August 2003 News

PM to inaugurate ISC meet in Srinagar

24 August 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will visit Srinagar on August 27- 28 to inaugurate the crucial two-day Inter-State Council (ISC) meeting of Chief Ministers which will discuss the power-sharing equation between the Centre and States as per the Sarkaria Commission recommendations. The conference, being organised outside Delhi for the first time, will discuss modalities for suo motu deployment of Central Security Forces in states to assist the local civil authorities, a demand by some states that facts should be specified before imposition of President’s rule under Article 356, a proposal to drop Article 365 which empowers the Centre to act against states in some cases of violation of its directives and an action-plan for good governance besides the May 13 recommendations of the ISC standing committee. The issue of suo motu deployment of central security forces in states has been a major point of disagreement at the previous meetings as states consider it a Central intervention in law and order which is a State Subject. The action-plan for good governance, a new subject of discussion at the ISC, was recommended by the Group of Ministers (GoM) which was constituted in 2000 to look into the national security system in its entirety. The GoM had recommended that a detailed ‘action-plan’ should be prepared by the Inter-State Council and taken up for discussion at the meeting for adoption and implementation. The sugested action-plan has eight broad parametres civil service reforms, electoral process reforms, legal and judicial reforms, administrative procedures reforms, fiscal system and procedures reforms, equity, inclusiveness and quality of life. Public-private partnertship and rural sector linkages. The meeting will also be attended by Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, Ministers of State for Home I D Swami and Harin Pathak and Chief Ministers and Administrators of states-Union Territories. The meeting is being seen as a morale booster and a strong signal across the country that normalcy is fast returning to the trouble-torn Kashmir valley. It will be the fourth major event to be organised in the Valley after the historic visits by President A P J Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and also the Congress Chief Minister’s conclave which was attended by party president Sonia Gandhi. Srinagar was chosen as the venue following a request by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed when he called on the Deputy Prime Minister in New Delhi on July 14. The Inter-State Council, functioning under the overall supervision of the Home Ministry, has all the Chief Ministers as members and Union Ministers as special invitees. The council has been considering the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State relations. The mandate of the standing committee is to review the recommendations of the Commission before they are taken up for consideration by the Inter-State Council. Of the 247 recommendations under different chapters in the Sarkaria Commission report, the Council has already taken decisions on 230. Of these 230, 152 have been implemented, 27 are at various stages of implementation while 51 have been found unacceptable. The remaining 17 recommendations will be taken up at the August 27-28 ISC. These include one on ‘administrative relations,’ twelve on ‘emergency provisions’ and four on ‘deployment of central security forces’, which were considered in earlier meetings of the standing committee and referred to a sub-committee of the standing committee for detailed deliberations. The Sarkaria Commission has made two recommendations on ‘administrative relations’ and the inter-state council has already taken a final view on one of them. The other recommendations of the Commission and the sub-committee’s views relate to the powers of the union to give directions to states under Articles 256 and 257 of the Constitution and application of sanction under Article 365 in the event with non-compliance of the Centre’s direction. Articles 256 and 257 of Constitution empower the Central Government to give directions to State Governments on all issues. But the federal Government’s directions are binding on states under Article 365. Regarding emergency provisions , the Commission made twelve recommendations relating to various aspects of Article 356 of the Constitution. The sub-committee has examined these recommendations in the context of earlier discussions held in the standing committee and the Supreme Court judgement in the Bommai case. On the deployment of Army, four recommendations of the Commission were discussed in the May 13 meeting. One recommendation relates to consultation with the State Government before the deployment of the Army in aid of civil power suo motu. The other three suggest certain measures for strengthening of the State Armed Police Forces and improving their operational efficiency. On contract labour and contract appointments, the second sub-committee set up by the council has reached a consensus on some broad issues and the labour ministry is already seized of the matter. Failure to comply with any directions of the Union Government under Articles 256 and 257 can be regarded by the Central Government as breakdown of Constitutional machinery in the State. So one opinion was that delete Article 365 but retain Articles 256 and 257. Secondly, the Central Government should be empowered to issue directions but Article 365 should be removed. The Inter-State Council was set up in May 1990 under Article 263 of the Constitution pursuant to the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission. It is chaired by the Prime Minister. The duties of the ISC include investigation and discussion of common and general interest among States and between the Centre and States. Seven meetings of the ISC have been held so far. The last meeting was held on November 15, 2001. (UNI)


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