To prepare for INDIAN POLITY for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about Centre-State Relations. It gives an idea of all the important topics for the IAS Exam and the polity syllabus (GS-II.). This is an essential portion of the polity.  As IAS aspirants, you should be thorough with Centre-State Relations. In this article, you can read all about Administrative Relations.


  • Articles spanning from 256 to 263 in Part XI of the Constitution deal with the administrative relations between the Centre and the states. In addition, there are various other articles pertaining to the same matter.
  • The scheme of allocating an administrative responsibilities is drawn for the purpose of :
    • The administration of law
    • Achieving coordination between the centre and state
    • The settlement of disputes between the centre and state


  • SC in Atiabari tea company v. State of Assam 1951 has said that “success and strength of federal policy depends on the maximum of cooperation and coordination between all the governments”.
  • To ensure smooth and proper functioning of the administrative machinery at union and state levels, constitution embodies provisions to deal with all sorts of eventualities emerging as a result of the operation of federal system.
  • According to Kautilya – the foundation of the government lies to frame policy and administration of its day to day business.
  • The Indian citizens live in the territory where both laws of the government are applicable to him. All executive, legislative and financial actions of both the governments are attributed to him.
  • So the purpose of the country’s administration is only duly served when there is a viable relationship between the center and state.


Article Description
Art. 256 The obligation of States and the Union
Art. 257 Control of the Union over States in certain cases
Art. 258 Power of the Union to confer powers, on States in certain cases
Art. 258A Power of the States to entrust functions to the Union
Art. 260 Jurisdiction of the Union in relation to territories outside India
Art. 261 Public acts, records and judicial proceedings
Art. 262 Adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-State rivers or river valleys
Art. 263 Provisions with respect to an inter-state Council



  • The executive power has been divided between the Centre and the states on the lines of the distribution of legislative powers, except in few cases.
  • Thus, the executive power of the Centre extends to the whole of India:
    1. to the matters on which the Parliament has exclusive power of legislation (Union List);
    2. to the exercise of rights, authority and jurisdiction conferred on it by any treaty or agreement. Similarly, the executive power of a state extends to its territory in respect of matters on which the state legislature has exclusive power of legislation (State List).
  • A law on a matters in concurrent subject, though enacted by the Parliament, is to be executed by the states except when the Constitution or the Parliament has directed otherwise.
  • The executive power of a state extends to its territory in respect of matters on which the state legislature has exclusive power of legislation (State List).


  • 256 – Power of state should be exercised to ensure compliance to laws of the Parliament and GOI can also give direction for that.
  • The Constitution has placed two restrictions on the executive power of the states in order to give ample scope to the Centre for exercising its executive power in an unrestricted manner –
    1. As to ensure compliance with the laws made by the Parliament and any existing law which apply in the state (general obligation upon the state)
    2. As not to impede or prejudice the exercise of executive power of the Centre in the state (specific obligation on the state)
  • 365 – Where any state has failed to comply with any directions given by the Centre, it will be lawful for the President to hold that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.


  • As per 257 the Centre is empowered to give directions to the states with regard to the exercise of their executive power in the following matters:
    1. the construction and maintenance of means of communication (declared to be of national or military importance) by the state;
    2. the measures to be taken for the protection of the railways within the state;
    3. the provision of adequate facilities for instruction in the mother- tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups in the state; and
    4. the drawing up and execution of the specified schemes for the welfare of the Scheduled Tribes in the state.
  • 257 also mentioned that “state should not prejudice or impede Union executive power”.
  • The coercive sanction behind the Central directions under 365 is also applicable in these cases.


  • The distribution of legislative powers between the Centre and the states is rigid.
  • The Centre cannot delegate its legislative powers to the states and a single state cannot request the Parliament to make a law on a state subject.
  • The distribution of executive power in general follows the distribution of legislative powers.
  • The rigid division in the executive sphere may lead to occasional conflicts between the two.
  • To promote harmony, the Constitution provides for inter-government delegation of executive functions in order to mitigate rigidity and avoid a situation of deadlock.
  • 258 – Union can confer powers to states in some cases.
  • Accordingly, the President with the consent of the state government, entrust to that government any of the executive functions of the Centre.
  • Conversely, the Governor of a state, with the consent of the Central government, entrust to that government any of the executive functions of the state. This mutual delegation of administrative functions may be conditional or unconditional.
  • The Parliament can delegate and entrust the executive functions of the Centre to a state without the consent of that state.
In 1947, Indian Civil Service (ICS) was replaced by IAS and the Indian Police (IP) was replaced by IPS and were recognised by the Constitution as All-India Services. In 1966, the Indian Forest Service (IFS) was created as the third All-India Service.
  • Hence, a law made by the Parliament on a subject of the Union List can confer powers and impose duties on a state, or authorise the conferring of powers and imposition of duties by the Centre upon a state (irrespective of the consent of the state concerned). Notably, the same thing cannot be done by the state legislature.
  • The mutual delegation of functions between the Centre and the state can take place either under an agreement (this method can only be use by the state) or by a legislation.


  • The Constitution contains the following provisions to secure cooperation and coordination between the Centre and the states:
    1. Full faith and credit is to be given throughout the territory of India to public acts, records and judicial proceedings of the Centre and every state. ( 261)
    2. The Parliament can provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution and control of waters of any inter-state river and river valley. ( 262)
    3. The President can establish an Inter-State Council to investigate and discuss subject of common interest between the Centre and the states. Such a council was set up in 1990. ( 263)
    4. The Parliament can appoint an appropriate authority to carry out the purposes of the constitutional provisions relating to the interstate freedom of trade, commerce and intercourse. (Art. 301). But, no such authority has been appointed so far.

a. All India Service

  • 312 – Authorizes the Parliament to create new All-India Services on the basis of a Rajya Sabha resolution to that effect.
  • All India services are controlled jointly by the Centre and the states. The ultimate control lies with the Central government while the immediate control vests with the state governments.
  • Each of these three all-India services, form a single service with common rights and status and uniform scales of pay throughout the country, irrespective of their division among different states.
  • Though the all-India services violate the principle of federalism under the Constitution by restricting the autonomy and patronage of the states, they are supported on the ground that –
  1. They help in maintaining high standard of administration in the Centre as well as in the states;
  2. They help to ensure uniformity of the administrative system throughout the country;
  3. They facilitate liaison, cooperation, coordination and joint action on the issues of common interest between the Centre and the states.


b. Public service commission

In the field of public service commissions, the Centre-state relations are as follows:

  1. The Chairman and members of a state public service commission, though appointed by the governor of the state, can be removed only by the President.
  2. The Parliament can establish a Joint State Public Service Commission (JSPSC) for two or more states on the request of the state legislatures The chairman and members of the JSPSC are appointed by the president.
  3. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) can serve the needs of a state on the request of the state governor and with the approval of the President.
  4. The UPSC assists the states (when requested by two or more states) in framing and operating schemes of joint recruitment for any services for which candidates possessing special qualifications are required.c


c. Integrated judicial system

  • Although India has a federal setup, there is no dual system of administration of justice. The Constitution established an integrated judicial system with the Supreme Court at the top and the State High courts below This single system of courts enforces both the Central laws as well as the state laws. This is done to eliminate diversities in the remedial procedure.
  • The Parliament can establish a common high court for two or more states. Example- Maharashtra and Goa or Punjab and Haryana have a common high court.


  • National Emergency (Art. 352) – the Centre becomes entitled to give executive directions to a state on ‘any’ matter. Thus, the state governments are brought under the complete control of the Centre, though they are not suspended.
  • President’s Rule (Art. 356) – the President can assume to himself the functions of the state government and powers vested in the Governor or any other executive authority in the state.
  • Financial Emergency (Art. 360) – the Centre can direct the states to observe canons of financial propriety and can give other necessary directions including the reduction of salaries of persons serving in the state.


  • The Constitution contains the following other provisions which enable the Centre to exercise control over the state administration:
    1. 355 imposes two duties on the Centre:

(a) to protect every state against external aggression and internal disturbance;

(b) to ensure that the government of every state is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

    1. Appointment of Governor of a state by the president. He holds office during the pleasure of the President. The governor acts as an agent of the Centre in the state. He submits periodical reports to the Centre about the administrative affairs of the state.
    2. The State Election Commissioner is appointed by the governor of the state, can be removed only by the President.
  • There are extra-constitutional devices to promote cooperation and coordination between the Centre and the States. These consist of a number of advisory bodies and conferences held at the Central level.
  • Example – NITI Aayog, the Zonal Councils, the North Eastern Council, University Grants Commission etc.
  • The important conferences held either annually or otherwise to facilitate Centre-state consultation on a wide range of matters are as follows:
    1. The governors’ conference (presided over by the President).
    2. The chief ministers’ conference (presided over by the prime minister).
    3. The chief justices’ conference (presided over by the chief justice of India).
    4. The conference of vice-chancellors.
    5. The home ministers’ conference (presided over by the Central home minister)
  • There is heavy abuse of Art. 356 and it should be curtailed
  • Management of All India Service.
  • Position, appointment and role of governor.
  • Central administrative directions to the states.
  • Binding nature of the schemes on the states.


  • The constitution has provided limited institutional mechanisms for inter-state and centre-state coordination and even they are underutilized.
  • Set up new All India Service in other domains– Judiciary, Education, Health as well.
  • Interstate council should be strengthen in dispute settlement .
  • Zonal council must meet at least twice a year.
  • There should be rejuvenation of NIC