Distribution of Legislative and Executive Powers | Indian Constitution Download PDF
THE nature of the federal system introduced by our Constitution has Nature of the been fully explained earlier (Chapter 5).
Union. To recapitulate its essential features: Though
there is a strong admixture of unitary bias and the exceptions from the traditional federal scheme are many, the Constitution introduces a federal system as the basic structure of government of the country. The Union is composed of 29 States and both the Union and the States derive their authority from the Constitution which divides all powers—legislative, executive and financial, as between them. [The judicial powers, as already pointed out (Chap. 22), are, not divided and there is a common Judiciary for the Union and the States.] The result is that the States are not delegates of the Union and that, though there are agencies and devices for Union control over the States in many matters—subject to such exceptions, the States are [ autonomous within their own spheres as allotted by the Constitution, and both the Union and the States are equally subject to the limitations imposed by the Constitution, say, for instance, the exercise of legislative powers being limited by Fundamental Rights.
Thus, neither the Union Legislature (Parliament) nor a State Legislature can be said to be ‘sovereign’ in the legalistic sense, each being limited by the provisions of the Constitution effecting the distribution of legislative powers as between them, apart from the Fundamental Rights and other specific provisions restraining their powers in certain matters, e.g., Art. 276(2) [limiting the power of a State Legislature to impose a tax on professions]; Art. 303 [limiting the powers of both Parliament and a State | Legislature with regard to legislation relating to trade and commerce]. If any
of these constitutional limitations is violated, the law of the Legislature j concerned is liable to be declared invalid by the Courts.
The Scheme of Distribution of Legislative Powers
As has been pointed out at the outset, a federal system postulates a distribution of powers between the federation and the units. Though the nature of distribution varies according to the local and political background in each country, the division, obviously, proceeds on two lines—
(a) The territory over which the Federation and the Units shall, respectively, have their jurisdiction.
(b) The subjects to which their respective jurisdiction shall extend.
The distribution of legislative powers in our Constitution under both heads is as follows:
Territorial Extent of Union and state Legislation
As regards the territory with respect to which the Legislature may legislate, the State Legislature naturally suffers from a limitation to which Parliament is not subject, namely, that the territory of the Union being divided amongst the States, the jurisdiction of each State must be confined to its own territory. When, therefore, a State Legislature makes a law relating to a subject within its competence, it must be read as referring to persons or objects situated within the territory of the State concerned. A State Legislature can make laws for the whole or any part of the State to which it belongs [Art. 245(1)]. It is not possible for a State Legislature to enlarge its territorial jurisdiction under any circumstances except when the boundaries of the State itself are widened by an Act of Parliament.
Parliament has, on the other hand, the power to legislate for ‘the whole or any part of the territory of India’, which includes not only the States but also the Union Territories or any other area, for the time being, included in the territory of India [Art. 246(4)]. It also possesses the power of ‘extra-territorial legislation’ [Art. 245(2) , which no State Legislature possesses. This means that laws made by Parliament will govern not only persons and property within the territory of India but also Indian subjects resident and their property situated anywhere in the world. No such power to affect persons or property outside the borders of its own State can be claimed by a State Legislature in India.
The proposed Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2015 as already passed by the Lok Sabha on 06.05.2015 also provides that Parliament has exclusive power to make laws with respect to goods and services tax (GST) where the supply of goods, or of services, or both takes place in the course of interstate trade or commerce (Art. 246A (2)).