Federalism: System of Governance and Purposes of Federalism

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System of Governance

  • A political principle for Multicultural Society
  • Provides Framework for Unity
  • Unity not Uniformity
  • Promotes Democratic Pluralism
  • In a federal government power is divided between the national and regional government
  • Federation derived from Latin tinwo “Foedus”
  • United States is the first federation in the World
  • India has a federal system but nowhere mentioned in the constitution
  • Indian federal system is based on Canadian Model and not of American model.

Purposes of Federalism

  • Vertical Division of Powers
  • Promotes National Integration
  • Inclusive political system
  • Prevent Conflicts
  • Makes government efficient and responsive
  • Preserve Identities and Rights

Federal Features of the Indian Constitution

  • Dual Polity
  • Written Constitution
  • Division of Powers
  • Supremacy of the constitution
  • Rigid Constitution
  • Independent Judiciary
  • Bicameralism

Non Federal Features of the Constitution

  • Strong Centre
  • States not destructible
  • No Equality of State Representation
  • Emergency Provisions
  • Single Citizenship
  • Integrated Judiciary
  • All India Services
  • Parliament authority over states
  • Appointment of Governor

Critical Evaluation of Federalism in India

  • K C Wheare described the Indian Constitution as Quasi - Federal
  • Ivor Jennings describes it as Federation with strong centralizing tendency
  • Granville Austin called it as Cooperative Federalism


1. In which case Supreme court held that Indian Constitution is Federal?

a) Kesavananda Bharti Case

b) Golaknath Case

c) Bommai Case

d) Minerva Mills Case

Answer: C

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