Why in the news?
- The Inter-State Council (ISC) was recently formed, with the Prime Minister as Chairman and all State Chief Ministers and six Union Ministers as members.
- The Inter-State Council will have ten permanent invitees: ten union ministers.
- The administration has also reestablished the Inter-State Council’s standing committee, with Union Home as Chairman.
- The Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh are also members of the Inter-State Council’s standing committee.
What precisely is the Inter-State Council?
- In 1988, the Government established a commission chaired by Justice R.S. Sarkaria to assess the operation of the current arrangements between the Union and the States.
- One of the key recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission was the establishment of a permanent Inter-State Council as an independent national platform for consultation with a well-defined mandate in accordance with Article 263 of the Indian Constitution.
- The inter-state council is a consultative body tasked with investigating and debating issues of mutual interest between the Union and a state or states.
- It also offers recommendations for greater policy and action coordination on these areas, as well as deliberations on matters of broad concern to the states that its chairman may bring to it.
- It also deliberates on other subjects of general concern to the states that the chairman may refer to the council.
- The Council may convene at least three times per year.
- The Council also has a Standing Committee.
- Prime Minister is the Chairman.
- Members’ Chief Ministers from all states
- Members include Chief Ministers of Union Territories with Legislative Assemblies, Administrators of UTs without Legislative Assemblies, and Governors of States under President’s Rule (Governor’s Rule in the case of J&K).
- Six Cabinet Ministers are appointed to the Union Council of Ministers by Prime Minister Members.
What are the Inter-State Council’s Functions?
- To establish a robust institutional structure to promote and sustain cooperative federalism throughout the country, as well as to active the council and zonal councils through frequent meetings.
- Allows the zonal councils and inter-state council to consider all pending and developing matters of Centre-state and inter-state relations.
- Creates a solid framework for monitoring the implementation of their recommendations.
What is the ISC Standing Committee?
- It was established in 1996 to provide continual consultation and processing of items for the Council’s consideration.
- It is made up of the following individuals: I The Union Home Minister serves as Chairman; (ii) There are five Union Cabinet Ministers; and (iii) there are nine Chief Ministers. The Inter-State Council Secretariat provides assistance to the Council.
- This secretariat, which was established in 1991, is led by a secretary to the Government of India. It has also served as the secretariat for the Zonal Councils since 2011.
The standing committee will consult continuously and process items for discussion by the council, as well as process all matters relevant to center-state relations before they are taken up for consideration by the inter-state council.
Which other organisations promote interstate relations?
- Zonal Councils are statutory (rather than constitutional) organisations. They are founded by a Parliamentary Act, the States Reorganisation Act of 1956.
- The act split the country into five zones: Northern, Central, Eastern, Western, and Southern, with each zone having its own zonal council.
- Several reasons were considered when creating these zones, including the country’s natural divisions, river systems and modes of communication, cultural and linguistic affinity, and the needs of economic development, security, and law and order.
- The standing committee also supervises the implementation of council recommendations and considers any other item presented to it by the chairman or the council.
The North Eastern States, namely I Assam, (ii) Arunachal Pradesh, (iii) Manipur, (iv) Tripura, (v) Mizoram, (vi) Meghalaya, and (vii) Nagaland, are not included in the Zonal Councils and their special problems are handled by the North Eastern Council, which was established under the North Eastern Council Act, 1972.
Inter-State Trade and Commerce:
Articles 301–307 of Part XIII of the Constitution address trade, commerce, and contact inside Indian territory.
Disputes Over Water:
Article 262 of the Constitution provides for the resolution of interstate water disputes.
The Way Forward
- If the Inter-State Council is to become the primary organization for resolving inter-state conflicts, it must first establish a regular meeting schedule.
- There is currently an institutional void in the Indian union that must be bridged before inter-state frictions spiral out of control.
- The council must also have a permanent secretariat to ensure that the occasional meetings are more productive.