debate on the federal question
- The recent political
developments around the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National
Register of Citizens (NRC) have revealed some of the most significant
crevices of Indian federalism.
- Soon after the protests
erupted, several State governments declared that they would not implement
- Further, in a somewhat
unprecedented move, the Legislative Assembly of Kerala went to the extent
of passing a resolution, stating that the law “contradicts the basic
values and principles of the Constitution”.
- Indeed, the resolution is
only symbolic, and has no legal ramifications. And, though the passage of
any such resolution is not constitutionally barred, it may not be in tune
with the federal scheme under the Constitution.
- Article 256 of the
Constitution obligates the State government to ensure implementation of
the laws made by Parliament. If the State government fails to do so, the
Government of India is empowered to give “such directions to a State as
may appear… to be necessary”.
- The refusal to enforce the
law even after the Centre issues directions would empower the President to
impose President’s Rule in those States under Articles 356 and 365.
- The Supreme Court of India
has also confirmed this reading of the law in S.R. Bommai v.
Union of India —
arguably the most significant case on Indian federalism.
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