Allocation of powers between Centre and state (Schedule 7)

To analyze the work of a government properly, it is very important to be aware of tasks under its jurisdiction. We must know the domains of Central and state government so that we can choose our vote wisely in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha’s elections after doing a proper analysis of their work.

In this article, we will discuss the separation of powers between Centre and State (Schedule 7 of the Indian Constitution). The contents of this article will include

  • Introduction
  • List I – Union List
  • List II – State List
  • List III – Concurrent List
  • Special cases
  • Conclusion


As we know Indian political System follows the principles of Federalism that’s why we have a 2-Tier government system.

  • Union Government
  • State Government

However, in India, there is also a 3rd Tier, which is called Local Governments (which includes Panchayat, Municipality, etc.). But they do not get direct powers and funds like the central and state governments, so their role is pretty limited.
As we know that the supreme law of our country is the Constitution of India, in which articles have been given about everything.
According to Article 246 of the Constitution. There are three lists in the 7th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

  1. Union List
  2. State List
  3. Conncurrent List

Only the Union i.e. Central Government has the right to make laws on the subjects which are given under the Union List. The list includes the subjects related to the matters and issues that are of National Importance and those requiring uniformity of legislation nationwide.
In the same manner, only the State Governments have the right to make laws on the subjects given in the State list. And if we talk about Concurrent List, then both the Center and State governments have the right to make laws on the subjects under it. And if they both make laws on a particular subject and by chance, there is a conflict between those laws, then the law made by the central government prevails.

Now let’s talk about these lists one by one

List I – Union List

There is a total of 100 subjects in the union list. Although when the constitution was formed, It originally had 97 subjects. Later 3 more subjects were added to it by making constitutional amendments. The parliament of our country makes laws on the subjects of union list and all the states are bound to obey them, whether a state like any of that law or not.

Some of the important subjects of the union list are:

  • Defence
  • Atomic Energy
  • Internationnal Relations
  • Airways
  • Railways
  • Highways
  • Post & Telegraph
  • Ports
  • Communication
  • Currency & Coinage
  • Banking
  • Stock Exchange
  • Insurance
  • Citizenship

If you want to go through the complete list of subjects under the union list, click here

List II – State List

It has 61 subjects.

Some of the important subjects of the State list are:

  • Agriculture
  • Land
  • Public order
  • Police
  • Prison
  • Local Government
  • Public Health & Sanitation
  • Hospital & Dispensaries
  • Liquor
  • Livestock and Animal Husbandry
  • Fisheries

If you want to go through the complete list of subjects under the state list, click here

Earlier, the state list had 66 items. then in 1976, came the 42nd constitutional amendment act, which shifted below mentioned five subjects from State list to Concurrent List:

  • Education
  • Forests
  • Protection of wild animals and birds
  • Weights and measures and
  • Administration of justice, constitution and organisation of all courts except the Supreme Court and the High Courts

These are no longer part of the state list of the 7th schedule.

List III – Concurrent List

Earlier, it had 47 items, after the addition of 5 subjects from the state list(via. 42nd CAA 1976), it has now 52 subjects enumerated under it.
Some of the important subjects of the concurrent list except these 5 are:

  • Transfer of property other than Agricultural land
  • Trade & Commerce
  • Adulterations
  • Marriage
  • Adoption
  • Succession

If you want to go through the complete list of subjects under the concurrent list, click here

We understood the basics of these 3 lists. Next, now let’s talk about some special cases

Speacial Cases

Do you know that according to Article 249 of the Indian Constitution, the Parliament has the power to legislate concerning a subject enumerated in the State List in the national interest? But it doesn’t happen in normal conditions.
It is possible in only 3 types of conditions:

  • When Rajya Sabha passes resolution
  • During a national emergency (Article 250)
  • When two or more states pass a resolution requesting Parliament to legislate on subjects under State List. So in response to that request, the Parliment can make laws on that topic in the state list.

Now let’s talk about another special case, about which many people have confusion, i.e. about the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
In the year 1956, in the reorganization of Indian states, Delhi was made a Union Territory. Then came the 69th Constitutional Amendment Act in 1991. According to which Delhi was renamed from Union Territory to National Capital Territory of Delhi. After which in the year 1993, Delhi got its first legislative assembly like other states. After this amendment, Delhi may have got its own legislative assembly like other states to run their administration smoothly but some power that come in the domain of states were also taken from them like public order, police, and land.


Another question that comes to the mind of the people regarding Indian government is that, is the government structure of India completely federal?
If the centre and states are given equal powers of legislation in the country, in that case, we can call it an ideal federal structure.
But in the case of our country, we can clearly see that the Union list has more subjects than the state list, and even if there is a conflict in the case of the concurrent list,  the law made by the Central Government prevails. And in special cases, the centre can make laws even on the State list. So we can say that the Central government has more powers in comparison to the state governments. That’s why the government structure of India is called quasi-federal.

You may refer to this video if you want the explanation in Hindi

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