Day 8 – Q 1.The Indian Constitution is quasi-federal in nature. Do you agree? Explain with the help of suitable examples.
1. The Indian Constitution is quasi-federal in nature. Do you agree? Explain with the help of suitable examples.
भारतीय संविधान प्रकृति में अर्ध-संघीय है। क्या आप सहमत हैं? उपयुक्त उदाहरणों की सहायता से समझाएँ।
Indian federalism was designed on the basis of working of the federalism in USA, Canada and Australia. Yet it deviates from those federalism in many respects and establishes its own distinctive features. As K C Wheare ovbserves, it is ‘quasi federal’ and federal suo generis (Federation of its own form).
Quasi federal nature of Indian Constitution:
Indian constitution is a blend of federal feature with unitary bias. Some of the federal feature are.
- Dual polity: two government one at the Centre and in states with defined functions and responsibilities.
- Written and Rigid Constitution: Ratification by states for Constitutional amendment involving federal features. E.g. GST passage requiring consent of the states.
- Supremacy of the Constitution – Any law or amendment affecting the federal feature will be struck down by the Supreme Court.
- Division of powers: 7th schedule with 3 lists. States are supreme in their own sphere and have responsible government with law making power to the legislature.
- Bicameral Legislature: Like other Federations, the Constitution of India also provides for a bicameral Parliament consisting of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
- Independent judiciary: so that there is no unilateral change in division of power by the Centre.
Yet, Indian federalism deviates from the federal characteristics as below and shows unitary features
- Constitutional amendment procedure- the power to initiate an amendment to the Constitution lies only with the Centre.
- States not indestructible- e.g. Recent Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act without popular government support.
- All India Services- Centre has the ultimate control over the civil servants.
- Emergency provisions: as H V Kamath notes, this single chapter turns the federal character of Indian political setup to unitary. 1975 emergency is a best example.
- President rule under article 356: is a loophole to the federal feature and is misused several times. E.g. Unconstitutional imposition of president rule in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand in 2016.
- Governor’s office- Governors appointment and his/her actions in crucial times has been criticised for being biased towards the power at Centre. Eg. Governor of Karnataka and Manipur inviting the second largest party to form the government instead of single largest party. This shows the Centre influence in state government formation.
- No Equality of State Representation- Representation in the legislature in the federal states in United States is on an equal basis, which is also not applicable in case of Indian States. Thus, making the federation in India unequal.
- Deployment of armed forces in states without the consent of states is seen as violation of federal character.
The Indian Constitution is neither purely federal nor purely unitary, but it’s a combination of both. Indian Constitution is mainly federal with unique safeguards for enforcing national unity and growth. Also, federalism is not dead in India, as evidenced by the fact that new regions are demanding statehood and union has yielded, thus states like Manipur, Tripura, Goa, etc. have been created.