What are the power-sharing arrangements in our country?
The Constitution declared India as a union of states based on the principles of federalism. The constitution originally provided for a two-tier system of government, the union or the central government representing Union of India and the state governments. Later, a third tier was added in the form of Panchayats and Municipalities. As in any federation, these different tiers enjoyed separate juridisction. The Constitution provided a three - fold distribution of legislative powers.
- Union List: includes subjects of national importance i.e. defence of the country, foreign affairs, banking communications and currency.
- Concurrent List: Contains subjects of common interest to both the union government as well as the state governments i.e. education, forests, trade unions, marriages, adoption and succession. In case of dispute, law made by the union government shall prevail.
- State List: Contains subjects of state and local importance i.e. police, trade, agriculture, etc.
Residuary : Subjects which do not fall in any of the three lists i.e. computer software etc. Union government has the power to legislate such subjects.
- As India is an example of ‘holding together’ federation, all states in the Indian Union do not have identical powers. Some states enjoy special status such as Jammu and Kashmir. There are some states too small to become independent like the UTs of Chandigarh and Lakshadweep.
- This sharing of powers between the union government and state governments is basic to the structure of the constitution. Any change to it, has to be passed by both the Houses of the Parliament with at least 2/3rd majorities.
- The judiciary plays an important role in the implementation of constitutional procedures. In case of any dispute about division of powers, the High Courts the Supreme Court, make a decision.