Punchhhi Commission


The Punchhi Commission, also known as the Commission on Centre-State Relations, was an important constitutional body in India tasked with investigating and recommending changes to the relationship between the national government and the state governments. It was established in 2007 and was presided over by Justice Madan Mohan Punchhi. It was vital in addressing important issues pertaining to intergovernmental cooperation, federalism, and center-state relations in the Indian context. We shall examine the background, purpose, major recommendations, and significance of the Punchhi Commission in this exhaustive study.

Historical Context

Periodic reviews and commissions that have attempted to address the difficulties and complexities of India’s federal system have been a defining feature of the growth of center-state relations in that country. The Punchhi panel was the fifth panel of its kind established in independent India to examine and make recommendations for strengthening relations between the center-states.

Due to changing political and constitutional dynamics in India, this committee was necessary. The political landscape has undergone substantial changes since the Sarkaria Commission was established in 1983, including the emergence of regional parties, the early 1990s economic liberalization, and changes in the balance of power between the federal and state governments. These changes called for a reassessment of the connection between the two tiers of government.

Mandate of the Punchhi Commission

On April 27, 2007, the Indian government established the Punchhi Commission with the explicit objective of investigating and recommending changes to various elements of center-state relations. Its main goals were, among others:

  • Review of the operation of the Constitution’s current center-state relations clauses.
  • An analysis of the division of duties between the federal government and the states, with particular attention to how the Indian federal system is evolving.
  • Evaluation of the Governor’s position inside the state and their interaction with the state governments.
  • Evaluation of the President’s power to impose President’s Rule in states under Article 356 of the Constitution.
  • Recommendations for strengthening intergovernmental cooperation and cooperative federalism in light of current issues.

Important Advice from the Punchhi Commission

The Punchhi Commission made a number of key suggestions throughout its deliberations and investigations with the purpose of addressing the changing requirements of center-state relations in India. Several of the most important suggestions are:

  1. Power allocation: The Commission advocated for a more flexible and fair division of authority between the federal government and the states. In order to eliminate overlaps and conflicts, it was suggested that the Concurrent List, which comprises topics on which both the center and states may pass legislation, be edited.
  2. Article 356: The Commission highlighted that Article 356—which deals with the installation of the President’s Rule in states—should only be utilized in extreme circumstances when the constitution has been violated. It suggested that the rules for applying Article 356 set down by the Sarkaria Commission be followed.
  3. Governor’s Role: According to the Commission, governors should be chosen after conferring with the state’s chief minister. In order to promote stability and avoid sudden removals, it also suggested giving governors a fixed term of five years.
  4. Interstate Council: The Commission proposed improving the Interstate Council and making it a more effective forum for intergovernmental dialogue and dispute resolution in order to promote greater collaboration between the center and states.
  5. Finance Commission: The Commission proposed that the Finance Commission, which is in charge of allocating funds between the federal government and the states, take into account elements including grant allocations and performance-based incentives to encourage balanced regional development.
  6. National Development Council (NDC): The Punchhi Commission advocated revamping the NDC to include Chief Ministers of all states, ensuring more state engagement in the planning and development processes. This recommendation is similar to that of the Sarkaria Commission.

Effect and Application

The Punchhi Commission’s proposals were thorough and addressed a wide range of current center-state relations concerns. Similar to the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission, the impact and implementation of these proposals have been uneven.

  1. Positive Effect: Some recommendations made by the Punchhi Commission, particularly those concerning the application of Article 356 and the function of Governors, have helped center-state relations become more stable and predictable. Today, chief ministers are frequently consulted before the appointment of governors.
  2. Implementation Gaps: Some proposals have been partially followed through on, but others have not. The Commission’s recommended flexibility has not been fully implemented, and the division of authority between the center and states is still up for debate.
  3. Federalism’s evolution: India’s federal system is still changing. State governments have persisted in claiming their independence and requesting more power over resources and decision-making, especially those run by regional parties. This has affected how the recommendations of the Punchhi Commission have been implemented.
  4. Need for Continuous Review: The Punchhi Commission’s recommendations were not intended to remain static, like those of the Sarkaria Commission. The center-state relationship needs to be continuously reviewed and adjusted in light of the evolving dynamics of Indian federalism. These proposals may be expanded upon or changed by later commissions and committees to accommodate changing demands.


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