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What is the Inter-State Council (ISC)?

Gs paper-2

Syllabus: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

Context:

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin wrote to Prime Minister, asking that at least three meetings of the Inter-State Council should be held every year to “strengthen the spirit of cooperative federalism”.

Other suggestions:

  • Discuss important bills in ISC first: Bills of national importance should be placed before the Council before being tabled in Parliament.
  • This will enable “effective and interactive communication” between the states and the Centre on issues of common interest.
  • Sarkaria Commission recommendation: In 1988, the Sarkaria Commission suggested the Council should exist as a permanent body, and in 1990 it came into existence through a Presidential Order.
  • Effective working of ISC will reduce judicial intervention: What could be settled amicably among the executive branches is often taken to the doorsteps of the judicial branch.

 

Reconstitution of ISC:

Last month ISC was reconstituted:  The body will now have 10 Union Ministers as permanent invitees, and the standing committee of the Council has been reconstituted with Home Minister Amit Shah as Chairman. The Finance minister and the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, UP, and Gujarat are some of the other standing committee members.

 

Inter-State Council

It is a mechanism that was constituted “to support Centre-State and Inter-State coordination and cooperation in India“.

Established: Under Article 263 of the Constitution, which states that the President may constitute such a body if a need is felt for it.

Function: inquiring into and advising on disputes between states, investigating and discussing subjects in which two states or states and the Union have a common interest, and making recommendations for the better coordination of policy and action.

Members: PM (chairman), Chief Ministers of all states and UTs with legislative assemblies, and Administrators of other UTs. Six Ministers of Cabinet rank in the Centre’s Council of Ministers, nominated by the Prime Minister, are also its members.

Amit Shah as Chairman. The Finance minister and the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, UP, and Gujarat are some of the other standing committee members.

 

Issues with the ISC:

  • Irregular meetings: Council has met only once in the last six years — and there has been no meeting since July 2016.
    • Since its constitution in 1990, the body has met only 11 times, although its procedure states it should meet at least three times every year.
  • Recommendations are advisory in nature: non-binding in nature and therefore sometimes ignored by government and states
  • Lack of expertise: No presence of technical and management/administrative experts
  • No engagement with Civil society/NGO
  • Not a permanent body: President can establish it at any time if it appears to him that the public interests would be served

 

Standing Committee of ISC

  • It was set up in 1996 for continuous consultation and processing of matters for the consideration of the Council.
  • Members: (i) Union Home Minister as the Chairman (ii) Five Union Cabinet Ministers (iii) Nine Chief Ministers the Council is assisted by a secretariat called the Inter-State Council Secretariat.
  • Since 2011, it is also functioning as the secretariat of the Zonal Councils.
  • Functions: Continuous consultation, monitor implementation and process all matters pertaining to centre-state relations before they are taken up for consideration in the inter-state council.

 

Insta Links:

Other Inter-state bodies e.g. Inter-state water disputes, Zonal Council: Click Here

To know more about Inter-state Council: Click here

 

Practice Questions:

Q. Discuss the need and significance of the Inter-State Council for India’s federalism. (10M)

 

Source:  Indian Express