TAG: GS 2: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
THE CONTEXT: While India’s Constitution tilts towards the Centre on certain areas, not all states are equal either. Right after Article 370, the Constitution creates special provisions for at least nine states, from Article 371A-I.
Quasi-Federal Structure of Indian Governance
- India’s constitutional framework reflects a quasi-federal structure, balancing the Centre’s authority with varying degrees of autonomy granted to states.
- The Seventh Schedule of the Constitution delineates Union, State, and Concurrent lists, outlining legislative powers shared between the Centre and states.
- However, certain provisions tilt authority towards the Centre in specific domains.
Understanding Special Status for States
- India’s diverse landscape necessitates differentiated approaches in governance, leading to special provisions for various states based on fiscal, political, and administrative considerations.
- These provisions aim to address regional disparities while fostering unity within the federal structure.
- However, critics argue that such asymmetric federalism could sow seeds of regionalism and impact national integration.
Examples of Special Status
- Beyond Article 370:
- While Article 370 is a well-known instance of asymmetric federalism concerning Jammu and Kashmir, there exist special provisions for nine states, ranging from Article 371A-I.
- These provisions fall under the Constitution’s section titled “Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions,” intended to operate until crises like secessionist sentiments or conflicts cease.
- Importantly, they lack explicit expiration dates.
- Negotiated Autonomy:
- States like Nagaland and Mizoram negotiated autonomy with the Centre as a political compromise, safeguarding cultural practices, land ownership, and natural resources from parliamentary interference.
- These special provisions were pivotal in resolving independence movements in these regions.
- Delhi’s Unique Arrangement:
- Delhi, not classified as a state in the Constitution’s First Schedule, operates under Article 239AA, granting it legislative powers over state and concurrent list subjects.
- This unique arrangement exemplifies a special status designed for the administration of the national capital.
Legal Interpretations and Recent Rulings
- Challenges and Interpretations:
- The abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir led to legal challenges asserting that it conferred internal sovereignty, which couldn’t be unilaterally revoked.
- However, a Supreme Court ruling clarified that Article 370 represented asymmetric federalism, distinct from internal sovereignty.
- The existence of special provisions for select Indian states reflects the nuanced approach to governance, accommodating diverse needs within the federal framework.
- While these provisions aim to address regional disparities and political compromises, ongoing debates persist regarding their impact on national integration and the duration of their applicability, signalling the complex interplay between federalism and the unity of the Indian nation.