Relations between the Union and the States

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Recently, the Supreme Court of the country, while hearing a petition requesting release of financial assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to the state for drought management in Karnataka, said that there should be no competition between the Center and the state. The top court said that various state governments have to approach the court. The top court asked the Center to file its reply on Karnataka’s plea. The bench said that the top law officers who appeared on advance notice have said that they will take instructions and give a statement before the court on the next date.

The petition also seeks a declaration that the Centre’s move in not releasing financial assistance for drought management under the NDRF is prima facie violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed to the people of the State under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. . It said the state is grappling with severe drought, affecting people’s lives, and 223 out of the total 236 taluks have been declared drought-hit for the Kharif season (2023) from June to September. The plea said 196 taluks have been classified as severely affected and the remaining 27 as moderately affected. The plea, filed through advocate DL Chidanand, said damage to agricultural and horticultural crops has been reported in a total of more than 48 lakh hectares for the Kharif season, with an estimated loss (in cultivation) of Rs 35,162 crore. The assistance sought from the Government of India under NDRF is Rs 18,171.44 crore.

Not only Karnataka, the governments of many states including Punjab, West Bengal, Delhi are today on the path of confrontation with the Central Government. In the states where there are governments of opposition parties, most of the challenges to the central government are coming from these states. Mamata Banerjee has clearly said that we will not implement CAA and other laws passed by the Parliament in the state.

If we go back to the past, we will find that despite there being governments of opposition parties in the states and despite differences on issues, the states did not challenge the Central Government the way they are being challenged today. Seeing the interest of the state, he kept solving the problems by adopting the middle path.

At present, the states where opposition parties are in power are giving priority to confrontation with the Center to gain political mileage on the basis of differences. As a result, the interests of the state are adversely affected. The general public does not go into the constitutional details and taking advantage of this, the parties and the opposition parties present their views to the public in their own way.

From the constitutional point of view, state governments cannot stop the laws passed by the Parliament from being implemented in the states. If a situation of conflict arises between the laws made by the State and the Center regarding any law, then only the law made by the Center will be applicable.

Articles 245-255 of the Constitution declare the distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the States. Parliament can make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India. The Legislature of a State can make laws for the whole of the State or any part of it. Laws made by Parliament cannot be objected to on the ground of extra-territorial operation (Article 245). The Seventh Schedule of the Constitution contains three lists i.e. Union List, State List and Concurrent List which contain 97, 66 and 47 items respectively. Article 246 provides that the Parliament will have the exclusive jurisdiction to make laws regarding the items in the Union List, the State Legislature will have the exclusive power to make laws regarding the items included in the State List and the Union and Both the legislatures of the states can make laws. If there is any inconsistency between the laws made by Parliament and the Legislatures of the States with respect to items of the Concurrent List, the laws of the Union shall prevail and the law of the State shall be void to the extent of the inconsistency, except where the law of the State is repealed by the President. It has been reserved for consideration and his approval has been obtained (Article 245). In the threefold distribution of legislative powers, the residuary powers of legislation are assigned to the Union (Article 248). Also, Parliament has been given the power to make any law for the entire country or any part of it to give effect to any international treaty, agreement, convention or decision (Article 253).

Regarding the relationship between the Union and the states, it is clear that the Union is the center of power. States cannot challenge it.

When the Sangh is challenged to serve political interests, it is wrong from the constitutional point of view and in the interest of the country. The state governments will have to understand that conflict with the Union is the biggest obstacle to the development of the state.

-Irwin Khanna, Editor-in-Chief, Dainik Uttam Hindu.

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