[Solved] Indian Constitution exhibits centralising tendencies to maintain unity and integrity (UPSC GS -2 Mains 2020)

The Indian Constitution grants for the division of powers among the Centre and the states. However, there are some provisions that exhibit centralizing tendencies. Hence, sometimes ours has been called a quasi-federal constitution with unitary bias

Indian Constitution exhibits centralizing tendencies to maintain unity and integrity of the nation. In this regard, the perspective on the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and recently passed Farm Acts are as follows

The centralizing features are:

  • Office of the Governor: the governor for every state is appointed by the Centre.
  • Emergency provisions- under these conditions the legislative and the executive power of the Centre extend towards the states. The resource allocation can also be modified by the President.
  • Residuary powers– the matters which are neither a part of central list nor state list or concurrent list are in the hands of the Centre.
  • All India Services– the officers in the All India Services are appointed by the Centre but they serve in the states.
  • Amendment of the Constitution– the power to initiate such an amendment lies only with the Centre.

Federation with Strong Unifying tendencies

  • Sir Ivor Jennings trusted India to be a “federation with strong unifying tendencies”. These Acts pinpoint such tendencies.
  • The Centre gave lockdown rules intermittently under the Disaster Management Act of 2005, which the States viewed as force without obligation concern and the moving insoluble quandary of traveller laborers, as this Act presented broad force on the focal government.
  • The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 accommodates better anticipation of the spread of hazardous pestilence infections where the state governments have the right.
  • This Act engages the state governments to recommend guidelines with respect to any individual or gathering of individuals to contain the spread of COVID-19.
  • Despite what is generally expected, the Centre applied and depended more on the Disaster Management Act 2005.
  • Be that as it may, social removing is the all inclusive answer for the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The focal government couldn’t trust that states will act and allow it to turn into a wild public wellbeing emergency, so it utilized the DM Act to settle on quick arrangement choices and force limitations on individuals.
  • These provisions help in maintaining the unity and integrity of the nation. For ex.- the states in India do not have the right to secede from the Union, this helps in keeping Indian structure intact.
  • Similar case can be seen in recent times with the passage of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897; The Disaster Management Act, 2005 where the Centre used its residuary powers to effectively manage and control the crisis caused in the country due to COVID19 pandemic.
  • Another similar case is of the passage of farm laws, where Centre used its power to make laws on subjects in the concurrent list to bring a uniformity across farm sectors and help alleviate the deprivation of farmers.

The Centre passed Farm Acts under Entry 33 (Concurrent List)

  • which specifies “exchange and business in, and the creation, supply and appropriation of groceries, including consumable oilseeds and oils”, notwithstanding the way that horticulture falls under the State List.

Yet, these ranch laws are significant on the off chance that they are the greatest horticultural changes guaranteeing market decision, empower business venture, admittance to innovation, and underlying change of agribusiness. In India’s semi government framework, concentrating tendencies are not total on the off chance that they redirect from keeping up solidarity and honesty, the summit court is consistently there.

Further reading…

[Solved] Indian constitution exhibits centralising tendencies to maintain unity and integrity of the nation. Elucidate in the perspective of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897; The Disaster Management Act, 2005 and recently passed Farm Acts. (UPSC GS -2 Mains 2020)

The orders were issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, invoked for the first time in the country since the legislation was drafted after the tsunami in 2004.

Relevance of DM Act in this pandemic:

  • COVID-19 is the first pan India biological disaster being handled by the legal and constitutional institutions of the country.
  • The current lockdown has been imposed under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DM Act).
  • Under the Act, the States and district authorities can frame their own rules on the basis of broad guidelines issued by the Ministry.
  • The legal basis of the DM Act, is Entry 23, Concurrent List of the Constitution “Social security and social insurance”.
  • Entry 29, Concurrent List “Prevention of the extension from one State to another of infectious or contagious diseases or pests affecting men, animals or plants,” can also be used for specific law making.

 A notified disaster:

Central government has included the Covid-19 outbreak as “Notified Disaster” as a “critical medical condition or pandemic situation”.

About the Disaster Management Act, 2005:

  • The stated object and purpose of the DM Act is to manage disasters, including preparation of mitigation strategies, capacity-building and more.
  • It came into force in India in January 2006.
  • The Act provides for “the effective management of disasters and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
  • The Act calls for the establishment of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), with the Prime Minister of India as chairperson.
  • The Act enjoins the Central Government to Constitute a National Executive Committee (NEC) to assist the National Authority.
  • All State Governments are mandated to establish a State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA).

Powers given to the Centre:

  • Power bestowed by DM Act on Central Government and NDMA are extensive.
    • The Central Government, irrespective of any law in force (including over-riding powers) can issue any directions to any authority anywhere in India to facilitate or assist in the disaster management.
    • Importantly, any such directions issued by Central Government and NDMA must necessarily be followed the Union Ministries, State Governments and State Disaster Management Authorities.
    • In order to achieve all these, the prime minister can exercise all powers of NDMA (S 6(3)). This ensures that there is adequate political and constitutional heft behind the decisions made.

Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897

portant Provisions

  • Aim:

  • The Epidemic Diseases Act aims to provide for the better prevention of the spread of dangerous epidemic diseases.
  • Under the act, temporary provisions or regulations can be made to be observed by the public to tackle or prevent the outbreak of a disease.
  • Powers to Central Government:

    • Section 2A of the Act empowers the central government to take steps to prevent the spread of an epidemic.
    • Health is a State subject, but by invoking Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, advisories and directions of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare will be enforceable.
    • It allows the government to inspect any ship arriving or leaving any post and the power to detain any person intending to sail or arriving in the country.
  • Penalty for Disobedience:

    • Section 3 provides penalties for disobeying any regulation or order made under the Act. These are according to section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant).
  • Legal Protection to Implementing Officers:

  • Section 4 gives legal protection to the implementing officers acting under the Act.
  • Enforcement of the Act in the Recent Past:

  • The Epidemics Diseases Act is routinely enforced across the country for dealing with outbreaks of diseases such as Swine Flu, Dengue.
  • For Example in 2009, to tackle the swine flu outbreak in Pune, Section 2 powers were used to open screening centres in civic hospitals across the city, and swine flu was declared a notifiable disease.

Recent Changes in the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897

  • Recently, the Cabinet amended the Act through an ordinance stating that commission or abetment of acts of violence against healthcare service personnel shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of three months to five years, and with fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh.
  • In case of causing grievous hurt, imprisonment shall be for a term of six months to seven years and a fine of Rs1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh

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