Division of Powers between the Union and States in India (3 lists)


The Constitution of India provides for a division of powers between the Union (Centre) and states. It divides all the subjects into 3 lists – Union List, State List and Concurrent List The Union List describes the subjects under the control Centre Government, the State List describes the subjects under the jurisdiction of states am the Concurrent List describes the subjects which are under the joint jurisdiction of the Centre of States. The subjects which do not fall in these lists i.e. residuary subjects have been given to the Centre.

Subjects of Three Lists:

1. The Union List (97 Subjects):


The Union List is the longest of the three lists. It lists 97 subjects on which the Union Parliament can pass laws. The effective strength of the Union List is now 98. The main subjects of the Union List are: Defence, Foreign Affairs, Currency and Coinage, War and Peace, Atomic Energy, National Resources, Railways, Post and Telegraph, Citizenship, Navigation and Shipping, Foreign Trade, Inter-State Trade and Commerce, Banking, Insurance, National Highways, Census, Election, Institutions of higher education and others.

2. State List (66 Subjects):

State List enumerates the subjects on which each State Legislature can legislate and such laws operate within the territory of each state. The main subjects of the State List are : public order, police, state court fees, prisons, local government, public health and sanitation, hospitals and dispensaries, pilgrimages within India, intoxicating liquors, relief of disabled and unemployable, libraries, communications, agriculture, animal husbandry, water supply, irrigation and canals, fisheries, road passenger tax and goods tax, capitation tax and others.

3. Concurrent List (47 Subjects):


The Union Parliament as well as the State Legislatures have the power to legislate over the subjects listed in List III (Concurrent List). The main subjects listed in this list are : criminal law, criminal procedure, preventive detention for reasons concerned with the security of state, marriage and divorce, transfer of property other than agricultural land, contract, actionable wrongs, bankruptcy and insolvency, trust and trustees, administration of justice, evidence and oaths, civil procedure, contempt of court, lunacy, prevention of cruelty to animals, forests, protection of wild animals and birds, population control and family planning, trade unions, education, labour welfare, inland shipping and navigation, food stuffs, price control, stamp duties, and others. The actual strength of the Concurrent List is 52 as five more entries were inserted by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment.

Residuary Powers:

The Constitution vests the residuary powers of legislation with the Union. Article 248 states: “The Union Parliament has exclusive power to make any law with respect to any matter not enumerated in the Concurrent List or the State List.” “Such power shall include the power of making any law and imposing a tax not mentioned in either of these lists.” Thus, the Constitution of India creates a clear-cut division of legislative powers between the Union and the States.

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