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Inter-State Relations, Features, Amendment Acts and Bill

Inter-State Relations: A crucial tool for enhancing cooperation between the Central government and several states, the Inter-State Council is set up under the provisions of Article 263 of the Indian Constitution. This platform acts as a lively forum for policy discussions, strengthens the bond between the Center and the States, and acts as a link to fill any potential trust gaps between the two organizations. In this article, we tell you briefly about Inter-State Relations in India.

Inter-State Relations

  • The effectiveness of the Indian federal system relies not just on the smooth relations and close collaboration between the Central government and the state governments, but also on the interactions among the different state governments.
  • For this reason, the Constitution includes the following provisions regarding how states should interact:
    • Resolving disagreements over water resources that span across states.
    • Achieving coordination by employing inter-state councils.
    • Acknowledging each other’s official actions, documents, and legal proceedings.
    • Ensuring the freedom of trade, business, and interaction between states.
    • Parliament has established zonal councils to enhance cooperation and coordination among states.

Articles Concerning Inter-State Relations

 Article No. Subject Matter
Article  261 Mutual Recognition of Public Acts, etc.
Article 262 Adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-state rivers or river valleys
Article 263 Provisions with respect to an inter-state council
Article 301 Freedom of trade, commerce, and intercourse
Article 302 Power of Parliament to impose restrictions on trade, commerce, and intercourse
Article 303 Restrictions on the legislative powers of the Union and of the states with regard to trade and commerce
Article 304 Restrictions on trade, commerce, and intercourse among states
305 Saving of existing laws and laws providing for state monopolies
Article 306 Power of certain states in Part B of the First Schedule to impose restrictions on trade and commerce (Repealed)
Article 307 Appointment of authority for carrying out the purposes of Articles 301 to 304

Inter-State Water Disputes

  • Article 262 of the Constitution outlines the process for resolving disagreements between states over water resources.

It contains two key provisions:

  • The Parliament is authorized to pass legislation for settling disputes or complaints about the usage, distribution, and management of water from inter-state rivers and river valleys.
  • The Parliament can also specify that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court can handle such disputes or complaints.

Enactment of Laws: Parliament has enacted two laws

  • River Boards Act (1956): The River Boards Act facilitates the establishment of river boards, which are responsible for overseeing and developing inter-state rivers and their valleys. The Central government forms these boards upon request from concerned state governments.

Inter-State Water Disputes Act (1956)

  • Ad Hoc Tribunals: Empowers the Central government to establish ad hoc tribunals to settle conflicts between two or more states concerning inter-state rivers or river valleys.
  • The tribunal’s verdict holds ultimate authority and binds all parties involved.
  • Neither the Supreme Court nor any other judicial body has jurisdiction over water disputes that fall within the ambit of this Act and are referred to as such tribunals.
  • Number of Tribunals Established: As of 2019, a total of nine inter-state water dispute tribunals have been established by the Central government.

Inter-State Councils

  • Article 263 of the Constitution proposes the establishment of Inter-State Councils to foster cooperation among states and between the Center and states.
  • The President can create such a council whenever it seems beneficial for the public interest.
  • The President has the authority to define the council’s duties, structure, and operational procedures.

Specified Duties

  • Addressing and advising on disputes arising between states.
  • Examining and discussing matters of mutual concern to the states or both the Center and states.
  • Offering recommendations on such subjects, especially for improved policy and collaborative action.

Advisory Role vs. Legal Jurisdiction of Inter-State Councils

  • The council’s role in inquiring and advising on inter-state disputes complements the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction under Article 131 to resolve legal conflicts between governments.

Sarkaria Commission’s Recommendations

  • The Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State Relations (1983–88) advocated for a permanent Inter-State Council under Article 263.

Inter-State Councils Composition

  • Prime Minister as the Chairman.
  • Chief Ministers of all states.
  • Chief Ministers of union territories with legislative assemblies.
  • Administrators of union territories without legislative assemblies.
  • Governors of States under the President’s rule.
  • Six Central cabinet ministers were nominated by the Prime Minister.
  • Additionally, five Ministers of Cabinet rank/Minister of State (independent charge) nominated by the Council’s Chairman are permanent invitees.

Inter-State Council’s Functions

  • The council serves as an advisory body on matters concerning inter-state, Centre-state, and Centre-union territories relations.
  • It promotes coordination by discussing and deliberating on these matters.
  • Discussion of subjects of common interest to states or the center.
  • Offering recommendations for better policy coordination.
  • Deliberating on other matters referred by the chairman.

Inter-State Trade and Commerce

Constitutional Coverage (Articles 301-307)

  • Part XIII of the Constitution, spanning Articles 301 to 307, addresses matters concerning trade, commerce, and interactions within India’s territory.

Article 301 – Freedom of Trade and Commerce:

  • Article 301 establishes that trade, commerce, and interactions across India’s entire territory shall be unrestricted.
  • This provision aims to dismantle inter-state boundaries and foster a unified nation that encourages unhampered trade, commerce, and interactions.

Exceptions to Freedom (Articles 302-305):

  • Parliamentary Restrictions: Parliament can enforce limitations on trade, commerce, and interactions between or within states in the interest of the public.
  • However, Parliament is prohibited from favoring one state over another or practicing discrimination, except during goods scarcity within India.
  • State Legislative Powers: State legislatures can reasonably restrict trade, commerce, and interactions within or involving their state, but only with prior approval from the President. The state legislature cannot exhibit bias towards any particular state.

Importance of Inter-State Relations?

  • Unity and Integration: A harmonious inter-state relationship fosters unity and integration among the diverse states of the country, promoting a sense of collective identity.
  • Economic Growth: Cooperation among states enhances economic growth by facilitating seamless trade, commerce, and investment flows across state borders.
  • Effective Governance: Coordinated efforts enable effective governance, as states can jointly address challenges like disaster management, environmental protection, and public health.
  • Infrastructure Development: States working together can pool resources for large-scale infrastructure projects, benefiting the entire region and enhancing connectivity.
  • Cultural Exchange: A harmonious relationship encourages cultural exchange and mutual understanding, promoting national integration while celebrating diversity.
  • Conflict Prevention: Smooth inter-state relations minimize conflicts and disputes, preventing disruptions that can hinder growth and development.
  • Policy Consistency: Cooperation ensures consistency in policies and regulations, avoiding confusion and promoting a conducive environment for businesses and citizens.
  • Strong Federal Structure: A harmonious relationship reinforces the federal structure, where states have autonomy within a united nation, strengthening the fabric of the country.
  • Political Stability: A cooperative atmosphere contributes to political stability, allowing for efficient decision-making and governance at both state and national levels.

Concerns in Inter-State Relations

Resource Allocation:

  • Unequal distribution of resources among states raises concerns about fairness and equitable development.
  • For instance, disputes over water sharing from rivers like the Cauvery between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have been longstanding due to varying water needs.

Disputes Over Boundaries

  • Border disputes and conflicting territorial claims can strain inter-state relations.
  • The disagreement between Assam and Nagaland over their border is an example of this challenge.

Inter-State Trade Barriers:

  • The imposition of trade barriers or taxes at state borders can hinder commerce and economic growth.
  • For instance, differing tax policies among states have led to complexities in the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Cultural and Linguistic Differences

  • Diversity in cultures and languages can lead to misunderstandings and identity-related tensions.
  • The linguistic divide between states like Maharashtra and Karnataka over the use of languages for official communication is a notable example.

Infrastructure Development

  • A lack of coordinated infrastructure planning may lead to connectivity gaps and disparities among states. The varying progress in road and rail infrastructure between different states is indicative of this challenge.

Federal vs. Unitary Aspects

  • Balancing state autonomy with the central authority’s requirements can be challenging. Issues related to law enforcement and the maintenance of public order can spark debates, as seen during discussions about the jurisdiction of the Delhi Police.

Economic Disparities

  • Economic inequalities among states can lead to perceptions of unfair treatment and resource allocation.
  • The varying economic development levels between states like Maharashtra and Bihar highlight this concern.

Historical Grievances

  • Historical disputes and grievances between states can influence their contemporary relations.
  • The boundary dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka over the Belgaum region is an example rooted in historical factors.

Legal and Jurisdictional Conflicts

  • Differences in legal interpretations and jurisdiction can lead to legal battles between states.
  • Disputes over river water sharing, like the Yamuna water-sharing issue between Haryana and Delhi, can result in legal confrontations.

Centre-State and Inter-State Relations

National Commission for Reviewing Constitution’s Functioning: Proposals on Centre-State and Inter-State Relations

  • The Government of India initiated the formation of the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) through a resolution in 2000.
  • Incorporating disaster and emergency management (both natural and man-made) within the Concurrent List (List III) of the Seventh Schedule.
  • Advocating the creation of a legal body called the Inter-State Trade and Commerce Commission.
  • The appointment of a state’s governor should occur only after consulting the respective chief minister.
  • Retaining Article 356 but with judicious and infrequent application, reserved as a final recourse.
  • Determining whether a state’s ministry lacks assembly confidence should exclusively occur on the assembly floor. Governors mustn’t have the authority to dismiss the ministry as long as assembly confidence endures.
  • Allowing for the continuation of the President’s Rule even in non-emergency scenarios if elections are unfeasible. Suggesting an amendment to Article 356 reflecting this.
  • Proposing river water disputes involving States and/or the Centre be adjudicated by a bench of no fewer than three Supreme Court judges, potentially expanding to five for final resolutions.
  • Suggesting Parliament replace the 1956 River Boards Act with more comprehensive legislation, following consultations with all states.Inter-State Relations, Features, Amendment Acts and Bill_3.1
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What are Inter-State Relations in the Indian federal system?

Inter-State Relations refer to the interactions and collaborations between different states within the federal structure of India, promoting cooperation, coordination, and unity among states.

What constitutional provisions address Inter-State Relations?

Several articles in the Indian Constitution address Inter-State Relations, including Articles 261, 262, 263, 301-307, and more.

How are water disputes between states resolved?

Article 262 of the Constitution outlines the process for resolving inter-state water disputes. The Parliament can pass legislation and establish ad hoc tribunals to settle conflicts over water resources.

What is the role of Inter-State Councils?

Inter-State Councils, proposed under Article 263, serve as advisory bodies to foster cooperation and coordination among states and between the Center and states. They address disputes, mutual concerns, and offer recommendations.

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Hey there! I'm Nikesh, a content writer at Adda247. I specialize in creating informative content focused on UPSC and State PSC exams. Join me as we unravel the complexities of these exams and turn aspirations into achievements together!

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