Inter-state Councils, Inter-state Trade, Zonal Council and North East Council

Inter-state Councils, Inter-state Trade, Zonal Council and North East Council

Inter State Councils

Article 263

  • President can establish Inter State Council to effect coordination between states & states and centre if it appears to him that Public Interest would be served by establishment
  • Under this provision ,councils established
    • Central Council on health
    • Central Council of local governance
    • Four regional council for sales tax for north,south,east& west

Establishment of Inter State Council

  • Sarkaria Commission recommended its formation
  • Janata Dal government under VP Singh formed this in 1990 under Article 263
  • Consist of
Chairman Prime Minister of India
Members – Chief Minister of States & Union Territories having Assembly
– Administrators of rest of Union Territories
Governors of states under Presidents rule
Six central Ministers including Home Minister to be nominated by Prime Minster    
  • Functions to be performed – mandated by constitution
  • May meet atleast thrice a year
  • Ninth meet held in 2005 & 10th in 2006 . After that it didn’t meet for a decade and became defunct. Atlast it is again revived in 2016
  • In 10 previous meetings took important decisions like approving alternate scheme of devolution, time bound clearance of state bills referred  to President

Significance of Inter State Council

  • Constitutional Backing : Although, there are other bodies such as the NITI Aayog’s Governing Council-having a similar composition . But the Inter State Council has constitutional backing  This puts the states on more solid footing
  • Punchhi Commission also recommended to use Inter State Council  to resolve Inter State  & Center State issues instead of going for long litigations in the courts 
  • Will help in strengthening Cooperative Federalism
  • Safety valve-  council helps to bridge the trust deficit between  center and  states. If not  a problem solver, it  at least act as a safety valve

Issues with Inter State Council

  • Seen merely as a place to discuss without any follow up
  • Recommendations are not binding /advisory in nature
  • Doesn’t meet regularly. Met after decade  in 2016

Need to strengthen  Inter State Council

  1. Should meet regularly
  2. It’s secretariat should be shifted from  Union Home Ministry to Rajya Sabha secretariat so that it would be under the direction of a neutral federal functionary, the vice-president of India rather than Union home minister.
  3. Should be used while going for Treaty Making to take States whose interests are going to be impacted onboard (even suggested by Punchhi Commission)
  4. Punchhi commission recommendations
    • Should meet thrice a year 
    • Should have experts drawn from law, management, pol sci apart from IAS
    • Functional Independence with a professional secretariat 

Public Acts, Records & Judicial Proceedings

  • Jurisdiction of each state is confined to territorial limits of each state
  • Hence , acts and records of one state may not be recognised by other state

For this, there is FULL FAITH & CREDIT CLAUSE which lays down following

  • Full faith and credit to  be given to public records and acts  of centre and all states through out India
Public act Legislative & Executive acts
Public records Official books, registers or record made by public servant
  • Final judgements and orders of Civil Courts  in any part are capable of execution anywhere within India

Inter State Trade & Commerce

Free flow of trade without geographical barriers is sine quo non for economic prosperity . Our Federal Constitution guarantees it . We have arrangement that harmonise & facilitate Inter State trade and commerce


  • Article 301 to 307 of  Part XIII of Indian Constitution deals with this.
  • Constitution has taken National Interest as whole as well as interests of Particular State

Article 301

  • Trade ,commerce and intercourse throughout territory of India shall be free
  • To breakdown border barriers between the states

Article 302 to 305

Deals with restrictions to Article 301

  1. Article 302: Parliament can impose restrictions on freedom of trade between states  or within state in Public Interest (there may be plenty of food in one part while famine in other. If parliament has no power to check these abnormal situations then freedom of trade will become menace to freedom of life itself)
  2. Article 303 –  BUT in imposing restrictions  cant give preference to one state over other except in case of scarcity of goods in any part of country ( ie in case of famine etc can even pass discriminatory law)
  3. State Legislature   can impose restrictions on freedom of trade with state  or within state in public interest . BUT
    1. Cant give preference to one state over other
    2. Bill can be introduced in assembly with previous sanction of President
    3. This give power to review that whether restriction is reasonable or not & declare it invalid if it is unreasonable
  4. Legislature of State can impose any tax on goods imported from other state similar to tax on goods manufactured in that state are subjected
  5. Freedom under Article 301 is subject to Nationalisation laws
  6. Parliament is empowered to appoint such authority as it considers appropriate for carrying out purposes of Article 301 to 304 and confer it such powers as it thinks necessary . But no such authority has been appointed so far (Ambedkar envisaged  for authority such as Inter State Commission of USA)

Zonal Councils

  • Zonal Councils are Statutory body
  • Made under State Reorganisation Act,1956

Provisions of Act

  • Act divided country to 5 Zones – Northern , Central , Southern, Eastern, Western
  • Provided Zonal Council for each zone
  • Each Zonal Council would consist of
    • Home Minister as Chairman
    • Chief Minister of all states in zone
    • Two other ministers from each state
    • Administrator from Union Territories


  • To achieve emotional integration of country
  • Help arresting growth of regionalism,linguism etc
  • Removing after effects of separation in case of reorganisation
  • Enable states and centre to cooperate on social and economic issues
  • Secure political equilibrium between states

Criticism of Zonal Councils

  • Don’t meet frequently as may be required
  • Most of states are reluctant to implement decisions taken at these meetings

North East Zonal Council

  • North East Zonal Council is a Statutory body
  • It is created under provisions of North Eastern council Act,1971.
  • Members (8) = Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya , Tripura & Sikkim.
  • Objectives : Same as zonal councils  +review from time to time the measures taken by member states for maintenance of security and public order in region

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