GST Council an avenue for ‘political contestation’ across party lines: SC

It says the ripples in GST Council impact both federalism and democracy

May 20, 2022 02:02 am | Updated 03:26 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The Supreme Court on Thursday, in its judgment, took note of the bitter tug-of-war between the Centre and the Opposition-ruled States over various issues, from constitutionally mandated Goods and Services Tax (GST) compensation for State governments to interest rates, when it said the GST Council was an “avenue” for “political contestation” across party lines.

The court said political slugfest in the Council is a given for two reasons.

Firstly, the unequal voting structure — the Union’s vote counts as one-third, while the States’ votes have a weightage of two-thirds of the total votes cast. The decisions of the Council are not “unanimous”, but based on a three-fourth majority of the members present and voting. The court pointed out that the voting pattern was deliberately made unequal so that neither the Union nor the States enjoy dominant power over the other.

‘Both enjoy a veto’

“The structure of GST Council represents the federal nature of governance in this country... In other words both [Union and States] would enjoy a veto,” the court observed.

Secondly, the multi-party system in India where the party ruling in the Centre may not be governing several States. The ripples in the GST Council impact both federalism and democracy, the court noted.

“Therefore, the GST Council is not only an avenue for the exercise of cooperative federalism but also for political contestation across party lines,” Justice Chandrachud noted.

The court, however, said political contestation also nourishes federalism and democracy. Federal units need not always collaborate, they can contest and do what is best for fiscal security in a democracy.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.