Article 263 of Indian Constitution
If at any time it appears to the President that the public interests would be served by the establishment of a Council charged with the duty of—
- inquiring into and advising upon disputes which may have arisen between States;
- investigating and discussing subjects in which some or all of the States, or the Union and one or more of the States, have a common interest; or
- making recommendations upon any such subject and, in particular, recommendations for the better co-ordination of policy and action with respect to that subject, it shall be lawful for the President by order to establish such a Council, and to define the nature of the duties to be performed by it and its organization and procedure.
Explanation of Article 263 of Indian Constitution:
Article 263 of Indian Constitution provides for an inter-State Council to be established by the President to resolve the mutual disputes between states and promote a sense of cooperation among them.
The Constitutional provisions under Article 263 empower the President to define the duties of the council. The Article mentions duties that can be assigned to the council:
- Inquiring into and providing advice to states on disputes that may have arisen among states;
- Investigating and discussing subjects in which states and Union have common interests;
- Making recommendations on such subjects for better coordination of policy and action.
|Interrelation between Article 263 and Article 131
Existing Inter-state Councils:
Under the provisions of Article 263, the President has set up the following councils dealing with inter-state issues:
- Central Council of Local Government
- Central Council of Health and Family Welfare
- Four Regional Councils for Sales Tax
Establishment of a Permanent Inter-State Council:
The Sarkaria Commission made a strong case for the establishment of the Inter-State Council under Article 263. The Commission recommended the council should be entrusted with the duties mentioned in clause (b) and (c) of Article 263. It also recommended that to differentiate between the existing councils created under Article 263, it must be called an Inter-Governmental Council.
To give effect to the recommendations of the Commission, the Jantata Government, under the leadership of VP Singh, established the Inter-State Council in 1990.
Structure of the Interstate Council
The council consists of five members:
- Prime Minister as the Chairman
- Chief Minister of all states
- Chief Ministers of union territories with legislative assemblies
- Administrators of union territories without legislative assemblies
- Six central cabinet ministers, including the home minister, are to be nominated by the Prime minister.
Besides the above-mentioned members, 5 cabinet ministers/ministers of state (independent charge) are nominated by the Prime Minister as the permanent invitees to the council.
- Proceedings of the Council: The Council may meet at least thrice a year. The questions are decided by consensus. Since its inception, there have been 11 meetings of the council; the last meeting was held in 2016.
- Standing committee: In its second meeting in 1996, the council decided to set up a standing committee under the chairmanship of the Home Minister for continuous consultation and processing of the matters to be discussed in the council.
- Secretariat: The meetings of the council are held in the Inter-State Council Secretariat, headed by a secretary to the Government of India. Since 2011, it has been serving as the secretariat of Zonal councils as well since 2011.
Functions of Interstate Council:
The Council deliberates on the issues relating to inter-state, Centre-state and Centre-union territories relations. It performs the following duties:
- Discussing and investigating such subjects on which states and Union have common interests.
- Providing recommendations upon any such subject for the improved coordination of policy and action on it.
- Deliberation on any such other matters of general interest to the state, on the reference of the chairman.
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