Sarkaria and Punchhi Commission on Center-State relations
This article deals with ‘Sarkaria and Punchhi Commission on Center-State relations .’ This is part of our series on ‘Polity’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here
1 . Sarkaria Commission
- Three member commission setup in 1983 & submitted report in 1987
- To look into Center-State relationship.
Main recommendations were
- Didn’t favour structural changes arguing existing Constitutional Arrangements & principles are sound but emphasized on operational aspect
- Rejected demand of curtailing powers of Center arguing that strong center is essential to safeguard national unity & integrity , however over centralisation should be avoided
- Permanent Inter-State Council called the Inter-Governmental Council should be set up under Article 263.
- Article 356 (President’s rule) should be used very sparingly, in extreme cases as a last resort
- Institution of All-India Services should be further strengthened and some more such services should be created.
- When the President withholds his assent to the state bills, the reason should be communicated to state government
- Center should have powers to deploy its armed forces, even without consent of states. However,desirable that the states should be consulted.
- Center should consult the States before making a law on a subject of the Concurrent List.
- Procedure of consulting the Chief Minister in the appointment of State Governor should be prescribed in the Constitution itself.
- Governor’s term of five years in a state should not be disrupted except for extremely compelling reasons.
- Steps should be taken to uniformly implement the three language formula in its true spirit.
Till Dec 2007, The Central Government has implemented 179 (out of 247) recommendations of the Sarkaria commission. The most Important was the establishment of Inter-State Council in 1990.
2 . Punchhi Commission
Issues between Center – State are dealt by Punchhi Commission (Detail important for mains because latest such report )
- April 2007 – Commission on Center-State Relations formed
- under the chairmanship of Madan Mohan Punchhi, former Chief Justice of India.
- In 2010, Commission submitted 7 volume report
Issue 1: Consultation with States while legislating on matters in Concurrent List
- For effective implementation of laws in List III , broad consensus must be reached between states & center
- Inter State Council can be used for this
Issue 2: On Transfer of Entries in the Lists, from List II to List III & List I
- Article 368(2) empowers Parliament to amend any provision of the Constitution . Should Parliament deplete or limit the legislative powers of the States through this process ?
- There should be mechanism to examine whether the administration of the relevant subject under the Central law (on the transferred subject) has achieved the objects . If the findings are not positive it may be worthwhile to restore the item to its original position in State List
Issue 3: On Bills reserved for consideration of the President
- Article 201 – President to assent or withhold assent to a Bill reserved by a Governor for the President’s consideration.
- State’s concern – Bills so submitted sometimes are indefinitely retained at the Central level even beyond the life of the State Legislature
- President should decide consenting or withholding assent in reasonable time (6 months)
Issue 4: On Treaty making powers of the Union Executive and Center-State Relations
There is need for a legislation to regulate the Treaty Making powers of the Union Executive since they are vast & unregulated
- Treaties which affect the rights of citizens as well as those which impinge on subjects in State List should be negotiated with greater involvement of States and representatives in Parliament
- There may be treaties or agreements which, when implemented, put obligations on particular States affecting its financial and administrative capacities. Punchhi Commission recommended that financial obligations arising out of treaties should be a permanent Terms of Reference to the Finance Commission
Issue 5: On Appointment and Removal of Governors
- Given status & importance of office of Governor , it is important to lay down explicitly qualification & eligibility for being considered for appointment
- Present Status – Only qualification needed is Person should be citizen of India & completed age of 35 years
Recommendations on Appointment
Sarkaria Commission approvingly quoted the eligibility criteria that Jawaharlal Nehru advocated and recommended its adoption in selecting Governors . These criteria were:
- He should be eminent in some walk of life.
- He should be a person from outside the State.
- He should be a person who has not taken too great a part in politics generally and particularly in the recent past.
Punchi Commission proposed to implement them
Recommendations on Removal
- Phrase “during the pleasure of the President” in Article 156(i) should be substituted
- It is necessary to provide for impeachment of Governor on the same lines as provided for impeachment of President . Dignity and independence of the office warrants such a procedure.
Issue 6: On Governors’ discretionary powers
- Article 163 – Governor has a wide, undefined area of discretionary powers even outside situations where the Constitution has expressly provided for it. The scope of discretionary powers under Article 163 has to be narrowly construed
- On the question of dismissal of a Chief Minister, Governor should invariably insist on the Chief Minister proving his majority on the floor of the House for which he should prescribe a time limit.
Issue 7: On “Local emergency” under Article 355 and 356
- Given the strict parameters now set for invoking the emergency provisions under Articles 352 and 356 to be used only as a measure of “last resort” , it is necessary to provide a Constitutional or legal framework to deal with situations short of National Emergency or President’s Rule
- Providing the framework for “localized emergency“ would ensure that the State Government can continue to function and the Assembly would not have to be dissolved while providing a mechanism to let the Central Government respond to the issue specifically and locally.
Issue 8: On All India Services and Center-State Co-operation for better Administration
- All India Services are unique feature of the Indian Constitution.
- The broad objectives in setting up All India Services relate to
- facilitating liaison between the Union and States
- promote uniform standards of administration
- helping State administrative machinery to obtain best available talent with wider outlook & broader perspectives
- reduce political influence in recruitment
- promote discipline and control in administration.
- Considering the importance of these objectives, the Commission strongly recommends the constitution of few other All India Services in sectors like Health, Education, Engineering and Judiciary.
- However, the Commission recommended proper integration of All India Services in the context of the introduction of the third tier of governance.
Issue 9 : On Equal representation of States in Rajya Sabha
- There are federations (like USA) which give equal number of seats to the federating units in the Council of States (Senate) irrespective of the size of their territory and population.
- If the Council of States has failed to function as representative of States as originally envisaged, it is because of the unequal distribution of seats
- There should be amendment of the relevant provisions to give equality of seats to States in the Rajya Sabha, irrespective of their population size.
- The territorial link with that state from which a person is contesting for Rajya Sabha membership, which was prescribed by the Representation of People Act (until it was dispensed in 2003) is necessary and desirable
Issue 10: On Relationship of Article 246(3) and 162 with Articles 243G and 243W
- Articles 243G (power, authority and responsibility of panchayats) and 243W (power, authority and responsibility of municipalities, etc.) are sometimes read to mean that they leave it to the discretion of States whether or not to devolve any powers and functions to the local bodies.
- Although States have the discretion to decide and vary the subject matters in respect of which it wants to devolve powers and responsibilities, States are not free to decide not to devolve anything at all.
Issue 11 : Governments’ obligation to support court expenditure when laws are made
- Financial Memorandum attached to Bills usually do not provide for adjudication costs . This puts the Subordinate Courts with little or no resources to cope up with additional workloads
- Judicial Impact Assessment should be made whenever legislations are proposed
Issue 12 : On Judicial Councils to advise Center-State share in judicial budgets
- Administrative expenses of the Supreme Court & High Court are charged upon the Consolidated Funds of Center & States respectively, there is no such financial arrangement guaranteed by Constitution for subordinate judiciary.
- Judicial Councils” should be setup to decide
- Judicial Budget for approval by legislatures
- Proportion of share between Union and States based on workload of courts under Lists I, II and III.
Issue 13: On Need for continuing emphasis on federal balance of power
- Framers of the Constitution, taking note of the pluralistic identities of the people adopted federal system
- Commission, however, is convinced that tilt in favour of Union has increasingly accentuated over the years even outside the security needs of the country. This has to be corrected in the interest of better Center-State relations and also to sustain the unity and integrity