Federalism in India

Topics: Federalism, United States Constitution, Supreme Court of the United States Pages: 3 (946 words) Published: November 14, 2013

RESPONSE PAPER 1
Question Two

Federalism is a basic feature of the Constitution as held by the Supreme Court in S.R. Bommai vs. Union of India (1994) case. It tested for the first time the presidential notification under Article 356 on the touchstone of the basic structure doctrine. Earlier, only constitutional amendments were put to such a test. The Supreme Court has accepted among such decisions that India is a quasi-federal state because the Union has been given many overriding powers over the states. The most extreme of these powers is given under Article 356 under which the Union can dismiss any state government.

After independence, India opted for a strong center to check the tendencies of the states to want to separate, as independence had been achieved at the cost of country’s criticism. Most provinces wanted freedom, which is why many powers were given to the Union Government, which should not have been given under normal circumstances. Some of these legitimately belong to states like the subordinate judiciary works under the high court, which is not set up by the state, and its judges are appointed by the center.  

The big hope emanating from the judgment was that the court’s intervention would instigate a flow of political activity at all levels of government that would, where necessary, transform the social order, and the significance of the judgment was instilled in that hope.

It is true that Indian federalism has an in-built tendency to centralize under certain circumstances, which is where the question of whether India is federal or quasi – federal comes into play.

India balances 2 main features, which makes it a unique federal structure. The two inherent tendencies involve both unionization and regionalization. The unionization process allows Indian federalism to assume centralized federalism when there is a perceived threat to the maintenance of national unity, integrity and territorial sovereignty of India, and the...
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