The proposed body to replace the Planning Commission can have Constitutional backing as the government is looking at a structure to help foster better Centre-state relations and build “Team India”.
The new body, primarily aimed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “cooperative federalism” concept, would have the key function of resolving inter-state disputes, which is covered under Article 263 of the Constitution.
An inter-state council headed by the Prime Minister with all the chief ministers as members was set up under this article in 1980. Now, the government proposes to make the council — under the administrative control of the home ministry — as part of the new commission. The Centre is considering providing Constitutional backing to this body, as finance minister Arun Jaitely said the “alternate body” could be a “constitutional” body.
However, the National Development Council — another body of the PM and chief ministers — did not have Constitutional backing as it was set up by executive order of the Planning Commission, a creation of a Cabinet resolution not having legal backing.
The government also wants the new body to be accountable to Parliament.
A senior government functionary explained that providing Constitutional backing would provide “stability” and “seriousness” to the new body and will also check future governments from tampering with it. He added the move would also bring clarity in the functions of the proposed body, likely to be called Niti Commission.
Refusing to give a timeframe within which the new body will be set up, Jaitely said the government will take a final view at an appropriate time on all the issues, including whether the present concept of annual and five year plans should continue or not.
Jaitley also said the CMs wanted the body to enable the exchange of views with the Centre and to be a “knowledge hub” for India.