The founding fathers of the Indian Constitution drafted a federal constitution with having the federal features namely (1) Distribution of Powers, (2) Supremacy of the Constitution, (3) A Written Constitution, (4) Rigidity and (5)Authority of Courts. The founding fathers adopted these characteristics from the constitutions of U.S.A, Canada, Australia and the Government of India Act 1935.
Distribution of Powers: – The Indian Constitution distributed the legislative, administrative and financial powers between the Union and the State in the scheme of Union List consisting of 97 subjects, State List consisting of 66 subjects and Concurrent List consisting of 52 subjects. The Union has exclusive power to make laws on items mentioned in the Union List and the State on the State List. A government can not transgress to the other field. The Union and the States are competent to legislate on Concurrent List but in case of conflict the Central legislation must prevail over the States.
Supremacy of the Constitution:-The constitution of India is the paramount document and the Union and the States are under the mandate of the constitution.
Written Constitution:-Indian constitution is a written document .It consists of 444 Articles divided into 26 Parts and 12 Schedules in accordance with ’92nd Amendment’ Act,2003.The constitution written and so supreme.
Rigidity:-The amendment of the constitution is not flexible .Any amendment of the above mentioned Lists need concurrence of the Union and the majority of the States.
Authority of Court:- The Indian constitution established the Supreme Court of India to guard the constitution and to interpret the letter and spirit of the constitution to settle the dispute between the Union and States or the States inter se by its Original Jurisdiction under article 131 of the constitution.
These above mentioned features designed to make cooperation between the Union and the States and to keep the independency in each field.
To protect the unity, integrity and sovereignty against the external aggression and internal disruption the framer of the constitution engrafted some provision which tend to a strong centralization tendency. According to article 3 of the constitution formation of the new States and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of the existing states goes the Parliament. Article 155 says that the Governor of a State shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal. By the virtue of article 156 the term of office of Governor depends during the pleasure of the President. Article 248(1) confers exclusive power to the parliament to make any law to any matter not enumerated in the Concurrent List or State List. Article 249 deals with the concept of the power of Parliament to legislate with respect to a matter in the State List in the national interest. Article 250 envisages the power of Parliament to legislate with respect to any matter in the State List if a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation. Article 253 empowers the Union to make any law for giving effect to international agreements .Article 254 says if any provision of the law made by the Legislature of a State is repugnant to any provision of a law made by Parliament which parliament is competent to enact , or to any provision of an existing law with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent List ,then, the law made by the Parliament, whether passed before or after the law made by the Legislature of such State, or as the case may be ,the existing law, shall prevail and the law made by the Legislature of such State shall, to the extent of the repugnancy, be void. Regarding this nature of the constitution Dr. Ambedkar said, “I think it is agreed that our Constitution notwithstanding the many provisions which are contained in it whereby the Centre has been given powers to override the Provinces (States) nonetheless is a Federal Constitution.’’
Modern trends of decentralization:-The allocation of financial resources between the Union and States is unequal .The Union enjoys the substantial sources of revenue but the States are being assigned insufficient sources of revenue. The States are suffering from deficiencies of discharging the responsibilities of maintaining law and order, social development works as because at the modern time the expenditure is very high to do the work according to the needs of the States but the allocation of revenue is inadequate to satisfy the interest of the States. The States are obligated to submit their five years plans before the Planning Commission which is aquasi political body created by the Centre .The grants of the Planning Commission is discretionary. Too much dependency of the States for financial resources on the Centre creates a rift of the federalism.
Regionalism is a factor to weaken the federal structure. All over India a lot of regional parties are claiming new states to satisfy their regional needs, culture, trait and language which is very unhealthy for federalism. The regional parties are also claiming much more autonomy which strikes the bed rock of federalism.
The emergence of co-alliance government in Indian political scenario creates weakest Central Government which is under pressure of the co-alliance parties. If any initiative of the Central government nominally affects the interest of the co-alliance parties, it threatens to withdraw the support.
Illiteracy, poverty, multiple parties, lack of strong national leader, ill educated political leader, criminalization in politics and horse trading in parliament are bad for federalism.