Ans. Articles 245 to 255 have made a clear division of legislative power between the Union and the States.
Article 245 says that "subject to the provisions of this Constitution Parliament may make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India and the legislature of a State may make laws for the whole or part of the State."
Article 246 further says that the Parliament has the exclusive power to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the Union List in the Seventh Schedule. Similarly, the legislature of any State has exclusive Power to make laws for such State or any part thereof with respect to any of matters enumerated in the State List in the Seventh Schedule. Both Parliament and the legislature of any State also have the power to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent List in the Seventh Schedule.
The residuary powers have been given to the Union. The union List contains 97 subjects. The State list contains 66 subjects whereas the Concurrent contains 47 subjects.
The Union list contains subjects like Defence, Foreign Affairs, Currency, Union Duties, etc. The State list contains subjects like public order and police, local government, public health and sanitation, agriculture, education, etc. The Concurrent list contains subjects like criminal law and procedure, marriages, contracts, trusts, social insurances, economic and social planning.
Under Article 248 of the Constitution, the residuary powers of legislation have been given to the Parliament. Article 248 reads that "Parliament has exclusive powers to make any law with respect to any matter not enumerated in the Concurrent list or State List." Such a power also includes the power of making any law imposing a tax not mentioned in either of the above lists.
Under Article 249 of the Constitution, the Parliament can make law even on a subject if the Council of States passes a resolution by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting that it is in the national interest that the Parliament should make law on a particular matter contained in the State List:
Article 250 authorises the Parliament to legislate with respect to any matter in the State List if a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation.
If any State law is repugnant to the Union law and made under Article 249 or 250 above, then the Union law will prevail over the State law. The State law, to the extent of the repugnancy, will be inoperative.
Under Article 252 of the Constitution, the Parliament has the power to legislate for two or more States if the resolutions requesting the Union Parliament to make a law on a State subject are passed by all the Houses of the legislatures of those States.
The Parliament has also the power to make a law for whole or any part of the territory of India for implementing any treaty, agreement or convention with any other country or countries.
If a State law on a particular matter specified in the Concurrent List is repugnant to a Union law on the same matter, the Union law will prevail over the State law under Article 254 of the Constitution.
Lastly there are certain Bills which cannot be introduced unless previous sanction of the President is obtained and certain other Bills have to be reserved for the assent of the President after they are passed by the State legislatures.
In this manner we see that in the field of legislation there are many limitations on the State legislatures whereas the Union Parliament has been given vast powers even to legislate on those subjects included in the State List both during peace and emergencies. States are thus weaker partners in the Indian Federation. Therefore, certain critics have said that our States simply exercise the powers of "glorified municipalities.”