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Mains Answer Writing

14-November-2023

Q1) “The dynamics of center-state relations in recent times reflect the ongoing tussle between the pursuit of centralized decision-making and the demand for regional autonomy.” Elucidate with examples, also suggest measures for better coordination.

ANSWER

  • Supreme Court in S.R. Bommai Judgement, while recognizing the issues between the Centre-State relations in India described “federalism” as a part of the Basic Structure of the Constitution.
  • Indian federalism in recent times is witnessing a struggle between the Centre and States over certain issues. This is due to centralizing tendencies of the center while the states trying to wrest back certain autonomy.

TUSSLE BETWEEN CENTRALIZED DECISION-MAKING AND REGIONAL AUTONOMY

  1. Role of Governors: States have alleged that the office of the Governor is being used to destabilize opposition ruled States, interfere in the internal affairs of the States and impact the working of governments in States. a. For e.g., the recent tussle between the CM and Governor in West Bengal, the Tamil Nadu Governor dismissing a minister from the Council without recommendations of the CM, etc.
  2. Legislative Jurisdiction: The Centre has tried to expand its legislative competence beyond that mentioned under the three Lists of 7th Schedule while States have expressed reservations about the existing system of division of legislative powers.
  3. Reservation of Bills for President: In the absence of any time limit for the President to make a decision on reserved Bills, it is contended that there is scope for abuse of discretion based on political considerations a. For e.g., the recently passed NEET Bill by the Tamil Nadu Assembly was kept for consideration and is still pending before the President.
  4. All-India Services: Since the Centre is the appointing authority, the States have argued that the officers often disregard its policies and directions and work according to directions of the Centre.
  5. Fiscal Federalism: While the Centre has enjoyed centralization of finances, the States have argued that their fiscal space has significantly reduced leading to problems like fiscal profligacy, revenue-expenditure mismatch, and fiscal deficit.
  6. Redefinition of Boundaries: The recent example of the Reorganisation of J&K into 2 Union Territories also brought criticism as misuse of Article 3 of the Constitution which allows the Parliament to reduce the area of any State, alter its boundaries and change its name.

MEASURES FOR BETTER COORDINATION

  1. The role of the Governor should be clearly defined and demarcated. The Governors must be appointed after consultation with the States so as to improve coordination between the Governor and the Council of Ministers.
  2. In case of competing or overlapping jurisdiction, a process of mutual consultation and cooperation has to be put in place.
  3. Ordinarily, the Union should occupy only that much field of a concurrent subject on which uniformity of policy and action is essential in the larger interest of the nation leaving the rest for the State.
  4. Adequate consultation among States and Centres by the mechanism of ISC or NITI Aayog should precede the policies, proposals, and other legislative and executive decisions.
  5. The President may be subject to the six-month term specified in Article 201 for the State Legislature to take action upon the President’s return of the Bill.
  6. The fiscal space of the States must be expanded and complemented in order to improve their fiscal competence.
  7. The local bodies are in dire need of building capacities and strengthening the planning process in order to promote decentralization of decision-making.

These steps can ensure a prudent mix of competitive, cooperative, and deliberative federalism in place for the Indian polity.

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