How The Powers Have Been Divided Between States And Centre?

India formed with few states and presently there are 29 states. The powers of the legislature, executive and financial have been divided by the constitution of India between the centre and states. Hence it can be said that the Indian Constitution is federal and the judiciary does not come under it, has it is considered as an independent body.

The centre-state relations are mainly divided into three pieces, they are

  1. Legislative
  2. Administrative
  3. Financial


The distribution of Powers between centre and states is mentioned in the Indian Constitution from article 245 to 255 in part 11. The distribution of powers between the centre and states are

  1. The territorial jurisdiction of laws which are made by the Parliament for the centre and for the state it is made by the Legislatures of states.
  2. Legislative subjects are distributed between centre and states.
  3. There is the provision in the constitution where it is mentioned that Parliament can legislate anything which is related to State List.
  4. State legislations are controlled by the centre.

Distributions of powers are mentioned in the seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution. The legislative provisions are divided into three lists; they are Union List, Concurrent List, and State List.

There are 100 subjects till now in the union list where currency, atomic energy, foreign affairs, war and peace, Inter-State trade and commerce, Navigation and shipping are included in the union list.

There are 61 subjects till now in the State list where animal husbandry, sanitation, intoxicating liquors, public health, prisons agriculture etc., are included in the state list.

There are 52 subjects till now in the concurrent list where education, criminal law and procedure, civil procedure, population control, forests, weight and measures, electricity, labour welfare.

The centre can give directions to the states in few matters and in the cases which are related to the executive powers under article 245 of the Indian Constitution of Indian.

Parliament of India can legislate anything where it should be with respect of the state list which should be in the national interest in article 249 of the Indian Constitution of Indian.

The parliament can make laws which are subject to the state list during the national emergency in article 250 of the Indian Constitution.

The parliament of India can legislate 2 or 3 states by taking consent in article 252 of the Indian Constitution.


Distribution of Powers between centre and states related to administration are mentioned from the article 256 to 263 of the Indian Constitution. Article 256 states that “the chief intensity of each State will be so practised as to guarantee consistence with the laws made by the parliament and any current laws which apply in that State, and the leader intensity of the Union will reach out to the giving of such headings to a State as may appear to the Government of India to be vital for that reason”.

Coordination Between Centre & States

There are a lot of provisions in the Indian Constitution, in order to prevent clashes and work together between centre and states. They are –

  1. Article 261 states that “Full religion and credit score will be given for the duration of the territory of India to public acts, records and judicial complaints of the Union and of each State”.
  2. According to Article 262, the parliament may via regulation provide for the adjudication of any dispute or criticism with recognize to the use, distribution or management of the waters of, or in, any inter-State river or river valley.
  3. Article 263 empowers the President to set up an inter-State Council to inquire into and advise upon disputes among states, to research and speak subjects wherein a few or all of the States, or the Union and one or extra of the States, have a not unusual interest.
  4. As per Article 307, Parliament may additionally by regulation employ such authority because it considers appropriate for sporting out the functions of the constitutional provisions associated with the inter-nation freedom of exchange and commerce.

Relation Between Centre & State During Emergency

  1. Whenever there is a national emergency under article 352, the state automatically loses its powers and all the powers will be vested with the central government. The Union government will have control on all the executive functions of the state.
  2. Whenever the state emergency is imposed under  Article 356, the president can anticipate to himself any or all of the capabilities of the Government of the State and all or any of the powers vested in or exercisable through the Governor or authority inside State apart from the Legislature of the State.
  3. During the operation of economic emergency (under Article 360), the Union might also supply directions to any State to have a look at such canons of economic propriety as can be special within the guidelines, and to the giving of such different directions because the President may additionally deem important and must accept for the motive.

Financial Relations

The Constitution offers with the centre-state monetary family members in Article 268-293 of Part XII.

Allocation of taxing powers

The Constitution has furnished the union authorities and the national governments with the independent assets of sales. It allocates the powers to centre and the states inside the following way:

(i) The parliament has one-of-a-kind power to levy taxes at the subjects mentioned within the Union List.

(ii) The kingdom legislatures have exclusive power to levy taxes on the topics referred to in the state list.

(iii) Both the parliament and the country legislature are empowered to levy taxes on the subjects noted in the Concurrent List.

(iv)The parliament has the special power to levy taxes on the matters related to the residuary subjects.

The tax revenue distribution, article 268 states that responsibilities are levied by way of the Union but are gathered and appropriated by using the States; Service tax levied with the aid of Union and accrued and appropriated by way of the Union and the States under the Article 268-A; Taxes levied and amassed with the aid of the Union but assigned to the States under the Article 269; Taxes levied and gathered by way of the Union but disbursed between the Union and the States under the Article 270. Surcharge on certain obligations and taxes for purposes of the Union under Article 271.

Under Article 275, the parliament is permitted to offer grants-in-aid to any nation as parliament may decide to be in need of help, and unique sums can be constant for exceptional States.

The union or a state may also make any grants for any public motive, notwithstanding that the motive isn’t one with respect to which Parliament or the Legislature of the State, as the case may be, may make legal guidelines, under the article 282.

During a national emergency, there can be changes in the finance which can be made by the president in the distribution of powers between the centre and states under article 352.

When the financial emergency is in force, the authority of the union can offer headings to the state so to observe watch such standards of monetary legitimacy as might be determined in the ways and to give the bearings as the President may regard vital and sufficient for the reason under the article 360.

The important recommendations of the first administrative reforms commission related to the centre-state relations are:

Article 263 says about “foundation of Inter- state council”.

  1. Giving more power to the centre by the dissolution of the powers of the states.
  2. Allotting more financial resources for the states.
  3. Planning for devolution in order to meet the obligations of the states.
  4. Progression of advances to states ought to be identified with as ‘the gainful standard’.
  5. Arrangement of central military forces to the states either on the solicitation or otherwise.
  6. While state emergency, under article 356 of the Indian Constitution, President’s rule can be forced in function on the disappointment of the states on the constitutional provisions.


In the case state of West Bengal vs. Union of India[1], the court observed that the Indian constitution is not completely federal. In India, the states are also having rights and also given importance and the powers which are related to economic, industrial and commercial are vested with the Union.

In the case State of Karnataka vs. Union of India[2], it is said in the court that India is not federal but it is quasi-federal and it also said that the centre is having more powers when it comes to executive and legislative.

In the case S.R. Bommai vs. Union of India[3], it is held that the Indian Constitution is not federal but it is quasi-federal, as it not mentioned in the Constitution of India. In this case, the juries felt that being federal in nature is crucial for the Constitution. In the view of Justice Ramaswamy Indian Constitution, the federation of India is in the form of organic.

The crucial part of the federation is distributing the powers between centre and state in a healthy way. To avoid alterations between the centre and the states, the framers of the Indian Constitution already distributed the powers properly. Anyway, the makers of the Indian Constitution has given more powers to the union than to the states and made it supreme.

[1].West Bengal vs.Union of India, AIR 1963 SC 1241.

[2] State of Karnataka vs. Union of India, AIR 1978 SC 68.

[3] . S.R. Bommai vs. Union of India, 1994 AIR 1918, 1994 SCC (3) 1

This Article Written by Ashraf Fathima, 2nd Year, BA LLB Student of Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad. 

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