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Sarkaria Commission – UPSC Notes – Indian Polity

Sarkaria Commission: In 1983, the Indian government formed a three-member Commission to look into how the central government and state governments work together. This Commission was led by R S Sarkaria, a retired judge from the Supreme Court.

The Commission’s job was to check and evaluate the current arrangements between the central government and the states in all areas and suggest any necessary changes. Initially, they were given one year to finish their work, but it took them longer, and they finally submitted their final report in October 1987. A summary of the report was officially released in January 1988.

The Commission didn’t think there should be big changes in the structure of how things are set up, like the rules in the Constitution and the principles guiding institutions. Instead, it focused on suggesting changes in how things operate. The Commission said that federalism, which is how the central and state governments cooperate, is more about working together than sticking to strict rules.

The Commission disagreed with the idea of reducing the central government’s powers. It said that having a strong central government is crucial to keeping the country united and protected from divisions among its people. However, it also warned against putting too much power in the hands of the central government, saying that too much centralization can cause problems like stress at the center and weakness at the edges.

The Commission put forward 247 suggestions to enhance relations between the Centre and states. Notable recommendations include:

  1. Establishing a permanent Inter-State Council, termed the Inter-Governmental Council, under Article 263.
  2. Advising limited use of Article 356 (President’s Rule), resorting to it only in extreme cases as a last option.
  3. Strengthening the institution of All-India Services and creating additional such services.
  4. Keeping Parliament in charge of residual taxation powers, while placing other residual powers in the Concurrent List.
  5. Requiring the President to communicate reasons when withholding assent to state bills.
  6. Renaming and restructuring the National Development Council (NDC) as the National Economic and Development Council (NEDC).
  7. Revitalizing zonal councils to foster federalism.
  8. Granting the Centre authority to deploy armed forces without state consent, with consultation being preferable.
  9. Requiring Centre consultation with states before legislating on Concurrent List subjects.
  10. Specifying in the Constitution the procedure for consulting the chief minister in appointing the state governor.
  11. Allowing the sharing of net proceeds of corporation tax with states.
  12. Restraining the governor from dismissing the council of ministers as long as it holds a majority in the assembly.
  13. Maintaining a governor’s five-year term in a state, unless there are compelling reasons for change.
  14. Requiring a Parliament demand before setting up a commission of inquiry against a state minister.
  15. Imposing a surcharge on income tax by the Centre only for specific purposes and a limited period.
  16. Supporting the current division of functions between the Finance Commission and the Planning Commission.
  17. Ensuring the uniform implementation of the three-language formula.
  18. Rejecting autonomy for radio and television but advocating decentralization in their operations.
  19. Retaining the current roles of Rajya Sabha and the Centre’s power to reorganize states.
  20. Activating the commissioner for linguistic minorities.

Out of the 247 recommendations, the Central government has implemented 180, with the most significant being the establishment of the Inter-State Council in 1990.

FAQs on Sarkaria Commission

1. Why was the Sarkaria Commission formed in 1983?

  • Answer: The Sarkaria Commission was formed to investigate and assess how the central government and state governments collaborated in India, with a focus on evaluating existing arrangements and proposing necessary changes.

2. What was the primary objective of the Sarkaria Commission’s recommendations?

  • Answer: The main goal of the recommendations was to enhance relations between the Centre and states, addressing issues related to governance, cooperation, and the distribution of powers between the central government and the state governments.

3. Why did the Sarkaria Commission emphasize changes in the functional aspects rather than structural changes?

  • Answer: The Commission believed that the existing constitutional arrangements and principles were fundamentally sound. Instead of altering the structure, it recommended operational changes, emphasizing that federalism is more about cooperative action than a rigid institutional concept.

4. What were some key recommendations made by the Sarkaria Commission to improve Centre–state relations?

  • Answer: Notable recommendations included establishing a permanent Inter-State Council, limiting the use of President’s Rule (Article 356), strengthening All-India Services, specifying procedures for appointing state governors, and promoting cooperative action between the Centre and states.

5. How many recommendations did the Sarkaria Commission put forward, and how many were implemented by the Central government?

  • Answer: The Commission proposed 247 suggestions. The Central government implemented 180 of these recommendations, with the most significant being the establishment of the Inter-State Council in 1990.

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