To prepare for Indian Polity for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about the basics of Federal Governance. It gives an idea of all the topics important for the IAS Exam and the polity syllabus (GS-II). Federal Governance and related topics are extremely important for the UPSC Exam. This is an essential portion of the polity. As IAS aspirants, you should be thorough with the Federal Governance. This article will provide you with relevant details about the Constitutional Position on Federation.




S.R. Bommai case (1994) – SC laid down that the Indian Constitution is federal and characterized federalism as its ‘basic feature’.
  • 1 of the Constitution states, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”. While the Constitution doesn’t mention the term “federal”, it does provide for a governance structure primarily federal in nature.
  • It provides for separate governments at the Union and in the states.
  • Further, it specifies and demarcates the powers, functions and jurisdictions of the two governments.
  • Lastly, it details the legislative, administrative and financial relations between the Union and the states.
  • The distribution of legislative powers has been divided into three lists: the Union List, the State List and the Concurrent List.
  • On the Union List, Parliament has exclusive powers to legislate. While the state has exclusive powers to legislate on the State List, in certain situations, Parliament can also do so.
  • As per the Concurrent List, the issue is more complex.
    • In case of a conflict between a state and Central legislation, the parliamentary legislation shall prevail.
    • This, coupled with the fact that residuary powers of legislation are vested in the Union, gives a “unitary” tilt to federalism in India.
  • A disconcerting trend has been observed since 1950. While the Union and Concurrent Lists have expanded, the State List seems to have shrunk.This has led many to question the structure of Indian federalism and to propose its remodelling.