Inter-State Council (ISC)

By admin April 22, 2019 17:20

Why in news?

  • The Union Government has reconstituted the Inter State Council (ISC) and the Standing Committee of the ISC under Clause 2 of the Inter State Council order,1990.

What is ISC?

  • The Inter-State Council is a constitutional body to facilitate coordination between states and the centre
  • However, it is a recommendatory body to investigate and also discuss subjects, in which some or all of the states or the Central government have a common interest.
  • In fact, it is set up on the basis of provisions in Article 263 of the Constitution of India by the Presidential Order, 1990 based on the recommendation of Sarkaria Commissions.
  • The Inter-state council is not a permanent constitutional body for coordination between the states and Central government. Rather, President can establish it at any time if it appears to him that the public interests would be served by the establishment of such a council


What is the composition of new ISC?

  • Members: The chief ministers of all states and also Union Territories (having legislative Assembly), Six Union Ministers.
  • However, administrators of Union Territories which do not have legislative Assembly are also members of the Council.
  • The Union Ministers: The Home Minister, the Finance Minister, the Defence Minister, the External Affairs Minister, the Minister for Information and Broadcasting and for Road Transport Highways and also Shipping Minister.
  • ISC is headed by Prime Minister (Chairman)
  • The Standing Committee of the Inter State Council will be headed by Union Minister of Home Affairs
  • Significance of the ISC
  • • Unlike other platforms for Centre State cooperation, ISC has constitutional backing which puts the states on more solid footing.
    • In times of different political parties heading the Centre and various states the need for dialogue assumes a greater importance. Thus, ISC provides a platform for states to discuss their concerns.
    • Resolving disputes linked to state-state & Centre-state.
    • If the goal of a more decentralized polity, which needs interaction between various levels of government, is to be achieved, Interstate Council is a crucial first step.
    • Given its status as a platform for dialogue and discussion, it makes the governments, both at Centre and state level, more accountable for their actions.
  • Issues in the functioning of ISC
  • • It is seen as a mere talk shop. Thus, it needs to show that it can follow up.
    • In fact, its recommendations are not binding on the government of India.
    • It does not meet regularly as recently Inter-State Council met after a gap of 12 years.


What needs to be done to strengthen the ISC?
• The return of the single-party majority government at the Centre has necessitated the strengthening of inter-governmental mechanisms for the harmonious working of the federal structure through institutions like ISC.

  • Sarkaria Commission recommended that it needs to be given all the powers contemplated in the Constitution like Art 263(a) which gives it the power to investigate issues of inter-state conflict but was dropped in the Presidential order of 1990.
    • Moreover, it should provide some greater opportunities to civil society institutions and also the corporate sector to make their representations.
    • Further, its secretariat may be shifted from the Union Home Ministry to the Rajya Sabha secretariat so that it would be under the direction of a neutral federal functionary, the vice-president of our India rather than the Union home minister.
  • It should be strengthened as a forum for not just administrative but also political and legislative give and take between centre and states. For instance, while legislating on subjects that have been transferred from the state list to the concurrent list such as education and Forests, the centre must consult states more extensively and offer them greater flexibility.
  • Some of the following recommendations of Punchhi commission should also be considered The Inter-State Council must meet at least thrice in a year on an agenda evolved after proper
    consultation with States.
  • Furthermore, the Council should have an experts in its organizational set up drawn from the disciplines of Laws, Management and also political Science besides the All India Services.
    In fact, the Council should have the functional independence with a professional Secretariat constituted with an experts on relevant fields of knowledge which is supported by the Central and also State officials on deputation for limited periods.
  • Moreover, after ISC is made a vibrant, negotiating forum for policy development and conflict resolution, the
    Government may consider the functions for the National Development Council also being
    transferred to the ISC.
  • Though, there are other bodies such as the NITI Aayog’s Governing Council with similar composition, including the prime minister, chosen cabinet ministers and also chief ministers that could address centre-state issues. But, the ISC has constitutional backing, as against the NITI Aayog which only has an executive mandate. This puts the states on more solid footing in building the atmosphere of cooperation needed for calibrating centre-state relations.

Read Also: Election Commission: Credibility issues

By admin April 22, 2019 17:20