Article 263 of the Indian Constitution provides that the President may by order appoint an Inter-State Council if it appears to him that public interest would be served by its establishment. The President may define the organisation, procedure and duties of the Council. Generally, it may be charged with the duty of, (a) inquiring into and advising upon disputes which may have arisen between States, (b) investigating and discussing subjects in which some or all of the States or the Union and one or more of the States, have a common interest, (c) making recommendations upon any subject and, in particular, recommendation for the better co-ordination of policy and action with respect to that subject.

It seems that the Council is envisaged to be an advisory body having no authority to give a binding decision. The Council’s function to inquire and advise upon Inter-State disputes is complementary to the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction under Article 131 to decide a legal controversy between the governments. The Council can deal with any controversy whether legal or not, but its function is advisory unlike that of the Court which gives a binding decision. The Council is envisaged to be a mechanism of intergovernmental consultation. The Supreme Court can decide intergovernmental disputes of a legal nature. But there may arise governmental disputes of a non-legal character and the Council can play a role in resolving such disputes. The Council can play a role in promoting vertical (Centre-State) and horizontal (Inter-State) intergovernmental cooperation and co-ordination. The Council may be appointed either on a permanent basis or from time to time on an ad hoc basis. It is also possible to appoint not only one but any member of such bodies to deal with various matters as Article 263 is of a general nature. Such a Council could deal with any matter whether of a legal or non-legal character in which the States themselves or the Centre and the State may be interested. The function of the Council is to inquire and advise upon interstate disputes might be regarded as complimentary to article 131 under which the Supreme Court can decide a legal controversy among the governments.

Dr. Sanjay Kumar Pandey, Associate Professor, Unitedworld School of Law (UWSL)

Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.

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