Polity

Rajamannar Committee: Overview and Recommendations

Rajamannar Committee

In the previous articles, we navigated through the various aspects of the Centre-State relations, in which we discussed-

So today we’d be continuing our discussion on the Centre-State relations, by discussing the formation and recommendations of one of the most important committees formed to examine and deliberate upon the Centre-State relations, the Rajamannar Committee.

Rajamannar Commission
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Rajamannar Committee

The Rajamannar Committee was formed in 1969, and we all know that the major concern during the period was the relentless misuse of Article 356 by the Central Government, mainly to oust the State Government which was ruled by the opposition party. And there was a need to stop this misuse, as it was violating the principles of federalism and democracy, upon which the Constitution of India was built. So, these were the major concerns of the State Governments ruled by the opposition parties, and these circumstances ultimately led to the formation of the Rajamannar Committee.

Formation
Rajamannar Committee
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The Rajamannar Committee was formed in 1969 under the leadership of Dr P.V. Rajamannar. The committee was appointed by the Tamil Nadu Government which was ruled by DMK, a major opposition party at that time. The Rajmannar Committee submitted its report to the Tamil Nadu Government in 1971.

Objectives

The main objective of the Rajmannar Committee was to examine all the aspects of the Centre-State relations and also examine and identify the reasons for the prevailing Centralization tendencies, i.e. the unitary trends in the Central-State relations. So, the committee was to recommend amendments to the Constitution in order to secure the much-needed autonomy of the State Government from arbitrary use of powers by the Central Government.

Report of the Committee

Reasons for the unitary trends in the country:

  • The first and foremost reason for the Centralization tendency was various provisions in the Constitution that confers certain special and coercive powers on the Central Government. And the most coercive of them was the power to impose President’s Rule in the State under Article 356. The ground on which the President can proclaim a State Emergency is the failure of the Constitutional machinery of the State. And needless to say that this provision was highly misused by the Central Government to oust the State Government ruled by an opposition party.
    Click here to know more about such discretionary powers conferred in the hands of the Centre under the Constitution.
  • One political party was dominant in both the Centre and the States. During the period the Centre and most of the State was governed by a single political party, the Indian National Congress. After independence, there was only one major political party and literally no opposition. So, this one-party dominance continued till the 1990s. Hence, this one-party dominance was one of the major reasons for the centralization tendencies in the Country.
    Fortunately, the circumstances have changed now, there are major opposition parties having a stronghold in States, such as TMC, DMK, CPI, etc. And this is one of the major reasons for efficient federalism in the country.
  • Dependence of the States on the Centre for their financial resources. This was mainly because the States were inadequate in raising their own fiscal resources. So they could function efficiently only due to the financial assistance by the Centre.
    This was also the reason why the Local Governments (before gaining Constitutional status by the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments 1993) was highly inefficient in their functioning and were deprived of the autonomy they needed.
  • The institution of Central Planning and the role of the Planning Commission.
Rajamannar Committee
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Recommendations of the Rajmannar Commission

An overview of the recommendations
Legislative Relations between Centre and State
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The pros

The recommendations of the Rajamannar Committee were indeed helpful in providing autonomy and protection to the States, and preventing the Central Government to misuse the Constitutional powers vested in its hands by the Constitution. The provision of setting up an inter-state council would’ve empowered and united the States and enhanced their powers and leverage over the Central Government, especially for the States which were ruled by an opposition political party.

Moreover, the recommendation to make the finance commission an independent body and replace the Planning Commission with a statutory body would’ve empowered the States.

The provisions of the President’s Rule and State Emergency, which are considered evil and prone to be misused by the Central Government, should be completely omitted. This was indeed the most significant and bold recommendation of the Rajamannar Committee. This was just what the States, ruled by an opposition party needed, and would’ve been consistent with the principle of federalism.

The provision that the State Ministry holds office during the pleasure of the President should be omitted was also very important to ensure the security of the State Government. This is because the Governor of the State, who is the Constitutional Head of the State, is appointed by the President, and remains in office during the pleasure of the President. The Governor is entitled to submit periodic reports to the Centre regarding the administrative affairs of the State. So, to sum it up, the Governor acts as an agent of the Centre in the States. And this recommendation would’ve reduced the Centre’s stronghold in the political and administrative affairs of the State.

 

Administrative Relationship between Centre and State
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Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/THT

The Shortcomings

The recommendation to completely abolish the provisions of President’s Rule and State Emergency was bold, but yet implementing it would’ve had some serious consequences. The Constitution vested these powers to the Centre in good spirit and to maintain the sovereignty and to ensure that the States are functioning according to the provisions of the Constitution. And one cannot completely rule out the possibility of such circumstances arising in any State, which would compel the Centre to implement President’s Rule in the State. So, the implementation of such a recommendation wasn’t very feasible.

The recommendation to abolish the All India Services would’ve been a major drawback in the administration of the country, as the All India Services was introduced mainly to maintain and bring efficiency in the administration of the Centre and States. Moreover, the All India Services helps in bringing uniformity in the administration of Centre and States. They also ensure coordination, cooperation and joint action on the issues of common interest between the Centre and States.

The transfer of residuary subjects like e-commerce, computer software, internet, programming, etc, are vested in the hands of the Centre, hence, there’s uniformity in the provisions regarding these subjects around the country. Had they been vested in the hands of the States, there would’ve been diversity in the provisions regarding these subjects, which would ultimately lead to chaos.

So, all the recommendations of the Rajmannar Committee were ignored by the Government and none of them was implemented. 

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