Formations

As the Article 263 makes it clear, the Inter-State Council is not a permanent constitutional body for coordination between the States of the Union. It can be established ‘at any time’ if it appears to the President that the public interests would be served by the establishment of such a Council.

The provision of Article 263 of the Constitution was invoked for the first time on 9 August 1952 when President by a notification established the Central Council of Health under the Chairmanship of the Union Minister of Health and Family Planning ‘to consider and recommend broad lines of policy in regard to matters concerning health in all aspects’.

By similar notifications the President established the Central Council for Local Government and Urban Development on 6 September 1954 and four Regional Councils for Sales Tax and State Excise Duties on 1 February 1968.

The National Development Council was set up on 6 August 1952 by an executive order on the recommendation of the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission itself was set up by an executive order of the government. Similarly the National Integration Council was set up in 1962 without any course to Article 263 of the Constitution. The annual conferences of Chief Ministers, Finance Ministers, Labour Ministers, Food Ministers etc. have been taking place to discuss important issues of coordination between the Centre and the States. In fact, the issues of inter-State and Centre-State coordination and cooperation were being discussed in a multitude of meetings on specific themes and sectors in an ad hoc and fragmented manner.

The Administrative Reforms Commission (1969) felt the ‘need for a single’ standing body to which all issues of national importance can be referred and which can advise on them authoritatively after taking all aspects of the problem into account’. The Commission recommended the setting up of Inter-State Council under Article 263 (b) and (c) of the Constitution and felt that saddling the proposed Council with functions on inquiring and advising on disputes between States under Article 263 (a) would prevent it from giving full attention to the various problems of national concern.

This view was endorsed by the Commission on Centre-State Relations (1988) which recommended that ‘the Council should be charged with duties in broad terms embracing the entire gamut of clauses (b) and (c) of Article 263′.

Government accepted the recommendation of the Sarkaria Commission and notified the establishment of the Inter-State Council 0n 28 May 1990.