Supreme Court Urges Cooperation Between Centre and States Amid Federal Disputes

The Supreme Court reminds Centre and states of their equal partnership in India's federal structure, as states seek disaster relief funds, highlighting the need for cooperative federalism.

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Rafia Tasleem
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Supreme Court Urges Cooperation Between Centre and States Amid Federal Disputes

Supreme Court Urges Cooperation Between Centre and States Amid Federal Disputes

The Supreme Court of India has reminded the Union and State governments of their equal partnership in the federal system, amid recent disputes between states and the Centre. The case involved the Karnataka government alleging that the Central government was not extending financial assistance to the state under the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) for drought relief.

The Central government informed the court that the Election Commission of India has allowed it to render assistance to Karnataka to help certain areas of the state overcome the ongoing drought situation. The court emphasized that the issue should be resolved amicably, given the federal structure of the country. "There should not be any contest between the Union and State governments on such matters," the court remarked.

The Supreme Court questioned why the Union government had sought to enter into a 'contest' with water-starved Karnataka over its request for drought relief. The Attorney General informed the court that the government would need one week for discussions regarding providing drought relief to Karnataka. "The Union and States are equal partners in the federal structure," the court emphasized, urging them to resolve the issues amicably.

Similar pleas have also been filed by Tamil Nadu and Kerala, highlighting the growing tensions between states and the Centre over the release of disaster relief funds. The Tamil Nadu government is seeking ₹19,692.69 crore in financial assistance for damage caused by Cyclone Michaung, while the Kerala government has filed a plea for relaxation of borrowing cap restrictions.

Why this matters: The deluge of petitions by various states represents the judiciary's expanding involvement in scrutinizing federal financial relations and state autonomy under India's intricate fiscal system. The Supreme Court's intervention highlights the importance of cooperative federalism and the need for the Centre and states to work together in addressing critical issues like disaster relief.

The Supreme Court has asked the central government to amicably resolve the dispute over the Karnataka government's request for ₹35,162 crore in drought relief funds, citing 'grave humanitarian distress' and a 'calamity' of severe nature faced by the state. The Attorney General informed the court that the Election Commission has allowed the Centre to address the issue, and the matter is expected to be resolved within a week. The case highlights the ongoing tensions between the Centre and states and the Supreme Court's role in reminding the governments about the principles of cooperative federalism.

Key Takeaways

  • SC reminded Centre and states of equal partnership in federal system.
  • Karnataka sought drought relief funds from Centre, which was initially contested.
  • SC urged Centre and states to resolve issues amicably under cooperative federalism.
  • Similar pleas filed by TN and Kerala over disaster relief funds.
  • SC's intervention highlights judiciary's role in scrutinizing federal financial relations.