- In 1983, the Central government appointed a three-member Commission on Centre-state relations under the chairmanship of R.S. Sarkaria, a retired judge of the Supreme Court.
- The commission was asked to examine and review the working of existing arrangements between the Centre and states in all spheres and recommend appropriate changes and measures.
- The Commission did not favour structural changes and regarded the existing constitutional arrangements and principles relating to the institutions basically sound.
The Commission made 247 recommendations to improve Centre-state relations. The important recommendations are mentioned below:
- A permanent Inter-State Council called the Inter-Governmental Council should be set up under Article 263.
- Article 356 (President’s Rule) should be used very sparingly, in extreme cases as a last resort when all the available alternatives fail.
- The institution of All-India Services should be further strengthened and some more such services should be created.
- The residuary powers of taxation should continue to remain with the Parliament, while the other residuary powers should be placed in the Concurrent List.
- When the president withholds his assent to the state bills, the reasons should be communicated to the state government.
- The National Development Council (NDC) should be renamed and reconstituted as the National Economic and Development Council (NEDC).
- The zonal councils should be constituted afresh and reactivated to promote the spirit of federalism.
- The Centre should have powers to deploy its armed forces, even without the consent of states. However, it is desirable that the
states should be consulted.
- The Centre should consult the states before making a law on a subject of the Concurrent List.
- The procedure of consulting the chief minister in the appointment of the state governor should be prescribed in the Constitution itself.
- The net proceeds of the corporation tax may be made permissibly shareable with the states.
- The governor cannot dismiss the council of ministers so long as it commands a majority in the assembly.
- The governor’s term of five years in a state should not be disturbed except for some extremely compelling reasons.
- No commission of enquiry should be set up against a state minister unless a demand is made by the Parliament.
- The surcharge on income tax should not be levied by the Centre except for a specific purpose and for a strictly limited period.
- The present division of functions between the Finance Commission and the Planning Commission is reasonable and
- Steps should be taken to uniformly implement the three language formula in its true spirit.
- No autonomy for radio and television but decentralisation in their operations.
- No change in the role of Rajya Sabha and Centre’s power to reorganise the states.
- The commissioner for linguistic minorities should be activated.
The Central government has implemented 180 (out of 247) recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission. The most important is the establishment of the Inter-State Council in 1990.
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