The Government of India Act, 1919 laid down the foundation of a federal form of government in India. It introduced diarchy in India. A federal structure results in the division of powers between the center and the units.
The Government of India Act, 1935 also laid down the provisions for a federal form of government in India. It provided for the distribution of legislative powers between the union and the provinces.
The Government of India Act, 1935, further provided for the cooperative relationship between the provinces. Provisions were laid down to promote harmony and to resolve the differences between the various provinces.
Sections 131, 132 and 133 of the Government of India Act, 1935 laid down provisions for resolving the disputes related to waters. These dealt with the problems relating to inter Province Rivers and river valleys.
Section 135 of the Government of India Act, 1935 laid down provisions for the creation of councils dealing with the coordination between the various provinces of the British India. The need for creating a cooperative relation between the provinces was felt even before the independence.
The Government of India Act, 1935 laid down the foundation for the creation of a cooperative relationship in the federal structure. The present Constitution has elaborated the principles which were laid down under the Act.
Cooperative federalism under Indian Constitution
There has been a felt need for a change from competitive to cooperative relationship in the working of the federal constitution. Cooperative federalism means that the center and the states share a horizontal relationship and neither is above the other. This trend has been promoted by three factors:
(1) the exigencies of war when for national survival, national efforts takes precedence over fine points of Centre state division of powers;
(2) technological advances means making of communication faster;
(3) the emergence of the concept of social welfare state in response to public demands for various social services involving huge outlays which the governments of the units could not meet by themselves out of their own resources.
The concept of cooperative federalism helps the federal system, with its divided jurisdiction to act in unison. It minimizes friction and promotes cooperation among the various constituent governments of the federal union so that they can pool their resources to achieve certain desired national goals.
The Constitution of India provides various provisions dealing with the cooperative aspect of federal structure. The constitution makers deliberately provided for such features in the constitution in order to ensure the smooth working of the government.
Full Faith and Credit Clause
Article 261 of the Constitution of India provides that full faith and credit shall be given throughout the territory of India to all the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of the Union and of every State. This is a step to promote cooperation and faith between the center and the states.
Clause (2) empowers the Parliament to lay down by law the mode of proof as well as the effect of acts and proceedings of one state in another state.
According to clause(3), final judgments or orders delivered or passed by civil courts in any part of the territory of India can be executed anywhere in the country according to law.
The full faith and credit clause promotes uniformity and unity throughout the territory of India. It develops a sense of harmony and unity in the country. It promotes cooperation between the states and the center and gives due credit to all the public acts.
Inter State Council
Article 263 provides that the President may by order appoint an Inter state Council if it appears to him that public interest would be served by its establishment. The President may define the organization, procedure and duties of the Council.
In T.N. Cauvery Sangam v. Union of India[i], the Supreme Court has held that once the Central government finds that the dispute referred to in the request received from the State government cannot be settled by negotiations, it becomes mandatory for the central government to constitute a tribunal and to refer the dispute to it for adjudication. Further, if the central government fails to make such a reference, the court may, on an application under Article 32 by an aggrieved party issue mandamus to the central government to carry out its statutory obligation.
Sarkaria commission on Centre state relations has strongly recommended for the establishment of an inter state council to effect coordination between states.
In Dabur India Limited v. State of Uttar Pradesh[ii], the Supreme Court suggested the setting up of a council under Article 263 to discuss and sort out problems of central state taxation.
Zonal Councils have been introduced in India by the States Reorganisation Act, 1956. These councils have been created in order to bring the states of a particular region in close conformity with each other. The Zonal Councils were created as an instrument of intergovernmental consultation and cooperation mainly in socio economic fields and also to arrest the growth of controversies and particularistic tendencies among the various States.
There exists five Zonal Councils:
(1) Northern- comprising of the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and the union territories of Delhi and Chandigarh.
(2) Eastern- comprising of the states of Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa and Sikkim.
(3) Western- comprising of the states of Gujrat, Maharashtra, Goa and the union territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
(4) Central- comprising of the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh
(5) Southern- comprising of the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala and the union territory of Pondicherry.
Each State included in a zonal council enjoys a complete equality of status as:
(1) each state has an equality of representation in the council;
(2) each Chief Minister is to act as the Vice chairperson of the council in rotation for a year;
(3) meetings of the council are to be held in each member state by rotation;
(4) the Chief Secretary of a member state is to act as the Secretary of the council in rotation for one year.
A zonal council is an advisory body and has no executive or legislative function to perform.
River water Disputes
Article 262 empowers the Parliament to provide by law for adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of any interstate river or river valley.
A river board may be established by the Central government for advising the governments interested in relation to matters concerning the regulation or governance of an inter State river or river valley.
Planning and Finance
Planning makes inter governmental cooperation very necessary for in a federal structure, the governments are not arranged hierarchically. The Directive Principles of state Policy emphasize towards economic democracy, economic empowerment of the weaker sections of the society, and a welfare state without which political democracy does not have much meaning for the larger section of the poor people in the country.
In 1950, the Government of India set up the Planning Commission with the Prime Minister as its chairman. It has a vice president and a few central ministers and a few non official experts as its members.
It has been assigned the following functions:
(1) to make an assessment of material, capital and human resources of the country and investigate the possibilities of augmenting such of these resources as are found to be deficient in relation to the nation’s requirements;
(2) to formulate a plan for the most effective and balanced utilization of the country’s resources;
(3) on a determination of priorities, to define the stages in which the plan should be carried out and propose the allocation of resources for the due completion of each stage;
(4) to indicate the factors which are tending to retard economic development and determine the conditions which in view of the current social and political situation, should be established for the successful execution of the plan;
(5) to determine the nature of the machinery which will be necessary for securing the successful implementation of each stage of the plan in all its aspects;
(6) to appraise from time to time the progress achieved in execution of each stage of the plan and recommend the adjustments of policy and measures that such appraisal might show to be necessary; and
(7) to make such interim and ancillary recommendations as might on a consideration of the prevailing economic conditions, current policies, measures and development programmes, or on an examination of such specific problems as maybe referred to it for advice by the Central or State governments.
National Development Council
The National Development Council was established in 1952 in order provide a mechanism to give sense of participation to the states in the planning processes. It consists of the Prime Minister, the State Chief Ministers, representatives of the Union Territories and members of the Planning Commission. In 1967, its membership was enlarged by the addition of all members of the Union cabinet and Chief Ministers of the Union Territories.
The functions of the council are to strengthen and mobilize the efforts and resources of the nation in support of the plans; to promote common economic policies in all vital spheres and to ensure the balanced and rapid development of all parts of the country.
The council reviews the working of the plan from time to time, considers important questions of social and economic policy affecting national development, and recommends measures for the achievement of the aims and targets set out in the national plan.
The Sarkaria Commission has suggested that it should be renamed as National Economic and Development Council and be constituted under Article 263.
(a) University Grants Commission: The University Grants Commission was created under the University Grants Commission Act, 1956. It gets its funds from the center only. It grants fund both for maintenance and development to central universities while only for maintenance to state universities.
(b) Other bodies to coordinate higher education: The Indian Medical Council, created under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, the All India Council for Technical Education, formed under the All India Council for Technical Education Act, 1987 are some of the bodies regulating and coordinating higher education in India.
(c) Damodar Valley Corporation: The Damodar Valley Corporation is the joint enterprise of center and the states of Bihar and West Bengal and has been established under the provisions of Article 262 to develop the inter state valley of the Damodar river for irrigation, power and flood control.
(d) Drugs Consultative Committee: Section 7 of the Drugs Act, 1940, empowers the Central Government to constitute the Drugs Consultative Committee to advise the central and state governments on any matter tending to secure uniformity throughout India in the administration of the Act. The committee consists of two representatives of the central government and one representative of each of the state governments.
Working of cooperative federalism in India- analysis
The planning commission is very instrumental in providing funds and grants to the states for the purpose of carrying on the centre’s development plans. The grants are given under the provisions of Article 282. These grants are provided for the implementation of the centre’s programmes in the states and are an effective mode of controlling the states by the center. The States want greater grants from the center but are unwilling to participate in increasing their funds by taxation. All the states want to increase their shares of grants but do not want to take any responsibility. It is required that the richer states have a greater share in raising fund.
Further, the grant of funds by the center to the states is politically motivated and the center tends to promote some states over the others. The states blame the center for not providing adequate funds for the purpose of carrying on various developmental programmes.
There are various conflicts regarding the sharing of river water. States do not want to help the other water deficit states and there is requirement to make the states to act for the overall benefits of the country and not act for their individual interests.
As the Zonal Councils are only advisory bodies, they have not achieved much. The Sarkaria Commission has expressed that the Zonal Councils have not been able to fulfill their aims and objectives. It recommended that these should be reactivated and appointed under the provisions of Article 263 to give them a constitutional status. With a greater authority, the Zonal Councils will be able to achieve more.
Position in other federations
The exigencies of war and financial crisis have lead to the development of cooperative features in all the federal constitutions. A strong cooperative relationship ensures that the nation is unified despite its federal nature.
In U.S.A., the intergovernmental cooperation has been built mostly around the system of conditional central grants to the states for centrally sponsored schemes. The Constitution of USA also provides for the inter governmental tax immunities between the center and the states.
In Australia, financial difficulties of the state lead to the creation of Commonwealth Grants Commission as well as the Australian Loan Council in 1927. The council comprises of the Prime ministers of center and states and meets once a year. This arrangement has reduced competition among the governments for funds. Further, expedients like conditional grants, loans by the center to the states, income tax sharing between the center and the states with accent on state financial needs, have also come to be adopted to promote inter governmental cooperation.
In Canada also, cooperative techniques like Central grants to provinces, delegation of power by the center to the provinces, referential legislation have been developed.
Thus, a cooperative relationship, in which the two powers are horizontally arranged instead of hierarchically, has become a rule in all the federations as it leads to the most productive outcome.
A cooperative relationship between the Centre and the States is the need of the hour. Without a cooperative relationship, it will not be possible to move ahead in the present economic world. The various technological advancements, economic and trade activities and external aggressions across the world call for a cooperative relationship between the center and the states in order to provide stability and security in the country. The Sarkaria Commission report has also emphasized on the creation of a strong center state relationship. Cooperative federalism is the means to achieving a strong nation. There is requirement of giving greater flexibility and authority to the National development council by constituting it under the provisions of Article 263.
Further, there should be greater involvement of the states in the planning process and greater coordination in raising the funds for meeting the demands of the developing economy.
Thus, a cooperative relationship is developed by the creation of various councils which work for the benefit of the states as well as the center and also by giving full credit to all the acts throughout the territory of India.
For a more effective cooperative federal relationship it is required that the following steps are taken:
(a) The Zonal Councils should be reorganized under the provisions of Article 263 to give them a constitutional status, thus providing them with greater authority and flexibility for proper functioning.
(b) The participation of the states in the planning commission and planning process should be increased so as to ensure the formulation of more object oriented plans which seek to promote the welfare of all the states.
(c) The states should be encouraged to take a more active part in raising the funds for their developmental works. More grants should be provided to the poorer states which cannot raise funds as compared to the richer states.
(d) The grants given by the center to the states should not be politically motivated but based on the requirements of the states.
(e) The states should act for the overall development of the country and should not act only for their own individual interests.
Thus, it is required that the cooperative federalism is encouraged over the competitive relationship between the center and the states.