Saturday, September 15, 2012

State Government and Administration: Union-State administrative, legislative and financial relations; Role of the Finance Commission; Governor; Chief Minister; Council of Ministers; Chief Secretary; State Secretariat; Directorates

The relationship between the Union and states regarding governance and administration has already been discussed quite in detail in a previous post of this blog -
However,it was in light of the Union and its powers.

Therefore, today we will discuss the functions assigned to the state governments in the Constitution and the way in which the state administration is organised to perform these functions.

Click on ' JOIN THIS SITE ' to get instant updates on new posts on this blog. And also for 'INTERACTIONS AND DISCUSSIONS' regarding this blog's posts 'JOIN ITS FACEBOOK COMMUNITY/GROUP' that is mentioned on the right hand side of this page..


 The Constitution provides for the powers of the Union and state governments and we have already discussed the Union list in the previous article of this blog.
So,today we will elucidate on the state list.
The state list comprises 61 items over which the state has exclusive jurisdiction like public order and police,agriculture,forests,fisheries,public health,local government,etc. 

Though the subjects in the state list above are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the states,but,under the following circumstances the Union Parliament can legislate on these matters:
i) In national interest,the Council Of states ( Rajya Sabha) by a resolution of 2/3 of its members present and voting may authorise Parliament to legislate on a state subject. Such authorisation may be for one year at a time,but, can be renewed by a fresh resolution.
ii) Under a proclamation of Emergency,the Parliament may legislate on a state subject.
iii) With the consent of two or more states,Union Parliament may legislate on a state subject with respect to the consenting states.
iv) Parliament has powers to legislate with reference to any subject ( including a state subject) for the purpose of implementing treaties or international agreements and conventions.
v) When a proclamation is issued by the President on the failure of constitutional machinery in any state,he may declare that the powers of the state legislature shall be exercised by or under the authority of Parliament.

There are three types of bills in the state legislature which are - Ordinary bills,Money bills & Constitutional amendment bills and the bill passing procedure is the same as the union parliament if there are two houses in the state. If there is only one house then it is to be passed by that house and presented to the governor for giving it his assent for it to become an Act. The governor can send the bill back for a reconsideration or reserve it for the assent of the President.

Now,there is a third list too, known as the Concurrent list on which both the Union as well as states have concurrent jurisdiction. Lets take a look at that.

In this context do refer to the Punchchi Commission's recommendations on Centre-State relations in -


Key recommendations of the Sarkaria Commision's report on Centre - State relations as well -

The Concurrent List comprises of 52 items on which both the Union as well as states have concurrent jurisdiction. The important subjects are - Criminal Law and Procedure,Marriage,Trusts,Civil Procedure,Insurance,Social and Economic Planning,etc.

However, pre dominance in this list is given to the Union when there is a repugnancy between Union and the state law relating to the same subject. If,the state law was reserved for a Presidential assent and subsequently receives it then the state law may prevail notwithstanding such repugnancy but it would still be competent for the Parliament to override such state law by subsequent legislation.

Any dispute regarding the interpretation of the entries in the three lists is to be decided by the Courts. And even in the interpretations the Union is given more priority and prevalence.

Though the executive powers lie with the state legislatures in regards to the Concurrent List,however, :
i) Where there is a law of Parliament relating to such subjects vests some executive function in the Union,e.g. Industrial Disputes Act,1947, then the Union will take over.
ii) Where provisions of Constitution itself vest some executive functions upon the Union,e.g. implementation of treaty or international obligation.

Apart from an Emergency,the Union has the power in normal times as well to give directions to the state governments in the exercise of their executive powers in the following cases:
i) To ensure compliance with Union laws.
ii) To ensure that exercise of executive power of the state does not interfere with the exercise of the executive power of Union.
iii) To ensure construction and maintenance of the means of communication of national or military importance by the state.
iv) To ensure protection of railways in the state.
v) To ensure implementation of schemes for the welfare of SC & ST.
vi) To ensure that the administration of a state is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

The All India Services which are IAS and IPS form an integrated well knit service pool to cooperatively manage important and crucial sectors of administration in the country between both the centre and states. THe recruitment,training,promotion,disciplinary matters are determined by the state government and on entry of an official,he is allocated to a state of his cadre to serve under the state government. After acquainting himself,the officer moves on to the centre to occupy positions of responsibility in the Central Secretariat or other important central govt. organisations. Thus,the official is appointed by the centre but serves the states and takes his experience to the centre and thus represents the state needs at all necessary times.

Constitution of Joint PSCs for two or more states is an arrangement when two or more states agree to have one PSC and for it to come into effect,the Parliament passes a law.

There is a High Court of every state and at times for proper administration purposes there is one court for two or more states. The judges of High Court are appointed by the President on consultation with the CJI of the Supreme Court and the governor of the respective state.

Inter State Council enquires into and advises upon disputes which may have arisen between states and in addition it may also investigate and discuss subjects of common interest between the union and states or between two or more states in order to facilitate coordination of policy and action. They are setup by the President and its examples are - Central Council of Health,Central Council of Local Self Government,Council of sales tax,etc.

Inter state water disputes act,1956 was enacted by the Parliament setting up tribunals for adjudication of water disputes between union and a state or two or more states and between one state and another or two others,etc.

Other devices in practice to secure union-state cooperation and conflict resolution also exist which are extra constitutional devices like Governors Conference headed by the President ,Chief Ministers conference,Conference of IGPs of states,Planning Commission and NDC discussions on five year plans,etc where representatives of all states get together and discuss various issues within themselves and the Union for a consensus.

Other techniques of executive control over the states by the Union and Parliament are the power to appoint and dismiss Governors,High court judges,state public service commissions rests with the President.

Emergency as well as legislative techniques have already been discussed above,however,one must note that if the the President through the governor of a state is convinced that there is a situation in that state where the administration cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution then the President declares a state emergency under article 356 of the Indian Constitution and President's rule(Parliament takes over all functions of state govt.) prevails over it until the situation is restored to normal. This decision of the President must be approved by the Parliament within 2 months of the President's declaration and can be imposed for 6 months lasting for a period of maximum three years and ratified for extension by the Parliament every six months.

The Union has the constitutional duty to intervene and protect every state against external as well as internal aggression by releasing the armed forces under it which are, the CRPF,BSF,etc. At times the Union does not require the consent of the state and can take action at its discretion regarding the same.

Parliament is authorised to make grants to any state which is need of assistance in order to correct inter-state disparities in financial resources and to exercise control and coordination over welfare schemes of the states on national basis.
Grants are also provided by the Parliament for development of tribal areas in Assam and schemes for STs and raising the level of administration of scheduled areas . Detailed Financial relations of Union-state comes under the ambit of Finance Commission and will be discussed under that later in this article.

The Constitution authorises the President of India to constitute a Finance Commission(Constitutional body) once in every five years. It is expected to make recommendations relating to allocation of revenues to the Central and state governments,grants-in-aid by the Union to the states and other financial matters like working with the State Finance Commissions and suggest measures to augment the Consolidated fund of states so as to provide additional resources to Panchayats and Municipalities in state.
The Commission came into effect in 1951,under article 280 of the Indian Constitution. It consists of a chairman and four other members. For details -

However,transfers through the Finance Commission contribute to only about 1/3rd of the total transfers from Union to states. The rest are channeled through the Planning Commission and discretionary grants from Centre to states. This has led to a friction between the two and reduces the role of the Finance Commission to a mere recommending body in matters of non-plan resources requirements and its powers being usurped by an extra constitutional body which is the Planning Commission and this adversely affects the plan expenditure as some states end up with non-plan surplus and use it in the Plan expenditure and other states are left high and dry because the Finance Commission has its own formula of calculating resources to be divided and the Planning Commission has its own. Therefore various Finance Commissions recommendations like the ninth finance commission's recommendations should be considered with all seriousness and implemented to solve this problem. Please refer to the Ninth Finance Commission's recommendations here -

The Indian Constitution provides for a Parliamentary form of govt. at the centre as well as state levels. The Governor is the Constitutional head of the state govt. and acts on the advice of the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister.

The Governor is appointed by the President for a term of five years and holds office during his pleasure and can be reappointed after his tenure of the same state or of another state.

The Constitution provides the governor with many executive,legislative,judicial and emergency powers. Governor appoints the Chief Minister and on his advice,the Council Of Ministers. He also appoints many other members of state PSC,Advocate General,Senior Civil Servants,etc. The entire executive work of the state is carried on in his name.

The Governor is a part of the state legislature and possesses the same administrative,legislative emergency and judicial powers with respect to the state the same way as the President has towards the Union Parliament and govt.

However, he has the power to reserve any Bill passed by the state legislature for the assent of the President. He also lays before the state legislature the audit reports of the CAG.

Discretionary powers given to the Governor even though he is supposed to act in accordance with the advice tendered by the Council of Ministers has stirred up a lot of controversy in the recent times. The major cases of this are:
i) Appointment of Chief Ministers - When there is a majority party in the legislature recommending their leader's name to the Governor,then he has no choice but to accept the same. However,when there is no absolute majority then the Governor's discretion comes into play. Here different criteria has been seen being followed by different governors in similar circumstances. And, this has eroded the neutral office and status of the governor as many term it as a tilt towards the ruling central/union party who appoints the governor in order to prove his loyalty and fulfill his vested interests.

ii) Dismissal of a Ministry - The Chief Minister and its Ministry hold office during the pleasure of the Governor,and this pleasure is not subject to any scrutiny. However,this discretion of the Governor has to be exercised judiciously. But, unfortunately there have been many instances where the Governor without asking the ruling part of state to prove its majority has dismissed it and called for fresh elections. This was interpreted by the opposition as a deliberate attempt on the part of Governor of pleasing the ruling party at the Centre.

iii) Dissolution Of the Assembly - For dissolving a state assembly the Governor is to be aided and advised by the state council of ministers. However,this has not been followed and the Governor has time and again ignored this advice stating that as long as there is a possibility of forming a govt. nothing should be done. Here also the Governor's have been termed as central agents by the opposition.

iv) Use of Emergency powers - Many a times there have been repeated attempts of the Governor trying to usurp the power of the state govt. by improperly and unnecessarily advising the President to declare a state emergency for the smallest of issues.

Thus, this shows the Governor's office in a bad light,however,this institution cannot be done away with and helps the coordination between centre and states. But still major reforms and revamping is needed for this office to be kept neutral.

One must pay close attention to the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission in respect to Centre-State relations and in respect to the Governor's role it suggested that:
i) The appointment of the Governor should be made from a panel to be prepared by the State Legislature.
ii) From a panel prepared by the state government or invariably by the Chief Minister or
iii) Invariably in consultation with the state chief minister. The reason for this being that for smooth functioning of the Parliamentary system there has to be a personal rapport between the Chief Minister and the Governor but this has not been implemented in the recent years.  It also recommended a person to be appointed as governor who is an imminent personality and has kept away from politics for many years so that he is neutral and unbiased. It also recommended for the appointment to come under Parliament scrutiny and be reviewed by the Parliamentary Commitee befor being appointed. These recommendations though appreciated and debated still remain on paper due to various reasons and vested interests.

The Chief Minister performs the same function in respect of the state government as the Prime Minister does in respect of the Union Govt. However,as the Prime Minister is termed as the 'first among equals' in his rank as he heads the Union Council Of Ministers,the Chief Minister does not have this privilege as the real power vests with his state's council of ministers,but he/she has nonetheless acquired a very special role in the exercise of his/her executive power and is considered the prime mover of the state's executive government.

The Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor and holds office during the Governor's pleasure. However,when there is an absolute majority in the legislative assembly of the state by a single largest party then the governor only plays a ceremonial role. He invites the leader of the majority party to form a government and cannot dismiss him as long as he enjoys the legislative assembly's confidence.

He assigns portfolios to his Council of Ministers and appoints them through the Governor and can change them whenever he likes or feels fit and therefore the ministers remain in awe of him. He coordinates between the state Council of Ministers and oversees the decisions of the various state departments are coherent. The Council of Ministers are collectively responsible to the state legislative assembly. He sets his state Cabinet's agenda and greatly influences its decisions and takes many important decisions in coordination even though those ministries have been allotted to individual ministers.

However, the Chief Minister commands such power and obedience among his Council of Ministers only when he has an absolute majority in the assembly and gets strengthened if his party is in majority across the state as then he would not have to listen to his party's national leaders/high command. The Chief Ministers stands weakened when heading a coalition govt. or a faction ridden party as then he is caught up in striking balances and compromises only between the various coalition partners.

The Governor's public speeches as well as appearances have to be in accordance with the policy laid down by the state's council of ministers headed by the Chief Minister and is to be approved by the state Cabinet.

In relation to the state legislature,the Chief Minister is the leader of the House(state legislative assembly) . Vidhan Sabha - Lower house/house of people of the state, Vidhan Parishad - upper house/council of states of a state legislature. However,it is upto the state govt. whether it wants a upper house or not,it is not compulsory,but the Vidhan Sabha is.

He sets the legislative agenda in the House as he is the one who introduces various policy bills decided and approved by the state Cabinet ministers in the state assembly and he is also the responsibility of updating the assembly regarding the various activities of the state govt. by answering questions,making statements,intervening in debates,etc.

The Chief Minister being the leader of the political executive controls the entire state bureaucracy and in doing so is assisted by the state Secretariat headed by the Chief Secretary. He approves all senior appointments like secretaries,additional/joint/deputy secretaries,Heads of Departments,Chairmen and Managing Directors of PSUs,etc. and through his cabinet,he controls that service conditions and disciplinary matters. He provides them leadership in order to extract good performance and morale. He keeps a check on them through administrative channels as well as through his own mechanisms like party workers,complaints from aggrieved persons and actual observations during tours,etc.


The real executive power vests with the state Council Of Ministers,as has been stated above. On the pattern of the union govt, the Ministers of state governments are also of the following categories:

i) State Cabinet Ministers

ii) Ministers Of state

iii) Deputy Ministers

iv) Parliamentary secretaries

In the Union govt. only Union Cabinet Ministers can attend the Union Cabinet meetings, but in the state govt. system all ministers can attend the state cabinet meeting making discussions on serious matters rather difficult. To help address this various state governments have adopted the device of forming Cabinet Committees (standing as well as ad-hoc) for studying the issues in detail and then presenting their recommendations based on facts and estimates which is found to be much more acceptable to the various ministers of the state for arriving on a consensus.

The state Council of ministers are the highest policy-making body of the state government and lays down all legislative and administrative policies within its competence. It also reviews the implementation of those policies and reviews them based on feed backs received.

The state Council of Ministers has unfettered powers regarding state administration but if there is a limit imposed on it by the Indian Constitution and laws passed by the union and state legislature then those will have to be followed. There are ministries as well as departments in the state administration akin to the Union govt.


The three components of a state government are : the Minister,the Secretary and the Executive head( most cases called the director of directorate office).

The chief secretary of a state is the kingpin of his state's secretariat including all secretarial departments of state. Chief Secretary is the chief advisor to the Chief Minister of the state and secretary to the state's cabinet. He is also the head of the state civil services and directs the state's administrative system as he heads the state's General Administration Dept. which is directly under the Chief Minister. He is the main channel of communication between his state's govt. and the Union govt. and other state govts as well as the chief spokesman and public relations officer of the state govt. He/she holds the rank of the Secretary to the Govt. of India and receives emoluments admissible to the above mentioned rank.

He obtains coordination between various state departments and ministry secretariats and heads the various committees set up to ensure smooth transaction of administration business and also coordinates between the state and Union govt as well govts of other states and his/her state for smooth governance.

The functions of the state Chief Secretary are so wide in its ambit that at the central/union level if this work is to be compared , this work is shared between the Union Cabinet secretary,Home secretary and the Finance secretary.

Another important factor of this position is that the Chief secretary need not be the senior most civil servant of the state (as in the Union govt. where the Union Cabinet Secretary is the senior most civil servant) and is neither under a tenure system and he can either retire from the state level or move on to the central govt. to take up a more important position.

Thus,one can understand Chief Secretary's  role and its indispensability to state government's functioning.

Out of the three components of a state govt listed just above this topic,the Minister and the Secretary together constitute the state Secretariat(meaning Office of the secretary and at times also referred to as the office of the Minister). To define it according to renowned Public Administration guru S.R Maheshwari - The expression Secretariat is used to refer to the complex of departments whose heads politically are ministers and administratively are the Secretaries.

The main functions of the state Secretariat as per the Administrative Reform Commission's Report on state administration is as follows:
i) Assisting the ministers in policy making,in modifying the policies from time to time and in the discharge of their legislative responsibilities.
ii) Framing draft legislation and rules and regulations.
iii) Coordination of policies and programmes,supervision and control over their execution,and review of results.
iv) Budgeting and control of expenditure.
v) Maintaining contact with the GOI and other state governments.
vi) Overseeing the smooth and efficient running of the administrative machinery and initiating measures to develop greater personnel and organisational competence.

The administrative philosophy to which the secretariat system owes its existence is that policy making must be kept separate from policy execution. Several advantages are claimed in favour of such an arrangement so that policy formulators should not be burdened with administrative functioning and negotiations and the administrative experts should not be saddled with policy making and only employ their expertise in a free and best possible manner.

Apart from general secretarial administration to the ministers and coordinating and directing the various state ministry secretaries and departments (also refer to the state secretary topic discussed above for detailed functions) the state secretariat also has financial functions.
In matters of finance, the state secretariat sees to the following aspects - scrutiny and approval of departmental budget estimates,major appropriation of accounts,surrender of funds and supplementary grants,all proposals involving new items of expenditure,financial sanctions not within the competence of the head of the department, sanction of expenditure from the contingency fund,write off cases beyond the powers of heads of departments and audit objections regarding the offices of the heads of departments.


Directorates are seen as the chief executive organs of the government. In the Secretariat policy formulation functions are generally headed by Generalists. While in the Directorates policy implementation functions are headed by specialists. Directorates are arranged on the principle of Division of Labour and to have subject-wise focus Directorates are established. These are responsible for the detailed implementation of plans/programmes at the level of Directorate who direct the scheme of implementation as well as assign the Field establishments their respective roles. Resource management of effective implementation of plans is carried out at this level. Directorates ensure the will of the Secretariat find its physical execution. They also help the Secretariat in the assessment of implementation of various plans and programmes. They act as a vital links between the Field establishments and the Secretariat. Secretariat acts as the head and the Directorates act as the head and hands both at the implementation level.

Revenue Board is seen as the apex arrangement in a state in relation to revenue matters. Its role is majorly advisory and analyses the Revenue requirements of the state and the revenue resources available in the respective state. Revenue Boards is created by an act of the state legislature and is sufficiently autonomous in regards to revenue framework. It acts as overall supervisory body at the state level in regards to revenue assessment and collection functioning. It may be headed by a single member or many members. It analysis the rate of development in the state and the overall economic scenario existing in relation to the state revenues and on its analysis the principles of revenue allocation and assessment of the state may be carried out. It is seen as the apex appellate authority in regards to matters of Land Revenue Assessment. And, in many states the Revenue Board is seen as writing the Annual Confidential Reports of the Divisional Commissioner and District Collectors(senior to Dist. Collector handling many districts,this would be discussed in detail in the next post of this blog).


Click on ' JOIN THIS SITE ' to get instant updates on new posts on this blog. And also for 'INTERACTIONS AND DISCUSSIONS' regarding this blog's posts 'JOIN ITS FACEBOOK COMMUNITY/GROUP' that is mentioned on the right hand side of this page.

The next post on this blog will cover:

District Administration since Independence: Changing role of the Collector;
Union -state local relations;
Imperatives of development management and law and order administration;
District administration and democratic decentralization.

No comments:

Post a Comment