not supposed to encroach upon others sphere
  • If a new law passed by one encroaches upon the subject, held & assigned by the other, court will apply Doctrine of Pith & Substance
  • If it is found that law in substance is within the subjects assigned to that legislature & intention of law is genuine, the law shall be valid, even though there is some overlapping.
  • Hence, there can not be watertight division of powers b/w centre & the state, because if it is, it would made several laws invalid on simple grounds of overlapping


Doctrine of Colorable legislation

  • In federal government, transgression of its limit of powers by a legislature may be overt or covert. When the legislation is indirect & covert, it is known as colorable legislation
  • In this, although the subject on which legislature make laws falls within its legislative competence in exterior appearance but its real motive is to transgress the powers of other legislature covertly
  • In this, case applying the Doctrine of colorable legislation, court can invalidate the entire law which means, what legislature can not do directly, it can not do the same indirectly also


Interstate councils

  • President is empowered to constitute an interstate council, if at any time it appears to him that public interest would be served thereby
  • Establishment May 1990, on recommendations of Sarkaria commission
  • Meet 3 time a year with proceedings under camera


  • PM (Ex-officio chairperson)
  • 6 union ministers (as appointed by PM)
  • CM of all the states & UTs
  • Administrators of UTs


Largely based on GOI act of 1935; ISC has 3 specific duties viz.
  • To enquire into & advice upon disputes arose b/w states
  • To investigate & discuss subjects on which states or union + states have common interest
  • To make recommendations on these subjects for better coordination of policy & action
India Yearbook English India Yearbook Hindi Economic Survey 2017

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