Sarkaria Commission of India
The Central government appointed a three-member Commission on Centre-State Relations in 1983, with R.S. Sarkaria, a retired Supreme Court judge, as its head. The panel was given the task of examining and reviewing the functioning of current agreements between the Centre and states in all domains and making recommendations for suitable modifications and actions. It was granted one year to finish its task at first, but the deadline was extended four times. In 1988, it submitted its report.
The Commission was opposed to structural reforms and thought the present constitutional structures and institutional principles were mostly sound. It did, however, emphasize the need for functional and operational adjustments. Federalism is more of a functional arrangement for cooperative activity than a rigid institutional paradigm, according to the report.
It flatly rejected the proposal for the Centre’s powers to be curtailed, stating that a strong Centre is necessary to protect national unity and integrity, which are under threat from the body politic’s fissiparous inclinations. It did not, however, associate a strong center with power concentration. Over-centralization causes high blood pressure in the center and anemia in the periphery, according to the study.
The Commission issued 247 proposals to enhance the relationship between the Center and the states. The following are some of the most essential recommendations:
- Under Article 263, a permanent Inter-State Council named the Inter-Governmental Council shall be established.
- Article 356 (President’s Rule) should be used only in severe circumstances, as a last resort after all other options have failed.
- The All-India Services institution should be strengthened, and more such services should be developed.
- The residuary taxing powers should be retained by Parliament, while the other residuary powers should be transferred to the Concurrent List.
- The grounds for the president’s refusal to sign state bills should be reported to the state administration.
- The National Development Council (NDC) should be renamed the National Economic and Development Council (NEDC) and reconstructed.
- To strengthen the spirit of federalism, the zonal councils should be reconstituted and revitalized.
- The Centre should have the authority to deploy its military forces even if states do not agree. It is, nonetheless, desirable that the states be consulted.
- Before passing a law on a topic from the Concurrent List, the Centre should confer with the states.
- The procedure for consulting the chief minister before appointing a state governor should be spelled out in the Constitution.
- The net proceeds of the corporate tax may be made available to the states for sharing.
- As long as the council of ministers has a majority in the assembly, the governor cannot remove it.
- The governor of a state’s five-year term should not be interrupted unless there are highly compelling grounds.
- No commission of inquiry should be established against a state minister unless the Parliament requests it.
- The Centre should not levy an income tax surcharge unless it is for a defined purpose and for a short length of time.
- The current allocation of responsibilities between the Finance and Planning Commissions is acceptable and should be maintained.
- Steps should be taken to ensure that the three language formula is implemented consistently and in its entirety.
- Radio and television do not have autonomy, although their activities are decentralized.
- The Rajya Sabha’s role and the Centre’s prerogative to reorganize the states remain unchanged.
- The linguistic minorities commissioner should be activated.
The central government has implemented 180 of the Sarkaria Commission’s recommendations (out of 247). The most significant is the Inter-State Council, which was established in 1990.