Inter-State Council

Recently, news of Union Ministers Smriti Irani and D.V.Sadananda Gowda being dropped from Inter-State Council, came up.   The NDA Government, in July 2016, constituted inter-state council after a gap of 10 years. Lets look at various aspects of this Inter-State Council:

What is Inter-State Council?

Article 263 of the Constitution, contemplates to establishment of Inter-State Council to effect coordination between states and between Union & States.  The Council is a recommendatory body to investigate and discuss subjects, in which some or all of the states or the union government have a common interest and recommend ways for the better coordination of policy and action between  states.

The inter-state council is not a permanent constitutional body and can be established ‘at any time’ if it appears to the President that the public interests would be served by the establishment of such a council. Further, he can define the nature of duties to be performed by council, its organization and working procedure.

When was first Inter-state Council organized ?

The Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State relations recommended setting up of permanent Inter-State Council under Article 263. Acting on the recommendation, V.P Singh Government established the Inter-State Council through a Presidential Order dated 28 May 1990.

Composition of the Council:

The Council consists of:

  • Prime Minister who is the chairman,
  • Chief ministers of all states who are members,
  • Chief ministers of union territories having legislative assemblies.
  • Administrators of Union Territories
  • Six union ministers of cabinet rank in the union council of ministers, including home minister, nominated by the prime minister

In present council – Six Union Ministers included are:

  • Home Minister Rajnath Singh,
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley,
  • Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar,
  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj,
  • Minister for Information and Broadcasting M Venkiah Naidu
  • Road Transport Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Meetings of Inter-State Council:

The inter-state council has met for ten times and in seven of those meetings, the council had discussed recommendations of the Sarkaria commission. Out of a total of 247 recommendations, 180 recommendations were accepted by the council.

The tenth and last meeting of inter-state council was held in December 2006 which focussed on status of implementation of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989.

What are zonal council meetings?

The Inter-State Council is assisted by Secretariat, which is headed by a Secretary to the Government of India. Under the home ministry, the secretariat, also organizes the zonal council meetings on the same lines as the inter-state council meeting and is chaired by the union home minister.

The five zones under it are east, central, north, west and south. In the run up to the national meet, a meeting of North Eastern Council (NEC) is also held where chief ministers of all the north-east states are invited.

The 11th Inter-State Council:

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The present NDA government has recently, reconstituted the Inter State Council and the Standing Committee, under Clause 2 of the Inter State Council order,1990.

The Standing Committee will be chaired by home minister, Rajnath Singh. Its members are Ms. Swaraj, Mr. Jaitley, Mr. Naidu and Mr. Gadkari as well as the Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Chattisgarh, Tripura, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Additionally, if the the Standing Committee finds it necessary, it may invite experts and persons eminent in specific fields to have the benefit of their views while deliberation upon the related subjects.

Functions of Standing Committee:

  • Standing Committee would have continuous consultation and process matters for consideration of the Council
  • Process all matters pertaining to Centre State Relations before they are taken up for consideration in the Inter-State Council;
  • Monitor the implementation of decisions taken on the recommendations of the Council;
  • Consider any other matter referred to it by the Chairman/Council.

The council and the committee have been formed to “create a strong institutional framework to promote and support cooperative federalism in the country”.

Points to Remember: Inter-State Council

  • Constitutional body under article 263
  • Based on recommendation of Sarkaria Commission
  • Nature: Advisory/Recommendatory
  • Not a permanent body
  • Headed by PM
  • Standing Committee/ Zonal meetings: Headed by Home Minister