COMPARATIVE FEDERALISM: TESTING INDIAN CONSTITUTION ON THE YARDSTICS OF IVO D. DUCHACEK

Yogesh Pratap Singh

“Personally, I do not attach any importance to the label which may be attached to it-whether you call it a federal Constitution or a unitary constitution or by any other name. It makes no difference so long as the Constitution serves our purposes.”

———-Dr. Rajendra Prasad

An acute problem today concerns the nature of the constitutional structure of India. Does the Indian Constitution represent Federalism or not? Some constitutional experts have described the Indian Constitution as “quasi-federal”.[i] Others have used stronger words to say that it is only federal in appearance, but in essence and spirit it is unitary.[ii] Hence an enquiry into the working of federal government begins of necessity with some discussions about the meaning of the term.[iii] There is no accepted definition or theory of federalism. Nor is there and agreement as to what federalism is exactly. The term itself is unclear and controversial.[iv] The idea of federalism in the modern sense can hardly have reached any political thinkers till the time when the American constitution was drawn up.[v]

 It is often used to describe a process of combining territorial communities that previously had not been directly joined into a new unit of common interest, policy and action, or the opposite process of deconcentration of power (that is, decentralization that endows territorial units with autonomous sources of authority). Federalism in terms of restraint on the political power[vi] is said, “the juxtaposition and counterbalance of two territorially differentiated sets of state sovereignties. The existence of interfederal barriers restricts the power of the central state toward the member states and vice-versa.[vii]  In contradistinction to the monolithic unitary state organisation, federalism presents a system of territorial pluralism.[viii] In addition, federalism is also a term used to describe the result or the tools of the federalizing process-a constitutional federal system and its institutions. At times, the federalizing process may even refer to ecumenism.[ix]

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