The Constitution is a living organism. It has no limitations, it keeps on
evolving with the time. Lawmakers have interpreted it in various ways and when
any bill, bye laws are passed, it depends on how one interpret the wordings of
law. The 1st Article of the Constitution of India says, India, that is
Bharath, shall be a Union of States.
India got independence in 1947 and now it has entered into an era of cooperative
federalism where the harmonious construction among the states can be seen.
According to the Indian Constitution, India is a state of Union that means all
the state are integral part of country as well as Union and provincial
governments has to work together. Apart from this, Indian federation has been
described as quasi-federation.
When India got independence, every states had not been formed. The division
among states continued. As India’s religion, culture and heritage is so diverse
in nature with a variety of population lying from poor to rich, lower and
backward classes to upper classes, unreserved to reserved category and so on.
The term Unity in Diversity refers to the state of oneness or
togetherness in spite of presence of immense diversity.
For example, the reservation of SC/ST/OBCs has always been questioned by the
people who belong to general category. The whole point is that if they were
provided equal status earlier in the society, then they would have not been
provided reservation as a special status in the society. If not, then they would
have never get what they are eligible for. Thus, so as to protect the interest
of the states which have been formed earlier and have faced problems in any way,
they have been provided special status under the Constitution of India. The
major example is Article 370, i.e., it provides the special status to Jammu &
Kashmir under the temporal authority.
It has its own Constitution and some of the Indian laws are also not applicable
to the state. Then and now, people have asked for the deletion for this article.
But the history reveals another story. At present, Article 1 and Article 370
applies to the constituent of J&K only.
India had been at war with Pakistan over J&K and the situation was not normal
and usual. Part of the State’s territory was in the hands of rebels and enemies.
Even though, Kashmir was one of the princely states but not yet ripe for
integration. Further, the UN brought an entanglement which would end only when
the Kashmir problem is satisfactorily resolved.
The hope is still alive that one day the Kashmir will also integrate with India
like other states and it would be possible when there is absolute peace.
Likewise J&K, other states like Maharashtra and Gujarat (Article 371), Nagaland
(371A), Assam (371 B), Manipur (3717 C), Telangana (371 D), Sikkim (371 F),
Mizoram (371 G), Arunachal Pradesh (371 H), Goa (371 I).
The special status is given mainly on the basis of low resource base, hilly and
difficult terrain, low population density, sizable share of tribal population
and hostile location. Everything happens for a reason and the reason behind
giving the states a special status is valid. The concept of equality has been
misinterpreted even in an enormous way.
Where the equality among equals should be preached, the constant tussle
among the states, religion, caste or any example that can suffice the
explanation. There is a need to have a common understanding that if two states
can’t stand together at one position where one faces minuscule problems when it
comes to resources, governance or any other important factor and for the other
state, the struggle continues. When the special power is provided to any state,
it is for their social and economic welfare and to uplift them in the area where
For example, the Constitution has given Nagaland the notwithstanding power under
Article 371A(1)[i] where no act of Parliament would be applicable in religious
or social practices, customs, administrations and land and its resources unless
the Legislative Assembly decides by the resolution. Since, majority of the Nagas
are tribes and their customary laws, traditions needs to be preserved in order
to not lose its origin. More than 70% of the population is dependent on the
natural resources for their survival and if any other authority other than the
state has power to make laws on it, then people who are residing there might get
affected in a filthy manner and then Parliament may work according to its own
whims and fancies.
Along with this, it is not wrong to say that the Parliament must hold supremacy
over state assemblies. But whenever there is a conflict between the general law
and the specific law, the provisions of the special law would prevail.[ii] The
object of an interpretation of a statute is to ascertain the intention of the
Legislature enacting it.[iii] To ascertain the literal meaning, it is equally
necessary first to ascertain the juxtaposition in which the rule is placed,[iv] the
purpose for which it is enacted and the object which it is required to sub serve
and the authority by which the rule is framed.[v]
Yues Lejeune has considered that Federalism consists of a delicate balance
between the unity and the diversity of its components and it is true,
specifically with regard to the foreign policy. Although the principle of the
unity of the federal state under international law does not go against
the development of external relations specific on the sub-national units-whether
or not they are governed by international law it does, however, imply fulfilling
the state’s international obligations and safeguarding the coherence of its
India is not the only country who follows a federal system. Countries like USA,
Canada and Australia have also federal system and it is necessary to see whether
there is any conflict among the states and if there is any harm done to the
integrity of the nation. There are 4 important characteristics of the
federalism, i.e., consensus, cooperation, conflict and chaos which interact with
values, issues and policymakers in distinct combinations or patterns.[vii]
The equal footing doctrine, also known as equality of the states, is the
principle in United States constitutional law that all states under the
Constitution since 1789 enter on equal footing with the 13 states already in the
Union at that time.
In Australia and Canada, states do not have equality and Indian Constitution is
similar to Canadian constitution where states can have special status. Also,
taxing structure in India is made with a view that all tax collected by states
goes to consolidated fund of India and then according to the needs and
requirements, Finance Commission and NITI AAYOG distribute to states. Further,
Canada superimposed the British Parliamentary system with a federal system to
entertain the different interests of English Canada and Quebec. This structure
allowed the two levels of the government to operate freely within their
respective spheres of powers.[viii]
Thus, it can be analysed that as nation-states become more interconnected and
interdependent, it leads to an infusion of central government responsibility and
a fundamental shift in the institutional structure of the global system.[ix]
Thus, so as to maintain the integrity of nation and to run nation as a whole
with various geographical, territorial, historical, linguistic, religious
difference, it is necessary to give special provisions to some state.
[i] Special provision with respect to the State of Nagaland
(1) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution,
(a) no Act of Parliament in respect of
(i) religious or social practices of the Nagas,
(ii) Naga customary law and procedure,
(iii) administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according
to Naga customary law,
(iv) ownership and transfer of land and its resources, shall apply to the State
of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so
[ii] National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Atarer Nachha, 2009 (4) T.A.C. 573.
[iii] Institute of CA of India v. M/s Price Waterhouse, A.I.R. 1998 S.C. 74.
[iv] Member – Secretary AP State Board for Prevention and Control of Water
Pollution v. Andhra Pradesh Rayons Ltd., A.I.R. 1989 S.C. 611 (India).
[v] Mohan Kumar Singhania v. U.O.I., (1992) 1 S.C.C. Supp 594 (India).
[vi] Yves Lejeune, Participation of Sub-national Units in the Foreign Policy of
the Federation in Raoul Blindenbacher and Arnold Koller (eds.), Federalism in a
Changing World Learning from Each Other, McGill-Queen‟s University Press,
London, 97 (2002).
[vii] Larry N. Gerston, 5 (2006).
[viii] Thomas. O. Hueglin, Canada: Federalism Behind (Almost) Closed Doors in
Raoul Blindenbacher & Abigail Ostein (eds.) 3, Mc-Gill Queen’s University Press,
[ix] Edward T. Hayes, Changing Notions of Sovereignty and Federalism in the
International Economic System: A Reassessment of WTO Regulation of Federal
States and the Regional and Local Governments Within Their Territories,
North-Western Journal of International Law & Business, Volume 25, 2004 retrieved
from http://scholarlycommons. Law.