The Punchhi Commission
The Punchhi Commission on Centre–State relation was formed on April 27, 2007, under the chairmanship of former Chief Justice of India Justice Madan Mohan Punchhi.The commission submitted its report on April 20, 2010. It had assigned the task to look into the new issues of Centre-State relations keeping in view the changes that have been taken place in the polity and economy of India since the Sarkaria Commission recommendations.
Following were the members of Commission: Justice Punchhi (Chairman), former Home Secretaries Dhirendra Singh and V K Duggal, and former Bangalore-based Law School Director Prof. N R Madhava Menon. Later, Dr. Amaresh Bagchi, Professor Emeritus and former Director of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP)
The Commission examined and reviewed the working of the existing arrangements in below mentioned areas
- Between the Union and States
- Role of the Courts in regard to powers, functions and responsibilities in all spheres including legislative relations, administrative relations
- Role of governors
- Emergency provisions
- Financial relations
- Economic and social planning
- Panchayati Raj institutions
- Sharing of resources including inter-state river water etc.
The Commission made a number recommendations in its seven volume report presented to Government on 30 March 2010.
The main recommendations of the Commission regarding the Inter-State Council and its secretariat were as under:
a) The Inter-State Council need to be substantially strengthened and activised as the key player in intergovernmental resolutions. It must meet at least thrice in a year on an agenda evolved after proper consultation with States.
b) The ISC must be empowered to follow up the implementation of its decisions for which appropriate statutory provisions should be made. The Government will be well advised to evolve an appropriate scheme to utilize the full potential of ISC in harmonizing Centre-State relations which has become urgent in the changed circumstances. Issues of governance must as far as possible be sorted out through the political and administrative processes rather than pushed to long drawn adjudication in the Court.
c) Inter-State Council appears to be the most viable, promising, Constitutional mechanism to be developed for the purpose provided it is properly restructured and duly empowered. Once ISC is made a vibrant, negotiating forum for policy development and conflict resolution, the Government may consider the functions for the National Development also being transferred to the ISC.
d) The Council should have functional independence with a professional Secretariat constituted with experts on relevant fields of knowledge supported by Central and State officials on deputation for limited periods.
e) ISC should have an organizational and management structure which different from the Government departments and flexible enough to accommodate management practices involving multidisciplinary skills conducive to federal governance under the Constitution.
f) Given the Constitutional and quasi-judicial tasks, the Council should have experts in its organizational set up drawn from the disciplines of Law, Management and Political Science besides the All India Services.
g) The Secretary of ISC should be designated ex-officio Secretary of the Department of States reporting directly to the Union Home Minister who is to be ex-officio Deputy Chairman of the Council.