Polity Notes


Division of powers means divisions of powers between Union and State governments. This is an essential feature of federalism. In a federal constitution as two type government exists– i.e. Union Government and State Governments, there should be clear division of powers between Union and State governments to avoid any conflict.

Since India has a federal Constitution we too have division of powers between Union Government and State Governments under (Article 246) of our Constitution placed under VII schedule. We have three lists under divisions of powers— (i) Union list having 97 subjects, (ii) State list having 66 subjects and (iii) Concurrent list having 47 subjects.

(i) Union List

Union list have 97 subjects of National and International importance such as: Defence, foreign affairs, Atomic energy, currency, communication, commerce, Treeties, was & peace, CBI, RAW, NIA, IB, Citizenship, All India Services, Railways, Airways, RBI, UPSC, Extradition, Passports & Visas, National Highways, Post & telegraph, Banking, Insurance, Stock Exchange, Patents, Copyright, trademark, census, Survey of India, Meteorological organization, Election Commission, Income Tax, Custom duties, Corporation Tax, etc.

Only Union Parliament can make law on the subjects in Union list. However, Union Parliament can delegate its authority of law making on any subject of Union List to States (Article 258) Sarkaria Commission recommended that this authority should be used by Union liberally to include state in law making on Union List subjects.

(ii) State List

State list have 66 subjects of National and International importance such as: Law & order, police, prisons, Health, Sanitation, Agriculture, Land, Water supply, Roads, irrigation, Fisheries, Trade & Commence within the state, Burials & Burial grounds, creamations & cremation ground, markets & fairs, Co-operative societies, Betting & gambling, State Public Service Commission, Land revenue, taxes on land & buildings, alcoholic liquors for human consumption etc.

State legislatures can make law on subjects under State lists, but Union can also make law on State list as under—

(a) In the national interest. If the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution by special majority e.g. by 2/3 majority that it is necessary in national interest.

(b) During National Emergency under (Article 352), during state emergency under (Article 356) and during financial emergency under (Article 360).

(c) By agreement among states.

(d) To implement treaties, international agreements and conventions.

(iii) Concurrent List

Concurrent list have 47 subjects of National and Regional importance such as: Education, Family Planning, Marriage, divorce, maintenance, Criminal Law, transfer of property, Bankrupsy & insolvency, Civil Procedure, Economic & Social Planning, Legal, medical & other professions, Factories, stamp duty etc.

Both Union as well as States can make law on a subject of Concurrent list but in case of any dispute between the law of State and law of Union, the law of Union shall prevail.

Residuary Powers

Any subject not mentioned in three lists or any new subject developed in due course of time comes under Residuary Powers of the Union. Only Union has the right to make law on such subjects. We have borrowed this feature from the Constitution of Canada.

Note: The subject education was transferred from State list to Concurrent list by 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act 1976.

We have borrowed the concept of concurrent list from the Constitution of Australia.