Brief Essay on the relationship between Union and States of India


In the context of Indian Federalism, centre-state relations are significant for a harmonious relationship between the two constituents of the Indian Federation viz. the Union and the States.

Every federation works on the principle of clear-cut division of legislative, administrative and financial powers between the partners of federation and India are no exception to this. The Indian Constitution has clearly demarcated the line between the legislative, administrative and financial areas of the union and the states.

This division ensures that both the partners to the federation should within their well-defined jurisdiction enjoy their respective spheres of autonomy. However, centre-state relations in India are not to be treated only in terms of separation between the centre and states.


On the other hand, in line with the concept of cooperative federalism, there are many areas of cooperation and coordination between the union and the states both within the constitution as well as outside it viz, the Inter State Council, NDC, National Integration Council, Zonal Councils etc.,

Despite a fair constitutional distribution of legislative, administrative and financial distribution of powers, the fact remains that there is a bias in favour of the Centre in the sense that it enjoys preponderance of powers vis-a-vis the States.

Since the framers of the constitution wanted to make the centre strong in order to protect India’s unity and integrity, a strong centre in the distribution of legislative, administrative and financial powers is justified to some extent.

However the certain distortions do remain in the existing centre-state relations especially in the sphere of financial distribution of powers between them, which need to be rectified. In this backdrop, we can analyse the centre-state relations under the legislative, administrative and financial heads.


The relationship between the Union and the States is a relationship between the whole body and its parts.

Though there is a strong mixture of unitary bias and the exceptions from the traditional federal scheme are many, the Constitution introduces a federal system as the basic structure of government of the country. And a federal system postulates distribution of powers and functions between the federation and the units.

Though the nature of distribution varies according to the local and political background in each country, the division, obviously, proceeds on two lines.

(a) The territory over which the Federation and Units shall, respectively, have their jurisdiction.


(b) The subjects to which their respective jurisdiction shall extend.

Part XI of the Constitution of India lays down provisions about relations between the Union and States in Article 245 to 263.

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