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Centre-state disputes and Article 131

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Centre-state disputes and Article 131

What to study?

For Prelims: All about Article 131 and Supreme Court’s jurisdiction.

For Mains: Cooperative federalism- need, challenges and concerns.

Context: Kerala has become the first state to challenge the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) before the Supreme Court under Article 131 of the Constitution.

Besides, Chhattisgarh government has also filed a suit in the Supreme Court under Article 131, challenging the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act on the ground that it encroaches upon the state’s powers to maintain law and order.

So, What is Article 131?

Under Article 131 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to deal with any dispute between the Centre and a state; the Centre and a state on the one side and another state on the other side; and two or more states.

Criteria:

  • For a dispute to qualify as a dispute under Article 131, it has to necessarily be between states and the Centre, and must involve a question of law or fact on which the existence of a legal right of the state or the Centre depends.
  • In a 1978 judgment, State of Karnataka v Union of India, Justice P N Bhagwati had said that for the Supreme Court to accept a suit under Article 131, the state need not show that its legal right is violated, but only that the dispute involves a legal question.
  • Article 131 cannot be used to settle political differences between state and central governments headed by different parties.

Facts for Prelims:

The Supreme Court has three kinds of jurisdictions: original, appellate and advisory.

  1. Under its advisory jurisdiction, the President has the power to seek an opinion from the apex court under Article 143 of the Constitution.
  2. Under its appellate jurisdiction, the Supreme Court hears appeals from lower courts.

Sources: the Hindu.