In this article, we will discuss the Center-State Legislative Relations in a simple and easy way and understand its various important aspects, So to understand well, definitely read this article till the end as well as read other articles related to this topic.

Within a country there are centers and states, that is, there is a federal system. So there must be some relation, the legislative relation is one of them.

Center-State Legislative Relations
Center-State Legislative Relations [Image source – freepik]
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Center-state relationship

As we know that the Constitution of India is a federal system in itself. And the federal system is based on the principle of division of powers. Which means that all the powers conferred by the constitution such as legislative, executive and financial powers are divided between the center and the states.

Although one thing is to be remembered here that there is no system of division of judicial powers in our constitution because there is a single judicial system, why it is so, it can be understood from the article of the court.

The center and the state have their own jurisdiction and both are independent in that. But still, if seen as a country, the center is seen in the role of a guardian. Whose job is to take everyone along. 

It is also important to know the center and state relationship because whatever the center does after all, it does it for the state itself.

The second thing is that by studying the relationship between them, the jurisdiction of these two can be easily separated. We have seen in the federal system and in the parliamentary system how things have been divided between the center and the state.

Classification of Centre-State Relations

From the point of view of study, the relationship between center and state can be divided into three parts;

1. Legislative relationship 
2. Administrative relations
3. Financial relations

In this article we will discuss the  Central-State Legislative Relations .

Concept of Center-State Legislative Relations

Center-State Legislative Relations simply means the relationship between the center and the state at the level of law making. Center-state legislative relations have been discussed in Part 11 of the Constitution from Articles 245 to 255.

Article numberprovision
Article 245Extension of laws made by the Parliament and by the Legislatures of the States
Article 246Subject-matter of laws made by Parliament and by the Legislatures of the States
Article 246 (क)Special provision with respect to goods and services tax
Article 247Power of Parliament to provide for the establishment of certain Additional Courts
Article 248Residual legislative powers
Article 249Power of Parliament to make laws in the national interest with respect to a subject in the State List
Article 250Power of Parliament to make laws with respect to a subject in the State List if a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation
Article 251Inconsistency between laws made by Parliament under Articles 249 and 250 and laws made by State Legislatures
Article 252Power of Parliament to make laws for two or more States with their consent and the adoption of such law by any other State
Article 253Legislation to give effect to international agreements
Article 254Inconsistency between laws made by Parliament and laws made by state legislatures
Article 255Treating recommendations and requirements regarding prior approval as a matter of process only
Center-State Legislative Relations

As we have discussed above, due to the federal system, the powers have been divided between the Center and the states. In which the center has relatively more powers. But how much legislative powers are with the center and how much legislative powers are with the state, it can be seen by dividing it into four parts.

1. Marginal areas of the Central and State Legislature
2. Center-State Division of Legislative Subjects
3. Parliamentary Legislation in the State Territory
4. Control of the Center over the State Legislature

1. Marginal Areas of Central and State Legislation

This means that what are the limits of making legislation of the center and the state . The Constitution provides for the following provisions under Article 245, with regard to the limitations in relation to the legislative powers of the Center and the States,

Parliament has the power to make laws for the whole of India or any of its regions. Not only this, the law made by Parliament also applies to Indian citizens and their property anywhere in the world. 

Talking about the state legislature, the state legislature can make laws only for that state. Except in some special circumstances, the law made by the state legislature does not apply to the areas outside the state.

Restrictions on the law of Parliament –

There are some areas where the law of Parliament does not apply. Or in other words, the President and the Governor have some privilege, using which they themselves can make rules, statutes etc.

In Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, the President is not bound to implement the central laws. For the peace, security and good government of these areas, the President can impose his own rules, statutes or laws. If the President wishes, the law of the Parliament can also be implemented (with or without amendment).

The Governor and the President have the power to enforce, with modifications, any law of the Parliament in the tribal districts having special status in the Schedule 6 States such as Mizoram, Assam, Manipur and Tripura. 

The purpose of doing this is actually to save the tribal culture there. Because it is obvious that in such a large country, the same law should be suitable for everyone in the same way, it is not necessary and it should not be done.

things to remember

State Legislature is not Parliamentary delegated – both the Parliament and the State Legislature derive their power from the Constitution. That is to say that the State Legislature does not work under the Parliament or does not discharge its responsibilities, but both are separate institutions and the legislative powers of both have been told in the Constitution.

It can also be understood in this way that the work that has been assigned to him, he has to do the work. For example, Parliament cannot ask a secretary, or any authority, to make a law.

Ability to make retrospective legislation – Actually, retrospective legislation means to implement a legislation from the past. Both the Parliament and the State Legislature can make retrospective legislation. But penal laws cannot be given retrospective effect. At the same time, the taxation laws can be given retrospective effect.

Q. Can the legislature re-create the law which has been nullified by the court?

Yes, can make. But the legislature has to keep a few things in mind. such as whether that law is consistent with the Fundamental Right; Whether the defects which the Court found to be unconstitutional have been removed by that method, etc.

Conditional and subordinate legislation is permissible by law or rules – the substantive legislative act has to be done by the legislature itself, that is, it cannot delegate it. But the administration or enforcement of the law can be left to the executive or any other body.

  • When any law is left to the decision of the Legislature or a local authority as to whether or not that law needs to be enforced in that local area, or as to whether any such event has taken place to give effect to that law; So it is called conditional legislation.
  • When, by enactment of a law, the subordinate agency or executive authority is entrusted with the power to make rules or bye-laws for carrying out the purposes of that law, it is called Subordinate Legislation.

2. Center-State Division of Legislative Subjects

Under Article 246, a three-tier arrangement has been made in the Constitution regarding the division of legislative subjects between the Center and the State. Which is kept in the Seventh Schedule . These are three types of lists –
Union list, State list, and Concurrent list.

1. Parliament has special power to make laws on any matter related to the Union List . No state can interfere in this.

At the time when the constitution was made, there were 97 subjects in it, but now there are 100 subjects in this list, such as – defence, banking, foreign affairs, currency, atomic energy, insurance, communication, centre-state trade and commerce, census, accounting. Exam etc. 

2. Similarly, the State Legislature has the power to make laws on the subjects of the State List, but under normal circumstances, because sometimes there is some special situation where the Center also makes laws on the subjects of the State – such as Emergency .

At the time when the constitution was made, it had 66 subjects but now it has 61 subjects. For example, public order, police, public health and sanitation, agriculture, prison, local government, fisheries, market etc. 

3. Both the Parliament and the State Legislature can make laws regarding the Concurrent List . At this time 52 subjects in this list were originally only 47 subjects in it. Such as – criminal law process, civil procedure, marriage and divorce, population control and family planning, electricity, labor welfare, economic and social planning, medicine, newspaper, book and press, constitution of all courts other than Supreme and High Court and others. .

Under the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 , 5 subjects were included in the Concurrent List from the State List. They are – education, forest, measure and weight, protection of wildlife and birds, administration of justice.

  • The part which does not come under any state, Parliament can make laws for that part on any of the three lists or any other matter in addition to that. such as Union Territories.

Download PDF of all the three lists here – In Hindi  – In English 

Some Articles and Facts:

Article 247 empowers the Parliament to establish certain additional courts. In other words, Parliament, for good administration; Establish additional courts in respect of any law made on the subjects of the Union List.

According to Article 248 , Parliament has the right to legislate on the subject which is not mentioned in the three lists (Union List, State List and Concurrent List). That is, the subject which is not mentioned in these three lists, only Parliament can make laws on it. For example, in 1994, when service tax was first implemented in the country, the central government had retained the right to make laws on it, citing this provision.

Whereas in America it is the opposite, the state has the right to make laws on the residuary powers there. The Center cannot make laws on any subject other than those prescribed.

 In the Constitution, the Union List is placed above the State List and the Concurrent List and the Concurrent List is placed above the State List. This means that if there is any kind of conflict between the Union and the State, then the Union List will be valid. 

It is thus clear that matters of national importance necessary for legislative unity were included in the Union List. The subjects of regional and local importance and diversity have been kept in the state list. And legislative subjects having importance of both were placed in the Concurrent List. Thus the constitution allows for  unity in diversity .

Read Also All the rules and regulations for hoisting the flag

3. Parliamentary Legislation in the State Territory

Whatever we have read above about the division of legislative powers is actually applicable when the situation is normal. But sometimes there are some situations in which the Parliament itself makes the legislation for the state. In other words, it is the answer to the question under what circumstances the Center can make laws on the State List also.

Let us know what are the situations in which Parliament makes laws for the states. 

1. When Rajya Sabha passes a resolution

Under Article 249 , when the Rajya Sabha by a two-thirds majority of the members present in the House on that day makes a resolution that Parliament should make laws on matters in the State List, Parliament shall be able to make laws on that matter.

Although such a law can be made for one year only, but it can be extended as many times as Parliament wants, but cannot be extended for more than one year at a time.

Parliament making laws on subjects in the State List does not mean that the State cannot make laws on that List; The state can also make laws on the subjects of that list, but if there is a conflict between the law of the state and the center, then the law of the center will be considered valid. (This is written in Article 251 )

2. During a national emergency 

According to Article 250, in case of emergency in the country, Parliament can make laws on a subject in the State List; which shall apply to the whole or any part of the territory. (However, this arrangement will remain in effect only for six months after the end of the emergency.)

It is not that the state legislature cannot make laws during this period, but in case of conflict, the parliamentary law will prevail. (This is written in Article 251 )

3. At the request of the States

According to Article 252 , when two or more states pass a resolution in their respective legislatures that Parliament can make laws on subjects in the state list. So the Parliament gets the power to make laws for the state, on the subjects of the state list.

However, it is worth remembering here that whichever state passes this resolution, Parliament will be able to make laws for that state and will apply to that state. But if a state passes such a resolution in its legislature even after making a law by the Parliament, then this law will be applicable in that state also.

Some laws like this have already been passed. Such as – Water Pollution (Control and Prevention) Act 1974, Wildlife Protection Act 1972, Human Organ Transplant Act etc. 

4. For the purpose of implementing international agreements

According to Article 253, Parliament can make laws on subjects in the State List for the purpose of giving effect to an international treaty or agreement .

Some of the laws made under this arrangement are as follows- United Nations (Facility and Defense) Act 1947Geneva Convention Act 1960, Anti Kidnapping Act 1982 etc.

4. Control of the Center over the State Legislature

during President’s rule

Under Article 356, President’s rule is imposed in a state. When this happens, all the powers of the Legislature come to the Parliament. In other words, the Parliament also has the power to make laws on the subjects of the State List.

The law made by the Parliament remains effective even after the President’s rule. However, the state legislature can abolish or amend that law if it so desires.

Apart from this, there are some exceptional circumstances in which the Center has control over the State List; such as

1. The Governor can reserve certain types of state bills for the recommendation of the President.

In such a situation, the President has veto power, that is, if the President wants, he can also reject that bill. (Read Governor and President to understand this in detail .)

2. Bills on certain subjects in the State List can be brought after getting assent from the President. Such as Bills restricting freedom of trade and commerce etc.

3. In case of financial emergency, the President can order to preserve the money or finance bill passed by the Legislature. 

Sarkaria Commission on Center-State Legislative Relations

* Overall, you will find that the center has more power and the state has less than that. But it was necessary because if it was not so and more power had been given to the state, then it would have become a threat to the unity and integrity of the nation.

This was also acknowledged by the Sarkaria Commission, which was set up to recommend good suggestions for the betterment of Centre-State relations (1983-87). He had said the following things in the comment –

Federal supremacy has a power to end tensions and conflicts between the laws of the Center and the states and to develop cordial relations. If this position of central supremacy is abolished then its negative effects cannot even be estimated.

Sarkaria Commission

Overall this is the Center-State Legislative Relations , hopefully understandable. Next to this, definitely read Center-State Administrative Relations – Center-State Administrative Relations

Center-State Legislative Relations practice quiz – upsc

Next – Center-State Administrative Relations


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