Both the Union and States derive their authority from the Constitution, which divides all powers between them. Centre-State relations may therefore be studied under following heads—legislative and executive, financial and administrative relations. A total of 56 articles from Art. 245 to 300 in part XI & XII are devoted to the centre-state relationships.
Arts. 245-254 in Part XI, Chapter I of the Constitution deal with the legislative relations between the Centre and the State. The distribution of legislative powers is under following two heads:
(i) The territory over which the Federation and Units shall, respectively, have their jurisdiction;
(ii) The subjects to which their respective jurisdiction shall extend.
Territorial Extent of Jurisdiction
According to Art. 245, the state suffers limitation with regard to legislative jurisdictions. It can only legislate within the confines of its own territories. Parliament does not suffer from this. It can legislate for ' the whole or any part of the terrorises of India', which includes not only the states but also Union Territories or any other area, for the time being included in the territories of India. It also possesses the power of extraterritorial legislation.
Distribution of legislative powers
Also in the subjects of legislation enumerated, the Indian Constitution differs from its American and Canadian counterparts. Based mainly on the Government of India Act (1935), the Constitution prescribes threefold enumeration, viz. Union, State and Concurrent. The subjects under the three lists are placed in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
|Union List||State List||Concurrent List|
|• Income Tax|
• Custom Duty
• Excise Duty
• Corporation Tax
• Service tax
• Central Sales Tax
• Stamp duty in respect of bills of exchange, cheques, promissory notes, etc
|• Taxes on lands and buildings|
• Excise duty on alcoholic liquor etc
• Entry tax
• Sales Tax
• Luxury Tax
• Stamp duty in respect of documents other than those specified in the provisions of List I
|• Stamp duties other than duties or fees collected by means of judicial stamps, but not including rates of stamp duty|
List I or the Union List includes 99 items, including residuary powers, (the Union has exclusive power to make any law with respect to any matter not enumerated in the Concurrent List or State List). Subjects of national importance requiring uniform legislation are included in this list. The more important examples are: defence, armed forces, foreign affairs, insurance, coinage, banking, etc.
List II or the State List comprises 61 items over which the state legislature has exclusive power. The subjects included might require variation in law in response to local needs. Some subjects of vital importance under the State List are: state taxes, police, administration of justice, local self-government and agriculture.
List III or the Concurrent List, which comprises 52 subjects, accords power to both the Union and state to legislate according to the needs of time. Important subjects in the Concurrent List are: criminal law and procedure, civil procedure, marriage, contracts, welfare, labour, social planning, etc.
Where an overlap of subjects occurs, the Union legislature gets the preference. But under the theory of ' harmonious reconstruction' and 'pith and substance rule', both rights are taken together by deciding the true essence or crux of the subject. In the Concurrent List, too, the Union legislature's decision would prevail, except under Art. 249 where, if the President gives his assent to a state law, it would prevail over the Union law, notwithstanding the repugnancy. But the Union legislature can overrule the President's order.
The Constitution vests the power to legislate on residuary subjects, i.e., subjects not enumerated in any one of the three Lists, in the Union Parliament under Art 248. In this, the Constitution differed from the 1935 Act which placed residuary power in the hands of the Governor General.
It is the courts' discretion to determine whether a particular matter falls in the residuary powers list. The courts have been interpreting it liberally, thereby restricting the use of such powers by the Union Parliament.
Distribution of Legislative Powers Under Different Circumstances
The makers of the Constitution had foreseen exceptional circumstances, too. Under such conditions either the normal distribution of powers stands suspended or the Union legislature gains a say over the state subjects. These extraordinary circumstances are:
(i) In the national interest. Parliament is empowered to legislate on subjects in the State List for a temporary period. For this, the Upper House should ratify the resolution by its two-thirds members present and voting, that it is necessary in the national interest (Art. 249) that Parliament shall have power to legislate over such matters. Each such resolution will give a lease of one year to the law in question. Such a law will ceased to be in force.
(ii) Under proclamation of emergency. While the proclamation of emergency is made by the President, Parliament has the power to legislate on state subjects. However such a law ceases to exist on the expiration of a period of six months after the proclamation has ceased to operate (Art. 250).
(iii) By agreement between state. If the Legislatures of two or more states resolve that it shall be lawful for Parliament to make laws with respect to any matters in the State List, as far as those states are concerned, Parliament has such power as regards such states. It is open to any state legislature to adopt such resolution (Art. 252).
(iv) To implement treaties. Parliament has the power to legislate on any subject for implementing an international treaty, agreement or convention (Art. 253).
(v) Under a proclamation of failure of the constitutional machinery. When such a proclamation is made by the President under Art. 356, the President may declare that the powers of the state legislature shall be exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament.
Distribution of executive powers
The distribution of executive powers between the Centre and states follow the distribution of legislative powers. Thus, the executive power of the state is coextensive with the territorial jurisdiction of its legislative power (Art. 162).
The Union has exclusive executive powers over matters enumerated in the Union List. The executive power of the Union may be extended by a treaty or agreement among two or more state (Art.73). On the other hand, the state has exclusive executive powers over the subjects of the State List (Art. 162).
In concurrent matters, state have an edge over the Union. The executive powers on concurrent matters generally remain with the state but subject to the provisions of the Constitution, conferring such functions expressly upon the Union. Thus the executive powers relating to concurrent subjects rest with the states, except:
(i) where a law of Parliament relating to such subjects vests some executive function specifically upon the Union; or (ii) where provisions of the Constitution itself vests some executive functions upon the Union.
During a proclamation of an Emergency, the power of the Union to give directions about the manner in which the executive powers of the state are to be exercised, extends to all or some subjects. Under failure of the constitutional machinery, the President is entitled to assume all or any of the executive powers of the state.