[Answered] Critically analyze the functioning of the Inter-State Council in promoting cooperative federalism in India.

Introduction: Write in brief about Inter-State Council.
Body: Explain how Inter-State Council promotes cooperative federalism and also write some issues in doing so.
Way forward: Give some suggestions.

The Inter-State Council is a constitutional body that facilitates coordination between states and the center. However, it is a recommendatory body to investigate and 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 on the recommendation of the Sarkaria Commissions.

Promotes cooperative federalism:

  • It investigates and advises on potential disputes between States.
  • The Inter-State Council acts as a tool for cooperation, coordination and the evolution of public policy.
  • It enquires into and discusses matters of common interest to some or all States or Union to one or more States.
  • It also makes recommendations on any such issue, especially recommendations for better management of policy and action on that issue.

Issues:

  • As of now, the harsh reality is that the Inter-State Council has had just 12 meetings since it was set up in 1990. There was a gap of a decade between the 10th meeting in 2006 and the 11th meeting in 2016, and the council met again in November 2017.
  • The Inter-state council is not a permanent constitutional body. Instead, it can be established by president at any time based on the matter of public interest.
  • The council is as yet just a discussion group, but it should have a greater say in federal coordination in the future.
  • The council does not have a permanent secretariat which ensures the periodic meetings.

Way forward:

  • It is important for the Inter-State Council to meet at least twice a year, to adopt harmonious decisions on all matters that impact the states.
  • A more empowered Inter-State Council should have a voting structure like the GST council.
  • If the Inter-State Council is to emerge as the key institution to manage inter-state frictions, it first needs to have a regular meeting schedule.
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