Administrative Relations between the Centre and States in India


In the sphere of administrative relations also the Constitution shows a distinct leaning in favour of the Union. It provides for a dual polity. Each State has its own government and administration which exercises administrative powers in respect of the subjects enumerated in the State List. The Union Government has exclusive administrative jurisdiction over the subjects of the Union List and the residuary subjects. The Constitution provides for concurrent administrative jurisdiction to the Union and the States over the subjects of the Concurrent List.

Part XI, Chapter II of the Constitution, lays down the administrative relations between the Union and States. When we analyse these provisions we find that in the sphere of administrative relations also the Union enjoys a superior position vis-a-vis the States.

1. Appointed Governors:


Each State has a Governor who acts as the Head of the State. The President has the power to appoint, transfer or dismiss the Governor of a state. While appointing the Governor, the Presidents consult the State Chief Minister, but the advice is not always binding upon him.

The Governor acts in a dual capacity:

(i) As the agent of the Centre in the State, and

(ii) As Head of State administration.


Normally, he acts as a constitutional head. However, during a constitutional emergency, he becomes a real head of the State administration. In a national emergency the President can give any direction or order to the Governor and it becomes his responsibility to secure the enforcement of the order in the State.

2. Obligation of each State towards the Union:

The Constitution lays do that the executive power of every State is to be so exercised as to ensure compliances with the laws made by the Union Parliament.

3. Control of the Union over States in certain cases:


It has been laid down that the executive power of every State shall be exercised in such a manner as shall not impede or prejudice the executive power of the Union. The Union can give such directions to a State as are deemed essential by the Government of India for this purpose.

4. Union’s power to give Directions:

The executive power of the Union includes the power to give directions to a State Government for the construction maintenance of means of communications which are declared to be of national military importance.

5. Power of the President to vest responsibility in respect of Union Powers in the State:


The President can, with the consent of the government of a State, entrust to that government or to its officers all such functions as are required for the exercise of executive powers of the Union.

6. A State can entrust some functions to the Union:

Article 258A lays down that with the consent of the government of the State, the Governor can entrust to the Government of India or its officers any function in relation to any matter which falls within the sphere of the executive power of the State.

7. Union’s Power of adjudication of disputes relating to Inter-state Rivers or River Valleys:


Under Article 262, the Parliament can by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute over the use, distribution or control of the waters of any inter-state river or river valley.

8. Protection of Central Property in a State:

It is the responsibility of every State Government to protect Central properties in its territory. The Union can deploy Central Reserve Police or other paramilitary forces like Central Industrial Sec Force, in any state.

9. Provisions regarding All India Services:

The officers of the Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service are recruited by UPSC but are assigned to the States. They hold all higher administrative posts in the state administration. Their conduct is ultimately controlled by the Union Home Ministry.

10. Union’s power to create or abolish an All India Service:

Article 312 gives to the Rajya Sabha the power to create a new All India Service or to abolish an existing All India Service. The Rajya Sabha can do this by passing a resolution supported by 2/3rd majority of its members present and voting.

11. Constitutional Emergency in a State and provision for President’s Rule:

Under Article 356, the President can declare a constitutional emergency in the State in case of failure of constitutional machinery. In such a case, the State executive ceases to hold power. The State comes under President’s rule and the Governor of the State starts acting as the real executive. The State administration comes under the superintendence, direction and control of the Centre.

12. Duty of the Union to protect States against external aggression and internal disturbances:

It is the duty of the Union to protect every state against external aggression and internal disturbances. It has also to ensure that the government of every state is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. When the President proclaims a national emergency (Article 352), the executive power of the Union gets extended to the States. He can give directions to any State as to the manner in which its executive power is to be exercised.

13. Failure to give effect to the Union’s directions by any State can invite a declaration of Constitutional Emergency in that State:

The Constitution lays down that when any State fails to comply with a union law or to fails to carry one any direction given in the exercise of the executive power of the Union, it becomes lawful for the President to hold that a situation has arisen for placing that state under a constitutional emergency (Article 356). The provision can be used by the Union against any non-cooperating State.

14. Power to appoint Inquiry Commissions against Chief Ministers:

Another provision which enables the Union Government to exercise an overall administrative control over the State administration happens to be the system of appointment of inquiry commissions against Chief Ministers of States for investigating alleged wrong act. These points clearly establish the superior role that the Constitution assigns to die Union in the sphere of administrative relations between the Union and the States. These features also reflect the Unitarian spirit of the Constitution of India.

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