Q. State the powers of Parliament to legislate on state list.

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India, in the Constitution, has been described as a federation of States. Indian Constitution provides for three lists for distribution of legislative and executive power between the Centre and the States; i.e.

i.                     The Union list: exclusive powers of Centre government to make laws,

ii.                   The State List: states are authorized to make laws, and

iii.                 The Concurrent List (subjects within the ambit of the Union Government & the State Governments).


Parliament’s power to legislate over state list

Generally, only the states are entitled to make laws over state list, but in certain exceptional situations, the Constitution empowers to Centre government also, to make the legislation on it. The following some of the situations are mentioned:


I.                   In the national interest: article 249

According to Article 249; if the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution relating to a matter of national interest with a two-third majority. Such resolution empowers the Parliament to legislate with respect to any matter in the State List, then it shall be lawful for the Parliament to legislate. Such legislation can extend to the whole or any part of the Indian territory until the legislation operates.

Such a resolution normally lasts for a year and maybe renewed upon the necessity but can’t be extended for another year.


II.                If a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation: article 250

According to Article 250; during the operation of the Proclamation of Emergency, the Parliament shall be empowered to legislate for the entire Indian territory or any of its parts with respect to all the matters enumerated in the State List.

However, such law shall come to cessation on the expiration of 6 months following the cessation of the Proclamation of Emergency.


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III.             Inconsistency between Parliamentary legislation under articles 249 and 250 and laws made by the Legislatures of States: article 251

According to Article 251; nothing under the Articles 249 & 250, shall restrict the State Legislature from legislating on any matter for which it has been empowered under the Constitution. However, if any legal provision legislated by the State Legislature is repugnant to any legal provision so legislated by the Parliament, then the law made by the Parliament shall prevail over the one passed by the State.


IV.              Parliamentary legislative power for two or more States by consent and adoption of such legislation by any other State: article 252

When two or more states have passed a resolution that the Parliament should regulate on a matter in the State List, the Parliament can pass a law for the same. However, the consent of the States is required for subsequent amendments and revocation. The doctrine of repugnancy is not applicable over here as the States no longer have the power to legislate on that subject.


V.                 Legislation for effecting international agreements: article 253

According to Article 253; notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this chapter, the Parliament has legislative power for the whole or any part of the Indian territory for:

A.      Implementation of any treaty, agreement, or other convention with another country;

B.      Implementing any decision made at any international conference, or international association, or international body.


VI.              Inconsistency between Parliamentary laws and the laws made by State Legislature: article 254

According to Article 254; if any legal provision made by the State Legislature is repugnant to any legal provision made by the Parliament over which it has the competency, or to any existing legal provision with respect to any of the matters contained in the Concurrent List, then the Parliamentary laws, whether passed prior or following the enactment by the State Legislature, shall prevail over the law passed by the State Legislature. This is also known as doctrine of repugnancy.


VII.           Under Proclamation of President’s Rule: Art. 356

Article 356 stipulates that if the President was satisfied that there existed a situation in which the government of the State can not be enforced according to the provisions of the Constitution, he may declare state emergency for that particular state. In this condition, the parliament becomes empower to legislate for that state.


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