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Why in news?

The CM of Telangana has pitched for more autonomy to the states, suggesting that the concurrent list be done away with.

Why Concurrent list?

• The aim of the concurrent list was to ensure uniformity across the country where independently both centre and state can legislate. Thus, a model law with enough flexibility for states was originally conceived in the constitution.

• Also, few concurrent list subjects required huge finances needing both centre and state to contribute.

Seventh Schedule (Article 246)

The Constitution provides a scheme for demarcation of powers through three ‘lists’ in the seventh schedule.

• The union list details the subjects on which Parliament may make laws e.g. defence, foreign affairs, railways, banking, among others.

• The state list details those under the purview of state legislatures e.g. Public order, police, public health and sanitation; hospitals and dispensaries, betting and gambling etc.

• The concurrent list has subjects in which both Parliament and state legislatures have jurisdiction e.g. Education including technical education, medical education and universities, population control and family planning, criminal law, prevention of cruelty to animals, protection of wildlife and animals, forests etc.

o The provision of concurrent list is a feature borrowed from the Australian constitution.

• The Constitution also provides federal supremacy to Parliament on concurrent list items i.e. in case of a conflict; a central law will override a state law.

o But there is an exception. If the state law has been reserved for the consideration of the President and has received his assent, then the state law prevails in the state. But it would still be competent for the Parliament to override such a law by subsequently making a law on the same matter.

• Since 1950, the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution has seen a number of amendments. The Union List and Concurrent List have grown while subjects under the State List have gradually reduced.

• The 42nd Amendment Act implemented in 1976, restructured the Seventh Schedule ensuring that State List subjects like education, forest, protection of wild animals and birds, administration of justice, and weights and measurements were transferred to the Concurrent List.

Sarkaria Commission Recommendation on Concurrent List (NOTE: useful for eliminating options)

• The residuary powers of taxation should continue to remain with the Parliament, while the other residuary powers should be placed in the Concurrent List.

• The Centre should consult the states before making a law on a subject of the Concurrent List.

• Ordinarily, the Union should occupy only that much field of a concurrent subject on which uniformity of policy and action is essential in the larger interest of the nation, leaving the rest and details for state action.

The Tamil Nadu government constituted the PV Rajamannar Committee to look into Centre-State relations. It spurred other states to voice their opposition to this new power relation born due to 42nd amendment act and Centre’s encroachment on subjects that were historically under the state list.

Punchi commission

There should be a mechanism whereby the centre consults states before introducing a bill on concurrent list items. This consultation mechanism should be through inter-state council. Centre should occupy only that much of subjects in concurrent list or any other overlapping jurisdiction which is absolutely needed to achieve uniformity of policy in national interest.