Inter-State Relations

Inter-State Relations

A discussion on Inter-State Council and Constitutional Body. Application of Article 263 and Sarkaria Commission on Inter-State Council which was established in 1990..

Relations of harmony and close cooperation need to exist between the Center and the state for the successful functioning of the Indian federal framework.

And this relation is not only limited to Center-State relations but also between the States inter se.  

Therefore, Inter-State councils have been formed by the provisions thoroughly contained in the Constitution of India to

maintain coordination between the states

mutual understanding and recognition of public acts, records and court proceedings

resolution of disputes through effective discussion 

You need to have a thorough understanding of the Inter-State relations and the provisions related to the same as many questions have been put up in the competitive exams from the section of India Polity and Constitution.

Ensuring Coordination through Inter-State councils

Article 263 of the Indian Constitution empowers the President to lay down the duties of an inter-state council. In other words, Article 263 provides for the formation of Inter-State councils by the President of India.

Article 263 assigns duties to the intern-state councils which can be read as-

 enquiring into as well as advising upon specific disputes that may arise among the states;

 investigating as well as discussing a subject that obliges to the states or the Centre and the states having a common interest; and

recommending upon any such subject, along with particularly for the better concentration of policy as well as action on it.

The Inter-State councils are charged with making recommendations for the efficient coordination of action and policy with respect to a particular subject. It is within the law associated with the President to see to the establishment of such a council and to state the nature of duties or functions to be undertaken by the Inter-State Council, organization of the body and its proceedings.

The establishment of such an Inter-State council to ensure effective coordination between the Center and states and between the states is motivated by public interest, as deemed by the President.

Key points

The function of the Inter-State Council is advisory in nature while dealing with any dispute whether legal or non-legal unlike that of the Supreme Court of India whose decision is binding.

Under Article 131 the Supreme Court exercises its jurisdiction to make decisions upon the disputes arising between the governments. 

Sarkaria Commission on the Establishment of Inter-State Councils

The Sarkaria Commission was set up on Centre-State Relations in 1883-88 and the commission strongly recommended the establishment of a permanent Inter-State Council under Article 263 of the Indian Constitution.

However, the Commission made the recommendation to call the Council an intergovernmental council to differentiate it from the other bodies established under the purview of Article 263.

Certain duties were recommended to be discharged by the council read as,

resolution of concerns through discussion between the states or between the Centre-states of the matters with common interests.

 discharging recommendations related to any such subject, or particularly, making recommendations for the better coordination of action and policy on the said subject.

Composition of the Council

The recommendations of the Sarkaria Commissions were considered by the then Janata Dal Government which was headed by V.P. Singh, in the establishment of the Inter-State Council in 1990.

The council consists of the following members

(i) Prime Minister who is also the Chairman of the Council

(ii) Chief Ministers of all the states of the Union

(iii)Chief Ministers of the Union Territories with a legislative assembly

(iv) Administrators of the Union Territories which don’t have a legislative assembly

(v) Governors of the states under President’s rule

Duties of the Council

The Inter-State Council is an advisory body in nature upon the concerns related to Center-state, Center-UTs and inter-state relations.

The council promotes coordination between the governments by taking into consideration and discussing the issues. 

The duties discharged by the council are-

Holding discussions on the issues of mutual interest and timely resolution through dialogue

Advising the government through recommendations on those subject matters which are points of conflict between the governments

Discussing matters of common interest suggested being deliberated on by the Chairman.

Benefits of Inter-State Council

The Inter-State Council is the only intergovernmental centre-state platform that functions directly inside the constitutional framework (Article 263 (b) and (c)), where current issues such as disaster management, terrorism, and internal security and matters like GST can be discussed.

The council solves tensions between the states or the Centre-state and builds trust between the governments. At least, the council functions as a safety valve in times of serious concerns.

Inter-State council puts the states in a good shape for maintaining Centre-state relations especially due to its constitutional backing

Challenges to the Inter-State Council

One of the major issues is that the inter-state council is underutilized. Since its establishment in 1990, the Council has met only around 10 times and has made only a little progress in resolving the disputes between the states.

The council has only little participation in civil society which reduces its coordinative and participatory capacities.

The biggest challenge faced by the Inter-state council is that its recommendations are not binding either on the states or the Centre. Hence, the role of the council is often limited to a merely advisory body, whose recommendations are often ignored by the governments.


Inter-State Council as an essential part of the Indian Polity and Constitution is covered under the centre-state relation along with other topics like Inter-State Water disputes.

A good understanding of the duties and composition of the council has to be ensured so that you don’t miss out on scoring in any competitive exam.