Question: Eventhough India has a federal structure, the powers between state legislature and Parliament is unequally distributed. What are the limitations on the powers of state administration?
Answer: India has been designed to function as a federal polity with division of powers between union and the states (7th schedule). However, more powers are concentrated in the hands of union and hence it is a quasi federal polity. There are more limits on powers of state.
Exclusive powers of state administration
- Administration of local bodies
States have the exclusive rights on administration of local bodies such as municipalities, panchayats, Zilla parishad etc. This includes grants, making provisions regarding reservations, appointment etc.
- Law and order
Legislature can make laws regarding law and order in the state. This can be both criminal and non-criminal in nature. Laws regarding excise taxes are also under control of state legislature.
Limitation of powers
- Defence policy
The defence policy is exclusive domain of union government even if it concerns the state government immensely.
Ex: Threats to Arunachal Pradesh from China
- Taxation policies
The union has subdued indirect taxes under the GST. This means that state has surrendered its taxation rights to the union.
- External affairs policies
External affairs is the exclusive right of the union. The state has no powers to make formal laws or take steps independently.
- Communication policies
Communication such as telephone, railways, posts etc are controlled by the union government. The state has to facilitate union to undertake operations.
- Renaming of the state
Powers regarding renaming state is under the union. The state has to pass a resolution for changing the name but it is not binding on the union.
- Formation of new states
Carving new states out of existing states, altering boundary of the state or merging two or more states can only be done by union. The opinion of state is not considered.
Thus, union and states have their own set of domain. However, respecting domain of each other without undue interference is the urgent need.