Inter State Council: Composition, Function, Inter State Council UPSC

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Inter State Council is a recommendatory body empowered to discuss and investigate topics of common interest between the Union and States or among States. It is a mechanism that sets standards for debate forums and other discussions to maintain coordination between the state and centre levels. The Inter State Council was established in 1990 under Article 263 of Part XI of the Indian Constitution. The President has the power to establish an Inter State Council.

Inter State Council is a constitutional body in India that facilitates coordination and cooperation between the Union and State governments. Candidates studying for the UPSC exam should be familiar with the Inter State Council as it is an important topic for the Indian Polity and Governance section. Gaining knowledge about the Inter State Council enhances the candidates’ understanding of India’s federal structure and governance system, which is crucial for effective administration and policymaking.

Inter State Council

Inter State Council is a recommendatory body established to address subjects of common interest between the Union and a state or among states in India. It serves as a platform for discussing and investigating areas of contention, advising upon disputes, and facilitating better policy coordination. The council, which meets at least thrice a year, was formed in 1990 based on the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission. It operates as a permanent body with the President having the authority to advise, resolve disputes, and guide the council. The recent reconstitution of the Inter State Council includes the Prime Minister as the Chairman, all Chief Ministers as members, and 6 Union Ministers as members. The standing committee of the council, chaired by the Union Home Minister, has also been reconstituted.

The Inter State Council plays a significant role in fostering cooperative federalism in India. Its existence ensures a mechanism for dialogue, consultation, and resolution of issues between the central government and the states. By providing a platform for the exchange of ideas and opinions, the council aims to achieve consensus and promote better coordination in policy-making. With the participation of Chief Minister and Union Ministers, the council represents the diverse perspectives and interests of different states and the central government. Through its deliberations, the Inter State Council strives to enhance intergovernmental relations, strengthen federalism, and contribute to the overall development and governance of the nation.

Constitutional Provisions of Inter State Council

The Inter State Council is a constitutional body composed of Members of States and is established under Article 263 of the Constitution by the President.

  • Despite the Supreme Court exclusive authority under Article 131, the judiciary can resolve Inter-State conflicts.
  • Extrajudicial tribunals may adjudicate one type of such issue under Article 262.
  • Similarly, Article 263 of the Indian Constitution provides for the investigation and recommendation of the administrative body to resolve Inter-State disputes.

Article 263 of the Indian Constitution

Inter State Council (ISC) was established by the Presidential order on May 28, 1990, under Article 263 of the Indian Constitution. Article 263 states, “if it seems to the President at any time that the creation of a Council would serve the public interests.” This was in response to the Sarkaria Commission’s recommendation. The Indian Constitution’s article 263 contains several clauses relating to the Inter State Council, which are listed below.

  • The clause held in the investigation and advice on the conflicts that may have occurred or will occur between states.
  • Assist all the states, or perhaps some of them, in discussing and examining various topics.
  • The coordination of all policies is ensured by making recommendations on various topics, and any action in response to a recommendation must be authorized by presidential order.
  • The president aids in forming a council that could handle the aforementioned recommendations. It also specifies the tasks the council and their organization must complete following the right method.

Composition of Inter State Council

The Inter-State Council in India is composed of key members from the Union government, state governments, and union territories. It serves as a platform for discussing and resolving issues of common interest and facilitating better coordination among the different levels of governance. The Inter State Council consists of the following members:

  • Chairperson: The Prime Minister of India serves as the chairperson of the Inter-State Council, providing leadership and guidance to the council’s activities.
  • Chief Ministers: All Chief Ministers of states in India are members of the Inter-State Council. They represent the interests and perspectives of their respective states in the decision-making processes.
  • Chief Ministers of Union Territories: Chief Ministers of Union Territories that have a Legislative Assembly also hold membership in the Inter-State Council, ensuring their participation in discussions and policy coordination.
  • Administrators of Union Territories: Administrators of Union Territories that do not have legislative authority, appointed by the President, are part of the Inter-State Council.
  • Governors of States under President’s Rule: In situations where a state is under President’s Rule, the Governors of that state becomes a member of the Inter-State Council.
  • Nominated Central Cabinet Ministers: The Prime Minister nominates six central cabinet ministers, including the Home Minister, to the Inter-State Council. These ministers bring their expertise and insights to the council’s deliberations.
  • Permanent Invitees: The Prime Minister also has the authority to nominate five ministers of the cabinet rank or ministers of state (independent charge) as permanent invitees to the Inter-State Council. These invitees have a standing invitation to participate in council meetings.

Functions of Inter State Council

The President defines the Inter State Council’s function under Article 263 as an investigation into and advice on disputes that may arise between States. and discussing subjects in which the states or the center and the states have common interests, and making recommendations on any subject, particularly for the better coordination of their policy and action on it. The Constitution does not provide for the executive role of the Inter State Council. It can deal with legally and non-legally contentious issues, but its role is advisory rather than binding, unlike the court. The Zone Council may discuss and make recommendations on:

  • Any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning;
  • Any question relating to border disputes, linguistic minorities, or interstate transport; and
  • Any matter relating to or arising out of the reorganization of States under the Act.

Standing Committees of Inter State Council

The standing committee of the Inter State Council for the continuous consultation and processing of matters was set up in 1996 and consists of the following members:

  • Union Home Minister as chairman,
  • Five Cabinet-level Union Ministers
  • Nine Chief Ministers

There is also an Inter State Council Secretariat which was set up in 1991 and headed by the Secretary of the Government of India to assist the Inter State Council. It has also functioned as the secretariat of the Zonal Council since 2011.

Bodies of Inter State Council

The Inter-State Council in India consists of three key bodies that operate under its umbrella to address specific areas of cooperation and dispute resolution. These bodies are the Zonal Council, the Inter-State Trade and Commerce Council, and the Inter-State Water Disputes mechanism. Each body plays a crucial role in fostering cooperation, promoting trade, and resolving water-related disputes among states. Following are the bodies under Inter State Council

  • Zonal Council:
    • The Zonal Council is a statutory body operating under the Inter-State Council.
    • There are five Zonal Councils established by the State Reorganization Act of 1956.
    • Each Zonal Council consists of the Home Minister of the central government, all state Chief Ministers within the zone, two other ministers from each state, and administrators of Union Territories in the zone.
    • The Zonal Councils aim to develop cooperation and coordination among states in their respective zones.
  • Inter-State Trade and Commerce Council:
    • The Inter-State Trade and Commerce Council focuses on matters related to trade, commerce, and intercourse within the territory of India.
    • Articles 301 to 307 of the Constitution govern trade and commerce, and this council operates under the provisions outlined in Part XIII of the Constitution.
    • The council aims to facilitate smooth trade relations and resolve any trade-related disputes among states.
  • Inter-State Water Disputes Mechanism:
    • The Inter-State Water Disputes mechanism deals with dispute involving the use or control of water in interstate rivers or river valleys.
    • Article 262 of the Constitution empowers Parliament to decide the jurisdiction of such disputes.
    • The Inter-State Water Dispute Act of 1956 allows the central government to establish Ad Hoc Tribunals to resolve water disputes.
    • Notable Ad Hoc Tribunals established under this mechanism include the Krishna Tribunal, Kaveri Tribunal, Narmada Tribunal, and Godavari Tribunal.

Highlights of 11th Inter State Council Meeting

The eleventh Inter State Council meeting was held in 2016 under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. The highlights of the meeting were:

  • Consideration of the recommendation of the Punchhi Commission on Centre-State relations
  • To provide subsidies, benefits, and public services, use the Aadhaar card and direct benefit transfer (DBT).
  • Improving the quality of education with a focus on improving learning outcomes, incentivizing better performance, etc.
  • Internal Security focuses on intelligence sharing and coordination for combating terrorism and insurgency, Police Reforms and Police Modernization.

Challenges of Inter State Council

While the Inter State Council in India serves as a platform for coordination and cooperation between the Union and states, it faces certain challenges in its functioning. These challenges can impact the effectiveness of the council in addressing intergovernmental issues and resolving disputes. Following are challenges of Inter State Council

  • Political Differences: The Inter State Council operates in a diverse political landscape, with varying ideologies and priorities among different states. Political differences can hinder consensus-building and affect the council’s ability to reach mutually agreeable solutions.
  • Coordination and Participation: Ensuring active participation and coordination among all member states and union territories can be a challenge. The varying levels of development, resources, and capacities across different regions may impact the willingness and ability of states to actively engage in council discussions.
  • Dispute Resolution Mechanism: Resolving inter-state disputes is a significant objective of the Inter State Council. However, the complexity and sensitivity of such disputes, particularly in areas like water sharing, can pose challenges in reaching equitable and satisfactory solutions that are acceptable to all parties involved.
  • Limited Enforcement Mechanism: The recommendations and advice provided by the Inter State Council are recommendatory in nature. The lack of a strong enforcement mechanism can limit the effectiveness of the council’s decisions and may result in delays or non-implementation of agreed-upon measures.
  • Administrative Capacity: The implementation of decisions and policies formulated by the council requires effective administrative capacity at both the central and state levels. Challenges related to administrative efficiency and capacity can hinder the timely and effective implementation of council decisions.
  • Funding and Resource Allocation: Allocating adequate financial resources for implementing policies and programs recommended by the council can be a challenge. Balancing the competing demands of different states and ensuring equitable resource allocation can be complex, given the diverse needs and priorities of various regions.

Inter State Council UPSC

Inter State Council is an important topic under the UPSC Political Science Syllabus. Candidates can refer to the books, such as the NCERT Books for UPSC to understand the key fundamentals of the topic.

Candidates can also refer to the latest Current Affairs to stay updated with the happenings related to Inter-State Council. Candidates can study Composition, Inter State Relations, Functions and Challenges of Inter State Council to understand this topic in detail.

Inter State Council UPSC Questions

Candidates must have a good understanding of the Inter State Council to gain insights into this important topic. They can practice sample questions to familiarize themselves with the exam pattern and the types of questions related to the Inter State Council. The questions are designed by experts to help candidates become well-versed in the subject.

Question: How many Zonal Councils were established under the State Reorganization Act of 1956 to work under the Inter-State Council? (A) Two, (B) Three, (C) Four, (D) Five

Answer: (D) Five

Question: Which of the following are members of the zonal council, under the Inter-State Council? (1) Home Minister of the central government as a chairman, (2) Chief Minister of all states in zonal, (3) Prime Minister is the chairman of the zonal council

Select the correct answer using the codes given below: (A) 1 and 2 only, (B) 2 and 3 only, (C) 1 and 3 only and (D) All of the above.

Answer: (A) 1 and 2 only

Question for UPSC Mains: Discuss the significance and role of the Inter-State Council in promoting cooperative federalism in India. How does it facilitate coordination and resolution of disputes between the Union and states?

Question for UPSC Mains: Analyze the challenges faced by the Inter-State Council in effectively addressing intergovernmental issues and resolving disputes among states. Suggest measures to enhance the functioning and effectiveness of the council in promoting better coordination and cooperation.

UPSC Notes
Causes of World War 2 Early Medieval Period In India
Monuments of India Coastal Regulation Zone
Article 371 Finance Bill and Article 117
First Session of Indian National Congress Facts About The National Anthem of India
Integrated Child Development Services Interlinking of Rivers
Our Apps Playstore
SSC and Bank
Other Exams
GradeStack Learning Pvt. Ltd.Windsor IT Park, Tower - A, 2nd Floor, Sector 125, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201303
Home Practice Test Series Premium