Introduction/Institution for Cooperative Federalism

Introduction to Governing Institutions Institutions to facilitate Cooperative Federalism

Introduction to Governing Institutions

The governing institutions of India are divided as Constitutional Bodies; Statutory Bodies and Quasi-judicial Bodies.

• Constitutional bodies:

These are the bodies which are mentioned in constitution of India and so considered as more powerful and independent. For example Election Commission of India is mentioned in Article. Its mandate and power are mentioned in constitution itself as a result it has a large degree of autonomy.

The examples are:

a) Comptroller and Auditor General
b) Election Commission
c) Union Public Service Commission
d) Finance Commission
e) National Commission for SC
f) National Commission for ST

• Statutory Bodies:

A statutory body is an organization with the authority to check that another organization’s actions are legal. It is typically set up by a government or parliament. Statutory bodies ensure that other businesses or organizations stay legal and follow official rules. They are a group created by law, and they are established by government legislation.

The examples are:

a) National Human Rights Commission
b) National Commission for Women
c) National Commission for Minorities
d) National Commission for Backward Classes
e) National Law Commission
f) National Green Tribunal

• Quasi-Judicial Bodies

The executive/administration also performs judicial function, and act as a quasi-judicial authority. A quasi-judicial function stands mid-way between a judicial function and an administrative function. A quasi-judicial decision is nearer to the administrative decision in terms of its discretionary element and nearer to the judicial decision in terms of procedure and objectivity of its end-product.

A quasi-judicial function differs from a purely judicial function in the following respects:

a) A quasi-judicial authority has some of the trappings of a court & there is an obligation to act judicially.
b) A dispute between two parties is an essential characteristic of a judicial function, but this may not be true for a quasi-judicial function.
c) A court is bound by the rules of evidence and procedure while a quasi-judicial authority is not.
d) While a court is bound by precedents, a quasi-judicial authority is not.
e) A court cannot be a judge in its own cause (except in contempt cases), while an administrative authority vested with quasi-judicial powers may be a party to the controversy but can still decide it.
f) In deciding cases, courts apply pre-existing law whereas administrative authorities exercise discretion.

The examples are:

a) National Human Rights Commission
b) State Human Rights Commission
c) Central Information Commission
d) State Information Commission
e) National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
f) State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
g) District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum

Institution for Cooperative Federalism

“Federalism” as “the method of dividing powers so that the general and regional governments are each within a sphere coordinate and independent”. This implies a system of governance in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and sub-national political entities.

Two contrary concepts have arisen in India – Cooperative Federalism and Competitive Federalism.

Cooperative federalism implies the Centre and states share a horizontal relationship, where they “cooperate” in the larger public interest. It’s visualized as an important tool to enable states’ participation in the formulation and implementation of national policies.

Competitive federalism can refer to the relationship between the Central and state governments (vertical) or between state governments (horizontal). This idea gained significance in India post the 1990s economic reforms. In a free-market economy, the endowments of states, available resource base and their comparative advantages all foster a spirit of competition. States need to compete among themselves and also with the Centre for benefits. Increasing globalization, however, made the already existing inequalities and imbalances between states starker. This gave rise to concerns about states’ freedom to formulate their own growth policies.

Executive Mechanisms for Co-Operative Federalism

A. Inter-State Council (ISC)

Article 263 of the Constitution, provides the provision for the formation of an Inter-State Council.

The members of the Inter-State Council consist of Chief Ministers of all states, Chief Ministers of Union Territories having a Legislative Assembly and Administrators of UTs not having a Legislative Assembly, Six Union Ministers and eleven Union Cabinet Ministers/Minister of State (Independent Charge) as permanent invitees.

The Council is charged with the duty of –

a) Inquiring into and advising upon disputes which may have arisen between States;
b) Investigating and discussing subjects in which some or all of the States, or the Union and one or more of the States, have a common interest; or
c) Making recommendations upon any such subject and in particular, recommendations for the better co-ordination of policy and action with respect to that subject, it shall be lawful for the President by order to establish such a Council, and to define the nature of the duties to be performed by it and its organization and procedure.

B. Zonal Council

The idea of creation of Zonal Councils was mooted by the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1956 when during the course of debate on the report of the States Re-organisation Commission, he suggested that the States proposed to be re-organised may be grouped into four or five zones having an Advisory Council ‘to develop the habit of cooperative working” among these States.

The present composition of each of these Zonal Councils is as under:

• Northern Zonal Council, comprising Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, and Rajasthan;
• North-Central Zonal Council, comprising Bihar, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand;
• North-Eastern Zonal Council, comprising Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura; The State of Sikkim has also been included in the North Eastern Council vide North Eastern Council (Amendment) Act, 2002 notified on 23rd December, 2002.
• Eastern Zonal Council, comprising Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Sikkim, and West Bengal;
• Western Zonal Council, comprising Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Goa, Gujarat, and Maharashtra;
• Southern Zonal Council, comprising Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana.

Organizational structure of Zonal Councils

• Chairman – The Union Home Minister is the Chairman of each of these Councils.
• Vice Chairman – The Chief Ministers of the States included in each zone act as Vice-Chairman of the Zonal Council for that zone by rotation, each holding office for a period of one year at a time.
• Members – Chief Minister and two other Ministers as nominated by the Governor from each of the States and two members from Union Territories included in the zone.
• Advisers – One person nominated by the Planning Commission for each of the Zonal Councils, Chief Secretaries and another officer/Development Commissioner nominated by each of the States included in the Zone

The main objectives of setting up of Zonal Councils are as under:

• Bringing out national integration;
• Arresting the growth of acute State consciousness, regionalism, linguism and particularistic tendencies;
• Enabling the Centre and the States to co-operate and exchange ideas and experiences; and
• Establishing a climate of co-operation amongst the States for successful and speedy execution of development projects.

C. Niti Aayog

NITI Aayog is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Government of India, providing both directional and policy inputs. While designing strategic and long term policies and programmes for the Government of India, NITI Aayog also provides relevant technical advice to the Centre and States.

At the core of NITI Aayog’s creation are two hubs – Team India Hub and the Knowledge and Innovation Hub. The Team India Hub leads the engagement of states with the Central government, while the Knowledge and Innovation Hub builds NITI’s think-tank capabilities. These hubs reflect the two key tasks of the Aayog.

NITI Aayog is also developing itself as a State of the Art Resource Centre, with the necessary resources, knowledge and skills, that will enable it to act with speed, promote research and innovation, provide strategic policy vision for the government, and deal with contingent issues.


• To evolve a shared vision of national development priorities sectors and strategies with the active involvement of States in the light of national objectives
• To foster cooperative federalism through structured support initiatives and mechanisms with the States on a continuous basis, recognizing that strong States make a strong nation
• To develop mechanisms to formulate credible plans at the village level and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of government
• To ensure, on areas that are specifically referred to it, that the interests of national security are incorporated in economic strategy and policy
• To pay special attention to the sections of our society that may be at risk of not benefiting adequately from economic progress
• To design strategic and long term policy and programme frameworks and initiatives, and monitor their progress and their efficacy. The lessons learnt through monitoring and feedback will be used for making innovative improvements, including necessary mid-course corrections
• To provide advice and encourage partnerships between key stakeholders and national and international like-minded Think tanks, as well as educational and policy research institutions.
• To create a knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurial support system through a collaborative community of national and international experts, practitioners and other partners.
• To offer a platform for resolution of inter-sectoral and inter departmental issues in order to accelerate the implementation of the development agenda.
• To maintain a state-of-the-art Resource Centre, be a repository of research on good governance and best practices in sustainable and equitable development as well as help their dissemination to stake-holders
• To actively monitor and evaluate the implementation of programmes and initiatives, including the identification of the needed resources so as to strengthen the probability of success and scope of delivery
• To focus on technology upgradation and capacity building for implementation of programmes and initiatives
• To undertake other activities as may be necessary in order to further the execution of the national development agenda, and the objectives mentioned above.