In this article, we will discuss the Inter-State Relations in a simple and easy way, and try to understand its various important aspects,

So to understand well, definitely read this article till the end and also read other articles related to it. Earlier we have discussed the Centre-State relationship in detail.

Just as there are relations between the center and the state, in the same way, there are many aspects of the relationship between the state and the state, so let us know;

Inter-State Relations
Inter-State Relations [Image Credit Freepik]
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Inter-State Relations

What matters is the relationship between the center and the state in a federal system country. More or less equally important are the relations between the state and the state (inter-state relations). Because conflict of interest is a common thing and there are some things that always create disputes like river (which flows through many states), excessive migration, inter-state trade etc.

The Constituent Assembly was aware of these disputes, that is why some such provisions were added in the constitution which tries to resolve the inter-state disputes. For inter-state participation and brotherhood, the provisions made under the constitution can be seen by dividing it into four parts;

1. Arrangement for resolving inter-state water disputes,
2. Arrangement for ensuring harmony and co-ordination by the Inter-State Council,
3. Arrangement for inter-state relations and mutual recognition of public laws, documents and judicial procedures,
4. Inter-state trade, commerce and freedom of association.

So let us understand the provisions of all these-

1. Inter -State Relations and Water Disputes Settlement

In a federal system country, if there is a dispute regarding the distribution of water of rivers flowing through two or more states, then it is not a new thing because water scarcity is a problem and in the coming time it may take the form of an even bigger problem. In such a situation, all the states would like to have more and more water rights. The framers of the Constitution knew this because some water disputes were going on before independence, such as the Cauvery water dispute; Keeping this in mind, some important provisions related to this have been made in the constitution itself so that future generations can be helped in resolving inter-state water disputes.

Article 262 – Adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-state rivers or river basins

There are two provisions in this article. as written below.

1. Parliament can, by making a law, adjudicate complaints on any dispute relating to the use, distribution and control of water of inter-state rivers and river valleys.

2. Parliament can also provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court should exercise its jurisdiction in any such dispute. That is, simply put, Parliament can play the role of a court in this matter.

Using this article, Parliament made two laws. (1) River Board Act (1956) (2) Inter-State Water Disputes Act (1956) .

(1) River Board Act (1956) – Its function is to establish a River Board for the control and development of inter-state rivers and river basins.

The point to be remembered here is that the River Board is established on the request of the respective states by the Central Government to advise them.

(2) Inter-State Water Disputes Act (1956) – By using this law, the Central Government can constitute a Provisional Court (Tribunal) for adjudicating river water disputes between two or more states.

| The decision of the Tribunal is final and binding on all the parties to the dispute.

This does not mean that the matter cannot be taken to the Supreme Court. If the matter of legal dispute comes in all this matter, then the Supreme Court has the right to hear the cases related to the water disputes between the states.

Several Interstate Water Disputes Tribunals have been formed using these laws so far. Which you can see in the chart below;

List of Interstate Relations and River Water Disputes

Nameestablishment yearconcerned state
1. Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal1969Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh
2. Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal1969Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha
3. Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal1969Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra
4. Ravi and Vyas Water Disputes Tribunal1986Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan
5. Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal1990Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry
6. Second Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal2004Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh
7. Vanshdhara Water Disputes Tribunal2010Odisha and Andhra Pradesh
8. Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal2010Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka

Out of this, the Cauvery water dispute is very important and also very interesting because this dispute is going on since 1892 when India was not even independent. Many times agreements were made and broken, even after independence, many agreements were made on this or decisions were given by the court but it was never implemented properly. Cauvery water dispute  Must read to read and understand this interesting development .

2. Arrangement to ensure harmony and co-ordination by the Inter-State Council

According to Article 263 , if the President thinks that the constitution of any such inter-state council is in the public interest, he can constitute such council. This Council shall have the following duties;

(a) to inquire into disputes arising between the States and to advise on such disputes

(b) * To investigate and discuss such matters in which the States as well as the Center have common interest.

(c) * To make recommendations for better implementation of policies specially made for such subjects.

So far the President has constituted the following councils by using these provisions.

– Central Health Council,
– Central Local Government and Urban Development Council,
– Four Zonal Councils for the Northern, Eastern, Western and Southern Zones for Sales Tax.

The point to be remembered here is that the way the Supreme Court uses Article 131 to adjudicate disputes between states. Similar powers are also with these councils. The only difference is that the work of the Council is advisory whereas the decision of the Supreme Court is essentially valid.

Inter-state council

Sarkaria Commission (1983 – 87) constituted to make suggestions on the relations between the Center and the States, under Article 263 of the Constitution, suggested for the establishment of regular Inter-State Council. That is, a council which also has the responsibilities related to clauses * ‘b’ and ‘c’ of article 263 and can function separately from other councils created under this article.

Following the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission , the Janata Dal government led by V P Singh formed the Inter-State Council in 1990. It had the following members.

– President – ​​Prime Minister ,
– Chief Ministers of all the states ,
– Chief Ministers of Union Territories with Legislative Assemblies ,
– Administrators of Union Territories where there is no Legislative Assembly
– Governors of states under President’s rule. And,
– Six Union Cabinet Ministers (including the Home Minister) nominated by the Prime Minister

It is to be noted here that the five cabinet ministers nominated by the prime minister are the permanent invitees to the council.

The following are the functions of this council. You can see below that its function is the same as described in clauses ‘b’ and ‘c’ of article 263 .

| To investigate and discuss on such subjects in which the common interest of the states or the center is vested.

|️ To make recommendations for better coordination in policy and its implementation on these subjects.

| To discuss such other matters as are in the general interest of the States, and are assigned to it by the Speaker.

Some facts related to this council

At least three meetings of the council are held in a year. Its meetings are transparent and decisions on questions are taken unanimously. The Council also has a Standing Committee . It was established in 1996, so that the matters for consideration of the Council are discussed continuously.

This Standing Committee consists of the following members.

– Union Home Minister (as Chairman),
– five Union Cabinet Ministers and nine Chief Ministers.

There is also a secretariat to assist the council, which is called the Inter-State Council Secretariat . It was established in 1991 and is headed by a Secretary to the Government of India. Since 2011, the same Secretariat is also functioning as the Secretariat of the Zonal Councils.

Inter-State Relations and Regional/Zonal Councils

Regional councils are statutory bodies and not constitutional ones. That is, it is not a part of the constitution, but it has been constituted by the Parliament by making an act, this act is – States Reorganization Act 1956.

The idea of ​​the creation of territorial councils was mooted by India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1956, when, during a debate on the Report of the States Reorganization Commission, he suggested that states may be proposed to be reorganized. These states should be grouped into four or five areas with an advisory council to ‘develop the habit of cooperative working’.

This suggestion was made by Pandit Nehru at a time when linguistic animosity and bitterness was threatening the fabric of our nation as a result of the reorganization of states on linguistic patterns. As a countermeasure to this situation, it was suggested that a high level advisory forum should be set up to reduce the impact of these hostilities and resolve inter-state problems and promote healthy inter-state and balanced socioeconomic development of the regions concerned to create a centre-state environment.

This law divided the country into five regions and created a regional council for each region. Which you can see in the chart below.

Namemember Stateheadquarters
Northern Zonal CouncilPunjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Chandigarh and Jammu and KashmirNew Delhi
Central Zonal councilMadhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and ChhattisgarhAllahabad
Eastern Zonal CouncilBihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and OdishaKolkata
western Zonal councilMaharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar HaveliMumbai
southern Zonal councilKarnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and TelanganaChennai
Inter-State Relations

members of regional councils

Each Regional Council consists of the following members. ,

– Home Minister of the Central Government,
– Chief Ministers of all the states of the region,
– Two other ministers from each state in the region,
– Administrators of each of the Union Territories located in the region.

The Home Minister of the Central Government is the head of the five Zonal Councils. Each Chief Minister sequentially serves as the Vice-Chairman of the Council for a period of one year.

In addition, the following persons can participate in the regional council as advisors, but they do not get the right to vote.

1. Person nominated by the Planning Commission (Now NITI Aayog)
2. Chief Secretary of each State Government located in the area
3. Development Commissioner of each State in the area

North East Council

If you look in the chart above, you will not see the North-East. This is because it was later made in 1971.

This council includes the eight states of the Northeast (Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura). Its functions are more or less the same as that of the rest of the councils, some functions are different, such as, from time to time, all the member states of this council have to review the steps taken to maintain security and public order.

The purpose of regional councils

– To promote collaboration and coordination between the States, Union Territories and the Centre.

– To discuss and make recommendations on related topics like economic and social planning, linguistic minorities, border disputes, inter-state transport etc.

– To assist each other for successful and speedy implementation of major development plans.

– Help in preventing the development of sharp state sentiment, regionalism, linguistic and specialism.

– To enable the Center and the States to assist each other on social and economic matters and to exchange ideas and experiences for the development of common policies.

– To ensure political equality between different regions of the country.

Remember that these are only discussion and advisory bodies. That is, their suggestions are not binding.

Zonal Councils provide an excellent forum where the issues between the Center and the States can be resolved through free and frank discussion and consultation. Being an advisory body, there is full scope for free and frank exchange of views in their meetings. Although there are a large number of other forums such as the National Development Council, Inter-State Council, Governor’s/Chief Minister’s Conference and other periodic high level conferences organized under the aegis of the Central Government, Zonal Councils differ in both content and character. They are regional forums of cooperative effort for states that are economically, politically and culturally connected to each other.

Northern Zonal Council30th9.7.2022 (Jaipur)
Central Zonal Council23th22.8.2022  (Bhopal)
Eastern Zonal Council24th28.02.20 (Bhubaneswar)
western Zonal council25th11.06.2022 (Diu)
southern Zonal council30th03.09.2022 (Thiruvananthapuram)
Inter-State Relations []

3. Arrangements for inter-state relations and mutual recognition of public laws, documents and judicial procedures

As we have also read in the article on the federal system that the jurisdiction of each state is limited to its territory. In such a situation, it is possible that one state may not accept the laws and documents of another state.

For example, suppose you take your graduation degree and go to another state for job or studies, and that state refuses to accept your degree, and it should be said that go to the same state from which you have come. To overcome this, Article 261 of the Constitution has the principle of absolute trust and credit. Which is something like this.

The public acts , documents (issued by any authorized person or institution) and judicial process of the Center and every state have been given full confidence and credibility throughout India.

Here public acts mean legislative and executive laws. And judicial procedure means the final decision given by the court during the hearing. It can be understood directly that a State cannot annul a decision given by a court of law, and secondly, that it can be used as a reference in future.

But remember one thing that it is applicable only to civil matters and not to criminal matters. This is so that the rules of punishment of one state do not apply to another state.

4. Freedom of inter-state trade, commerce and intercourse

Articles 301 to 307 of Part 13 of the Constitution describe trade, commerce and intercourse in Indian territory. Let us see it one by one.

Article 301 – Freedom of trade, commerce and intercourse

According to this article trade, commerce and intercourse shall be free throughout the territory of India.

According to this provision, freedom is not limited to inter-state trade, commerce and intercourse, but it also extends to trade, commerce and intercourse within the states. Therefore, if it is banned in any state, then it will be a violation of Article 301.

Although it is not that trade cannot be banned, but only the restriction falling under this part of the constitution (ie Part 13) will be valid.

Article 302 – Power of Parliament to impose restrictions on trade, commerce and intercourse

Parliament can impose restrictions on the freedom of trade, commerce and association between states or within a state, keeping in view the public interest.

Article 303 – Restrictions on the legislative powers of the Union and of the States in relation to trade and commerce

Parliament cannot use Article 302 to make any law which can create discrimination. In other words, Parliament cannot give priority to one state over another, that is, if there is a restriction, it will be equal for all the states.

However, if there is a shortage of goods in any state, then if Parliament has to make any discriminatory law to deal with this situation, then it can make it.

Article 304 – Restrictions on trade, commerce and intercourse between states

The Legislature of a State may by law impose any tax on goods imported from other States as levied on similar goods produced in that State, but the State Legislature shall ensure that the goods imported and produced in that State There should be no distinction between goods.

However, having regard to the public interest, the State may impose reasonable restrictions on the freedom of trade, commerce and association. But no such bill can be introduced in the Legislature with the prior approval of the President.

Article 305 – Saving of existing laws and laws providing for State monopoly

The freedom which is given under Article 301 is because it is subject to nationalized laws. Therefore, the Parliament or the state legislature can make laws for the continuance of any trade, business, industry or service, which may or may not involve ordinary citizens.

Article 306 has been nullified by the Seventh Constitutional Amendment, so let’s look directly at the last article 307 of this part .

Article 307 – Appointment of authority to carry out the purposes of articles 301 to 304.

Parliament may by law appoint such authority as it deems appropriate for carrying out the purposes of articles 301, 302, 303 and 304.

Overall, this is the Inter-State Relations, I hope you can understand. Below is a link to other articles, please read it too.

Inter-State Relations Practice Quiz upsc


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