What is the Article 131?

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 16, 2022, 11:25

According to Article 131 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has exclusive and original jurisdiction over legal matters arising between states or between states and the union. When a State-related dispute arises on specific grounds, the Original Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 131 is sought.

Definition of Article 131

Original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 131 is subject to the conditions of the Indian Constitution that the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction in any dispute to the exclusion of any other court, whether it is

(a) between one or more States and the Government of India

(b) between any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other, and the Government of India

(c) between two or more States, if and to the extent that the dispute concerns any question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or scope of a legal right is contingent.

Power of the Central Government of India Under Article 131

Under Article 131 of the Indian Constitution, the Centre has the authority to guarantee that its laws are executed and also, to provide states with instructions on how to carry out the legislation passed by Parliament.

If states fail to comply with the directives, the Centre might file a court case seeking a permanent order to compel them to follow the legislation under Article 131.

Noncompliance with court orders might result in contempt of court, in which case the chief secretaries of the states responsible for enforcing the laws are frequently summoned.

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States' Power to Bring Legal Challenges Against Legislation Enacted by Parliament Under Article 131

According to Article 131 of the Constitution of India, Parliamentary laws are believed to be valid unless a court rules otherwise. Inter-governmental conflicts are widespread in India's quasi-federal constitutional system.

The framers of the Constitution foresaw such disagreements and gave the Supreme Court sole initial authority over their settlement by creating Article 131. The quasi-federal framework envisioned in 1950 has evolved into clearly defined state authorities.

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Supreme Court's Power to Examine the Validity of a Central Law Under Article 131

Article 131 can be used to challenge a central law in the following situations -

Legislative Competence: A legislation can be contested if it is not following the formulating authority's lawmaking powers and contains an undue delegation of fundamental legislative responsibilities.

Violation of Rights: If legislation breaches Part III of the constitution, which deals with Fundamental Rights, it can be challenged.

Constitutional Violations: The law can also be challenged because it is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has developed the following theories in this regard throughout time -

  1. The Doctrine of Core Structure: It refers to the Constitution's basic structure, which serves as its foundation and so cannot be changed.
  2. The Doctrine of Pith and Substance: When a question is made about the applicability of certain laws to a specific subject, the court looks at the important aspect of the problem.
  3. The Theory of Colorable Legislation: When the legislature does not have the power to create laws on a specific issue but does so indirectly.

Article 131 is important because of India's quasi-federal governmental framework. Under the structure of Article 131, the chances of a disagreement arising between the states or between the Centre and the State are significant, and the Constitution's framers considered that decision-making authority should be explicitly expressed in such cases. The Supreme Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction because it is the highest judicial body.

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FAQs on Article 131

Q1. What is Article 131 of the Indian Constitution?

Ans. Under Article 131, the Supreme Court has the right to resolve disputes between the Centre and one or more states and those between the states.

Q2. Who is in charge of resolving conflicts between two or more states according to Article 131?

Ans. The Supreme Court of India is in charge of resolving conflicts between two or more states according to Article 131.

Q3. Can the Central government of India sue a state under Article 131?

Ans. Yes, under Article 131, the Central government of India can sue a state if it fails to comply with certain directives.

Q4. Is it unprecedented for states to bring legal challenges against legislation enacted by Parliament under Article 131?

Ans. No, it is not unprecedented for states to bring legal challenges against legislation enacted by Parliament under Article 131.