• Recently, the Inter-state Council (ISC) has been reorganized, with the Prime Minister as Chairman and Chief Ministers of all States and six Union Ministers as other members of the council.
  • Ten union ministers will be permanent invitees of the council. 
  • The government has also reconstituted the Standing Committee of the Inter-state Council, with Union Home Minister as its Chairman. 
  • The Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh are also members of the Standing Committee of the Inter-State Council.  

What is the Inter-State Council-

  • As part of the process of reviewing the functioning of the existing agreements between the Centre and the States,  in 1988  the government appointed a committee chaired by Judge R.S. Sarkaria.  
  • One of the main recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission was the establishment of a permanent inter-state council as an independent national consultation forum with well-defined authority under Article 263 of the Constitution of India. 


  • The Inter-State Council is a recommendary body empowered to study and discuss subjects of common interest between federals and states, or between states.  
  • It also provides recommendations for better coordination of policies and actions on these issues and advice on general concerns for the State, which may be referred by the Chairman. 
  • It also considers other matters which are of general interest to the states
  • The council cmay meet three times a year.  
  • There is also a standing committee of the council. 


  •  Prime Minister as Chairman 
  •  Chief Ministers of all Member States  
  • Chief Ministers of Union Territories having a Legislative Assembly and Administrators of UTs not having a Legislative Assembly and Governors of States under President’s Rule.
  • Six Ministers of Cabinet rank in the Union Council of Ministers to be nominated by the Prime Minister Members.

Functions of Inter-State Council

  •  Establish a strong institutional framework to promote and support national cooperative federalism and revitalize councils and zone councils by organizing regular meetings.  
  • Facilitates the consideration of all pending and new issues in central and interstate relations by the Zonal Council and the Interstate Council. 
  • Develop a robust system to monitor the implementation of the recommendations they make. 

ISC Standing Committee-

  • Established in 1996 for the ongoing deliberations and processing of board considerations. 
  • It consists of the following 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. 
  • The Secretariat was founded in 1991 and is headed by a Secretary of the Government of India. Since 2011, it is also functioning as the secretariat of the Zonal Council.


  •  The Standing Committee will continue to process matters for consideration of the council and address matters related to Inter-State relation before they are taken up by the council. 
  • The Standing Committee also oversees the implementation of  decisions made on the advice of the Council and processes other matters submitted by the Chairman or the Council. 

Other bodies working on inter-state relations? 

Zonal Council: 

  • The Zonal Council is a statutory body . 
  • They were established by  the 1956 State Reorganization Act. 
  • The law divided the country into five zones: north, center, east, west, and south, with a zonal council for each zone. 
  • Several factors were considered in the formation of these zones, including the natural division of the country,  river systems and means of communication,  cultural and linguistic affinity, economic development, security, and the demands of  law and order. 
  • North Eastern Council: Northeastern States (I) Assam (ii) Arunachal Pradesh (iii) Manipur (iv) Tripura (v) Mizoram (vi) Meghalaya and (vii) Nagaland are not included in the Zonal Council and their specific issues are dealt by the North Eastern Council, established under the North Eastern Council Act of 1972. 

Interstate Trade and Commerce: 

  •  Articles 301-307 of Part XIII of the Constitution deal with  trade, commerce and ntercurse within India's sovereign territory. 

Interstate Water Dispute: 

  •  Article 262 of the Constitution provides for the resolution of water disputes between states. 
  • It has two provisions: 
  • Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution and control of waters of any inter-state river and river valley.
  • Parliament may also determine that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court has jurisdiction over such disputes or complaints. 

Way Forward 

  • If the Inter-state Council needs to evolve as the main body for managing interstate frictions, then firstly it should have scheduled regular meetings. 
  • Currently, the Indian Union has an institutional gap that needs to be filled before interstate tensions get out of control.  
  • The council also needs to have a permanent secretariat