Question: It has been observed that ‘since’ the expression “quasi-federal” is liable to be used as a hideout for lurking federalism, it is appropriate that the fact that the Constitution of India is not federal should be started and acknowledged in those unambiguous, simple, and accurate words. Develop arguments for this view and refute them, giving at the… Read More »

Question: It has been observed that ‘since’ the expression “quasi-federal” is liable to be used as a hideout for lurking federalism, it is appropriate that the fact that the Constitution of India is not federal should be started and acknowledged in those unambiguous, simple, and accurate words. Develop arguments for this view and refute them, giving at the end of your answer your own independent views on the matter. [BJS 1980] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal...

Question: It has been observed that ‘since’ the expression “quasi-federal” is liable to be used as a hideout for lurking federalism, it is appropriate that the fact that the Constitution of India is not federal should be started and acknowledged in those unambiguous, simple, and accurate words. Develop arguments for this view and refute them, giving at the end of your answer your own independent views on the matter. [BJS 1980]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [It has been observed that ‘since’ the expression “quasi-federal” is liable to be used as a hideout for lurking federalism, it is appropriate that the fact that the Constitution of India is not federal should be started and acknowledged in those unambiguous, simple, and accurate words. Develop arguments for this view and refute them, giving at the end of your answer your own independent views on the matter.]

Answer

The Indian constitution contains both features of a federal constitution and a unitary constitution. For example, despite it being federal in character, it declares India to be a union of states. Indian federalism has been devised with a strong Centre to prevent as well as ameliorate conflict of interests of the Centre and the States. According to K.C. Wheare, in practice, the Constitution of India is quasi-federal in nature and not strictly federal, however, are the powers of intervention in the affairs of the States given by the Constitution to the Central Government and Parliament.

Moreover, the essence of a ‘federation is the existence of the Union of the States, and the distribution of powers between them. As correctly observed by the Supreme Court in the case of S. R Bommai v. Union of India 1994, In India, Parliament can by law form a new State, alter the size of an existing State, alter the name of an existing State, etc., and even curtail the power, both executive and legislative, by amending the Constitution.

That is why the Constitution of India is differently described, more appropriately as ‘quasi-federal because it is a mixture of the federal and unitary elements, leaning- more towards the latter but then what is there in a name, what is important to bear in mind is the thrust and implications of the various provisions of the Constitution bearing on the controversy in regard to scope and ambit of the Presidential power under Article 356 and related provisions.

Some of the unitary features in the constitution by which we can say that India is a quasi-federal country in nature are:

  1. Strong Centre: The central government has the unitary authority to the appointment of the Governors for various states. Governor is the representative of the central government and he is also the constitutional head of the state.
  2. Single Citizenship: The constitution provides single and uniform citizenship for the whole of the country. However, in a federal state like the United States of America, there is dual citizenship in which citizen firstly owes the duty to the states and then to the union. But in the case of India, there is single citizenship even though it also a federal country. It prescribed that all the Indian citizens owe allegiance to the Indian Union and not to the state also. Any citizen of the country enjoys civil and political rights.
  3. Emergency Provisions: The provision of Article 356 provides that the proclamation can be made and once such proclamation is made, the state government can be either dismissed or the Assembly can be kept in suspended animation.
  4. No Equality of State Representation: Representation in the legislature in the federal states is on an equal basis, which is also not applicable in the case of Indian States. The Representation of the States in Rajya Sabha is not equal basis it depends from state to state and regulated by the center which is basically a unitary feature of the state.
  5. Parliament’s Authority over State List: In general the power to make laws under the state list given to the State Government but in certain cases, the central government has the power to make laws under the state list. If Rajya Sabha passes a resolution under Article 249 of the constitution with the 2/3rd majority that the parliament should make law with respect to a particular entry in List II with respect to a particular state. After passing the resolution the parliament makes law and that law remains in force for 1 and ½ years which means that the resolution remains in force for one year and the law also will remain to cease after six months the resolution comes to an end.

Upon close examination of the above arguments, is to note that in each federal feature of a government, there exists an extreme centralizing power. In this way, it would not be wrong to conclude that the Constitution of India is federal in structure.


Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-II
  3. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-III
  4. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-X
Updated On 2021-05-19T08:11:18+05:30
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