How are the functions and responsibilities of the union and the states divided? What are the distinct responsibilities of each government? How does the power distribution relate to the 7th schedule of the Indian Constitution? What is the federal government? Read further to know more.
Since India’s political authority and administration qualify for the unitary and federal government structures, the Indian power system is called the quasi-federal system.
The Indian Constitution also declares that “India, that is, Bharat, shall be a union of states.” The constitutional power division between the state and the union was diplomatic.
Functions and Responsibility distribution between central and state governments
The state governments are never descendants of the central power and do not need the center’s approval to exist. However, the center has been assigned the power to rule the territory by the constitution. Three lists specify the functions and responsibilities of the union and states across the country.
- The union list pinpoints the responsibilities of the union government.
- The state list identifies the state’s functions and responsibilities.
- The third list is the concurrent list, which applies to both governments.
The Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States have been delegated by the power of the Constitution. The union government’s functions and responsibilities include forming and implementing public policies and reviewing their outcome.
Union governments also prepare and supervise the policy agenda, which uses statutory enactments to implement the
Functions and Responsibilities of the Union
The union government also establishes coordination among the different ministries, ensuring smooth system flow.
Executive control over administration, rule-making to run the country, natural and political crises, and disasters, financial management by fiscal supervision, and budget presentation also fall under the union’s responsibilities.
- Union List (List I): Subjects exclusively under the control of the Union government. Examples include defense, foreign affairs, atomic energy, and currency.
- Residuary Powers: The Union government has residuary powers, meaning it can legislate on matters not explicitly mentioned in any of the three lists.
- National Security and Defense: Formulating and executing policies related to national security and defense; Maintenance of armed forces and the conduct of foreign affairs.
- International Relations: Conducting foreign affairs, including the establishment and maintenance of diplomatic missions abroad.
- Monetary System: Control over the currency and coinage; Regulation of banking and financial institutions.
- Inter-State Trade and Commerce: Regulation of inter-state trade and commerce.
- Emergency Powers: The Union government has special powers during times of emergency, as outlined in the Constitution.
- Railways and Airways: Control and development of railways and airways.
- Election Commission: Oversight of national elections through the Election Commission of India.
Functions of States Government
The state government is entitled to ensure the proper implementation of law and order within the state territory. The police and public order ensure that internal security is run by the state.
The state government is in charge of running the educational and agricultural sectors and adopting strategic goals to boost the country’s overall growth.
In conclusion, properly executing the Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States is crucial to ensuring the optimal growth of the country.
- State List (List II): Subjects over which the State governments have exclusive control. Examples include police, public health, agriculture, and land.
- Police and Public Order: Maintenance of law and order within the state; Policing and criminal justice fall under the purview of the state.
- Health and Sanitation: Regulation and development of public health and sanitation; Hospitals and public health initiatives are primarily under state jurisdiction.
- Agriculture and Irrigation: Agricultural policies and development; Irrigation and water management within the state.
- Land and Revenue: Control over land, including agriculture and revenue collection; Land records and land reforms are primarily the responsibility of the state.
- Education: Management and administration of educational institutions; Development of state-level education policies.
- Local Government: Administration of local government bodies, such as municipalities and panchayats; Urban and rural development initiatives.
- Police: State governments have the authority to organize, maintain, and command police forces within their jurisdiction.
- Public Services: Recruitment and management of state civil services; Public administration and governance within the state.
7th Schedule of the Indian Constitution
The division of powers between the union and the states is addressed in the Seventh Schedule of Article 246 of the Constitution. Union List, State List, and Concurrent List are the three lists, that are included.
- The union list outlines the topics that Parliament may legislate on.
- The individuals covered by state legislatures are listed by state list.
- On the other hand, the concurrent list includes topics within the purview of the state legislatures and the Parliament. However, in a conflict, the Constitution grants federal supremacy to Parliament on concurrent list items.
It is evident from the preceding system that the Union List includes matters of national importance and those that call for national legislation to be uniform.
In the State List, issues of regional and local significance are mentioned, and issues that allow for diverse interests.
The concurrent list includes the topics where having uniform laws across the nation is desired but unnecessary. As a result, it supports both consistency and diversity.
Federal System of Government
A federal government is one in which the Constitution divides the Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States, each of which is in charge of its territory.
However, because of a power lean toward the center in the Indian federal form of government. The federal features of the Constitution of India are:
- Dual Polity: The Constitution establishes a dual polity consisting of the Union at the Centre and the states at the periphery. Each is endowed with sovereign powers to be exercised in the field assigned to them by the Constitution
- Written Constitution: It specifies the structure, organization, powers, and functions of both the Central and state governments and prescribes the limits within which they must operate. Thus, it avoids misunderstandings and disagreements between the two
- Division of Powers: The Constitution divided the powers between the Centre and the states in terms of the Union List, State List, and Concurrent List in the Seventh Schedule
- Supremacy of the Constitution: The Constitution is the supreme (or the highest) law of the land. The laws enacted by the Centre and the states must conform to its provisions.
- Independent Judiciary: The Constitution establishes an independent judiciary headed by the Supreme Court to settle the disputes between the Centre and the states or between the states
However, the Indian federal system of government has a power tilt towards the center:
- Strong Centre: The division of powers is in favor of the Centre, The Union List contains more subjects than the State List. The more important subjects have been included in the Union List. The Centre has overriding authority over the Concurrent List. Finally, the residuary powers have also been left with the Centre
- States Not Indestructible: The states in India have no right to territorial integrity. The Parliament can by unilateral action change the area, boundaries, or name of any state
- The flexibility of the Constitution: The bulk of the Constitution can be amended by the unilateral action of the Parliament, either by a simple majority or by a special majority. Further, the power to initiate an amendment to the Constitution lies only with the Centre
- No Equality of State Representation: The states are given representation in the Rajya Sabha based on population.
- Emergency Provisions: During an emergency, the Central government becomes all-powerful and the states go into total control of the Centre. It converts the federal structure into a unitary one without a formal amendment of the Constitution
- Parliament’s Authority Over State List: The Parliament is empowered to legislate on any subject of the State List if the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution to that effect in the National Interest. This means that the legislative competence of the Parliament can be extended without amending the Constitution
- Veto Over State Bills: The governor is empowered to reserve certain types of bills passed by the state legislature for the consideration of the President. The President can withhold his assent to such bills not only in the first instance but also in the second instance
The division of powers outlined in the Constitution is designed to ensure a balance between a strong central authority and regional autonomy. In case of a conflict between laws made by the Union and the States on the same subject in the Concurrent List, the Union law prevails. The Constitution also provides for the establishment of inter-state councils to promote coordination between the Union and the States.
Article written by Aseem Muhammed