The Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State Relations (1983–87) made a strong case for the establishment of a permanent Inter-State Council under Article 263 of the Constitution. It recommended that in order to differentiate the Inter-State Council from other bodies established under the same Article 263, it must be called as the Inter-Governmental Council. The Commission recommended that the Council should be charged with the duties laid down in clauses (b) and (c) of Article 263.
In pursuance of the above recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission, the Janata Dal Government headed by V. P. Singh established the Inter-State Council in 1990. 5 It consists of the following members:
- Prime minister as the Chairman
- Chief ministers of all the states
- Chief ministers of union territories having legislative assemblies
- Administrators of union territories not having legislative assemblies
- Governors of States under President’s rule
- Six Central cabinet ministers, including the home minister, to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
Five Ministers of Cabinet rank / Minister of State (independent charge) nominated by the Chairman of the Council (i.e., Prime Minister) are permanent invitees to the Council. The council is a recommendatory body on issues relating to inter-state, Centre–state and Centre–union territories relations. It aims at promoting coordination between them by examining, discussing and deliberating on such issues. Its duties, in detail, are as follows:
- Investigating and discussing such subjects in which the states or the centre have a common interest;
- Making recommendations upon any such subject for the better coordination of policy and action on it; and
- Deliberating upon such other matters of general interest to the states as may be referred to it by the chairman.