The idea of creation of Zonal Councils was first of all mooted by the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1956. The zonal councils have been established by the state reorganization act 1956 to advise on matters of common interest to each of the five zones, into which the territory of India has been divided.
Zonal Councils are not Constitutional bodies akin to the Interstate Council. However, since they have been established via the part III of the States Reorganization Act of 1956, they are statutory bodies.
In India, at present, there are 6 Zonal Council. Originally five councils were created as per the States Reorganization Act 1956 as follows:
- Northern Zonal Council: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh
- Central Zonal Council: Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh
- Eastern Zonal Council: Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Sikkim and West Bengal;
- Western Zonal Council: Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli
- Southern Zonal Council: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
North Eastern Council
The North eastern council was set up in 1971 to deal with the problems of seven north east states of India. It was set up under the legislation called North Eastern Council Act, 1972. The State of Sikkim has also been included in the North Eastern Council vide North Eastern Council (Amendment) Act, 2002 notified on 23rd December, 2002.Consequently, action for exclusion of Sikkim as member of Eastern Zonal Council has been initiated by Ministry of Home Affairs. The chairman of the Zonal council is Union Home Minister and Chief Ministers of the States included in each zone act as Vice-Chairman of the Zonal Council for that zone by rotation, each holding office for a period of one year at a time.