Friday, March 24, 2017

Sarkaria Commission Important Points and Facts

The Sarkaria Commission was chaired by R S Sarkaria who was a retired Supreme Court judge.

In 1983, the central government constituted a three member body to make a report on the Center state relationship.

This body was later known as the Sarkaria commission.

The central government had asked the Sarkaria commission to examine and review the current working arrangement of the center and state relationship as set up by the constitution.

Its objective was to comprehensively study and research every aspect and area of the center –state powers and functions.

The initial period under which the commission was asked to submit its report was one year but it was extended four times.

The Sarkaria commission submitted its final report in October 1987. The summary was later released in 1988.

The Sarkaria Commission recommended 247 suggestions to improve the center-state relationship. The most important are as follows.

1. The most important recommendation that the Sarkaria Commission made was the setting up of a permanent Inter-state council called the Inter-Governmental Council.

They recommended that this council should be set up under Article 263 of the constitution.

2. In case of emergencies, the provision of President’s rule should be used as a last resort.

Using this provision at the smallest possible trouble might undermine the state government’s authority and the people along with their representatives may lose faith in the central government.

3. The Sarkaria Commission recommended setting up of more civil services organisations and the existing ones should be further strengthened as these bodies serve the nation at both the state and center level.

4. The Sarkaria Commission recommended that the center should continue to hold the residuary powers of taxation.

The remaining residuary powers should be placed in the concurrent list on which both the state and center government can take action upon.

5. In case of President using his veto power to withhold his assent to a state bill, he should communicate the reason behind his decision.

6. National Development Council to renamed and re-constituted as the National Economic and Development Council.

7. To promote the concept of federalism, the commission recommended that the zonal councils should be constituted again and activated with a greater involvement of the region’s development.

8. In case of a military emergency, the union government should be able to deploy the armed forces without wasting time by taking the assent of the states. However, in good faith, the states should be consulted.

9. When the center is making a law on a subject that falls under the concurrent list, it should consult with the states.

10. The Sarkaria Commission recommended that while appointing the governor of a state, the union government should consult the chief minister of that particular state.

This particular process should be mentioned in the Constitution itself in order to make the states more efficient and function without any obstacles from the governor appointed by the central government.

This is really important in case the ruling party in the state is different form the ruling party at the center.

11. The total revenue collected by the union government as corporation tax should be shareable by the states.

12. The Governor appointed by the center should not be able to dismiss the council of ministers of the state if it holds the majority in the legislative assembly.

13. The term of a Governor in a state is 5 years. This term should not be ended unless the reason is viable.  The advantage for this would be that it would prevent the center from abusing their power.

14. A state minister should not be under investigation by a commission unless demanded by the parliament.

15. The central government should not be allowed to relax the income tax unless it is for a very strictly limited period of time and due to a specific purpose.

16. The current paradigm between the finance commission and the planning commission was deemed as ‘reasonable’. The balance between the functioning and coordination between the two was working and there was no need to change it.

17. The three language formula meant that the first language is Hindi, second language is English and third might be any minority language. The commission recommended that proper steps should be taken to implement this formula uniformly all over the country.

18. The autonomy of radio and television to broadcast according to their will should be honored with reasonable restrictions.

19. There should be no change in the role that the Rajya Sabha played. Also, the center's power to reorganize the states should be withheld.

20. The head of the linguistic minorities should be made active.

By 2007, 179 out of the total 247 recommendations that were made by the Sarkaria Commission have been implemented.

The most important was the establishment of Inter-state council which was achieved in 1990.

The Sarkaria Commission made it clear that there was no need for any structural changes in the Constitution and expressed that the current momentum of the national bodies and institutes was working smoothly.

However, it did stress on the need for change in functioning and operating methods of those bodies.

According to the Sarkaria Commission, the federal concept of nationalism is a fictional concept rather than an institutional and theoretical term.

The demand to minimize the powers of the union government was out-rightly rejected as they conveyed that a strong central government was vital for a nation’s unity and integrity.

Also, it made it very clear that by a strong central government, they did not mean to take away the powers that rest with the state government and rest them with the union government.

In a metaphorical way, they compared the over centralization of powers to blood pressure at the central level, which meant a high burden and responsibility to them.

This highly centered node might develop some bad “cells” and lead to abuse of powers.

It also causes anaemia at the state level which medically means lack of healthy blood cells.

This depicted that with the states not holding enough powers to do well by the people, the deployment process will get diseased.

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