Co-operative federalism under the Indian Constitution – Notes

Inter-State Council

Article 263 provides for the establishment of an Inter-State Council to affect co-ordination between States. The Inter-State Council is appointed by the President. This Article provides that if at any time it appears to the President that the public interest would be served by the establishment of a council charged with the duty of:

(a) Inquiring into and advising upon disputes which may arise between States;

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(b) Investigating and discussing subjects in which some or all of the States of the Union and one or more of States have common interest;

(c) Making recommendation on any subject and for the better co-ordination of the policy and action with regard 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 organisation and procedure.

Although the Council can deal with legal or non-legal matters but its function is merely advisory.

The main object behind this provision is to establish regular recognised machinery for inter-Governmental consultation and inter-State relations so that departments or institutions of co-ordination and research are to be maintained in such matters as agriculture, forestry, irrigation, education and public health.

This Council will provide opportunity to the States to express their views freely on common matters and will enable the Union to understand the feelings of the States, and inter-Governmental Co-operation would be ensured for the developmental plans. Unfortunately, such a body has not been established so far.

It is suggested that an inter-State council be established with all the Chief Ministers as members and the Prime Minister be the Chairman of this Council. All decisions except defense and foreign affairs are taken in this Council.

The States Reorganisation Act, 1956 has set up five Zonal Councils, namely (the Central Zone, the Northern Zone, the Eastern Zone, the Western Zone and the Southern Zone). The Zonal Councils consist of the Union Home Minister, who acts as ex officio Chairman of the Councils and the Chief Minister of the State and two other Ministers nominated by the Governor as the members.

These Councils have been established for the promotion of co-operation and for making efforts to solve common problems of the member-States. This is to encourage implementation of developmental projects in respect of economic and social planning.

Sarkaria Commission on Inter-States’ Relations has strongly recommended for the establishment of Inter-State Council.