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Indian Polity - Centre state Relations - Interstate Council
                                                                                                    September 10, 2017


INTERSTATE COUNCIL

Significance for cooperation between centre and states

The forum is the most significant platform to strengthen Centre-state and inter-state relations and discuss policies.

This works as an instrument for cooperation, coordination and
evolution of common policies.

It can act to bridge trust deficit between centre and states as
the chief ministers are able to raise issues and their concerns
on this platform

Interstate Council (ISC)

* Article 263 of the Constitution provides for establishment of Inter-State Council for coordination between states and union government.

* It is not a permanent constitutional body but it can be established ‘at any time’ if it appears to the President that the public interests would be served by the establishment of such a council.

* First time it was set up on recommendation of Sarkaria Commission

* It was established by Presidential order dated 28 May, 1990.

* The council shall consist of the PM as the Chairman, CMs of all states and UTs and six union cabinet minister nominated by PM.

Issues in the functioning of ISC

1) It is seen as a mere talk shop. Thus, it needs to show that it can follow up
2) Its recommendations are not binding on the government
3) It does not meet regularly as recently Inter-State Council met after a gap of 12 years.

Need for further strengthening of ISC
** Together, the FC and the ISC should operationalize again Part XI and XII of the Constitution that ensure appropriate financial devolution and political decentralization.
** It should be given the power to investigate the issues of inter-state conflicts which is mentioned in the Constitution but dropped by the Presidential order creating ISC in 1990 (Based on Sarkaria Commission's recommendations).
** It should be strengthened as a forum for not just administrative but also political and legislative give and take between centre and states
**Some of the following recommendations of Punchhi commission should also be considered
a) The Inter-State Council must meet at least thrice in a year on an agenda evolved after proper consultation with States.
b) The Council should have experts in its organizational set up drawn from the disciplines of Law, Management and Political Science besides the All India Services.
c) The Council should have functional independence with a professional Secretariat constituted with experts on relevant fields of knowledge supported by Central and State officials on deputation for limited periods.
d) After ISC is made a vibrant, negotiating forum for policy development and conflict resolution, the Government may consider the functions for the National Development also being transferred to the ISC.

Conclusion

Though, there are other bodies such as the NITI Aayog’s Governing Council-it has a similar composition, including the prime minister, chosen cabinet ministers and chief ministers-that could address centre-state issues. But the ISC has constitutional backing, as against the NITI Aayog which only has an executive mandate. This puts the states on more solid footing-an  essential ingredient in building the atmosphere of cooperation needed for calibrating centre-state relations.