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Article 131 of Indian Constitution

Article 131: About

  • Article 131 of the Constitution gives exclusive and original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in matters of law between states or between states and the Union.
  • A State can invoke Article 131 to approach the Supreme Court in case it feels that its legal rights are threatened or have been violated by another State or the Central government.
  • The dispute may be:
    • between the Government of India and one or more States, or
    • between the Indian Government and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other, or
    • between two or more States.
  • Exceptions:
    • Original jurisdiction of the SC does not extend to a dispute arising out of a treaty, agreement, covenant, or engagement which continues to be in operation and excludes such jurisdiction.
    • The exclusive original jurisdiction of the SC is not applicable to cases where another body has jurisdiction under other provisions of the Constitution, or the jurisdiction of the SC is excluded.
    • Examples of exemptions include Articles 262 (inter-State water disputes), 280 (matters referred to Finance Commission) and 290 (adjustment of certain expenses and pensions between the Union and the States).
Article 131 of Indian Constitution
Article 131 of Indian Constitution

When Article 131 can be invoked?

  • For Article 131 to be invoked, the dispute must involve a question of law or fact on which the ‘existence or extent of a legal right depends’.
    • The definition of what constitutes a legal right, or whose legal right is in question, has not been explicitly mentioned in the article.
  • Opinion of the Supreme Court:
    • Invoking: In State of Rajasthan vs Union of India (1977), the SC said that legal ‘right’ of the States refers to the sense of freedom from the power of the Union Government.
    • Limitations: A private party cannot invoke Article 131 to raise a dispute in the SC. The dispute must be related to a legal right and not a political dispute.


Instances of Invoking Article 131

State of Rajasthan & Others vs Union of India (1977)


  • After Janata Party came to power in the year 1977, the new government asked states ruled by opposition to dissolve their assemblies and seek fresh mandate.
  • States, led by Rajasthan, approached the Supreme Court under Article 131, requesting interim injunction restraining the Centre from resorting to Article 356.
  • The SC held that political disputes between governments do not fall within the ambit of Article 131. The Court also noted that legal right refers to that of a State and not the government in power.
State of Karnataka vs Union of India & Another (1977)


  • The state government approached SC under Article 131 challenging the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952 that gave powers to the Centre to order a judicial inquiry against the Chief Minister and other ministers.
  • The SC upheld the suit and said that Article 131 can be invoked when a State(s) or the Union differ on a question of interpretation of the Constitution.
State of Madhya Pradesh vs Union of India & Another (2011)


  • Madhya Pradesh government filed a suit before the SC under Article 131, challenging the MP Reorganisation Act, 2000 Act on the grounds that it was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
  • The SC said that Article 131 was not appropriate to challenge the constitutionality of a central legislation.
State of Jharkhand vs State of Bihar and Another (2014)


  • The defendant argued that the original suit did not qualify under Article 131.
  • The SC did not accept the view that the constitutionality of a law cannot be raised in a suit under Article 131.
  • The matter was referred to a larger bench for final judgment.
Kerala’s anti-CAA suit (2019)


  • The state of Kerala challenged the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in the Supreme Court, saying it violated the Constitution and is against the principle of secularism.
  • The case is still pending.
Chhattisgarh’s suit against NIA Act (2019)
  • The Chhattisgarh Government invoked Article 131 to challenge the National Investigating Act. The case is pending.

Article 131: Background

  • The Article 131 gives exclusive jurisdiction to the SC to hear and determine a dispute originating between States, or between States and the Union.
  • Indian Constitution has been designed to act as both unitary as well as federal according to the requirements of time and circumstances.
  • The framers of the Constitution expected differences to arise between the Centre and States due to this quasi-federal structure and dual polity.
  • To resolve such issues in future, original and exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 131, was added to the Constitution.


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