The second conversation in the series ‘Of Bridges and Breaks: The Constitution at a Crossroads’ was focused on ‘Article 282, Fiscal Federalism and Centrally Sponsored Schemes: Scratching the Surface’. It was held on 17 September, 2021.
Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSSs), which are designed by the Centre and implemented by the States, form a substantial proportion of the total fiscal transfers from the former to the latter. According to the Budget Estimates for 2021-22, CSSs account for nearly 23% of the total fiscal transfers from the Centre to States.
CSSs are authorised by Article 282 of the Indian Constitution which enables the Centre (as well as the States) to make discretionary grants, even beyond their respective legislative competences, for any ‘public purpose’. Article 282 has been routinely used to authorise CSSs, many of which dominate subjects which fall strictly within the legislative competence of the States. Over the years, this has resulted in legitimate concerns over such use of Article 282, which inhibits States from exercising policy priorities over subjects that are constitutionally within their legislative and executive domain.
The panel deliberated over the tensions that have been propelled into the scheme of fiscal federal relations between the Centre and States. The discussion will examine questions surrounding the constitutional scheme of intergovernmental transfers, fiscal federalism, and the practice of implementing CSSs.
- N.K. SINGH, Chairman, 15th Finance Commission of India and President, Institute of Economic Growth
- YAMINI AIYAR, President and Chief Executive, Centre for Policy Research
Arghya Sengupta, Founder and Research Director, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy moderated the conversation.
Ritwika Sharma, Lead, Charkha, Vidhi’s Constitutional Law Centre, began with a short presentation on Vidhi’s report on Article 282 and Fiscal Federalism.
About ‘Of Bridges and Breaks: The Constitution at a Crossroads‘
Charkha, Vidhi’s research centre dedicated to constitutional law, in collaboration with the India International Centre, is launching a year-long series of nuanced digital conversations on the Constitution of India titled “Of Bridges and Breaks: The Constitution at a Crossroads”.
Recent developments in India indicate it is of utmost importance that we pay attention to the acceleration of constitutional change, as well as the widespread reliance on the document’s language and ethos. As part of this series, we will facilitate conversations between academicians, legal practitioners, and social workers, to underscore how different constitutional structures play out in practice.