Sarkaria Commission Report: Objectives & Recommendations for Centre-State Relations

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The Sarkaria Commission, officially known as the Commission on Centre-State Relations, was constituted by the Government of India in 1983. The commission was named after Justice R.S. Sarkaria, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, who served as its chairman.

The commission was tasked with examining the Centre-State relations in India and making recommendations on how to improve them. The commission submitted its report in 1988, which contained 247 recommendations covering various aspects of Centre-State relations.

NameSarkaria Commission
PurposeTo examine Centre-State relations
AppointmentAppointed by the GOI in 1983
DurationFive years
ChairpersonJustice R.S. Sarkaria
MembersEight
Recommendations247
Overview of Sarkaria Commission

Background & Context

The Indian Constitution provides for a federal system of government with a clear demarcation of powers between the Central and State governments. However, over the years, there have been many disputes and conflicts between the Centre and the States on issues such as the distribution of powers, sharing of resources, and representation in the decision-making process. These disputes often led to political tensions and hampered the development of the country.

To address these issues, several commissions were set up in the past, such as the Rajamannar Committee (1950), the States Reorganisation Commission (1955), and the Sarkaria Commission (1983). These commissions were tasked with examining various aspects of Centre-State relations and making recommendations to improve them.

Objectives of the Sarkaria Commission

The Sarkaria Commission was constituted with the following objectives:

  1. To examine the existing constitutional provisions and other laws relating to Centre-State relations and suggest changes if required.
  2. To suggest measures to ensure a better working relationship between the Centre and the States.
  3. To suggest ways to improve the quality of governance at the State level.
  4. To suggest ways to promote greater decentralization of powers and resources to the States.
  5. To suggest ways to improve the planning process at the State level.

Composition and Members

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The Sarkaria Commission had eight members, including its chairman Justice R.S. Sarkaria. The commission also had a secretary, who was appointed by the Government of India.

The following are the members of the Sarkaria Commission:

  1. Justice R.S. Sarkaria – Chairperson
  2. Shri B.N. Yugandhar
  3. Shri H.C. Jain
  4. Shri L.K. Jha
  5. Dr. Raghbir Singh
  6. Shri S.R. Sen
  7. Shri S.P. Sen Verma
  8. Dr. T.V. Rajeswar

Table with some information on the members of the Sarkaria Commission:

NameBackgroundContribution
Justice R.S. SarkariaRetired judge of the Supreme Court of IndiaChairperson of the commission; oversaw the drafting of the recommendations
Shri B.N. YugandharCivil servantProvided insights on administrative issues and Centre-State relations
Shri H.C. JainLawyerProvided legal expertise and insights into constitutional issues
Shri L.K. JhaEconomist and civil servantProvided insights on economic issues and fiscal relations between Centre and States
Dr. Raghbir SinghAcademicProvided academic perspectives on Centre-State relations
Shri S.R. SenCivil servantProvided insights on administrative issues and Centre-State relations
Shri S.P. Sen VermaLawyerProvided insights on economic issues and fiscal relations between the Centre and States
Dr. T.V. RajeswarAcademic and civil servantProvided insights on administrative issues and Centre-State relations
Members of the Sarkaria Commission

All the members of the commission were experts in their respective fields, and they brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the task at hand. Justice R.S. Sarkaria, the chairman of the commission, was a renowned jurist and had served as a judge of the Supreme Court of India. He was known for his impartiality and integrity, which helped to ensure that the commission’s recommendations were fair and balanced.

Sarkaria Commission Report

The Sarkaria Commission Report is a comprehensive report on Centre-State relations in India. It was submitted in 1988 by a commission headed by Justice Ranjit Singh Sarkaria.

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The report of the Sarkaria Commission consists of eight volumes and over 1,300 pages and contains detailed recommendations on various aspects of Centre-State relations, including the appointment of Governors, distribution of powers, fiscal relations, planning, inter-State disputes, emergency provisions, language, and Centre-State cooperation.

The Commission held consultations with political leaders, constitutional experts, and representatives of various interest groups to gather inputs for its recommendations. Let’s see the recommendations.

Recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission

The Sarkaria Commission’s report contained 247 recommendations covering various aspects of Centre-State relations. Some of the key recommendations are:

1. Appointment of Governors

  • An appointment should be non-partisan and transparent
  • Governors should not be removed except for reasons specified in the Constitution
  • The appointment should be made by the President in consultation with the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of the State concerned.

2. Distribution of Powers

  • Distribution should be based on the principle of subsidiarity
  • The Constitution should be amended for greater clarity on the distribution of powers
  • Residual powers should be vested in States.

3. Fiscal Relations

  • Centre should provide financial assistance to States in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner
  • A constitution should be amended for the setting up of a Finance Commission every five years to recommend the distribution of financial resources
  • States should have greater autonomy in the management of their finances.

4. Planning

  • Greater decentralization of powers and resources to States for planning purposes
  • A constitution should be amended for the setting up of a National Development Council chaired by the Prime Minister and with the Chief Ministers of all States and Union Territories as members
  • States should have a greater say in the formulation of national plans.

5. Inter-State Disputes

  • A permanent Inter-State Council should be set up to resolve disputes between States
  • The council should have an independent secretariat and be headed by the Prime Minister
  • The council should have the power to make recommendations on any matter on which the Centre and States have a difference of opinion.

6. Emergency Provisions

  • Emergency provisions should be used sparingly and in accordance with constitutional provisions
  • President should not exercise emergency powers on the advice of the Council of Ministers alone
  • The Governor of a State should not be removed from office during a period of the President’s rule except for reasons specified in the Constitution.

7. Language

  • Hindi should be promoted as an official language, but other regional languages should also be given due recognition and protection
  • Use of English should continue for official purposes until Hindi becomes fully functional as the official language
  • All languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution should be promoted and developed.

8. Centre-State Cooperation

  • Greater cooperation and coordination between the Centre and States, particularly in areas of economic planning, social welfare, and infrastructure development
  • Centre should take lead in coordinating national policies, but States should be consulted and their views are taken into account.

Finally, the Sarkaria Commission Report emphasized the need for greater cooperation and coordination between the Centre and States, particularly in areas of economic planning, social welfare, and infrastructure development. The Commission recommended that the Centre should take the lead in coordinating national policies, but States should be consulted and their views are taken into account.

Overall, the Sarkaria Commission Report remains an important reference point for Centre-State relations in India and has been influential in shaping subsequent reforms in this area. Its recommendations continue to be relevant today, as the Centre and States seek to balance their respective powers and responsibilities in a dynamic and rapidly changing political and economic environment.

Criticisms and Controversies

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The Sarkaria Commission’s recommendations were not implemented in their entirety, and some of them were even ignored by the Centre and the States. Some of the criticisms and controversies surrounding the commission and its recommendations are:

Lack of Implementation: Many of the commission’s recommendations were not implemented, and the Centre and the States continued to have conflicts and disputes over various issues.

Limited scope: Some critics argued that the commission’s scope was too limited and that it did not address some of the fundamental issues in Centre-State relations, such as the distribution of powers and resources.

Political bias: Some critics alleged that the commission’s recommendations were influenced by the political ideology of its members and that they did not reflect the views of all stakeholders.

States’ autonomy: Some States objected to the commission’s recommendations, arguing that they would undermine their autonomy and infringe upon their rights.

Impact of the Sarkaria Commission

Although the Sarkaria Commission’s recommendations were not fully implemented, they did have some impact on Centre-State relations in India.

Some of the impacts of the Sarkaria Commission are:

Greater cooperation: The commission’s recommendations led to greater cooperation and coordination between the Centre and the States, and helped to reduce political tensions to some extent.

Improved planning: The commission’s recommendations on planning led to a greater decentralization of powers and resources to the States, and helped to improve the planning process at the State level.

Language: The commission’s recommendations on language helped to promote the use of Hindi as an official language, while also protecting the rights of regional languages.

Inter-State disputes: The commission’s recommendation on inter-state disputes led to the setting up of a permanent Inter-State Council, which has been instrumental in resolving disputes between the Centre and the States, and between the States themselves.

Conclusion & Legacy

The Sarkaria Commission played an important role in examining the Centre-State relations in India and making recommendations to improve them. Although some of its recommendations were not implemented in their entirety, they did have some impact on Centre-State relations in India.

The commission’s legacy can be seen in the greater cooperation and coordination between the Centre and the States, the improved planning process at the State level, and the setting up of a permanent Inter-State Council. The commission’s recommendations continue to be relevant, and there is a need for further reforms to strengthen the federal system of government in India.

Thank You!

When was the Sarkaria Commission formed?

The Sarkaria Commission was established in 1983 by the Government of India to examine and review the relationship between the central government and state governments in India.

Who chaired the Sarkaria Commission?

The Sarkaria Commission was chaired by retired judge R.S. Sarkaria, who was a former judge of the Supreme Court of India.

What was the objective of the Sarkaria Commission?

The Sarkaria Commission was established to examine the relations between the central government and the state governments in India and to make recommendations for improving their functioning.

How many recommendations were made by the Sarkaria Commission?

The Sarkaria Commission made 247 recommendations covering various aspects of the relationship between the centre and the states.

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