The basis of such distribution of powers between Centre and State is that the matters which are of national Importance said In which uniform policy is desirable are given to the Centre and the matters which are of local importance are given to the States for legislation and control.
(2) A written Constitution:
A federal Constitution is necessarily a written Constitution. Distribution of powers can be made between the Central and State governments only when there is a written Constitution. All organs of the government derive their powers from the Constitution and have to function within the defined limits.
The validity of all legislative enactments is tested according to the provisions of the Constitution. It would be difficult to maintain the supremacy of the Constitution unless there is a written Constitution for the country with defined powers of governance to the States and the Centre. To base the powers of governance on the States and the Centre upon conventions, would be baffling and generate misunderstanding.
(3) Supremacy of the Constitution:
Under a federal system, Constitution is supreme. All organs of the government have to work within the spheres assigned to them by the Constitution and they cannot encroach upon the jurisdiction of other organs.
The judiciary has to interpret the Constitution and has to see that there is no transgression of jurisdiction by different organs of the government in the spheres assigned to others. The disputes between different organs of the government are settled according to the provisions of the Constitution.
(4) Effective Role of the Courts:
The courts under a federal Constitution have the final authority to interpret the Constitution and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution. They decide the disputes between the Central and State governments. Their decisions on inter-governmental disputes are final. Besides, the courts are the savior of fundamental rights of the citizens of the country.
(5) Rigid Constitution:
The procedure for amendment of the Constitution is generally rigid. It can be amended only by a special procedure laid down by the Constitution. In a rigid Constitution, the procedure of amendment is very complicated and difficult.
It does not mean that the Constitution should be legally unalterable. It simply means that the power of amending the Constitution should not exclusively remain with the Centre or the State Governments.
Indian Constitution possesses all the essential characteristics of a federal Constitution as mentioned above. It is a written Constitution. There are division of powers between the Central and State governments. Indian Constitution is the supreme law of the country.
The procedure for amending the provisions of the Constitution is quite difficult under Indian Constitution; Supreme Court has been established to decide disputes between the Centre and the States and to work as a watch dog of the Constitution.
Some jurists are of the opinion that the Indian Constitution is truly federal. But in certain situations, the Centre interferes in the State matters and thus places the States in subordinate positions. In following matters, Indian Constitution contains modifications of the federal principles and makes it more unitary than federal.
(1) Appointment of Governors:
The governors of the States are appointed by the President and he is answerable to him for his conduct.
(2) Parliament’s power of Legislation in National Interest:
Article 249 empowers Parliament to legislate on State List if it is in national Interest.
(3) Parliament’s power to form New States:
Article 3 of the Constitution empowers Parliament to form new States out of the existing States and to increase or diminish the area of any State and to alter the boundary or name of any State.
(4) Emergency Provisions:
Under Indian Constitution three types of emergency have been envisaged viz., emergency arising out of war, or external aggression or armed rebellion, emergency due to failure of machinery in the States and financial emergency.
Due to proclamation of emergency under Article 352, the normal distribution of powers between Centre and States undergoes a vital change. Parliament is authorized to make laws with respect to any matter on State Lists.
Under Article 356, if the President is satisfied that the government of a State cannot be carried on in accordance with the Constitution, he can dismiss the State ministry and dissolve the State assembly and assume all the functions of the State.
It is true that under the above mentioned situations, the federal character of the Constitution is modified. During emergency, the Constitution is converted into unitary Constitution. But when the emergency is over, the Constitution functions as a federal Constitution.
The framers of the Indian Constitution incorporated these provisions on practical considerations taking note of the peculiar problems of the country. The Indian Constitution is, therefore, a combination of unitary and federal system with unique provisions to safeguard the interests of the country.