Political Science: Indian Federal System and Features of Indian Federalism: Features and Nature of Indian Federalism

Get unlimited access to the best preparation resource for CBSE : fully solved questions with step-by-step explanation- practice your way to success.

Download PDF of This Page (Size: 130K)

Features of Indian Federalism

  • Written Constitution

  • Rigid Constitution

  • Division of Powers

  • Supremacy of the Judiciary

Nature of Indian Federation

It is very difficult to put the Indian Constitution in the category of true-federation, constitutional experts have called it ‘semi-federal’ of ‘quasi federal’ system, due to the following reasons:

  • Article 1 of the Constitution describes India as a ‘Union of States’.

  • The Centre appoints the Governors of the States and may take over the administration of the State on the recommendations of the Governor or otherwise (through National Emergency).

  • In a true federation such as that of United State of America every State irrespective of their size in terms of area or population it sends two representatives in the upper House i.e. Senate. But in case of India, all states have unequal representation.

  • All-important appointments such as the Chief Election Commissioner, the Comptroller and Auditor General are made by the Union Government.

  • Single citizenship States cannot propose amendments to the Constitution; it can only be done through Union parliament.

  • All India Services such as IAS and IPS are kept under the control of the Union.

  • In financial matters too, the States depend upon the Union to a great extent.

  • In case of disturbances in any State, the Union Government is empowered to depute Central Force in the State.

  • The Parliament, by law may increase or decrease the area of any State and may alter its name and boundaries.

  • Federal principle envisages a dual system of Courts. But, in India we have unified Judiciary with the Supreme Court at the apex.

Centre-State Relations

Legislative Relations

Regarding legislative relations, there is a threefold division of powers in the Constitution by following a system in which there are:

Table 1 Supporting: Legislative Relations

Tablutation of: List , About



Union List

97 subjects legislative power given to Centre

State List

66 subjects legislative power given to States

Concurrent List

47 subjects both Centre and States can form legislation, but in case of a conflict between the Union and the State law relating to the same subject, the Union law prevails over the State law.

Administrative Relations

  • The framers of the Indian Constitution never intended to create administrative co-operation and co-ordination between the centre and states.

  • The executive power of the State is to be exercised in such a way as to ensure compliance with the laws made by the Parliament.

  • The Union Executive is empowered to give directions to a State, if necessary, for the requisite purpose.

  • The Parliament can alone adjudicate on inter-state river disputes.

  • Also, a provision has been made for constituting an Inter- State Council to advise the president on inter-state disputes.

  • Even the State governments may delegate some of its administrative functions relating to the State subjects, to Union Government for a specified period.

  • The Constitution of India has certain special provisions to ensure uniformity of the administrative system. These include the creation of All India Services.

  • The presence of All India Service Officers further paves way for the Central Government to exercise its authority and control over the states. The members of these services are recruited by the Centre but are appointed in the States.

  • No disciplinary action can be taken against them by the State Governments without the permission of the Centre.

  • The President also puts the entire control of the state administrative machinery under the control of the Union under emergency provisions.

  • Ordinarily, the central police force and Army are posted to the states at the request of the State Government. However, there have been occasions when the CRPF of BSF has been deployed in states much against the state wishes of the State Government.

  • Thus, the center plays a very important role in the administrative sphere of activity concerning the States.

Financial Relations

  • Both the Union and the State have been provided with independent sources of revenue by the Constitution.

  • The Parliament can levy taxes on the subjects included in the Union List. The States can levy taxes on the subjects in the State List.

  • In the financial sphere too, the Centre is better equipped.

Demand for Greater Autonomy for the States

  • In order maintain the tackle disruption and disunity in the country and for ensuring unity and integrity of the country, the constitution provides for a strong Centre.

  • The relation between Centre and states has not been always cordial. They demand more powers and for this, several commissions have been appointed by the Centre from time to time.

  • One such commission appointed for improving Centre-State relations was Sarkaria Commission. The recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission were as follows:

    • Federalism is more a functional arrangement for co-operative action than a static institutional concept.

    • Recommended the establishment of permanent Inter-State Council.

    • It desired that both the Centre and the States should have the concern for the development of backward territory or areas◊ the separatist tendencies will be automatically controlled.

    • Differences between the Union and the States should be resolved by mutual consultation.

    • It has suggested economic liberalization and suitable amendments to the Constitution.

Developed by: