Concurrent List under Indian Constitutional Law
Under the Seventh Schedule, there are three lists – the Union, State and Concurrent.
- The Union List has a range of subjects under which the Parliament may make laws. This includes defence, foreign affairs, railways, banking, among others.
- The State List lists subjects under which the legislature of a state may make laws. Public order, police, public health and sanitation; hospitals and dispensaries, betting and gambling are some of the subjects that come under the state.
- The Concurrent List includes subjects that give powers to both the Centre and state governments. Subjects like Education including technical education, medical education and universities, population control and family planning, criminal law, prevention of cruelty to animals, protection of wildlife and animals, forests etc.
However, given that there can be conflict when it comes to laws passed by Parliament and state legislatures on the same subject, the Constitution provides for a central law to override a state law.
Meaning of concurrent list
The Concurrent List or List-III(Seventh Schedule) is a list of 52 items (though the last item is numbered 47) given in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India.
Figure: concurrent list in Indian constitution
Some examples from the concurrent list:
Public order, police, public health and sanitation; hospitals and dispensaries, betting and gambling are some of the subjects that come under the state.
Concept of concurrent list:
The concept of ‘Concurrent List’ in the Indian Constitution has been borrowed from the Constitution of Australia.
Central Government and State Government both can make laws on the subjects mentioned under the Concurrent List.
While both Central and State Government can legislate on subjects mentioned under Concurrent List, however, in case of any conflict, the law made by the Central Government prevails.
The matters on which uniformity of legislation throughout the country is desirable but not essential are enumerated in the concurrent list.
There are 03 subjects in the Concurrent List on which both Central and state governments have power to levy taxes.
- Hoechst Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and Others v. State of Bihar and others.
It was held that the question of repugnancy under article 254(1) between a law made by parliament and a law made by the state legislature arises only in case both the legislations occupy the same field with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the concurrent list, and there is a direct conflict between the two laws.
It is only when both these requirements are fulfilled that the State law will, to the extent of repugnant become void.
Issues with Concurrent list-
- Balance between flexibility and uniformity: Some laws leave little flexibility for states to sync the laws according to their needs for achieving uniformity. A higher degree of detail in law ensures uniformity across the country and provides the same level of protection and rights, however, it reduces the flexibility for states to tailor the law for their different local conditions.
- Rising demands: Time and again centre-state relations come under scanner due to rising demands from various corners of the country for more power devolution in favour of states. More recently on the TOR of 15th Finance commission.
- Limited capacity of states: Some laws enacted by Parliament in the concurrent list might require state governments to allocate funds for their implementation. But due to federal supremacy while the states are mandated to comply with these laws they might not have enough financial resources to do so.
- Infringement in the domain of states: Some Bills may directly infringe upon the rights of states i.e. relates to central laws on subjects that are in the domain of state legislatures. E.g. anti-terrorist laws, Lokpal bill, issues with GST and Aadhar etc. where states’ power are taken away in a cloaked manner.
Amendments in the concurrent list:
Through the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 five subjects were transferred from State to Concurrent List. They are:
- Weights & Measures
- Protection of Wild Animals and Birds
- Administration of Justice
Various recommendation on concurrent list:
- Sarkaria Commission Recommendation on Concurrent List:
1. The residuary powers of taxation should continue to remain with the Parliament, while the other residuary powers should be placed in the Concurrent List.
2. The Centre should consult the states before making a law on a subject of the Concurrent List.
3. Ordinarily, the Union should occupy only that much field of a concurrent subject on which uniformity of policy and action is essential in the larger interest of the nation, leaving the rest and details for state action.
- Recommendation from some other committees:
Over the year committees starting from Rajamannar, Sarkaria and Punchi have recommended strengthening of Interstate Council where the concurrent list subjects can be debated and discussed, balancing Centre-State powers. There is far less institutional space to settle inter-state frictions; therefore, a constitutional institution like ISC can be a way forward.
- Union of India v. H.S.Dhillon
The question involved was whether parliament has legislative competence to pass wealth- tax act imposing wealth-tax on the assets of a person in agricultural land.
The court held that in the case of the central legislation the proper test was to inquire whether the matter fell in list II (state list ) or list III(concurrent list ).
Once it is found that the matter does not fall under list II, parliament will be competent to legislate on it.
Uniformity is desirable but not essential on items in the concurrent list. If any provision of a law made by the Legislature of a State is repugnant to any provision of a law made by Parliament which Parliament is competent to enact, or to any provision of an existing law with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent List, then, the law made by Parliament, whether passed before or after the law made by the Legislature of such State, or, as the case may be, the existing law, shall prevail and the law made by the Legislature of the State shall, to the extent of the repugnancy be void.
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