Federal countries around the world follow the pattern of asymmetrical lines within their constitutions. The Indian constitution being quasi-federal in nature allows the state to formulate their laws. To accommodate the vast differences that are present within a large heterogeneous country like India, many constitutional asymmetries were included to protect the rights and interests of regional, ethnic, cultural and linguistic minorities.
These asymmetries were a conscious attempt by the constitution-makers to accommodate diverse backgrounds into the Union of India and sprung up the feeling of nationhood, especially into small ethnocultural groups. Constitutional asymmetries have been an essential part of the Union of India, for it has helped the country stand united for more than seven decades.
A country as vibrant and heterogeneous as India could, in no case, have adopted a unitary political system; the constitution-makers were clear on this subject right from the beginning. The issue was whether a potent federal structure would weaken the national unity and would make it harder for the centre to push for welfare schemes which were necessary for the economic development of the country.
The division of states was chiefly based on the linguistic identity of the region; the need for asymmetry was necessary for the dissolution of basic law of the land and to the accession of states into the Union of India.
Article 371 provides special status to some states within the Indian Union. These provisions were mainly included to ensure the economic development of various socio-lingual minorities that exist in various parts of the country.
Special Provisions for Maharashtra and Gujarat:
These provisions were made when Gujarat was formed. Some areas were taken from the Gujarati speaking part of the Bombay presidency to ensure the development of these relatively under-developed communities for whom special provisions needed to be included to ensure their development.
Article 371 gives special provisions to the governors of Gujarat and Maharashtra to create independent development boards for Vidarbha, Marathwada and rest of Maharashtra and Saurashtra, Kutch and the rest of Gujarat. It gives room to provide more facilities for employment opportunities, vocational and technical education in the state.
Special Provisions for Assam:
Under Article 371-B, the President holds power to elect a committee of elected tribal representatives into the state’s legislative assembly.
Special Provisions for Manipur:
371-C grants power to elected members from the hilly region of the state for the establishment of a committee for the proper functioning of the legislative assembly. The committee works under the directive of the Governor, and it can take central government instructions regarding the administration of hilly areas.
Special Provisions for Andhra Pradesh:
Under Article 371-E, the President can assert their powers in order to promote opportunities for the local populace and can interfere with disputes regarding appointment and promotion of posts in the state.
Special Provisions for Mizoram:
371-G says, without the consent of the State Legislative Assembly, the Parliament cannot decide on the matters of religious and social practices of the Mizos, civil and criminal law of the land, land ownership transfer, and customary law procedures.
Special provisions for Arunachal Pradesh:
If the President grants special powers to the Governor, under Article 371-H, the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, on the directions from the President, can act upon situations concerning the law and order in the state while taking advice from Council of Ministers. The governor’s decision will be final.
Special provision for Goa:
As per Article 371-I, the State Legislative Assembly of Goa will consist of not less than 30 members.
Special provisions for Karnataka:
Article 371-J gives room for some special provisions to the Hyderabad-Karnataka region. The President gives special responsibilities to the Governor of Karnataka to create a separate board to develop the Hyderabad-Karnataka regions.
Every year, a report regarding the working of this board will be presented before the State Legislative Assembly. Equitable funds must be allotted for developing these regions. There will be reservation of seats for the education and vocational training of the students from this region besides reservation for jobs within the state government for persons hailing from this region.