In this article, we will discuss Centre State Relations (Part-4). So, let’s get started.
Parliamentary Legislation in the State Field
The above scheme of distribution of legislative powers between the Centre and the states is to be maintained in normal times. But, in abnormal times, the scheme of distribution is either modified or suspended. In other words, the Constitution empowers the Parliament to make laws on any matter enumerated in the State List under the following five extraordinary circumstances:
When Rajya Sabha Passes a Resolution
If the Rajya Sabha declares that it is necessary in the national interest that Parliament should make laws with respect to goods and services tax or a matter in the State List, then the Parliament becomes competent to make laws on that matter. Such a resolution must be supported by two-thirds of the members present and voting. The resolution remains in force for one year; it can be renewed any number of times but not exceeding one year at a time. The laws cease to have effect on the expiration of six months after the resolution has ceased to be in force. This provision does not restrict the power of a state legislature to make laws on the
same matter. But, in case of inconsistency between a state law and a parliamentary law, the latter is to prevail.
During a National Emergency
The Parliament acquires the power to legislate with respect to goods and services tax or matters in the State List, while a proclamation of national emergency is in operation. The laws become inoperative on the expiration of six months after the emergency has ceased to operate.
Here also, the power of a state legislature to make laws on the same matter is not restricted. But, in case of repugnancy between a state law and a parliamentary law, the latter is to prevail.
When States Make a Request
When the legislatures of two or more states pass resolutions requesting the Parliament to enact
laws on a matter in the State List, then the Parliament can make laws for regulating that matter. A law so enacted applies only to those states which have passed the resolutions. However, any other state may adopt it afterwards by passing a resolution to that effect in its legislature. Such a law can be amended or repealed only by the Parliament and not by the legislatures of the concerned states.
The effect of passing a resolution under the above provision is that the Parliament becomes entitled to legislate with respect to a matter for which it has no power to make a law. On the other hand, the state legislature ceases to have the power to make a law with respect to that matter. The resolution operates as abdication or surrender of the power of the state legislature with respect to that matter and it is placed entirely in the hands of Parliament which alone can then legislate with respect to it.
Some examples of laws passed under the above provision are Prize Competition Act, 1955; Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972; Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976; and Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994.
To Implement International Agreements
The Parliament can make laws on any matter in the State List for implementing the international
treaties, agreements or conventions. This provision enables the Central government to fulfil its international obligations and commitments.
Some examples of laws enacted under the above provision are United Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947; Geneva Convention ACt, 1960; Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 and legislations relating to environment and TRIPS.
During President’s Rule
When the President’s rule is imposed in a state, the Parliament becomes empowered to make laws with respect to any matter in the State List in relation to that state. A law made so by the Parliament continues to be operative even after the president’s rule. This means that the period for which such a law remains in force is not coterminous with the duration of the President’s rule. But, such a law can be repealed or altered or re-enacted by the state legislature.
Centre’s Control Over State Legislation
Besides the Parliament’s power to legislate directly on the state subjects under the exceptional situations, the Constitution empowers the Centre to exercise control over the state’s legislative matters in the following ways:
(i) The governor can reserve certain types of bills passed by the state legislature for the consideration of the President. The president enjoys absolute veto over them.
(ii) Bills on certain matters enumerated in the State List can be introduced in the state legislature only with the previous sanction of the president. (For example, the bills imposing restrictions on the freedom of trade and commerce).
(iii) The Centre can direct the states to reserve money bills and other financial bills passed by the state legislature for the President’s consideration during a financial emergency.
From the above, it is clear that the Constitution has assigned a position of superiority to the Centre in the legislative sphere. In this context, the Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State Relations (1983-88) observed: “The rule of federal supremacy is a technique to avoid absurdity, resolve conflict and ensure harmony between the Union and state laws. If this principle of union supremacy is excluded, it is not difficult to imagine its deleterious results. There will be every possibility of our two-tier political system being stultified by interference, strife, legal chaos and confusion caused by a host of conflicting laws, much to the bewilderment of the common citizen.
Integrated legislative policy and uniformity on basic issues of common Union-state concern will be stymied. The federal principle of unity in diversity will be very much a casualty. This rule of federal supremacy, therefore, is indispensable for the successful functioning of the federal system”.