The Union Government, constituted a Commission in 1988 under the Chairmanship of Justice R.S. Sarkaria to review the working of the existing arrangements between the Union and the States.
One of the important recommendations of Sarkaria Commission was for establishing a permanent Inter-State Council as an independent national forum for consultation with a mandate well defined in accordance with Article 263 of the Constitution of India.
Article 263 of the Constitution states that:
“If at any time it appears to the President that the public interests would be served by the establishment of a Inter State Council charged with the duty of:
- Inquiring into and advising upon disputes which may have arisen between States;
- Investigating and discussing subjects in which some or all of the States, or the Union and one or more of the States, have a common interest;
- Making recommendations upon any such subject and, in particular, recommendations for the better co-ordination of policy and action with respect to that subject,
It shall be lawful for the President by order to establish such Inter State Council, and to define the nature of the duties to be performed by it and its organisation and procedure.”
In exercise of power, President has already constituted the Central Councils of:
- Local Self Government
- Indian Medicine
The Council shall consist of the:
- Prime Minister who is the Chairman,
- Chief Ministers of all states who are members,
- Chief Ministers of the Union Territories and administrators of Union Territories as members,
- Six Union Ministers of cabinet rank in the union council of ministers nominated by the Prime Minister, who are also members.
Establishment of Inter-State Councils
As per the advice of the Sarkaria Commission, the V.P. Singh led Government constituted an Inter State Council in 1990 which consisted of the following members:-
- PM as its Chairman;
- CMs of all the States;
- CMs of all the UTs which have legislative assemblies;
- Six Cabinet Ministers (including Home Minister) to be nominated by PM.
The Council is a recommendatory body to investigate and discuss subjects, in which some or all of the states or the union government have a common interest, recommendations for the better coordination of policy and action, matters of general interest to the states.
The inter-state council is not a permanent constitutional body for coordination between the states and union government. It can be established ‘at any time’ if it appears to the President that the public interests would be served by the establishment of such a council.
A Standing Committee of the Inter-State Council has been constituted for continuous consultation and processing of matters for the consideration of the Council. The Standing Committee comprises of Union Home Minister as Chairman and 5 Union Ministers of Cabinet Rank and 9 Chief Ministers of States as Members nominated by the Chairman of the Inter-State Council.