[Editorial] The Era of Combative Federalism


What the editorial is about?

The shift of Indian federalism from cooperative to combative.


The proposed amendments to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) (Cadre) Rules of 1954.

Most probable and repeated topics of upsc prelims

Shifting tides

  • The shift of Indian federalism from cooperative to combative has been one of the major changes in Indian polity since the NDA-led government assumed power at the Centre with a brute majority.
  • The expression ‘combative federalism’ was used by former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat immediately after his government was dismissed under Article 356 of the Constitution by the President’s proclamation.
  • Immediately thereafter, the Centre started wielding power by interfering with the affairs of the States using the Governor’s office.
  • In 2016, when the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh decided to advance the Assembly elections, which led to the political crisis in the State and then President’s Rule, the Supreme Court had to intervene and set right the constitutional crisis by holding that the Governor’s discretion did not extend to the powers conferred under Article 174.
  • The Court said that the Governor cannot summon the House, determine its legislative agenda or address the legislative Assembly without consulting the Chief Minister or the Speaker.
  • We saw examples of the Governor acting beyond his constitutional brief by inviting parties and formations which did not have an adequate majority to form the governments in Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
  • In Rajasthan, the Governor refused to summon a session as desired by the Council of Ministers. This again brought to light how the Centre interferes in State affairs.
  • The question of who should have control of the National Capital Territory of Delhi was resolved by the Supreme Court in 2018, but the dispute continues to linger in one form or the other before the courts.
  • The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that the power of the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi to differ from the Delhi government and make reference to the President is only with respect to exceptional matters like land, police and public order.
  • However, the Supreme Court had to again remind the Delhi government and the Centre that for the system “to work well, the Central Government and the State Government have to walk hand in hand or at least walk side by side for better governance.”
  • The proposed amendments to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) (Cadre) Rules of 1954 are the latest examples in the evolution of the combative nature of federalism in India where the States and the Centre are always at loggerheads.

The proposed amendments to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) (Cadre) Rules of 1954

  • The amendments proposed by the Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India, will take away the liberty of the States to deny the consent for handing over civil servants for Central deputation.
  • Further, if there are differences between the Centre and the States, the Centre’s decision will have to be accepted by the States within a specified time period.
  • Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana have objected to the amendments.

Overt conflicts

  • Apart from more common occurrences of the Centre usurping States’ powers in the fields of legislation, overt conflicts and stalemates have surfaced in the areas of All-India Services and law and order.
  • Such conflicts came to the fore for example, when former West Bengal Chief Secretary was summoned to Delhi immediately after Prime Minister Modi’s visit to West Bengal following Cyclone Yaas.
  • West Bengal Chief Minister’s reluctance to accede to the Centre’s demand and the subsequent disciplinary proceeding against former West Bengal Chief Secretary snowballed into major litigation that is now pending before the Delhi High Court.
  • The deployment of central investigative agencies in the States, much to the displeasure of the States, has also caused trouble for our federal principles.

Collaborative federalism

  • Combative federalism is anathema to the Constitution which prescribes cooperation and collaboration between the Centre and the States.
  • The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held in Government of NCT of Delhi v. Union of India (2018) that the idea behind the concept of collaborative federalism is negotiation and coordination so that differences which may arise between the Centre and the State Governments in their respective pursuits of development can be ironed out.
  • According to the Court, “Union Government and the State governments should endeavour to address the common problems with the intention to arrive at a solution by showing statesmanship, combined action and sincere cooperation.”

Way Ahead

  • The Constituent Assembly, while framing our Constitution, never envisaged a situation where the Central and the State governments would stand in the way of each other.
  • Encroachment by either of the constituent units is strictly prohibited and expressly held abhorrent by the Constitution.
  • Rather than wasting time and energy in unnecessary conflicts, the Centre and the States have to strive to work in coordination in the best interests of the people.
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4 months ago

This is very easy to read when you provide picture base mind map. So this is my humble request to provide pic base mind map.

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