Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Is The Constitution of India Federal In Nature ?

In the Constitution of India nowhere the term Federal is used. Rather under Article 1 of Part 1 it is stated that India that is BHARAT shall be Union of States hence it is a subject of controversy and debate that India is a Union or Federal State. According to definition, in any Constitution or POLITY following 5 characteristic features are found that are known as the spinal cord of federal political structure -


1. Written Constitution.

2. Supremacy of the Constitution.

3. Division of functions and authorities between the Union and the States.

4. A definite method of amendment to the Constitution.

5. Right to Judicial Review.

On the basis of above mentioned points it is clear that all the features of Federalism are present in the Constitution of India but their are disputes among st scholars on the issue.

According to DD Basu, India is a federal state where as Professor Tripathi says India is definitely not a federal state. The most accepted view according to the nature of Indian Constitution was given by K.C. Wheare who for the first time declared that the Indian Constitution is Quasi Federal because despite having all the features of Federalism it has a strong centralizing tendency such as listed below -


1. Reorganization of States is finally done by the Union only - Article 3

2. Provisions related to Citizenship are determined and regulated only by the Union - Article 5 - 11

3. An All India Services can also be created when a resolution to this effect is first passed by the Rajya Sabha and then by the Lok Sabha - Article 312

4. Emergency in any part of the country can also be declared only the Union - Articles 352 - 360

5. Appointment of Governor in the States.

6. Appointment of Judges in the Supreme Court and High Court.

7. Deployment of Armed Forces and Paramilitary in any part of the State.

8. Acquisition of land for National Purpose such as establishments of cantonments, laying down of railway tracks, exploration of natural gas, mines & minerals etc. is also done by the Union Government.

9. Union Government can also give certain directions to the State Government if two or more states request to the Union, than a common law can be prepared by the Union for the States. One live example of such an arrangement is ULCRA - Urban Land Ceiling and Regulation Act.

10. A subject of State List can be transferred to the Union List.

11. Residuary List is also listed in the Union and ultimately amendment to the Constitution is finally done by the Union.

Not only on Administrative and Legislative Issues, in Financial matters also the Union has considerate dominance over the States. Most of the taxes collected by the States are taken by the Union. Comptroller & Auditor General of India is appointed by the Union and also does audit for the State Government. As per the recommendation of Finance Commission made by the Government of India, allocation of resources to the State Government is done by the Union. Even for the 5 year plans prepared by the Planning Commission of India, allocation of resources for planned expenditure is carried on by the Government of India. Hence it is explicitly clear that powers and functions in the Constitution are more inclined towards the Union.

Hence the Constitution of India is Quasi-Federal in nature.

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