The distribution of legislative power between Centre and states is the most important aspect of Indian federal scheme. Seventh schedule of the constitution had made elaborate provisions for the division of legislative powers through lists (List l –Union list, List ll-State list, List lll- Concurrent list).
Despite the fact that the items in the lists are clear, there may arise some conflicts between Centre and state regarding the legislative capacity. Eg; Animal husbandry v Prevention of cruelty against animals.(Both the items are closely related one in State list and other in concurrent list)
The constitution under Art 246 provides for a scheme of hierarchy with Union list at the apex followed by concurrent list and then state list ie in case of a dispute regarding the legislative competency in a particular matter which can fall under items in different lists, the union list will prevail over the other two lists. Similarly in case of a dispute between concurrent list and state list the former will prevail.
Under Art 131 the exclusive jurisdiction regarding interpretation of lists lies with the Supreme Court and the court while dealing with such disputes applies certain principles of interpretation such as “harmonious interpretation”, “Doctrine of pith and substance”, “doctrine of colorable legislation”
In case of overlapping of subject matters before giving predominance to one list over other the court will try to construe the entries so as to reconcile the conflict and avoid overlapping. This method is called harmonious interpretation. The court have time and again come to a conclusion that even after applying the principle of harmonization , the conflict exist then the hierarchy mentioned under Art 246 shall apply which leads to “federal Supremacy” which is evident from other provisions like Art 248- Residuary powers, Provisions for union legislations in five exceptional cases