Friday, March 24, 2017

Punchhi Commission Recommendations of Center State Relations

After the Sarkaria Commission of 1987, a new commission was set up in 2007 on center state relations.
It was chaired by former Chief Justice of India, Madan Mohan Punchhi.

The objective of this commission was to review the huge amount of changes in the economic and political scenario of the country since the Sarkaria Commission.
Following are the terms of references or the main subjects of inspection of Punchhi Commission -
1. The examination and review of the working of the existing flow of arrangements between the center and the state governments as defined by the Constitution of India.  

The Sarkaria Commission was appointed the duty to inspect and review the various precedents of the different courts which are related to the functioning and duties of the two governments in all areas which include legislative relations, administrative relations, the role of governors, the emergency provisions, financial relations, economic and social planning, Panchayati Raj bodies, the sharing of resources between the states like inter-state water etc.

After the review and careful examination, the commission was bestowed with the duty to recommend changes and other ways in which these proceedings could be made smoother and more efficient, while keeping in mind the constitution and the practical difficulties that might arise while applying the recommendations.
2. During the examination of the workings and proceedings between the states and the union governments, the commission was to keep in mind the economic and social developments that had taken place in the past 20 years since the Sarkaria Commission and compare those proceedings with the constitutional framework.

These recommendations would then work to address the challenges faced by the governments in the areas of social welfare.

These would also frame proper guidelines to strengthen the nation’s unity and integrity. Apart from these, the commission was also asked for input regarding emerging opportunities for the nation’s rapid and consistent economic growth and in turn help alleviate poverty and illiteracy.
3.  The Punchhi Commission had to review the roles, duty and jurisdiction of the centre and state governments on the following subjects
  • The roles of both the governments during major communal violence, caste violence or other social conflicts that lead to prolonged and escalated violence.
  • The role of both governments in the planning and execution of mega projects like the inter linking of the rivers. The plan to minimize the time taken to complete such projects was the basic factor to be determined otherwise such projects may drag on to 15-20 years. The support from the concerned states will play a crucial role in these projects as the resources and services needed for such projects are huge.
  • The procedure of devolution or delegation of powers to the local autonomous bodies such as the Panchayati Raj institutions among others which are mentioned in the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • The role of the governments in encouraging independent planning and practicing of budgeting at the district level.
  • The level of cooperation between the centre and the state for different kinds of central assistance.
  • In case of backward states, the role of centre is very important as it needs to work towards positive and healthy discrimination in order to bring the concerned states to acceptable levels of development.
  • According to the 8th to 12th finance commissions, the dependencies of the states on the central government for the release of funds was enhanced. The commission was to analyse the impact of this on both the centre and state governments.
  • After the introduction of the value added taxes, the commission was to analyse the need and importance of separate taxes on the production of various goods and services.
  • The commission was to review whether free trade between the states of the nation was necessary and what could be the advantage and effects of it on the nation’s economy.
  • To review the reluctance of the states to adopt the Sarkaria commission’s recommendation mentioned in chapter XVII.
  • The commission was to review the need of a central law enforcement agency to investigate the matters of inter-state relevance or crimes with international consequences which might impact the national security.
  • The Punchhi Commission was to review the need for immediate deployment of central forces in affected states without wasting time to take the consent of the states.
After reviewing the above mentioned topics among others, the Punchhi commission made 312 recommendations. Some of the important and relevant recommendations are as follows.

  • The Punchhi Commission recommended that Articles 355 and 356 of the Indian Constitution should be amended. These articles describe the emergency provisions. The Punchhi Commission recommended that the emergency provisions should be used very scarcely only in cases of extreme emergencies. Moreover, these provisions should be applied for period of not more than three months.
  • The Punchhi Commission recommended that a superseding body should be constituted which shall look into the matters related to internal security. The name of the council was proposed to be National Integration Council. This council shall meet on an annual basis. In the affected states, the council shall constitute and send a five member delegation to the affected areas within two days.
  • The commission recommended that whenever the centre introduces a bill on a subject that is mentioned in the concurrent list, the states should be consulted.
  • In case the president uses his pocket veto on a state bill, he must give the reason for the same to the state within six months.
  • Appointment of the governor
    • The candidate should have stayed away from politics for at least 2 years.
    • The CM of the state should have a say in this matter along with the Prime minister, the speaker of Lok Sabha, Home Minister and the Vice President.
  • Removal of Governor
    • The doctrine of pleasure which dictates the term of the governor should be removed.
    • Governor should be removed by a resolution passed by the state government
    • The governor should be able to approve the prosecution of a minister of the state even when the state government advise against it.
    • The states should be more involved in the treaties made by the union government related to the matters in the state list.
  • The Punchhi Commission recommended that the communal violence bill should be amended  according to which the centre should be able to deploy the forces in any state without its consent but for a period not exceeding 1 week and even then , after the deployment, post factor consent of the states is mandatory.

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