Inter-State Council

20/04/2024 0 By indiafreenotes

Inter-State Council (ISC) is a crucial constitutional mechanism in India, designed to facilitate coordination and resolution of disputes between the central and state governments as well as among the states themselves. Established under Article 263 of the Indian Constitution, the ISC exemplifies the federal spirit of the nation, aiming to foster cooperative federalism through dialogue and consultation.

Constitutional Basis and Establishment

Article 263 of the Constitution empowers the President of India to establish an Inter-State Council to address potential disputes and to create a forum for discussing subjects of common interest between the Union and state governments or among the states themselves. The council was actually established in 1990 based on the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission, which was set up in 1983 to examine the relationship and balance of power between the central and the state governments.

  • Composition

Inter-State Council has a broad-based membership, reflecting the federal structure of the country. It is chaired by the Prime Minister of India. The members are:

  • Chief Ministers of all States
  • Chief Ministers of Union Territories having a Legislative Assembly and Administrators of UTs not having a Legislative Assembly
  • Governors of States under President’s rule
  • Six Ministers of Cabinet rank in the Union Council of Ministers to be nominated by the Prime Minister

This composition ensures that all regions of India have a voice in the council, thereby enhancing its role as a truly national deliberative body.


  1. Investigating and Discussing Subjects:

Council investigates and discusses subjects in which some or all of the states or the Union and one or more of the states have a common interest. This function is crucial in a diverse country like India, where different states may have different priorities and concerns.

  1. Recommending Policies and Practices:

Council also recommends policies and practices that can help coordinate policies and actions on matters of common interest. This helps in harmonizing approaches across different jurisdictions.

  1. Dispute Resolution:

One of the primary functions of the ISC is to serve as a forum for resolving disputes that may arise between states or between the center and any state. This role is vital for maintaining the harmony and unity of the federation.

Importance of the Inter-State Council

  • Fostering Cooperative Federalism:

ISC promotes cooperative federalism by providing a structured forum for dialogue between the different tiers of government. By discussing issues and formulating coordinated policies, the council helps in smoothing over potential conflicts.

  • Balancing Centralization and Decentralization:

In a country where both centralizing and decentralizing forces operate, the ISC helps balance these forces by ensuring that state interests are represented at the federal level.

  • Enhancing Policy Efficiency:

By allowing for a coordinated approach to policy-making, the ISC enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of government policies, especially in areas where state and central government responsibilities overlap or are complementary.

  • Conflict Resolution:

Perhaps the most critical role of the ISC is to provide a mechanism for conflict resolution that can prevent disputes from escalating into major confrontations. This is particularly important in a politically and culturally diverse country like India.

Meetings and Deliberations

Inter-State Council does not have a fixed schedule for meetings; it convenes at the behest of the chairperson, typically when there is an urgent need for dialogue between the states and the central government. The Council’s secretariat facilitates its meetings and follows up on its decisions, ensuring that the ISC’s deliberations lead to actionable outcomes.

Challenges and Criticisms

  • Infrequent Meetings:

One major criticism of the ISC is that it meets infrequently, which can undermine its effectiveness in addressing ongoing issues promptly.

  • Visibility and Impact:

Often, the outcomes of ISC meetings are not widely publicized, leading to questions about the tangible impacts of its deliberations.

  • Overlap with Other Bodies:

There are other bodies, like the NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India), which also perform roles similar to the ISC, leading to potential overlaps and dilution of efforts.