What is the Legislative relation between the Union and the States in India

The constitution of India very clearly distributes the legislative powers, between the centre and states. Both the sets of Governments can frame laws independently in their respective spheres. There are three lists of powers given in the constitution.

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(i) Union List

In the union list there are 99 subjects. The laws on all these subjects can be framed by the Federal Government, i.e. the Parliament of India. The list contains subjects of national importance. These subjects concern all the citizens of India equally.


(ii) State List

In the state list there are 62 subjects. These subjects can be legislated upon by the states, subjects mentioned in the list are like the law and order, police, jails, public health, education, agriculture, local-self government, hospitals, justice, organization of judiciary except Supreme Court and High Courts, forests, revenue and unemployment etc.

(iii) Concurrent List

There are 55 subjects in the concurrent list. The subjects mentioned in the concurrent list are-like the marriage, divorce, criminal law, civil procedure, newspapers, books and printing press.


iv) Residuary Powers

Residuary powers have been allotted to the central government by the constitution. But in U.S.A. and Switzerland the residuary powers have been given to the states. It seems that the framers of the constitution have followed the Canadian examples with a view to keep the centre I in a very strong position.

Enforcement over the state list by the Union –

The constitution gives the states power to frame laws on all the subjects included in the state list. But the central government has the authority to interfere even in these powers of states under special circumstances.


At the Resolution of Rajya Sabha

The Union Parliament will be authorized to pass a law on a subject of state list about which the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution with 2/3rds majority of the members present and voting saying that subject has attained national importance. Such a resolution of the Rajya Sabha will give the Parliament the Legislative power for one year at a time. The power may be extended yearly till the need is felt.

Request of the states

Art. 252 empower the Parliament to legislate on a matter in the state list if two or more states desire that any of the matter in the state list be regulated by the Parliament. Any Act pressed cannot be amended by a State Legislature to which the law applies.

Failure of the constitutional machinery

The Parliament is empowered to pass laws on the state subject for the state in which emergency has been proclaimed because of the failure of constitutional machinery. It may delegate his Legislative Power concerning the states to the President of India if it so deems necessary.

During emergency

The Parliament has the authority to pass laws on any subjects of the state list during the emergency proclaimed because of war and external aggression etc. Such a law may be made for the whole of India or any part thereof.

Enforcement of International treaties

The Parliament has the power to make law on any item of the state in order to implement some international treaty or agreement or convention.

Assent of President is essential

Some Bills are reserved by the Governor for the signature of the President after being passed by the state Legislature e.g. Bills concerning restrictions as the powers of High Courts and Bills concerning acquisitions on property by the state by paying compensation etc. The President has the power of absolute veto over the Bills which are thus reserved by the Governors for his signature.

A critical-examination-of legislative relation leaves the impression that the centre is very powerful in legislative matters and it can impose its will on the state. All subjects of national importance are in the Union list and in the concurrent list centre is all powerful.

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