With a view to reviewing the working of the existing arrangements between the Union and the States in the changed socio-economic scenario, the Government vide Ministry of Home Affairs Notification No.IV/11017/1/83-CSR dated June 9, 1983 constituted a Commission under the Chairmanship of Justice R.S. Sarkaria with Shri B. Sivaraman and Dr. S.R. Sen as its members. The terms of reference of the Commission as enunciated in this notification were as under:
"The Commission will examine and review the working of the existing arrangements between the Union and States in regard to powers, functions and responsibilities in all spheres and recommend such changes or other measures as may be appropriate." "In examining and reviewing the working of the existing arrangements between the Union and the States and making recommendations as to the changes and measures needed, the commission will keep in view the social and economic developments that have taken place over the years and have due regard to the scheme and framework of the Constitution which the founding fathers have so sedulously designed to protect the independence and ensure the unity and integrity of the country which is of paramount importance for promoting the welfare of the people."
The Commission after conducting several studies, eliciting information, holding discussions and after detailed deliberations submitted its 1600-page report in January 1988. The report contains 247 recommendations spreading over 19 Chapters.
The Main recommendations of the Commission with regard to Inter-State Council and its Secretariat were:
- The Council should be charged with duties in broad terms embracing the entire gamut of clauses (b) and (c) of Article 263. The Council should not be vested with powers of enquiring into and advising upon disputes between the States;
- Without an independent permanent secretariat, the Council will not be able to establish its credibility. Considering the nature of meetings and the level of participants, the Council’s Secretariat should be suitably staffed and modeled on the Union Cabinet Secretariat.
Report of the Sarkaria Commission (All Chapters of the Report in PDF Format)