Constitution of India:
Federal of Unitary?
Debate about federal or unitary Constitution:
Supreme Court of India agrees that Constitution of India is quasi federal:
Source Kuldip Nayar v. Union of India, (2006) 7 SCC 1.
Per Untwalia, J. (for Singhal J., Jaswant Singh J. and himself) in State of Karnataka v. Union of India. (1977) 4 SCC 608.
The Union and the States are co-equal in the Indian Federal structure. Our framers created a unique federal structure which cannot be abridged in a sentence or two. The nature of our federalism can only be studied having a thorough understanding of all the provisions of the Constitution. Confirmation that the Union and States are co-equals in the Indian federal structure can be found in the speeches of Hon’ble P.S. Deshmukh, Shri T. T. Krishnamachari and Hon’ble Dr. B. R. Ambedkar before the Constituent Assembly. Common philosophy which runs through our Constitution is that both Center and States have been vested with the substantial powers which are necessary to preserve our unique federation with clear demarcation of power. Calling India as quasi-federal might not be advisable as our features are unique and quite different from other Countries like United States of America etc. Courts in India should strive to preserve this unique balance which our framers envisaged, any interference into this balancing act would be detrimental for grand vision proscribed by our makers. Amphibious nature of our federalism has been even noted by the Sarkaria Commission Report on Center-State relationship. Co-operative federalism envisaged under our Constitution is a result of pick and choose policy which our framers abstracted from the wisdom of working experience of other Constitutions’
Jindal Stainless Steel v. State of Haryana, AIR 2016 SC 5617 (FB)
The principle of federalism as present in India cannot be explained in a sentence or two; rather a detailed study of the each and every provision of the Constitution would inevitably point that India has divided sovereignty in the form of Center on one hand and States on the other. Each power house is independent in its own terms. The constitutional scheme invariably leads to the conclusion that at times these institutions meet and interact at various levels to achieve the cherished constitutional goal of co-operative federalism.
10. It is to be noted that our Constitutional set-up mandates that Center is not powerless which is apparent from various Articles of the Constitution. Further, it is not proper on the part of the States to ignore the plight of the common man in enforcing such important legislations, more so when such legislation is a welfare legislation.
Swaraj Abhiyan vs Union Of India, decided on 21 July, 2017 by Supreme Court.
Similar observations about quasi-federal nature of the Constitution are found in various decisions of the Supreme Court of India, some of which are:
- State of West Bengal v. Union of India  1 SCR 371
- State of Rajasthan v. Union of India  1 SCR 1;
- ITC Ltd. v. Agricultural Produce Market Committee  1 SCR 441;
- State of West Bengal v. Kesoram Industries Ltd.  266 ITR 721(SC)
- Bhim Singh v. Union of India
- Automobile Transport (Rajasthan) Ltd. v. State of Rajasthan 1SCR491
- (State of West Bengal v. Union of India  1 SCR 371) .