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Centre-State Legislative Relations

Articles 245 to 255 in Part XI of the Constitution deal with the legislative relations between the Centre and the states. Besides these, there are some other articles dealing with the same subject. Like any other Federal Constitution, the Indian Constitution also divides the legislative powers between the Centre and the states with respect to both the territory and the subjects of legislation. Further, the Constitution provides for the parliamentary legislation in the state field under five extraordinary situations as well as the centre’s control over state legislation in certain cases. Thus, there are four aspects in the Centre-states legislative relations, viz.,

  • Territorial extent of Central and state legislation;
  • Distribution of legislative subjects;
  • Parliamentary legislation in the state field; and
  • Centre’s control over state legislation.

Constitutional Provisions

  1. On the basis of the resolution passed by the Council of State - Article 249, 2/3 majority, Issues of National Interest
  2. On the request of two or more state legislatures - Article 252, Law passed by Union Parliament shall be applicable only to the states which demanded such legislation.
  3. For the enforcement of International Treaties and Agreements - Article 253
  4. Prior approval of President of India on certain Bills - Article 304
  5. Supremacy of Union Parliament during National Emergency - Article 352
  6. During Constitutional Emergency - Article 356
  7. Supremacy of Union Parliament over Concurrent List
  8. Residuary Powers are under the control of Union Parliament - Article 248
  9. Power of Union Parliament to abolish State Legislative Council - Article 169

Extent of laws made by Parliament and by the Legislatures of States

  • The Parliament can make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India. Territory of India includes the states, UTs and any other area for the time being included in the territory of India. Whereas, the state legislature can make laws for whole or any part of state.
  • The Parliament can alone make 'extra territorial legislation' thus the laws of the Parliament are applicable to the Indian citizens and their property in any part of the world.

Subject-matter of laws made by Parliament and by the Legislation of States

  • The Constitution divides legislative authority between the Union and the States in three lists- the Union List, the State List and the Concurrent List.
  • The Union list consists of 99 items. The Union Parliament has exclusive authority to frame laws on subjects enumerated in the list. These include foreign affairs, defense, armed forces, communications, posts and telegraph, foreign trade, etc.
  • The State list consists of 61 subjects on which ordinarily the States alone can make laws. These include public order, police, administration of justice, prison, local governments, agriculture, etc.
  • The Concurrent list comprises of 52 items including criminal and civil procedure, marriage and divorce, economic and special planning trade unions, electricity, newspapers, books, education, population control and family planning, etc.
  • Both the Parliament and the State legislatures can make laws on subjects given in the Concurrent list, but the Centre has a prior and supreme claim to legislate on current subjects. In case of conflict between the law of the State and Union law on a subject in the Concurrent list, the law of the Parliament prevails.

Residuary powers of legislation

  • The Constitution also vests the residuary powers (subjects not enumerated in any of the three Lists) with the Union Parliament. The residuary powers have been granted to the Union contrary to the convention in other federations of the world, where the residuary powers are given to the States.
  • However, in case of any conflict, whether a particular matter falls under the residuary power or not is to be decided by the court.

Parliament's Power to Legislate on State List

  • Though under ordinary circumstances the Central Government does not possess power to legislate on subjects enumerated in the State List, but under certain special conditions the Union Parliament can make laws even on these subjects.

In the National Interest (Art. 249)

  • If the Rajya Sabha declares by a resolution supported by not less than 2/3rd of its members present and voting, that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest that the Parliament should make laws with respect to any matter enumerated in the State List (Art. 249).
  • After such a resolution is passed, Parliament can make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India. Such a resolution remains in force for a period of 1 year and can be further extended by one year by means of a subsequent resolution.

Under Proclamation of National Emergency (Art. 250)

  • Parliament can legislate on the subjects mentioned in the State List when the Proclamation of National Emergency is in operation. However, the laws made by the Parliament under this provision shall cease to have effect on the expiration of a period of six months after the Proclamation has ceased to operate.

By Agreement between States (Art. 252)

The Parliament can also legislate on a State subject if the legislatures of two or more states resolve that it is lawful of Parliament to make laws with respect to any matter enumerated in the State List relating to those State. Thereafter, any act passed by the Parliament shall apply to such states and to any other state which passes such a resolution. The Parliament also reserves the right to amend or repeal any such act.

To Implement Treaties (Art. 253)

  • The Parliament can make law for the whole or any part of the territory of India for implementing any treaty, international agreement or convention with any other country or countries or any decision made at any international conference, association or other body.
  • Any law passed by the Parliament for this purpose cannot be invalidated on the ground that it relates to the subject mentioned in the State list.

Under Proclamation of President's Rule (Art. 356)

  • The President can also authorize the Parliament to exercise the powers of the State legislature during the Proclamation of President's Rule due to breakdown of constitutional machinery in a state.
  • But all such laws passed by the Parliament cease to operate six months after the Proclamation of President's Rule comes to an end.

Centre's control over State Legislation

The Constitution empowers the centre to exercise control over the state's legislature in following ways:

  1. The governor can reserve certain types of Bills passed by the state legislature for the consideration of the President. The President enjoys absolute veto over them.
  2. Bills on certain matters enumerated in the State List can be introduced in the state legislature only with the previous sanction of the President as imposing restrictions on freedom of trade and commerce.
  3. The President can direct the states to reserve Money Bills and other Financial Bills passed by the state legislature for his consideration during a financial emergency.