Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

[pib] Samvidhaan Hatya Diwas’ on 25th June Every Year

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: National Emergency under Art. 352

Why in the News?

The Government of India has decided to observe 25th June every year as ‘Samvidhaan Hatya Diwas.’ 

National Emergency imposition in India

  • June 25, 2025, will mark fifty years since the imposition of the Emergency.
  • The Emergency lasted from June 25, 1975, to March 21, 1977.
  • It was characterized by the suspension of civil liberties, press freedom, mass arrests, the cancellation of elections, and rule by decree.

What was the Emergency?

  • PM Indira Gandhi’s government used constitutional provisions to impose sweeping executive and legislative control.
  • Opposition leaders were jailed, and fundamental rights, including freedom of speech and expression, were curtailed, leading to press censorship.
  • The federal structure was effectively converted into a unitary one, with the Union controlling state governments.
  • Parliament extended its term, made laws on state subjects, and extended the Union’s executive powers to the states.

Legal and Constitutional Sanction

  • Article 352 allowed the President to proclaim an emergency if India’s security was threatened by war, external aggression, or armed rebellion.
  • In 1975, “internal disturbancewas used as grounds for the Emergency, citing incitements against the police and armed forces.
  • This was the only instance of emergency due to “internal disturbance,” later removed by the 44th Amendment in 1978.
    • Article 358 suspended limitations on Article 19 (“Right to freedom”).
    • Article 359 allowed the President to suspend the right to court enforcement of rights during an emergency.

Political and Social Circumstances: A Timeline 

  • In 1974, the Navnirman movement against corruption in Gujarat led to President’s Rule.
  • Inspired by Navnirman, a student movement in Bihar, led by Jayaprakash Narayan (JP), aimed to cleanse the country of corruption and misgovernance.
  • In May 1974, George Fernandes led a massive railway workers’ strike.
  • On June 5, 1974, JP called for “Sampoorna Kranti” (total revolution).
  • On June 12, 1975, Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court convicted Indira Gandhi of electoral malpractice.
  • On June 25, 1975, President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed signed the Proclamation of Emergency, cutting power to major newspapers and informing the Cabinet the next morning.

Impact on Opposition Leaders, Media, and Political Dissenters

  • Almost all opposition leaders, including JP, were detained under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA).
  • Newspapers faced pre-censorship, with UNI and PTI merged into a state-controlled agency, Samachar.
  • More than 250 journalists were jailed, and The Indian Express resisted by printing blank spaces when stories were censored.
  • Sanjay Gandhi’s “five-point programme” included forced family planning and slum clearance, leading to forced sterilizations and violent clashes.

Sanjay Gandhi’s “Five-Point Programme”

Sanjay Gandhi, the younger son of then PM, Mrs. Indira Gandhi had come forward with a programme to ‘improve’ the condition of the poor people.

His programme can be divided under five Headings, i.e.

  1. Adult Education.
  2. To abolish Dowry.
  3. To Grow more trees.
  4. Family planning – only two children.
  5. Eradication of caste system.

Legal Changes during the Emergency

  • With opposition leaders in jail, Parliament passed amendments barring judicial review of the Emergency and securing the Prime Minister’s election.
  • The 42nd Amendment expanded Union authority over states and gave Parliament unbridled power to amend the Constitution.
  • In ADM Jabalpur vs. Shivkant Shukla (1976), the Supreme Court ruled that detention without trial was legal during an emergency, with Justice H.R. Khanna dissenting.

Lifting the Emergency and Aftermath

  • Indira Gandhi lifted the Emergency in early 1977, leading to her defeat in the elections.
  • The Janata Party emerged victorious, with Morarji Desai becoming India’s first non-Congress Prime Minister.
  • The Janata government reversed many constitutional changes from the 42nd Amendment, made judicial review of emergency proclamations possible, and removed “internal disturbance” as grounds for emergency imposition.

PYQ:

[2022] Which of the following is/are the exclusive power(s) of Lok Sabha?

  1. To ratify the declaration of Emergency
  2. To pass a motion of no-confidence against the Council of Ministers
  3. To impeach the President of India

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3

(d) 3 only

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

On expunction powers in Parliament   

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Motion of Thanks; Parliamentary privileges; Article 87; Rajya Sabha and Loksabha Rules;

Mains level: Can a member of the Lok Sabha direct a remark against a Minister?

Why in the News? 

The 18th Lok Sabha’s special session featured intense debates on the ‘Motion of Thanks’ to the President’s address, culminating in disputes over expunged remarks by Opposition leaders.

What are expunged remarks?

Expunged remarks in Parliament refer to the words deemed defamatory, indecent, or unparliamentary by the presiding officer and are deleted from the official record.

What is a ‘Motion of Thanks’?

  • A Motion of Thanks is moved in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha after the President’s address (Article 87) by an MP of the ruling party, following which it is debated in both the Houses.
  • It is a customary practice, adopted from the British Parliament. The Indian Constitution does not provide for any such motion, except direction that each House shall discuss the matters contained in the address.
  • In most cases, three days are set aside for a discussion of the Motion of Thanks and the members are at liberty to speak on any matter of national or international importance and other issues.

Why did the Opposition engage in a war of words with the government over expunging certain remarks?

  • The expunging of critical remarks escalated tensions between the Opposition and the government, leading to a verbal clash during the parliamentary session.
  • There were concerns about transparency in the expunction process, with accusations of biased decisions by the presiding officers.
    • The opposition alleged that there were different standards for expunging remarks made by their leaders compared to those made by ruling party members.
    • Opposition members argued that their remarks critical of the Prime Minister and the ruling party were unfairly expunged, infringing on their Parliamentary Privilege of Free speech.

What is the process for ‘expunging remarks’ in Parliament?

  • Presiding Officer’s Discretion: Under Rule 261 in Rajya Sabha and Rules 380 and 381 in Lok Sabha, the Chairman or Speaker can order expunction if words are deemed defamatory, indecent, unparliamentary, or undignified.
    • If objectionable words are used, the Chair may request their withdrawal; if not complied with, the words are expunged immediately.
  • Recording Changes: Expunged portions are marked with asterisks and a footnote explaining that they were expunged as ordered by the Chair.
  • Publication Restrictions: Media are provided with a list of expunged words/phrases and are prohibited from publishing them to avoid a breach of parliamentary privilege.

Can a member of the Lok Sabha direct a remark against a Minister?

  • Parliamentary Privilege: Members of Parliament (MPs) have the privilege of ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression’ within the House.
    • This includes the right to question the conduct, policies, or actions of Ministers during parliamentary debates without fear of legal repercussions.
  • Procedural Requirements: According to parliamentary rules (Rule 353 in Lok Sabha), if an MP wishes to make an allegation against a Minister, they are required to provide advance notice.
    • This notice allows the Minister in question to prepare a response or provide facts to address the allegation during the debate.
  • Government Accountability: MPs play a crucial role in holding the government accountable to Parliament and the public. Allegations made against Ministers are part of this oversight function, ensuring transparency and accountability in governance.
    • However, these allegations must be made in adherence to parliamentary decorum and procedural rules to maintain fairness and order in debates.

What do the various rules state?

  • Rajya Sabha (Rule 261): Allows the Chairman to expunge defamatory, indecent, unparliamentary, or undignified words from proceedings.
  • Lok Sabha (Rules 380 and 381): Similar provisions for the Speaker to expunge objectionable remarks from parliamentary records.
  • Scope of Expunction: Rules also cover situations where remarks are detrimental to the national interest, offensive to dignitaries, or likely to affect religious or communal sensitivities.
  • Digital Age Challenges: Despite expunction, digital recordings and social media can perpetuate expunged remarks, challenging the effectiveness of traditional expunction practices.

Way forward: 

  • Enhanced Monitoring and Control: Implement advanced monitoring tools that can detect and automatically blur or mute expunged remarks in live broadcasts and recordings of parliamentary proceedings. This can help prevent the inadvertent spread of expunged content on digital platforms.
  • Public Awareness and Education: Encourage responsible reporting and sharing practices to uphold the integrity of expunctions in parliamentary records.

Mains PYQ: 

Q ‘Once a Speaker, Always a Speaker’! Do you think this practice should be adopted to impart objectivity to the office of the Speaker of Lok Sabha? What could be its implications for the robust functioning of parliamentary business in India? (UPSC IAS/2020)

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What is the role of the Lok Sabha Leader of Opposition?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha

Mains level: Significance of the Leader of Opposition

Why in the news? 

For a decade, the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha remained vacant due to the absence of any party meeting the customary threshold of one-tenth of the House’s strength, now filled by Rae Bareli MP Rahul Gandhi.

Leader of Opposition in the past:

 

Who can serve as Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha?

  • Legal Definition: According to The Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977, the Leader of the Opposition is a member of the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha who leads the largest party in opposition to the government, recognised by the Speaker (Lok Sabha) or Chairman (Rajya Sabha).
  • Needed Strength: The leader must lead the party with the greatest numerical strength among the opposition parties in the respective House.
  • Recognition: The Speaker (Lok Sabha) or Chairman (Rajya Sabha) is mandated to recognize the leader of the largest opposition party as the Leader of the Opposition, irrespective of the party having a minimum threshold of 10% seats in the House.

Significance of the positions and its significant role in Indian Political Democracy

  • Voice of the Opposition: The Leader of the Opposition serves as the primary spokesperson for the opposition in the House, articulating their views, criticisms, and alternative policies to those of the government.
  • Role in Committees: The Leader of Opposition plays a crucial role in high-powered committees responsible for appointments to key posts like the Director of CBI, Central Vigilance Commissioner, and others. This ensures a bipartisan approach in crucial appointments.
  • Ceremonial Role: The Leader of Opposition enjoys ceremonial privileges such as sitting in the front row during important occasions like the President’s Address to Parliament, symbolizing their role as a significant political figure.
  • Constitutional Checks and Balances: By providing an institutionalized position for the opposition, the Leader of Opposition ensures checks and balances on the ruling party’s power, fostering democratic accountability and oversight.
  • Precedence and Protocol: In the order of precedence, the Leader of Opposition ranks alongside Union Cabinet Ministers and other senior officials, reflecting their role in the functioning of the parliamentary democracy.

Conclusion: The Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, recognized per the 1977 Act, leads the largest opposition party, ensuring a vital role in governance oversight, committee appointments, and parliamentary protocol, crucial for democratic checks and balances.

Mains PYQ: 

Q The Indian Constitution has provisions for holding joint sessions of the two houses of the Parliament. Enumerate the occasions when this would normally happen and also the occasions when it cannot, with reasons thereof. (UPSC IAS/2017)

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Who is the Pro-Tem Speaker of Lok Sabha and how is an MP chosen for the role?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Pro-Tem Speaker of Lok Sabha

Why in the News?

  • The 18th Lok Sabha will convene its first session very soon. A new Speaker of the House will be elected during this session.
    • Until the election of the new Speaker, a pro-tem Speaker will be appointed to administer the oath to the new Members of Parliament.

Who is a Pro-tem Speaker?

  • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha oversees the day-to-day proceedings of the House.
  • According to Article 94 of the Indian Constitution, the outgoing Speaker continues in office until the first meeting of the new Lok Sabha.
  • A pro-tem Speaker is appointed temporarily to manage certain duties until the new Speaker is elected.
  • The Constitution does NOT mention explicitly about the post.
    • However, the ‘Handbook on the Working of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs provides guidelines on the appointment and duties of the Speaker pro-tem.
  • Functions:
    • The primary duty of the pro-tem Speaker is to administer oaths to the new MPs, as mandated by Article 99 of the Constitution.

Appointment of the Pro-tem Speaker

  • When the Speaker’s post is vacant before the new Lok Sabha convenes, the PRESIDENT appoints a Member of the House as the Speaker pro-tem.
    • The President administers the oath to the Speaker pro-tem at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
  • Generally, three other elected members of the Lok Sabha are also appointed by the President to assist in the oath-taking process.
  • The SENIORMOST members, in terms of years of service, are usually chosen for this role, though there can be exceptions.

Process of Administering Oaths

  • The Legislative I Section of the Government of India prepares a list of the seniormost Lok Sabha members after the formation of the new government.
  • This list is submitted to the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs or the Prime Minister, who identifies the Speaker pro-tem and the three other members for oath-taking.
  • After the Prime Minister’s approval, the consent of the selected members is obtained by the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, usually over the telephone.
  • The Minister then submits a note to the President seeking approval for the appointments and the date and time for the swearing-in ceremony.
  • Upon the President’s approval, the Ministry informs the Speaker pro-tem and the other members about their appointments.
  • The Speaker pro-tem then administers the oath to the other three members in the Lok Sabha.

PYQ:

[2024] With reference to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, consider the following statements :

While any resolution for the removal of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha is under consideration

  1. He/She shall not preside.
  2. He/She shall not have the right to speak.
  3. He/She shall not be entitled to vote on the resolution in the first instance.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What are the functions of Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India’s ministerial portfolio system and its features

Why in the News?

  • President Droupadi Murmu administered oaths to the Central Council of Ministers (CoM) of the new NDA government, comprising a larger team compared to the previous term.
    • The Council includes 30 cabinet ministers, five Ministers of State (Independent Charge), and 36 Ministers of State, with the Prime Minister leading the team.

About Central Council of Ministers

  • The Central CoM is a crucial part of India’s governance system.
  • Members: It consists of the Prime Minister (Head), Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State, and Deputy Ministers.
  • History:
    • Portfolio System: The system of the CoM finds its roots in the Indian Councils Act of 1861, introduced by Lord Canning going parallel with the British Parliamentary System.

Constitutional Provisions

Articles 74 to 78 in Part V of the Indian Constitution broadly deal with the Central Council of Ministers.

Union Executive: The Union Executive encompasses the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Union Council of Ministers, and Attorney General of India, collectively responsible for the country’s administration.

Role of the Prime Minister

  • The Prime Minister is the head of the Central Council of Ministers, exercising executive authority and decision-making powers on key policy issues and unallocated portfolios.
  • Responsibilities: Prime Minister Modi oversees critical ministries such as Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, and Department of Space, while also leading government bodies like the Cabinet Secretariat and NITI Aayog.

Functions and Duties of CoM

1. Policy Formulation and Implementation:

  • Formulating Policies: The Council of Ministers, particularly the Cabinet, is tasked with formulating policies crucial for the nation’s development and welfare.
  • Policy Coordination: It ensures coordination among various government departments and agencies for effective policy implementation.

2. Executive Functions:

  • Real Executive Authority: The Council of Ministers acts as the real executive authority, exercising executive powers on behalf of the President.
  • Administration: It oversees the day-to-day administration of the country, ensuring the smooth functioning of government affairs.
  • Emergency Powers: During emergencies, the Council of Ministers advises the President on the exercise of emergency powers and crisis management.

3. Legislative Functions:

  • Bills and Legislation: Ministers actively participate in the legislative process by introducing bills, piloting them through Parliament, and ensuring their passage.
  • Policy Advocacy: They advocate for government policies and bills in Parliament, engaging in debates and discussions to garner support.
  • Budgetary Process: The Council of Ministers prepares and presents the annual budget, guiding fiscal policies and financial allocations.

4. Financial Management:

  • Budget Preparation: It plays a significant role in preparing the national budget, and outlining revenue and expenditure plans for the fiscal year.
  • Financial Administration: The Council oversees financial administration, ensuring compliance with budgetary provisions and efficient resource utilization.
  • Taxation and Fiscal Policy: Ministers propose taxation measures and formulate fiscal policies to promote economic growth and stability.

Who are the Cabinet Ministers?

  • The Cabinet Ministers are senior members of the Central Council of Ministers who head key government departments or ministries.
  • Typically, Cabinet Ministers are appointed by the Prime Minister and are part of the Cabinet, which is the core decision-making body in the government.
  • Each Cabinet Minister typically manages a specific portfolio aligned with the government’s priorities and responsibilities.
    • Examples: Minister of Finance, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Defence, Minister of External Affairs, Minister of Health, Minister of Education, and others.
  • The term ‘Cabinet’ was inserted in Art. 352 of the Constitution by the 44th Amendment Act 1978.
  • It did not find a place in the original text of the Constitution.

Difference between Ministers of State (Independent Charge) and Ministers of State:

Ministers of State (Independent Charge) Ministers of State
Authority Have independent portfolios Assist Cabinet Ministers
Reporting Structure Directly report to PM/President Report to and assist Cabinet Ministers
Accountability Fully responsible for their departments Assist Cabinet Ministers in tasks
Protocol Status Equivalent to Cabinet Ministers in status Lower protocol status
Attendance in Cabinet Meetings May attend if their portfolios are discussed Not regular attendees

 

PYQ:

[2013] Consider the following statements:

  1. The Council of Ministers in the Centre shall be collectively responsible to the Parliament.
  2. The Union Ministers shall hold the office at the pleasure of the President of India.
  3. The Prime Minister shall communicate to the President about the proposals for legislation.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

[2007] Assertion (A): The Council of Ministers in the Union of India is collectively responsible both to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

Reason (R): The Members of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha are eligible to be the Ministers of the Union Government.

Choose the correct Code:

(a) Both A are R are true and R is the correct explanation of A

(b) Both A and R are true but R is not a correct explanation of A

(c) A is true but R is false

(d) A is false but R is true

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What are the powers of the Speaker, why is the post crucial?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Constitutional mandate of the Speaker

Mains level: Powers of the Speaker

Why in the News?

The pivotal role of the Speaker in parliamentary democracy is underscored as both the TDP and JD(U), crucial allies within the NDA, compete for the position, highlighting its significance.

Constitutional Mandate:

  • Speaker and Deputy Speaker are elected as per Article 93 of the Constitution, with the Speaker chosen by a simple majority.
  • The speaker’s term ends with the House dissolution and no-confidence motion can be moved against the Speaker.
  • No specific qualifications for the Speaker, who is distinct from other members.

Powers of the Speaker

  • Conducting the House: The Speaker decides House conduct and government business, ensuring adherence to rules, crucial for opposition participation. There are Rules and Procedure for the functioning of the House, but the Speaker has vast powers in ensuring these Rules are followed, and in choosing procedures.
  • Questions & Records: The Speaker holds authority over determining the validity of queries raised by members and overseeing the publication of House proceedings. The Speaker possesses the power to remove, wholly or partially, statements deemed unparliamentary.
  • Voice Votes, Division: The speaker can push bills through by voice vote or division, crucial for the legislative process.
    • As per the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, if the Speaker thinks that is “unnecessarily claimed”, simply ask the members who are for ‘Aye’ and those for ‘No’ respectively to rise in their places and decide.
  • No-Confidence Motion: A pivotal moment where the Speaker’s neutrality significantly affects the Opposition is during the presentation of a motion of no-confidence against the government.
    • In 2018, when notices for a no-confidence motion were submitted by the YSRCP and TDP, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan postponed the House multiple times before acknowledging the motion and conducting the vote.
  • Casting Vote: As per Article 100 of the Constitution, pertaining to voting in the Houses, the Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha or the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, or any individual acting in such a capacity, “shall refrain from voting initially but must cast a deciding vote in the event of a tie.”
  • His Removal:
    • Motion: A member of the Lok Sabha gives a written notice for the removal of the Speaker, citing specific grounds such as misconduct or inability to perform duties.
    • Support: The motion needs support from at least 50 members to be admitted for discussion in the House.
    • Resolution: Once admitted, the House discusses the motion. If the majority of members present and voting support the motion, a resolution for the Speaker’s removal is passed.
Note: During the process of removal of the Lok Sabha Speaker in India, the Speaker typically remains present and presides over the proceedings until the resolution for their removal is passed. The Speaker maintains their role in overseeing the House’s functioning unless and until the majority of members vote in favor of the motion to remove them. Once the resolution is passed and approved by the President, the Speaker ceases to hold office and their duties are formally relinquished.

Disqualification of Members

  • Power of the Speaker: The Speaker of the House holds the authority to disqualify legislators who defect from their party, as per the provisions of the Tenth Schedule.
  • Introduction of the Anti-Defection Law: The Tenth Schedule, also known as the anti-defection law, was incorporated into the Constitution in 1985 through the Fifty-Second (Amendment) Act.
  • Judicial Review: The Supreme Court, in the landmark case of Kihoto Hollohan versus Zachillhu in 1992, upheld the power vested in the Speaker to decide on defection cases. It ruled that only the final order of the Speaker is subject to judicial review.
  • Impact on Government Stability: Defections can change the numerical strength of political parties in the House, potentially destabilizing governments if members defect in significant numbers. Timely action by the Speaker in disqualifying defective members is crucial to maintaining the integrity of the Tenth Schedule and ensuring that governments retain their majority.
  • Supreme Court Directives: The Supreme Court has issued directives emphasizing the need for Speakers to expedite disqualification proceedings. For instance, in 2020, it ruled that Speakers must decide on disqualification pleas within three months, except in exceptional circumstances.
  • Impact on Government Formation: Delays in deciding disqualification petitions can have significant political ramifications, as seen in cases where governments have collapsed due to prolonged delays in addressing defection issues.
  • Case Example: In 2023, the Supreme Court directed the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker to expedite disqualification proceedings against members of factions within the Shiv Sena party. Prolonged delays in these proceedings contributed to the collapse of the government led by Uddhav Thackeray.

Conclusion: The Speaker holds significant powers in conducting the House, ensuring adherence to rules, deciding on crucial matters like no-confidence motions, and maintaining political stability through the judicious application of these powers.

Mains PYQ: 

Q ‘Once a Speaker, Always a Speaker’! Do you think this practice should be adopted to impart objectivity to the office of the Speaker of Lok Sabha? What could be its implications for the robust functioning of parliamentary business in India? (UPSC IAS/2020)

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

President appoints Narendra Modi as PM-Designate

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Appointment of PM, Powers and Functions

Why in the News?

Narendra Modi will take the oath as the Prime Minister for a third consecutive term, following an invitation from President Droupadi Murmu to form the government.

Constitutional Provisions for PM Post

  • Article 75: It states that the President shall appoint the Prime Minister, who is usually the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha (House of the People).
  • Article 74: The Prime Minister is the head of the Council of Ministers and provides advice to the President on matters of governance.

Appointment of the Prime Minister

The appointment of the Prime Minister of India involves specific constitutional provisions supervised by the President. Key features related to the appointment of the Prime Minister as mentioned in the Constitution of India include:

  • The Prime Minister is appointed permanently by the President of India.
  • The President invites the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha to form the government.
  • If no political party holds a majority, the President can use discretionary powers to appoint the Prime Minister.
  • The President may invite the leader of the largest party or coalition to seek a vote of confidence from the Lok Sabha, with a tenure of about a month to secure this vote.

Position of Prime Minister in India’s Democratic set-up         

  • Head of Government: The Prime Minister is the chief executive authority in the country, responsible for leading the government and overseeing the functioning of various ministries and departments.
  • Leader of the Council of Ministers: The Prime Minister is the leader of the Council of Ministers, which comprises cabinet ministers, ministers of state, and deputy ministers. They coordinate the activities of the government and guide policy decisions.
  • Advisor to the President: While the President of India is the head of state, the Prime Minister acts as the president’s chief advisor and assists in exercising executive powers.
  • Principal Link between President and Parliament: The Prime Minister communicates the decisions of the Council of Ministers to the President and represents the government in Parliament.
  • Symbol of Unity and Stability: The Prime Minister symbolizes the unity and stability of the country’s governance. They provide leadership and direction to the nation, fostering a sense of unity and purpose among the citizens.
  • International Representation: The Prime Minister represents India on the international stage and plays a significant role in foreign policy formulation. They engage in diplomatic relations, attend international summits, and represent India’s interests globally.
  • Crisis Management: During times of crisis, such as natural disasters, security threats, or economic challenges, the Prime Minister takes charge of crisis management efforts and leads the government’s response to address the situation.

Powers and Functions of the Prime Minister

The Indian Constitution outlines the powers and functions of the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President and holds significant authority over the President, Council of Ministers, and parliamentary houses. These powers include:

  • Function Relative to the President: The Prime Minister serves as the main channel of communication between the President and the Council of Ministers, overseeing the administration of Union affairs and appointing key administrative officials.
  • Functions Relative to the Council of Ministers: The Prime Minister advises on the nomination and selection of Council Ministers, can allocate and shuffle ministerial departments, and has the authority to demand resignations from ministers. The resignation of the Prime Minister leads to the dissolution of the Council of Ministers.
  • Parliamentary Functions: The Prime Minister leads the lower parliamentary house (Lok Sabha), can suggest the dissolution of the Lok Sabha, and is responsible for announcing and introducing government policies in parliamentary sessions.
  • Miscellaneous Functions: The Prime Minister holds additional roles such as chairman of the National Water Resource Council, NITI Aayog, National Integration Council, Inter-State Council, and NDA, among others.

Appointment, Tenure, and Removal

Eligibility: According to Articles 84 and 75 of the Constitution of India, the Prime Minister must:

  • Be a citizen of India.
  • Be a member of the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha, or become a member within six months of selection.
  • Be above 25 years of age if a Lok Sabha member, or above 30 years if a Rajya Sabha member.
  • Not hold any office of profit under the government of India or any state government.

Oaths of Office and Secrecy:

Before entering office, the Prime Minister must take an oath of office and secrecy in the presence of the President of India, as per the Third Schedule of the Constitution.

Tenure and Removal from Office:

  • The Prime Minister serves at the “pleasure of the President,” but must maintain the confidence of the Lok Sabha.
  • The term can end if a simple majority of Lok Sabha members no longer have confidence in the Prime Minister, known as a vote of no-confidence.
  • A Prime Minister can also resign from office. Morarji Desai was the first to do so while in office.
  • Additionally, ceasing to meet the qualifications under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, can lead to removal from office.

PYQ:

[2015] Consider the following statements:

  1. The Executive Power of the union of India is vested in the Prime Minister.
  2. The Prime Minister is the ex officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

[2019] Consider the following statements:

  1. The 44th Amendment to the Constitution of India introduced an Article placing the election of the Prime Minister beyond judicial review.
  2. The Supreme Court of India struck down the 99th Amendment to the Constitution of India as being violative of the independence of judiciary.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What explains the frequent disagreements between state governments and Governors?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: law on Governor-state relations

Mains level: Reason behind the Governor-state friction

 Why in the news? 

Allegations by the regional government (Recently Kerala govt.) on the Centre using the Governor’s position to destabilize state governments have been made since the 1950s. This calls for Governor-state relations.

What is the law on Governor-state relations?

  • The Governor, although meant to be apolitical and act on the advice of the council of ministers, holds significant powers granted under the Constitution. 
  • These include giving or withholding assent to bills passed by the state legislature and determining the time needed for a party to prove its majority in cases of a hung verdict in an election.
  • While the Constitution grants powers to the Governor, there are no specific provisions on how the Governor and the state government should publicly engage when there is a difference of opinion.

What have been the friction points in recent years?

  • Controversial Actions: Some actions by governors have sparked controversy, such as dissolving assemblies amidst government formation discussions (Jammu and Kashmir), and inviting leaders without public consultation (Maharashtra) this government lasted just 80 hours. And Six months later, the Governor refused to nominate CM Uddhav Thackeray.
  • Interference in State Affairs: Governors have been criticized for allegedly interfering in state affairs, including commenting on law and order situations (West Bengal), and refusing requests from state governments (Kerala) regarding legislative matters.
  • Legal Challenges: Some decisions made by governors have faced legal challenges, such as the invitation to the BJP to form the government in Karnataka, which was challenged and subsequently modified by the Supreme Court.

Dismissal after independence:

  • Dismissals in the 1950s: Allegations of the Centre using the Governor’s position to destabilize state governments date back to the 1950s. In 1959, Kerala’s E M S Namboodiripad government was dismissed based on a report by the Governor.
  • Dismissals in the Post-1960s: Several state governments were dismissed between 1965 and 1990 through President’s Rule orders issued by Governors. These dismissals included governments such as Birender Singh in Haryana (1967), M Karunanidhi in Tamil Nadu (1976), and N T Rama Rao in Andhra Pradesh (1984).
  • Decrease in Dismissals: The frequency of state government dismissals decreased during the coalition era at the Centre and the emergence of strong regional parties. This suggests a shift in political dynamics and possibly less direct interference by the Centre through Governors in state politics.

Causes of such Governor-State Frictions:

  • Answerable only to the Centre: The Governor is not directly accountable to the people and is answerable only to the Centre. 
  • Appointment and Tenure: The Governor is appointed by the President on the Centre’s advice and holds office at the pleasure of the President. Although the tenure is typically five years 
  • Lack of Impeachment Provision: There is no provision for impeaching the Governor, further limiting mechanisms for holding them accountable.
  • Absence of Guidelines: The Constitution does not provide clear guidelines for the exercise of the Governor’s powers, including the appointment of a Chief Minister or the dissolution of the Assembly. Additionally, there are no limits set for how long a Governor can withhold assent to a Bill, raising questions about arbitrary use of power.
  • Governor as Agent of the Centre: The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution highlighted concerns that Governors may act in accordance with instructions from the Union Council of Ministers, leading to perceptions that they are “agents of the Centre.”

Reform suggested by the ARC of 1968 to the Sarkaria Commission of 1988:

  • Selection Process: Establishing a panel consisting of the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, and Chief Minister to select Governors. 
  • Fixed Tenure: Recommendations advocate for fixing the Governor’s tenure for five years. 
  • Impeachment Provision: Suggestions include introducing a provision to impeach the Governor by the State Assembly. 

Conclusion: Governors often side with the central government and aren’t accountable enough. Kerala’s case shows a problem with the law. Proposed changes aim to make things clearer and fairer.


Mains PYQs

Discuss the essential conditions for exercise of the legislative powers by the Governor. Discuss the legality of re-promulgation of ordinances by the Governor without placing them before the Legislature. (UPSC IAS/2022)

Q Whether the Supreme Court Judgement (July 2018) can settle the political tussle between the Lt. Governor and elected government of Delhi? Examine. (UPSC IAS/2018)

 https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/state-government-governors-powers-disagreements-9240141/

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Kerala to challenge withholding of Presidential Assent for its Bills

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Powers and Functions of the President of India;

Mains level: Judicial Review; Powers and Functions of the President of India;

Why in the news? 

The unusual move of the Kerala Government will open doors for a Constitutional debate on the scope of a Judicial Review of the decisions of the President of India.

Context-

  • The President had withheld assent to Kerala University Laws (Amendment No. 2) Bill 2022, University Law Amendment Bill, 2022, and the University Law Amendment Bill, 2021 from the seven Bills that were referred to her in November 2023.

Key issues as per this situation- 

  • Legal Challenge by Kerala: Kerala plans to challenge the legality of President Droupadi Murmu withholding her assent for certain Bills passed by the Kerala Legislature.
  • Scope of Judicial Review: Kerala’s move will open doors for a Constitutional debate on the scope of judicial review of the decisions of the President of India. The state argues that the legality of the President’s decisions and the factors influencing them can be judicially reviewed.

The power of the President to withhold assent to a state bill is derived from the Constitution of India:

  • Constitutional Authority: The power of the President to withhold assent to a state bill is outlined in Article 201 of the Constitution of India.
  • Procedure: According to Article 200, when a bill is passed by the state legislature, it is presented to the Governor for assent. The Governor then forwards the bill to the President for consideration.
  • Discretionary Power: The President has discretionary authority to either give assent to the bill or withhold it. This means the President can refuse to approve the bill if deemed necessary.
  • Reasons for Withholding Assent: The President may choose to withhold assent for various reasons, such as if the bill violates constitutional provisions, conflicts with central legislation, or is against public interest.
  • Constitutional Morality: The President’s decision to withhold assent should be guided by constitutional principles and morality. This ensures that the exercise of this power is in line with the spirit of the Constitution.

What are the Implications of the President withholding assent to a state bill?

  • Legislative Stalemate: Withholding assent to a state bill effectively prevents it from becoming law. This can lead to a legislative stalemate, especially if the bill is crucial for the functioning of the state government or addresses pressing issues.
  • Impact on State Governance: The inability to enact a state bill due to the President’s refusal to give assent can hinder the governance and administration of the state. It may delay or impede the implementation of policies and measures intended to address local challenges or meet the needs of the state’s residents.
  • Constitutional Conflict: The withholding of assent by the President may lead to constitutional conflicts between the state government and the Union government. It raises questions about the division of powers between the Centre and the states and the extent of the President’s authority to state legislation.
  • Political Implications: The President’s decision to withhold assent to a state bill can have political repercussions. It may strain the relationship between the state government and the central government, especially if there are underlying political tensions or differences in ideology.
  • Legal Challenges: The state government may choose to challenge the President’s decision to withhold assent through legal means. This could involve seeking judicial review to determine the legality and constitutionality of the President’s action, especially if it is perceived as arbitrary or mala fide.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Governor stalls Ponmudy’s return to Cabinet

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Discretionary Powers of Governor;

Mains level: State Legislation; Discretionary Powers of Governor;

Why in the news? 

TN Governor R.N. Ravi has declined to re-induct senior DMK leader and former Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy into the Cabinet, citing concerns about Constitutional Morality.

Context-

  • Despite the SC’s suspension of Ponmudy’s conviction, the Governor believes his involvement in serious corruption as a public servant renders his re-induction inappropriate.
  • The Governor’s stance emphasizes the need to uphold ethical standards in governance, especially regarding convicted individuals.

What are the key questions raised concerning the re-induct of the MLA’s in the Cabinet:

  • Constitutional Morality: Governor R.N. Ravi is concerned about upholding constitutional morality. He questions whether it would be appropriate to re-induct K. Ponmudy into the Cabinet, considering the seriousness of the corruption charges against him and the fact that his conviction was not set aside by the Supreme Court, but only temporarily suspended.
  • Legal Validity: Governor Ravi seeks the opinion of legal experts on the legality of re-inducting Ponmudy into the Cabinet without the conviction being overturned by the Supreme Court. This raises the question of whether such an action would adhere to legal principles and norms.
  • Political Implications: The differing opinions between both raise questions about the political ramifications of the decision. While the Law Minister sees no issues in Ponmudy’s swearing-in, the Governor emphasizes the need for ethical governance.
  • Timing and Elections: The timing of Ponmudy’s potential re-induction, particularly concerning the announcement of Lok Sabha elections, adds complexity to the situation. It raises questions about whether political considerations are influencing the decision-making process.
  • Disqualification and Supreme Court Stay: Ponmudy’s disqualification as an MLA due to a conviction by the Madras High Court, followed by the Supreme Court’s stay on the conviction, raises questions about the legal status of his eligibility for public office and the implications for his potential re-induction into the Cabinet.

Discretionary power of the Governor in the appointment of ministers- 

  • Outlined in Article 163: There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except insofar as he is by or under this Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion.

In the context of the appointment of ministers, the Governor’s discretionary power may be exercised in various situations, such as:

  • Selection of Ministers: Although the Chief Minister typically recommends individuals for ministerial positions, the final decision regarding their appointment rests with the Governor. The Governor may exercise discretion in approving or rejecting the Chief Minister’s recommendations based on factors such as competence, integrity, and political considerations.
  • Dismissal of Ministers: In cases where the Governor has reasons to believe that a minister is unfit to hold office or has lost the confidence of the legislature, they may use their discretionary power to dismiss the minister, even if the Chief Minister advises otherwise.
  • Interests of the state: In exercising discretionary powers, the Governor must uphold constitutional morality and act in the best interests of the state. This includes considering the integrity, qualifications, and public trust in the individuals being appointed as ministers.
  • Consultation: While the Governor is not required to consult anyone other than the Chief Minister in the appointment of ministers, they may seek advice or input from legal experts, constitutional authorities, or other relevant stakeholders to ensure a fair and transparent appointment process.

Conclusion:

Governor stalls former minister’s return, citing constitutional morality and corruption concerns. His discretion underscores ethical governance and legal validity in ministerial appointments, raising questions about political implications and timing.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Cross-Voting in Rajya Sabha Elections

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Cross-Voting in Rajya Sabha

Mains level: Exceptions to the Anti-Defection Laws

cross voting rajya sabha

In the news

  • Recent Rajya Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Karnataka have been marred by instances of cross-voting, prompting concerns over the integrity of the electoral process.

Why discuss this?

  • Understanding the legal framework governing Rajya Sabha elections and the implications of cross-voting is crucial in addressing these concerns and upholding democratic principles.

Rajya Sabha Elections and Cross-Voting

  • Constitutional Provision: Article 80 of the Constitution mandates the indirect election of Rajya Sabha representatives by the elected members of State Legislative Assemblies.
  • Historical Context: Rajya Sabha elections were traditionally uncontested until 1998, when cross-voting in Maharashtra marked a departure from this trend.

Explained: Rajya Sabha Election Process

Legal Provisions and Precedents

  • Open Ballot System: An amendment to the Representation of the People Act, 1951 in 2003 introduced open ballot voting for Rajya Sabha elections, aimed at curbing cross-voting.
  • Tenth Schedule (Anti-Defection Law): Introduced in 1985, this Schedule disqualifies legislators who voluntarily give up party membership or vote against party instructions. However, it does not apply to Rajya Sabha elections.
  • Court Rulings: The Supreme Court, in cases such as Kuldip Nayar versus Union of India (2006), upheld the open ballot system while clarifying that voting against party candidates in Rajya Sabha elections does not invoke disqualification under the Tenth Schedule.

Current Challenges and Legal Remedies

  • Cross-Voting Impact: Instances of cross-voting undermine the democratic process and erode electoral integrity.
  • Judicial Intervention: The Supreme Court may initiate suo moto proceedings or review existing judgments to address the issue of cross-voting.
  • Disqualification Criteria: Voting against party lines in Rajya Sabha elections may be considered voluntary defection, warranting disqualification under the Tenth Schedule.

Way Forward

  • Upholding the Intent: Instances of cross-voting undermine the transparency aimed at by the open ballot system, raising questions about the effectiveness of existing mechanisms.
  • Judicial Intervention: The Supreme Court’s commitment to safeguarding democracy provides hope for addressing cross-voting issues through suo moto Public Interest Litigation or appeals against disqualification rulings.
  • Revisiting Precedents: There is scope for the court to reinterpret its previous rulings in light of evolving circumstances, potentially aligning the consequences of cross-voting with the principles of the Tenth Schedule.
  • Deterrent Measures: Clarifying that cross-voting may constitute grounds for disqualification under the Tenth Schedule could serve as a deterrent against future instances.

Conclusion

  • Upholding the principles of free and fair elections requires addressing the challenge of cross-voting in Rajya Sabha elections.
  • Judicial intervention and enforcement of existing laws are essential to safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process and preserving democratic norms.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2020:

Rajya Sabha has equal powers with Lok Sabha in

(a) the matter of creating new All India Services

(b) amending the Constitution

(c) the removal of the government

(d) making cut motions

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Legal Conundrum: What constitutes a Money Bill?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Money Bill

Mains level: Legislative bypass created by Money Bills

Money Bill

Introduction

  • Against the backdrop of significant judicial pronouncements, including recent decisions on the electoral bond scheme and the Aadhaar Act, the Supreme Court grapples with a pivotal question: the delineation of a money Bill.

Why discuss this?

  • The ongoing examination before a seven-judge constitution bench highlights the crucial need to define the scope of a money Bill and its broader implications.
  • This issue carries substantial weight for legislative efficiency and constitutional adherence.

What are Money Bills?

Description
About A financial legislation exclusively dealing with revenue, taxation, government expenditures, and borrowing.
Constitutional Basis
  • Article 109: Specifies special procedure for Money Bills.
  • Article 110(1): Specifies matters related to taxation, borrowing, and appropriation of funds.
  • Article 110(3): Grants the Speaker of the Lok Sabha the final decision on whether a bill qualifies as a Money Bill.
Procedure
  • Introduction in Lok Sabha with the President’s recommendation.
  • Consideration and passage in Lok Sabha.
  • Transmission to Rajya Sabha for recommendations (no amendments).
  • Return to Lok Sabha for consideration of recommendations.
  • Acceptance or rejection of recommendations by Lok Sabha.
  • Assent by the President without the power to return for reconsideration.
Criteria for a Money Bill
  • Imposition, abolition, or regulation of taxes.
  • Regulation of borrowing or giving guarantees by the Government of India.
  • Custody of the Consolidated Fund or the Contingency Fund of India.
  • Appropriation of money from the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • Declaration of any expenditure as expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • Receipt of money into or out of the Consolidated Fund of India or the public account of India.
  • Any matter incidental to the specified criteria.
Decision Authority Speaker of the Lok Sabha has the final decision on whether a bill qualifies as a Money Bill.
President’s Role President can either accept or reject a Money Bill but cannot return it for reconsideration.
Joint Sitting No provision for Joint sitting for the passage such Bill.

 

Key Legal Precedents

[1] Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) Amendments:

  • Amendments introduced since 2015 to the PMLA expanded the Enforcement Directorate’s powers, triggering concerns over their passage as Money Bills.
  • Critics argue that such significant alterations should have undergone standard parliamentary scrutiny involving both houses.

[2] Finance Act of 2017:

  • The Finance Act of 2017, designated as a Money Bill, attracted scrutiny for purportedly aiming to reshape appointments to 19 crucial judicial tribunals.
  • Allegations surfaced suggesting a deliberate manoeuvre to enhance executive authority over these tribunals by categorizing the Act as a Money Bill.
  • Additionally, changes within the Act relaxed qualifications and experience prerequisites for staffing these pivotal judicial entities, raising concerns of dilution.

[3] Aadhaar Act, 2016:

  • The Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling upheld the validity of the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill, despite lingering legal and procedural uncertainties.
  • The government’s argument hinged on the Act’s nexus to subsidies disbursed from the Consolidated Fund of India, justifying its classification as a Money Bill.
  • However, the verdict prompted calls for a comprehensive reevaluation, reflecting lingering doubts over the Act’s classification and its implications for parliamentary oversight.

Legal Implications  

  • Parliamentary Bypass: By categorizing crucial amendments as Money Bills, the standard legislative process involving both houses of Parliament is bypassed, limiting comprehensive scrutiny and deliberation.
  • Eroding Rajya Sabha Scrutiny: Critics argue that such amendments, which often encompass far-reaching implications, should undergo thorough examination and debate in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
  • Hasty Lawmaking: Designating important legislations as Money Bills undermines the role of the Rajya Sabha, curtailing its authority in the lawmaking process.
  • Against Democratic-Ethos: This erosion of parliamentary oversight raises concerns about the equitable distribution of legislative power and the preservation of democratic principles.
  • Lack of Judicial Scrutiny: The judiciary plays a crucial role in adjudicating the legality and constitutional conformity of categorizing amendments as Money Bills.

Future Prospects

  • Impending Legal Clarity: The anticipated verdict by the seven-judge bench holds the potential to reshape legislative dynamics, potentially paving the way for renewed challenges against contentious enactments.
  • Judicial Review: The judiciary’s vigilance in scrutinizing the validity of money Bills underscores its commitment to upholding constitutional principles and safeguarding legislative integrity.
  • Democratic Accountability: The evolving jurisprudence surrounding money Bills epitomizes the judiciary’s role in navigating complex constitutional nuances, ensuring robust legislative frameworks and institutional accountability.

Conclusion

  • As the legal saga unfolds, the apex court’s forthcoming pronouncement holds profound implications for India’s legislative landscape and institutional accountability, heralding a new chapter in the nation’s constitutional journey.

Try this PYQ:

Q. Regarding the Money Bill, which of the following statements is not correct? (CSP 2018)

(a) A bill shall be deemed to be a Money Bill if it contains only provisions relating to the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax.

(b) A Money Bill has provisions for the custody of the Consolidated Fund of India or the Contingency Fund of India.

(c) A Money Bill is concerned with the appropriation of money out of the Contingency Fund of India.

(d) A Money Bill deals with the regulation of borrowing of money or giving of any guarantee by the Government of India.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

The real threat to the ‘India as we know it’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Federalism

Mains level: a critical analysis of the state of Indian democracy

Nehru Democracy Fellowship (NDF)

Central Idea:

The article by M.K. Narayanan highlights the concerning decline in parliamentary practices and the polarization of Indian politics, particularly in the lead-up to the general election. It discusses the divisive nature of recent parliamentary sessions, the erosion of democratic principles, and the growing rift between the ruling party and the opposition. Narayanan emphasizes the need for adherence to constitutional mandates, the preservation of federalism, and the importance of managing differences within a rules-based order to safeguard India’s democracy.

Key Highlights:

  • The final parliamentary session before the general election was marked by divisiveness and acrimony between the ruling party and the opposition.
  • Narayanan underscores India’s historical commitment to democracy and parliamentary practices, citing the Constitution’s provisions for Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties, and Directive Principles of State Policy.
  • Despite external stability, internal challenges persist, including potential flashpoints like the farmers’ agitation in Punjab and Haryana and unrest in the northeast.
  • The article reflects on the heightened polarization in Indian politics, with the Prime Minister accusing the opposition of divisive tactics and vice versa.
  • Issues such as the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya and attempts to enforce an Uniform Civil Code have become politicized, further exacerbating divisions.
  • The erosion of federalism is noted, with the ruling party accused of centralizing power and undermining regional parties.
  • Engineered defections to the ruling party raise concerns about the integrity of the electoral process and democratic principles.
  • The role of Governors in opposition-ruled states is contentious, with accusations of central interference leading to strained Centre-State relations.

Key Challenges:

  • Divisiveness and acrimony in parliamentary sessions.
  • Polarization and politicization of issues.
  • Erosion of federalism and centralization of power.
  • Engineered defections undermining democratic principles.
  • Tensions between Centre and opposition-ruled states.
  • Threats to constitutional mandates and democratic norms.

Main Terms and key words for answer writing:

  • Parliamentary democracy
  • Federalism
  • Polarization
  • Divisiveness
  • Constitution
  • Centre-State relations
  • Electoral integrity
  • Democratic principles
  • Rule of law
  • Defections

Important Phrases for answer quality enrichment:

  • “Divided nation”
  • “Engineered defections”
  • “Polarized politics”
  • “Centralization of power”
  • “Constitutional niceties”
  • “Rules-based order”
  • “Centre-State relations”
  • “Erosion of democratic norms”

Quotes:

  • “The unseemly spectacle has given rise to concerns about the future of parliamentary democracy in the country.”
  • “The country today appears more divided than it has at any time in the recent past.”
  • “The absence of a rules-based order… could overturn the system altogether.”
  • “Tolerating differences is the first order of priority.”
  • “Everything has to be subordinated to the requirements of the Constitution.”

Useful Statements:

  • “The erosion of democratic principles undermines the foundation of our parliamentary democracy.”
  • “The politicization of issues further exacerbates divisions and hampers constructive dialogue.”
  • “Adherence to constitutional mandates is essential to preserve the integrity of our democratic institutions.”
  • “The centralization of power at the expense of federalism threatens the balance of governance.”
  • “The integrity of the electoral process must be upheld to ensure the legitimacy of democratic outcomes.”

Examples and References:

  • The farmers’ agitation in Punjab and Haryana.
  • Tensions between the Centre and opposition-ruled states.
  • Instances of engineered defections to the ruling party.
  • Accusations of central interference in the functioning of opposition-ruled states.
  • Passage of resolutions in Parliament on contentious issues like the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

Facts and Data:

  • India’s historical commitment to democracy and adherence to constitutional principles.
  • Instances of engineered defections and accusations of central interference in opposition-ruled states.
  • Polarization and acrimony observed in parliamentary sessions leading up to the general election.

Critical Analysis:

The article provides a critical analysis of the state of Indian democracy, highlighting the erosion of parliamentary practices, growing polarization, and challenges to federalism. It underscores the need for adherence to constitutional mandates, the preservation of democratic norms, and the importance of constructive dialogue to address contentious issues. The article raises concerns about the integrity of the electoral process and the erosion of democratic principles, calling for urgent action to safeguard India’s democracy.

Way Forward:

  • Uphold constitutional mandates and democratic principles.
  • Foster constructive dialogue and mutual respect between political parties.
  • Safeguard federalism and decentralize power to promote inclusivity and diversity.
  • Ensure the integrity of the electoral process and prevent engineered defections.
  • Prioritize the national interest over partisan politics and work towards consensus-building on key issues.

Overall, the article underscores the importance of upholding democratic values and institutions to ensure the continued stability and prosperity of India’s democracy.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Governor’s Address: Insights from R. Venkataraman’s Perspective

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: President's/Governor's Address

Mains level: Significance of the address

 Introduction

  • The recent episode in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, where Governor R.N. Ravi declined to deliver the customary address, has reignited debates surrounding the significance of the Governor’s Address.
  • He actually walked out in response to an insult of National Anthem in TN Assembly.

President’s/Governor’s Address

  • Constitutional mandate: Articles 87 and 176 of the Constitution confer authority upon the President and Governor, respectively, to address the legislature.
  • Occasions for Address: The addresses are reserved for two specific occasions: the commencement of a new legislative session post-election and the inauguration of the annual legislative session.
  • Significance: Termed the President’s or Governor’s Address, these speeches are pivotal for initiating legislative proceedings.

Governor’s Address to the State Legislature: A Constitutional Obligation

  • Prescribed Duties: Article 176 delineates the Governor’s obligation to address the Legislative Assembly at the onset of each legislative year and post-general elections, with both Houses convened if a Legislative Council exists.
  • Procedural Norms: Established rules govern the time allocated for deliberating the address’s contents, ensuring parliamentary discourse.

Global Parallels: Similar Practices across Democracies

  • Cross-National Comparison: Analogous provisions are observed in democratic nations worldwide.
  • State of the Union: In the United States, it manifests as the “State of the Union” address (1790), while in the United Kingdom, it is the Queen’s Speech (1536), heralding the parliamentary year’s commencement.
  • Indian Context: India’s Presidential Address mirrors the British model, reflecting the ceremonial role of the President, a sentiment echoed during the Constitution’s framing by Dr. B R Ambedkar.

Features of the Address Content

[A] Address Content: Proposals and Achievements

  • Legislative Agenda: The President’s or Governor’s speech encapsulates legislative proposals and government policy initiatives, coupled with a retrospective glance at previous accomplishments.
  • Government Input: Inputs for this address are curated from various government ministries, embodying the administration’s agenda.

[B] Authorship and Agency: Government Responsibility

  • Constitutional Mandate: Governed by constitutional mandate, both the President and Governor are obligated to adhere to the Cabinet’s advice (1950) in their functions, including address preparation.
  • Policy Reflection: Hence, the address is meticulously crafted by the government, serving as a reflection of its policy stance.

[C] Flexibility vs. Normative Adherence: Presidential/Governor Discretion

  • Adherence to Protocol: While refusal to deliver the address is impermissible, deviations from the prepared script are permissible.
  • Instances of Departure: Instances of Governors veering off the scripted path have transpired, although such actions remain rare for Presidents.

Judicial Pronouncement: Upholding Constitutional Framework

  • Legal Precedent: The Supreme Court, in Shamsher Singh v. State of Punjab (1975), underscored the President’s (or Governor’s) adherence to Cabinet advice across functions.
  • Contested Discretion: While discretion to modify the speech is contested, any departure from parliamentary norms may invoke debate.

R. Venkataraman’s Perspective

  • Venkataraman’s Critique: R. Venkataraman, who served as President from 1987 to 1992, vehemently opposed the practice of Presidential and Governor’s addresses, deeming it a “British anachronism” and a “meaningless formality.”
  • Calls for Constitutional Amendment: Venkataraman repeatedly urged PM Rajiv Gandhi and Chandra Shekher to abolish this tradition through a Constitutional amendment, emphasizing its lack of relevance and inherent biases.

Perceptions of the Address

  • Government’s Voice: Venkataraman viewed the address as a mere reflection of the ruling regime’s perspectives, rendering Presidents and Governors mere “mouthpieces” devoid of independent expression.
  • Controversies and Criticism: He expressed dismay over controversies surrounding Governors’ addresses in states like Maharashtra and West Bengal, condemning the opposition’s heckling of figures like Governor Nurul Hasan.
  • Symbolic Adjustments: Venkataraman, in presenting his maiden Presidential address in 1988, advocated for subtle changes like replacing “My government” with “The government,” aligning with India’s constitutional ethos framed by the people.
  • Legacy of British Colonialism: He underscored the incongruity of retaining British-era conventions in India’s democratic framework, emphasizing the need for symbolic adjustments to reflect the nation’s sovereignty.

Conclusion

  • Symbol of Governance: The tradition of Presidential and Governor’s addresses, rooted in constitutional mandate, and symbolizes the fusion of ceremonial protocol with legislative functionality.
  • Executive-Legislative Nexus: As integral components of democratic governance, these addresses underscore the synergy between executive authority and parliamentary accountability, while navigating the delicate balance between tradition and evolving norms.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Floor Test in Jharkhand Assembly

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Floor Test, No confidence Motion

Mains level: Read the attached story

Introduction

  • The new government has won the trust vote on the floor of the Jharkhand Assembly. A floor test serves as a pivotal check to determine if the executive enjoys the confidence of the legislature.

What is Floor Test?

  • Definition: A floor test is a constitutional measure employed to ascertain whether the Chief Minister, appointed by the Governor, commands the majority support of the Legislative Assembly.
  • Governor’s Role: The Governor appoints the CM, typically from the party securing the majority of seats in the Assembly.
  • Voting of Confidence: If the majority is challenged or questioned, the Chief Minister must seek a vote of confidence to prove the majority among the members present and voting.
  • Consequences of Failure: Failure to secure the majority in the floor test necessitates the resignation of the Chief Minister.
  • Application: Floor tests are conducted both in the Parliament and state legislative assemblies. They are also utilized in cases of disputes within coalition governments.

Postponement of Floor Tests

  • Legal Precedent: Recent Supreme Court rulings have clarified that floor tests need not be postponed even if the decision on the disqualification of rebel members is pending.
  • Shivraj Singh Chouhan v/s Speaker Case: The 2020 case involving Shivraj Singh Chouhan established this principle.
  • Discretion in Special Cases: In exceptional situations with no clear majority, the Governor can use discretion to expedite the selection of the Chief Ministerial candidate for a floor test.

Composite Floor Test

  • Multiple Claimants: When multiple individuals stake a claim to form the government, a Composite Floor Test is conducted.
  • Majority Determination: In cases where the majority is unclear, a special session is convened to ascertain the majority.
  • Counting the Majority: Majority is determined based on those present and voting. Voting can occur through voice votes or division voting, involving electronic gadgets, ballots, or slips.
  • Speaker’s Vote: In case of a tie, the Speaker may cast the deciding vote.

Challenges with the Floor Test

  • Luring of MLAs: In some instances, ruling party MLAs may be lured with rewards or incentives, undermining the constitutionality and fairness of the floor test.
  • Constitutional and Moral Implications: Such actions are seen as constitutionally immoral and unjust, as they circumvent the Tenth Schedule through engineered defections using the judicial process.

Back2Basics: No Confidence Motion

  • Rule 198 of Lok Sabha: The process for a No Confidence Motion is explained under this rule in the Lok Sabha.
  • Constitutional provisions: While the Constitution does NOT mention the terms ‘No Confidence Motion’ or ‘floor test,’ Articles 75 and 164 establish the collective responsibility of the executive to their respective legislatures.
  • Procedure: Any Opposition member can move a no-confidence motion, which requires the backing of at least 50 members for acceptance.
  • Discussion Period: The Speaker announces a date for discussion, which must occur within 10 days from the date of acceptance.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

The road to a healthy democracy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Non-communicable diseases

Mains level: leveraging technology to empower individuals to manage their health effectively

Role of Patients in Strengthening Indian HealthCare System

Central Idea:

Prathap C. Reddy, founder and chairman of Apollo Hospitals Group, advocates for India’s transformation into a developed nation by 2047, emphasizing the crucial role of healthcare in this vision. He highlights India’s demographic advantage, technological innovations in preventive healthcare, and the potential for India to lead the world in healthcare delivery and medical value travel.

Key Highlights:

  • India’s demographic dividend, with a young population, presents a significant opportunity for development.
  • The importance of prioritizing preventive healthcare to address the growing burden of chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.
  • Technological advancements, including AI and machine learning, are revolutionizing preventive healthcare by enabling early detection and personalized prevention plans.
  • India’s healthcare sector is undergoing transformation, focusing on patient-centered care, expanded access, and quality improvement.
  • India’s healthcare infrastructure and clinical talent have gained global recognition, making it a preferred destination for medical value travel, particularly in specialized treatments like oncology, cardiology, and robotic surgeries.

Key Challenges:

  • Addressing the increasing burden of chronic diseases and lifestyle-related health issues.
  • Ensuring equitable access to preventive healthcare tools and services across all segments of the population.
  • Scaling up healthcare infrastructure and workforce to meet the growing demand, especially in rural areas.
  • Overcoming barriers to the adoption of AI-driven healthcare solutions, including data privacy concerns and regulatory challenges.
  • Balancing the need for affordable healthcare with maintaining high-quality standards in a cost-effective manner.

Key Terms:

  • Demographic dividend
  • Preventive healthcare
  • Chronic diseases
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Medical value travel
  • Patient-centered care
  • Healthcare infrastructure
  • Non-communicable diseases (NCDs)

Key Phrases:

  • “Viksit Bharat” (Developed India)
  • “Health equity for all”
  • “Clinical excellence and prowess”
  • “Patient at the absolute centre”
  • “Medical value travel hub”
  • “AI-driven healthcare solutions”

Key Quotes:

  • “India’s healthcare sector is at the cusp of transformation, potentially giving rise to a new healthcare model for the world to follow.”
  • “Preventive healthcare has touched new possibilities, empowering individuals to take control of their own health.”
  • “India stands at a pivotal moment in its healthcare journey.”
  • “Every individual and institution in the country should resolve to make India’s progress their priority.”

Key Statements:

  • India’s demographic dividend offers a unique opportunity for development, but the health of the population is crucial for maximizing this potential.
  • Technological innovations in healthcare, including AI, have the potential to revolutionize preventive care and improve health outcomes.
  • India’s healthcare sector has gained global recognition for its clinical excellence, infrastructure, and affordability, positioning it as a leader in medical value travel.

Key Examples and References:

  • Success of Apollo Hospitals Group in providing high-quality healthcare services and driving medical tourism in India.
  • Impact of technological interventions in preventive healthcare, such as AI-driven risk prediction and personalized prevention plans.
  • Growth of medical value travel industry in India, attracting patients from around the world for specialized treatments at lower costs.

Key Facts and Data:

  • India’s population exceeds 1.4 billion, with a median age of 29 years, presenting a significant demographic dividend.
  • India has over 101 million diabetics and 136 million prediabetics, making it the diabetes capital of the world.
  • Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of mortality in India, and cancer incidence is projected to rise by 57.5% by 2040.
  • India’s healthcare costs are approximately one-tenth of the global average, making it an attractive destination for medical value travel.

Critical Analysis:

  • While the article emphasizes the potential of technological innovations and medical value travel in transforming India’s healthcare sector, it’s essential to ensure that these developments benefit all segments of the population, particularly those in rural and underserved areas.
  • The challenge of addressing the growing burden of chronic diseases requires a comprehensive approach, including not only preventive measures but also effective management and treatment strategies.
  • Balancing affordability with quality in healthcare delivery is crucial to maintain India’s competitiveness in medical value travel while ensuring that patients receive optimal care.

Way Forward:

  • Prioritize investments in preventive healthcare, leveraging technology to empower individuals to manage their health effectively.
  • Expand access to healthcare services, especially in rural and underserved areas, through innovative delivery models and infrastructure development.
  • Foster collaboration between public and private sectors to drive healthcare innovation and address key challenges in the sector.
  • Focus on capacity building and skill development to ensure a competent healthcare workforce capable of delivering high-quality care across all settings.
  • Advocate for policies that promote affordability, accessibility, and quality in healthcare delivery, ensuring that India’s healthcare system remains inclusive and sustainable.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Significance of Deputy CM in Indian Politics

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Deputy CM

Mains level: Read the attached story

Deputy CM

Introduction

  • Deputy Chief Ministers (Deputy CMs) have become prominent figures in Indian politics, serving as political compromises and often following coalition governments or a lack of single-party dominance.
  • The role and prevalence of Deputy CMs vary across states and regions.

Role of Deputy CM

  • Political Compromise: Deputy CMs are appointed to strike a political compromise, especially in coalition governments or when no single leader commands undisputed authority.
  • Representation: Deputy CMs represent various regions, communities, or interest groups within a state, promoting inclusivity.
  • Constitutional Basis: The Constitution does not explicitly mention the position of Deputy CM; however, it is understood to be equivalent in rank to a Cabinet Minister.
  1. Article 163(1): This article outlines the existence of a Council of Ministers in each state, with the Chief Minister at its head, to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions. While it doesn’t mention Deputy CMs, they are a part of the Council of Ministers, akin to Cabinet Ministers.
  2. Article 164(1): This article states that the Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor, and other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister. It establishes the authority of the Chief Minister in appointing Deputy CMs.

Prevalence of Deputy Chief Ministers

  • Growing Prominence: Deputy CMs are increasingly common in Indian states, with four of the five states that went to polls in November 2021 having Deputy CMs.
  • National Presence: Most major states, except Tamil Nadu and Kerala, have the position of Deputy CM.
  • Varied Contexts: States like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Haryana have multiple Deputy CMs, often reflecting coalition governments or diverse political considerations.

Historical Overview

  • Pioneering Deputy CM: Anugrah Narayan Sinha was one of the earliest Deputy CMs in India, representing Bihar.
  • Post-1967 Increase: The prevalence of Deputy CMs expanded after the decline of Congress’s dominance in national politics in 1967.
  • Examples: States like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Haryana have a history of Deputy CMs from various political backgrounds.

Deputy Prime Ministers

  • Higher Position: India has also seen Deputy Prime Ministers, who held positions of significance at the national level.
  • Notable Figures: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Chaudhary Devi Lal, and Lal Krishna Advani have served as Deputy Prime Ministers.
  • Constitutional Aspects: The role of the Deputy Prime Minister has been debated in court, with the Supreme Court emphasizing that it does not confer additional powers on the Deputy Prime Minister.

Conclusion

  • Deputy Chief Ministers play a vital role in Indian politics, facilitating political stability and representation.
  • Their prevalence has increased over the years, and they continue to hold significant positions in state governments.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Explained: Rajya Sabha Election Process

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Rajya Sabha Elections

Mains level: NA

Introduction

  • The Election Commission notified elections to 56 Rajya Sabha seats that will be held on February 27.

Uniqueness of Rajya Sabha Elections

  • Retirement Cycle: One-third of Rajya Sabha members from each State retire every two years, necessitating elections to fill vacancies.
  • Eligible Voters: Only elected members of State Legislative Assemblies are eligible to vote in Rajya Sabha elections.
  • Six-Year Term: Newly elected members serve a six-year term, with vacancies arising due to resignation, death, or disqualification filled through by-polls.

Election of Rajya Sabha Members

  • Blocs and Elections: A group of MPs from one or more parties can elect a member if they possess the required numbers.
  • Avoiding Majority Rule: This approach ensures that ruling party candidates do not monopolize elections.
  • Union Territories Representation: Delhi and Puducherry Assemblies elect members to Rajya Sabha to represent the respective Union Territories.

Electoral Process

  • Polling Condition: A Rajya Sabha election requires polling only when the number of candidates surpasses the available vacancies.
  • Predictable Strength: Parties estimate their potential seats based on their strength in the Assembly.
  • Contesting Candidates: Parties field candidates based on their strength; additional candidates trigger a contest.
  • Candidate Nomination: Political party candidates must be proposed by at least 10 Assembly members or 10% of the party’s House strength, whichever is lower.
  • Independent Candidates: Independents require 10 proposers, all Assembly members.

Voting Procedure

  • Single Transferable Vote: Rajya Sabha elections employ the single transferable vote system, based on proportional representation.
  • Preferences Voting: Electors can vote for multiple candidates in order of preference.
  • Winning Requirement: Candidates need a specific number of first preference votes to win, with each first choice vote valued at 100 in the initial round.
  • Qualification: To qualify, a candidate must secure one point more than the quotient obtained by dividing the total value of seats available in the election plus one.

Transparency in RS Elections

  • Open Ballot System: Rajya Sabha elections employ an open ballot system with limited transparency.
  • Preventing Cross-Voting: Showing marked ballots to the party’s authorized agent (Whip) is mandatory; not following this rule renders the vote invalid.
  • Secrecy for Independents: Independent candidates are prohibited from showing their ballots to anyone.
  • NOTA in Rajya Sabha: Initially, Rajya Sabha members had the option to use the NOTA (None of the Above) button during elections, as per circulars issued by the Election Commission.
  • Supreme Court Ruling: However, in 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that NOTA is only applicable in general elections and cannot be used in indirect elections based on proportional representation.

Consequences of Cross-Voting

  • Supreme Court’s Stand: The Supreme Court clarified that not voting for the party candidate in Rajya Sabha elections does not trigger disqualification under the anti-defection law.
  • Legislators’ Freedom: MLAs retain the freedom to vote for a candidate of their choice.
  • Party Action: Parties are free to take disciplinary action against legislators who vote against their candidate.

Voting Eligibility before Taking Oath

  • Voting Without Oath: The Supreme Court ruled that members can participate in Rajya Sabha elections even before taking the oath as legislators.
  • Non-Legislative Activity: Rajya Sabha voting is considered a non-legislative activity, allowing members to vote without taking the oath.
  • Membership Status: A person becomes a member as soon as the Election Commission notifies the list of elected members.
  • Proposal Rights: Members can also propose a candidate before taking the oath of office.

Other facts

  • Limited Union Territories (UTs): Only two Union Territories participate in Rajya Sabha elections, not all of them.
  • Conditional Polling: Polling occurs only if the number of candidates exceeds the available vacancies.
  • Independent Members: Independent candidates can also be elected to Rajya Sabha.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

A Speaker’s flawed move to determine the real faction

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 10th schedule

Mains level: relevant factors and jurisdictional boundaries in disqualification cases

Uddhav Thackeray slams Maharashtra Speaker's verdict on 'real' Shiv Sena

Central Idea:

The article critiques the Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly, Rahul Narwekar, for his flawed decision in handling the disqualification case of Shiv Sena Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) led by Eknath Shinde. The author emphasizes the Speaker’s erroneous attempt to determine the real Shiv Sena faction and points out the jurisdictional issues and contradictions in the Speaker’s decision.

Key Highlights:

  • The Speaker’s decision centered on whether the breakaway Shiv Sena MLAs, under Eknath Shinde’s leadership, voluntarily gave up their party membership by voting against the party whip, making them liable for disqualification under the anti-defection law.
  • The article highlights the Speaker’s attempt to prevent disqualification of the Shinde group, presenting a nearly 1,200-page judgment that is deeply flawed.
  • The Speaker erroneously tries to determine the real Shiv Sena faction, a decision beyond his jurisdiction, and quotes irrelevant Supreme Court directions.

Key Challenges:

  • The Speaker’s decision raises questions about the misinterpretation of the Tenth Schedule and its provisions regarding defection and disqualification.
  • Attempting to determine the real party faction goes against the clear jurisdiction outlined by the Supreme Court and the Election Commission of India.
  • Contradictions in the Speaker’s decision, such as validating appointments by the Shinde group despite the Supreme Court’s findings, pose challenges to the integrity of the anti-defection law.

Key Terms:

  • Anti-Defection Law: Provisions outlined in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution that address defection by legislators and the resulting disqualification.
  • Jurisdiction: The official power to make legal decisions and judgments.

Key Phrases:

  • “Flawed decision in handling the disqualification case.”
  • “Erroneous attempt to determine the real Shiv Sena faction.”
  • “Nearly 1,200-page judgment valiantly tried to avoid disqualification.”

Key Quotes:

  • “The consequence of this is disqualification.”
  • “The Speaker’s decision is clearly without jurisdiction.”
  • “Parliament did not consider paragraph 15 of the Symbols order as a relevant factor.”

Key Statements:

  • “The question of which faction is the real Shiv Sena can only be decided by the Election Commission of India.”
  • “The Speaker’s decision goes against the clear enunciation of law by the Supreme Court.”

Key Examples and References:

  • The Subhash Desai judgment clarifies that the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray is the original political party.
  • Parliament did not consider paragraph 15 of the Symbols order as a relevant factor.

Key Facts and Data:

  • The Tenth Schedule originally allowed legislators to avoid disqualification in case of a split or merger; however, the split provision was omitted in 2003.
  • In Subhash Desai vs Principal Secretary, Governor of Maharashtra & Ors. (2023), the Supreme Court observes a split in the Shiv Sena party.

Critical Analysis:

The article critically analyzes the Speaker’s decision, pointing out flaws, contradictions, and the disregard for the clear jurisdiction outlined by the Supreme Court. It highlights the misinterpretation of the Tenth Schedule and its implications for anti-defection cases.

Way Forward:

  • Emphasizes the need for adherence to the clear enunciation of law by the Supreme Court and the Election Commission.
  • Urges a more precise understanding and application of the Tenth Schedule to prevent future misinterpretations.
  • Advocates for a careful consideration of relevant factors and jurisdictional boundaries in disqualification cases to uphold the integrity of the anti-defection law.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Eknath Shinde, the ‘real’ Shiv Sena and a new Maharashtra model

Anti Defection Law - Civilsdaily

Central Idea:

The article criticizes the Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Rahul Narwekar, for his decision to recognize Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who left the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena group, as the legitimate leader of the party. The author argues that the Speaker’s decision, influenced by political affiliations, undermines legislative procedures and regulations, creating legal inconsistencies and setting a concerning precedent for future political maneuvering.

Key Highlights:

  • Speaker Narwekar’s decision favors Chief Minister Shinde, who defected from the Uddhav Thackeray-led group, causing a split in the Shiv Sena.
  • The article points out three major flaws in the Speaker’s decision, including the misinterpretation of majority support, violation of Supreme Court guidelines on the appointment of a whip, and contradictory handling of the Thackeray camp’s violation of the whip.
  • The Speaker’s political affiliation with the BJP raises concerns about impartiality and adherence to constitutional principles.

Key Challenges:

  • The Speaker’s decision raises questions about the integrity of legislative procedures and the potential influence of political considerations on constitutional matters.
  • Legal inconsistencies, including the misinterpretation of majority support and the violation of Supreme Court guidelines, create challenges for maintaining the rule of law.
  • The article suggests that the decision might lead to prolonged legal battles and sets a precedent for party splits orchestrated by external political forces.

Key Terms:

  • Defection: The act of switching allegiance from one political party to another.
  • Whip: An official in a political party responsible for ensuring party members vote in line with party decisions.
  • Constitutional Morality: Adherence to ethical and constitutional principles in decision-making.

Key Phrases:

  • “Recognition of the split as a textbook example of disregard for legislative procedure.”
  • “Craters, not holes, in the Speaker’s order.”
  • “Political heavyweights absent during the crucial decision.”

Key Quotes:

  • “To hold that it is the legislature party which appoints the whip would be to sever the figurative umbilical cord…”
  • “The Speaker’s decision is bound to trigger yet another legal battle.”
  • “The BJP has perfected the art of engineering defections.”

Key Statements:

  • “Speaker Narwekar’s decision may be seen as a mockery of the Constitution.”
  • “The Speaker’s affiliation with the BJP adds to suspicions of bias.”
  • “Legal inconsistencies and violations of Supreme Court guidelines are evident in the decision.”

Key Examples and References:

  • Chief Minister Shinde’s defection from Shiv Sena and the subsequent split.
  • The Speaker’s acceptance of a new whip in violation of Supreme Court guidelines.
  • The contradiction in handling the Thackeray camp’s violation of the whip.

Key Facts and Data:

  • Speaker Rahul Narwekar is a member of the BJP.
  • Chief Minister Shinde initially had 16 out of 55 MLAs when he left Shiv Sena.
  • The BJP’s success in engineering defections in Maharashtra is highlighted as a concerning trend.

Critical Analysis: The article criticizes the Speaker’s decision for favoring the ruling party, creating legal loopholes, and potentially setting a precedent for orchestrated party splits. It emphasizes the need for judicial intervention to uphold constitutional morality and address the flaws in the decision.

Way Forward:

  • The judiciary should play a proactive role in addressing the legal inconsistencies and potential violations of constitutional principles.
  • Political leaders and legislative bodies should prioritize the adherence to established procedures and guidelines.
  • Public awareness and scrutiny can contribute to holding political figures accountable for decisions that may undermine democratic values.

In conclusion, the article highlights the importance of upholding constitutional principles in the face of political maneuvering, urging judicial intervention and public vigilance to safeguard the integrity of legislative processes.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

The Indian Parliament, a promise spurned

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Westminster system

Mains level: principles of parliamentary democracy and the importance of an effective opposition.

Parliament session from Jan 31 to Feb 9, Sitharaman to present interim  budget on Feb 1 | India News - The Indian Express

Central Idea:

The article reflects on the recent security breach in the Indian Parliament, drawing attention to the historical debate around the choice of a parliamentary government for India. It explores the importance of having a stable government with effective opposition, emphasizing the parliamentary system’s capacity to accommodate diversity. The author questions the handling of the security breach incident and the subsequent suspension of a significant number of opposition members.

Key Highlights:

  • Security lapse in the Indian Parliament in December 2023.
  • Historical debate on the choice of a parliamentary government in India.
  • Importance of stable government with effective opposition.
  • Challenges faced by the ruling party in accommodating opposition.
  • Critique of the current leadership’s response to the security breach.

Key Challenges:

  • Grappling with the aftermath of a significant security breach.
  • Balancing the need for a stable government with the necessity of an effective opposition.
  • Managing the paradox of majority endorsement while ensuring constant validation for the common good.
  • Ensuring parliamentary committees address security concerns adequately.
  • Striking a balance between executive authority and parliamentary dignity.

Key Terms:

  • Parliamentary government
  • Opposition
  • Security breach
  • Westminster system
  • Presidential system
  • Swarajist model
  • Indian orthodoxy
  • Common good
  • Effective representation
  • Stability in governance

Key Phrases:

  • “Foundational institution of public life.”
  • “Parliamentary form of government.”
  • “Security lapses and pandemonium.”
  • “Doctrinal, ethnic, and cultural pluralisms.”
  • “Dialectics of stable support and effective opposition.”
  • “Insistent demand of the Opposition.”
  • “Suspended members from both Houses.”
  • “Ruling party’s ability to defend its course.”

Key Quotes:

  • “A parliamentary system marks a better space for minorities.”
  • “The ruling party has not found it easy to face a sustained Opposition.”
  • “It is not the truth that a ruling dispensation upholds that serves its claim to rule but its ability to defend the course it pursues as the truth.”

Anecdotes:

  • Incident involving Jawaharlal Nehru and Speaker Mavalankar’s refusal to go to the Prime Minister’s chamber.
  • Reference to historical debates within the Constituent Assembly on the form of government for India.

Key Statements:

  • “The security breach is a breach inflicted on the nation as a whole.”
  • “The ruling party, despite challenges, has to live with the logic of the parliamentary system.”
  • “The suspension of almost the entire Opposition from both the Houses can hardly meet the test of becoming the voice of the nation.”

Key Examples and References:

  • Two young men with gas canisters causing pandemonium in the Lok Sabha.
  • Historical references to arguments for the presidential, Indian orthodox, and swarajist models.
  • Mention of Jawaharlal Nehru’s sensitivity to the absence of an effective opposition.

Key Facts and Data:

  • December 2023: Security breach in the Indian Parliament.
  • Suspension of 146 members from both Houses.
  • Reference to the historical debate within the Constituent Assembly.

Critical Analysis:

The article critically evaluates the current state of the Indian Parliament, questioning the handling of the security breach and the subsequent suspension of opposition members. It emphasizes the importance of a stable government with an effective opposition, highlighting historical debates on the choice of a parliamentary system. The author critiques the leadership’s response and underscores the need for a balance between executive authority and parliamentary dignity.

Way Forward:

  • Address the security concerns through parliamentary committees.
  • Foster a more collaborative approach between the ruling party and the opposition.
  • Uphold the principles of parliamentary democracy and the importance of an effective opposition.
  • Prioritize transparency and communication in addressing lapses and challenges.
  • Reaffirm the commitment to diversity, pluralism, and the common good in parliamentary governance.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

The Ayes always have it: Why voice votes in Parliament are bad for democracy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jan Vishwas Bill 2023

Mains level: The impact of voice votes, the Anti-Defection Law, and the dismissal of division calls on legislative transparency and accountability

Recording each vote - The Hindu

Central Idea:

The article discusses the absence of voting records during the recent Parliament session, highlighting the significance of recorded votes in representing legislators’ stances and fostering transparency in the legislative process. It also explores the impact of the Anti-Defection Law on MPs’ dissent and the increasing use of voice votes, leading to a lack of accountability.

Key Highlights:

  • 19 bills were passed in the recent Parliament session, but voting records were not made available.
  • The use of voice votes, lacking individual records, is a preferred method for passing legislative motions.
  • The Anti-Defection Law has limited MPs’ ability to dissent, reducing the significance of debates and votes.
  • The scarcity of voting records hampers Opposition parties in communicating their positions to the electorate.

Key Challenges:

  • Lack of transparency due to the absence of voting records.
  • The impact of the Anti-Defection Law on MPs’ freedom to dissent.
  • Dismissal of division calls during crucial legislative moments.

Key Terms:

  • Voice vote
  • Anti-Defection Law
  • Division call
  • Legislative transparency
  • Accountability
  • Dissent

Key Phrases:

  • “A shadow of opacity has fallen over our legislative processes.”
  • “The scarcity of voting records can be a symptom of a deeper problem.”
  • “The impact of the Anti-Defection Law on MPs’ dissent is a matter of concern.”

Key Quotes:

  • “Transparency defines the measure to which our parliamentarians’ political decisions are traceable, which begets accountability.”
  • “The right to a division, meant to be readily available, has become shrouded in subjective judgement.”

Key Examples and References:

  • The passage of the Jan Vishwas Bill 2023 and the farm bills through voice votes.
  • Asaduddin Owaisi’s dissent on various bills, illustrating the importance of voting records.
  • Dismissal of division calls during the passage of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Bill and the Electricity Amendment Bill.

Key Facts:

  • In Modi I, 40 divisions were raised for 180 bills, while in Modi II, only 20 divisions were allowed for 209 bills.
  • Only 15.4% of bills in the BJP’s 10-year tenure have voting records.

Critical Analysis:

The article critically examines the impact of voice votes, the Anti-Defection Law, and the dismissal of division calls on legislative transparency and accountability. It emphasizes the need for voting records to ensure a clear representation of MPs’ stances.

Way Forward:

  • Reevaluate the impact of the Anti-Defection Law on MPs’ dissent.
  • Ensure the availability of voting records to enhance legislative transparency.
  • Address the dismissal of division calls to uphold the right to record votes.
  • Promote a more accountable and transparent legislative process through recorded votes.

In essence, the article advocates for the restoration of transparency in the legislative process through the provision of voting records and a reconsideration of the Anti-Defection Law’s impact on MPs’ dissent.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Raj Bhavan needs radical reforms

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 155

Mains level: conduct of Governors in Opposition-ruled States

Kerala Conundrum: As Arif Khan 'Withdraws Pleasure' in FM, News18 Decodes  if Guv Can Sack a Minister - News18

Central Idea:

The conduct of Governors in Opposition-ruled States, exemplified by the recent actions of Kerala’s Governor, raises concerns about adherence to constitutional morality, necessitating a reevaluation of their roles and legal consequences.

Key Highlights:

  • Kerala’s Governor, Arif Mohammed Khan, faced criticism for instructing the removal of posters and accusing the Chief Minister of supporting activists against him.
  • Breaches of protocol, such as an unannounced tour of Kozhikode, added to the growing trend of Governors’ controversial actions.
  • While the Constitution outlines functions, powers, and duties of Governors, the concept of constitutional morality should guide their public behavior.
  • Reference to NCT of Delhi v. Union of India highlights the responsibility of individuals occupying constitutional offices.
  • Article 361 provides limited immunity for Governors, exempting them from court scrutiny for official acts.
  • Rameshwar Prasad v. Union of India establishes judicial review for cases of Governor’s motivated and whimsical conduct, suggesting accountability.
  • Kaushal Kishor v. State of Uttar Pradesh clarifies that public functionaries’ freedom of expression is subject to reasonable restrictions.
  • Ministers can be held personally liable for statements inconsistent with government views, emphasizing personal responsibility.
  • Sarkaria Commission Report (1988) criticized Governors for lacking impartiality and becoming agents of the Union, emphasizing the need for detachment.
  • Justice M.M. Punchhi Commission (2010) recommended restricting Governors from roles not envisaged by the Constitution, citing potential controversies.

Key Challenges:

  • Governors’ failure to display impartiality and sagacity, engaging in local politics and controversies.
  • Lack of adherence to recommendations for detached roles and limitations on Governors’ powers.

Key Terms and Phrases:

  • Constitutional morality
  • Limited immunity (Article 361)
  • Judicial review
  • Chancellorship of universities
  • Sarkaria Commission
  • Punchhi Commission
  • Democratic legitimacy
  • Raj Bhavans

Key Quotes:

  • “Constitutional morality places responsibilities and duties on individuals who occupy constitutional institutions and offices.” – NCT of Delhi v. Union of India (2018)
  • “Some Governors have failed to display the qualities of impartiality and sagacity expected of them.” – Sarkaria Commission Report (1988)
  • “The Governor should be a detached figure and not too intimately connected with the local politics of the State.” – Justice M.M. Punchhi Commission report (2010)

Key Statements:

  • Judicial review possible for Governor’s misbehavior unconnected with official duty.
  • Sarkaria and Punchhi Commission reports emphasize the need for Governors’ impartiality and limited involvement in local politics.
  • Kerala Assembly’s attempt to abolish Governor’s chancellorship raises concerns about democratic legitimacy.

Critical Analysis:

  • The Governor’s actions in Kerala highlight a deviation from democratic norms and raise questions about the democratic legitimacy of gubernatorial decisions.
  • Commission reports expose longstanding issues with Governor appointments and their roles, calling for systemic changes.

Way Forward:

  • Future regimes should consider amending Article 155 to ensure Chief Minister consultation in Governor appointments, addressing recommendations from the Sarkaria report.
  • Establishment of an independent body for Governor selection, with input from the Chief Justice of India, may enhance the quality of the selection process.
  • Legal prohibitions against Governors’ further rehabilitation in official capacities could contribute to improving the functioning of Raj Bhavans.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Ram Madhav writes: Opposition today needs to learn from Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: na

Mains level: Vajpayee's best orations occurring when he was on the opposition benches.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the poet: Famous couplets written by the former PM |  News | Zee News

Central idea 

The article highlights the evolution of leaders within India’s parliamentary democracy, contrasting them with those from dynastic politics. It celebrates Atal Bihari Vajpayee as a prime example, emphasizing his journey from an activist to a mature statesman. The central theme underscores the virtues of leaders emerging organically through democratic processes and the challenges posed by dynastic political practices.

Key Highlights:

  • The article discusses the evolution of leaders within India’s parliamentary democracy and contrasts them with those from dynastic politics.
  • Atal Bihari Vajpayee is highlighted as an exemplary product of Indian parliamentary democracy, having entered politics as an activist and evolved into a mature statesman.
  • Vajpayee’s role in the BJP’s rise from the fringes to the mainstream during the Congress-dominated era is emphasized.
  • The article underscores Vajpayee’s oratorical skills, his role in consensus politics, and his commitment to national interests.

Key Challenges:

  • Critique of dynastic politics in the Congress party post-Nehru, seen as a hindrance to embodying leadership values of parliamentary democracy.
  • The challenge of maintaining decorum in political discourse, contrasting it with the current cheap antics of the Opposition.

Key Terms:

  • Dynastic politics: The practice of political leadership being passed down through family lines.
  • Consensus politics: The approach of seeking agreement among diverse political parties for effective governance.
  • Oratorical skills: The ability to deliver powerful and persuasive speeches.

Key Phrases:

  • “Leaders are born, they are not made”: Expresses the perspective on the natural emergence of leadership qualities.
  • “Evil of dynastic politics”: Describes the negative impact of hereditary political leadership.
  • “Teflon-coated Hindutva-vadi”: Term used to describe Atal Bihari Vajpayee, suggesting resilience in the face of criticism.

Key Quotes:

  • “Leaders are born, they are not made.”
  • “Dynasts can never fully appreciate and demonstrate the leadership values and principles of parliamentary democracy.”
  • “Atal ji’s greatness is not limited to his prime ministership.”

Anecdotes:

  • Vajpayee’s witty remark to Nehru about having a “split personality” and an “inverted vision.”
  • Jaitley’s mention of Vajpayee’s obituary address for Nehru as a quality tribute to a political adversary.

Key Statements:

  • “Leaders born into political families struggle to fully appreciate and demonstrate the leadership values of parliamentary democracy.”
  • “Vajpayee’s commitment to consensus politics is noted, even during the challenges of leading a 23-party coalition.”
  • “Vajpayee’s role as an ideal opposition leader is praised, emphasizing his support for the government during crucial times.”

Key Examples and References:

  • Vajpayee’s journey from a young activist to a mature statesman within the parliamentary system.
  • His criticism of Nehru’s policies and the BJP’s rise during the Congress-dominated era.
  • Instances of Vajpayee’s leadership during events like the nuclear tests in 1998 and the Kargil War.

References:

  • Arun Jaitley’s memorial address for Vajpayee, highlighting his oratory skills and leadership in opposition.
  • Jaitley’s mention of Vajpayee’s best orations occurring when he was on the opposition benches.

Critical Analysis:

  • The article critically analyzes the impact of dynastic politics on embodying democratic leadership values.
  • Vajpayee is portrayed as an exemplary leader, emphasizing his oratorical skills, commitment to consensus politics, and prioritization of national interests.

Way Forward:

  • Encourage a departure from dynastic politics and foster leadership emerging through democratic processes.
  • Advocate for a return to decorum in political discourse and a focus on consensus politics for effective governance.
  • Learn from Vajpayee’s legacy, striving for political environments that prioritize national interests over partisan considerations.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

A security breach that must lead to sweeping changes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Key roles, including Joint Secretary, Security, and chiefs of CRPF and CISF, remain vacant

Mains level: breach and the need for robust security measures

Massive security breach in Lok Sabha, 2 intruders jump from gallery, spray gas | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Central idea 

The article discusses a security breach in the Lok Sabha, highlighting lapses in personal screening and outdated technology. It emphasizes the need for advanced security measures, questions the responsibility for technology upgrades, and calls for a comprehensive committee to ensure continuous oversight. The incident prompts reflections on securing democracy’s portals through constant monitoring and technological advancements.

Key Highlights:

  • Security Breach: Lok Sabha breach on December 13, 2023, prompts concerns despite heightened security measures post-2001 attack.
  • Causes of Breach: Inadequate personal screening, traditional metal detectors’ limitations, and lack of vigilance contribute to breach.
  • Technological Need: Emphasizes the necessity for advanced technology like backscatter scanners for effective Parliament screening.

Key Challenges:

  • Screening Limitations: Traditional metal detectors fail to detect non-metallic threats, showcasing screening vulnerabilities.
  • Vacant Security Positions: Key roles, including Joint Secretary, Security, and chiefs of CRPF and CISF, remain vacant.
  • Responsibility Gap: Ambiguity in responsibility for introducing and upgrading security technology in Parliament.

Key Terms and Phrases:

  • Parliament Security: Focus on the breach and the need for robust security measures.
  • Backscatter Scanner: Technological solution highlighted for enhanced visitor screening.
  • Unlawful Activities Act: Sections 16 and 18 invoked against intruders for acts related to terrorism.

Key Quotes and Statements:

  • “The youngsters involved…inflicted the gravest damage by revealing gaps in Parliament security.”
  • “To protect the hallowed portals…security infrastructure is constantly monitored and upgraded with resolve.”

Key Examples and References:

  • Terrorist Attack Reference: Highlights 2001 attack and subsequent security enhancements.
  • Legal Action: Sections 16 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities Act invoked against intruders.

Key Facts and Data:

  • Vacant Positions: Key security positions, including Joint Secretary, Security, and chiefs of CRPF and CISF, remain unfilled.
  • Technology Gap: Absence of advanced technology, like backscatter scanners, for thorough screening.

Critical Analysis:

  • Access Control Critique: Lapses in access control and personal screening procedures scrutinized.
  • Responsibility Query: Raises questions about responsibility for introducing and upgrading security technology.
  • Committee Advocacy: Advocates a comprehensive committee with MPs and specialists for continuous security oversight.

Way Forward:

  • Supervision Call: Urges Secretary, Security, in the Cabinet Secretariat to supervise Parliament security.
  • Committee Formation: Recommends a committee with MPs and specialists for regular security monitoring.
  • MP Cooperation: Stresses the importance of MPs cooperating with enhanced security measures to protect democracy’s portals.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Let them speak: Suspension of MPs shows Parliament must find better ways to engage

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: na

Mains level: parliamentary dysfunction

Disruptions are as much a part of Indian Parliament now as British rules  and rituals

Central idea 

The central theme highlights parliamentary dysfunction due to procedural stagnation and a historical cycle of disruptions. The ongoing impasse, evidenced by the suspension of MPs, underscores the need for a nuanced institutional response and a redefined role for the Opposition in shaping parliamentary discourse. The article advocates procedural changes to grant the Opposition more influence, fostering collaboration and preserving public trust in Parliament.

Key Highlights:

  • The parliamentary dysfunction is rooted in the absence of procedural mechanisms for deliberation on contentious issues.
  • The ongoing impasse between the government and the Opposition has led to the suspension of 141 MPs.
  • The Opposition demands a statement from the Home Minister regarding a security breach, while the government defers to the Speaker’s directions.
  • Disruptions in Parliament have historical roots, dating back to the 1960s, and have evolved into a political tool.
  • The institutional response to disruptions has been simplistic, focusing on penalizing MPs rather than addressing the underlying issues.

Key Challenges:

  • Procedural stagnation in the parliamentary system has led to a cycle of disruptions and disciplinary actions.
  • The government’s control over the legislative agenda limits the Opposition’s role, contributing to parliamentary standoffs.
  • The current approach of penalizing MPs for disruptions is deemed ineffective in ensuring the smooth functioning of Parliament.

Key Terms and Phrases:

  • Parliamentary dysfunction
  • Security breach
  • Disruptions as a political tool
  • Institutional response
  • Legislative and fiscal priorities
  • Opposition’s role and space in Parliament
  • Procedural stagnation
  • Westminster parliamentary principle
  • No-confidence motion
  • National legislature

Key Quotes and Statements:

  • “The standoff in Parliament is not new…result from years of procedural stagnation.”
  • “Disruptions were going to become the norm in our parliamentary discourse.”
  • “The smooth functioning of the legislature was the responsibility of the government.”
  • “For Parliament to work effectively, penalising MPs will not be enough.”
  • “The recent disruptions and en masse suspension of MPs should be a wake-up call for our national legislature.”

Key Examples and References:

  • Suspension of 141 Opposition MPs in the ongoing winter session of Parliament.
  • Historical instances of MPs like Ram Sewak Yadav and Mani Ram Bagri being warned and suspended for disruptions.
  • Speaker Chatterjee’s remark in 2005 on the difficulty of regulating proceedings if a group of members disrupts the House.

Key Facts and Data:

  • Disruptions in parliamentary proceedings by MPs began in the 1960s.
  • The current parliamentary system reflects pre-independence British templates.
  • Private members get two-and-a-half hours every Friday for discussion, but there is no mechanism for a group of MPs to require a specific discussion.

Critical Analysis:

  • The article highlights the historical context and evolution of parliamentary disruptions.
  • It critiques the current institutional response, emphasizing the need for a more nuanced approach.
  • It challenges the existing view of Parliament as a platform primarily for the government to transact business.

Way Forward:

  • Proposes a change in parliamentary procedures to allow the Opposition to set the agenda for debate.
  • Suggests incorporating specific days in the parliamentary calendar for Opposition-led discussions.
  • Urges Parliament to find better solutions for fostering debate to prevent the erosion of public faith.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Analysis of Declining CAG Audits Tabled in Parliament

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • In 2023, only 18 audits prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) were tabled in the Indian Parliament, continuing a trend of decreasing numbers in recent years.

Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)

  • Constitutional Office: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) is an independent constitutional authority responsible for overseeing financial administration in India.
  • Key Responsibilities: As the head of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department, the CAG is the guardian of the public purse, monitoring the financial system at both central and state levels.

History of the Office of CAG

  • Origins in British India: The role of the CAG evolved with administrative reforms initiated by Lord Canning before the Mutiny of 1857.
  • Establishment and Evolution: The office was formalized under the Government of India Act 1858, with Sir Edward Drummond becoming the first Auditor General in 1860. The title ‘Comptroller and Auditor General of India’ was first used in 1884.
  • Independence and Strengthening: The Montford Reforms of 1919 and the Government of India Act 1935 further solidified the CAG’s independence and role in a federal setup.

Constitutional Provisions Related to CAG

  • Articles Governing CAG: The Constitution outlines the CAG’s appointment, duties, and powers in Articles 148 to 151.
  • Duties and Powers: The CAG is responsible for auditing all government accounts and advising on financial matters.
  • Audit Reports: The CAG submits audit reports on Union accounts to the President and on state accounts to respective Governors.

Types of Audits Performed by CAG

  • Regulatory Audit: Ensures authorized and rule-compliant expenditure.
  • Supplementary Audit: Conducted in PSUs for detecting financial leakages.
  • Propriety Audit: Focuses on the public interest and proper expenditure.
  • Efficiency Audit: Assesses optimal utilization of investments.
  • Performance Audit: Evaluates government programs for effectiveness.
  • Environmental Audit: Addresses issues related to conservation and environmental management.

Independence of the CAG

  • Constitutional Safeguards: The CAG’s independence is protected by various constitutional provisions, including security of tenure, ineligibility for further government office, and non-varying service conditions.
  • Financial Autonomy: The CAG’s administrative expenses are charged upon the Consolidated Fund of India, ensuring financial independence.

Audit Mandate Sources

  • Constitutional Basis: Articles 148 to 151 of the Constitution.
  • Statutory Framework: The Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service Act, 1971.
  • Regulations: Audit and accounts regulations as notified.

Duties and Functions of the CAG

  • Audit Responsibilities: CAG audits all government accounts, including the Consolidated Fund, Contingency Fund, and Public Account.
  • Advisory Role: Advises on financial matters and assists parliamentary committees.
  • Reporting: Submits audit reports to the President and state Governors.

Limitations on the Powers of CAG

  • Post-Facto Reporting: Audits are conducted after expenditures have occurred.
  • Exclusions: Certain expenditures like secret service expenses are outside CAG’s purview.
  • Challenges with PPP Investments: Limited authority to audit public-private partnerships.
  • Limited Audit of NGOs and Local Bodies: No provision for auditing funds given to NGOs and elected local bodies.
  • Document Accessibility Issues: Challenges in obtaining necessary documents for audits.
  • Appointment Process: The selection process for CAG lacks external transparency.
  • Undefined Audit Scope: The term ‘audit’ is not explicitly defined in the Constitution or CAG Act.

CAG Audits over the Years

  • Recent Trends: Between 2019 and 2023, an average of 22 reports were tabled annually, a significant decrease from the 40 reports tabled on average between 2014 and 2018.
  • Peak and Decline: The number of reports peaked in 2015 with 53 audits but has since declined, with four of the past six years seeing 20 or fewer reports tabled.

Factors Contributing to the Decline

  • Staffing and Budget Cuts: The decline in the number of CAG reports tabled in Parliament coincides with reductions in staff strength and budget allocations for the CAG.
  • Budget Allocation: In the fiscal year 2023-24, the allocation for the Indian Audit and Accounts Department constituted only 0.13% of the Union Budget.

Conclusion

  • Impact on Oversight and Transparency: The reduction in the number of CAG audits tabled in Parliament could have implications for governmental oversight and transparency.
  • Need for Adequate Resources: Ensuring the CAG is adequately staffed and funded is crucial for maintaining effective audit practices and upholding the accountability of government operations.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

A blow for the rights of the legislature, in law making

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 200

Mains level: Governors' discretion in reserving Bills

Supreme Court: Governors can't sit on bills and veto legislative action |  India News - Times of India

Central idea 

Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud’s landmark interpretation in the State of Punjab case links the Governor’s power to withhold assent to the immediate reconsideration of Bills, safeguarding legislative rights. The judgment addresses historical delays caused by Governors and raises concerns about potential strategic reservations for the President. The article emphasizes the need for clarity on Governors’ discretion and suggests a constitutional review for a comprehensive legislative framework.

Key Highlights:

  • Landmark Judgment: Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud’s groundbreaking interpretation of Article 200.
  • Innovative Approach: CJI’s creative approach to constitutional nuances in the State of Punjab case.
  • Assent and Reconsideration Link: Linking the withholding of assent to the immediate reconsideration of Bills.

Key Challenges:

  • Historical Delays: Governors’ Past Practices causing prolonged delays in decision-making.
  • Strategic Reservations: Governors exploiting the option to strategically reserve Bills for the President.

Key Terms/Phrases:

  • Constitutional Articles: Article 200, Proviso to Article 200, Article 254.
  • Governor’s Powers: Withholding assent, reconsideration, and reservation for the President.
  • Presidential Consideration: Conditions for reserving Bills for the President.

Key Quotes/Anecdotes:

  • Forward-Thinking Judiciary: “The CJI, in a forward-thinking approach, protects the legislature’s rights.”
  • Supreme Court’s Firm Stance: “The Supreme Court emphatically states Governors cannot unduly delay the decision on Bills.”

Key Statements:

  • Curbing Arbitrary Power: CJI’s interpretation limits the Governor’s arbitrary power to withhold assent without prompt reconsideration.
  • Judicial Assertiveness: The Supreme Court asserts Governors’ accountability in decision-making, addressing historical lapses.

Key Examples and References:

  • Governor of Kerala’s Discretion: Arif Mohammed Khan’s discretionary action in sending Bills to the President.
  • Tamil Nadu Governor’s Controversial Move: Sending Bills to the President against constitutional provisions sparks controversy.

Key Facts/Data:

  • Constitutional Mandates: Second proviso to Article 200 mandates reservation for the President under specific conditions.
  • Article 254 Framework: Outlines conditions for a State law’s supremacy on Concurrent List items.

Critical Analysis:

  • Safeguarding Legislative Rights: The judgment protects legislative rights but prompts questions about Bills reserved for the President.
  • Governor’s Discretion Scrutiny: The article scrutinizes Governors’ discretion in sending Bills to the President, highlighting potential constitutional issues.

Way Forward:

  • Clarification Imperative: The need for further clarity on Governors’ discretion in reserving Bills for the President.
  • Constitutional Review: Examining the constitutional framework regarding Bills on State and Concurrent subjects for a comprehensive legislative landscape.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Parliament attacks have exposed shameful lack of security preparedness

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Tear Gas Canisters

Mains level: critical lapses in security

2001 Parliament attack: 'A shot missed me and possibly hit a reporter' |  Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Central idea

The breach of India’s Parliament, a symbol of democratic strength, on the anniversary of the 2001 attack reveals critical lapses in security, prompting a high-level inquiry. This collective failure of intelligence agencies underscores the need for thorough investigations, corrective measures, and strengthened security protocols to prevent recurring breaches and uphold the sanctity of parliamentary institutions.

Key Highlights:

  • Fortress Breached: The Parliament building in India, known for its security, faces a significant breach, exposing flaws in the robust system.
  • Anniversary Irony: The intrusion occurs on the anniversary of the 2001 Parliament attack, questioning the preparedness of security agencies.
  • High-Level Inquiry: The government initiates an inquiry to identify lapses and rectify security vulnerabilities.

Key Challenges:

  • Collective Security Failure: The breach underscores a failure of intelligence and security agencies responsible for safeguarding Parliament.
  • Questionable Access: Intruders obtained an entry pass signed by an MP, raising concerns about verification processes.
  • Efficacy of Corrective Measures: Doubts arise about the effectiveness of measures to prevent recurrent security breaches.

Key Terms:

  • Security Blanket: Enhanced security measures implemented in a specific area.
  • Inquiry Committee: A high-level committee formed to investigate the breach and recommend improvements.
  • Tear Gas Canisters: Devices used for dispersing tear gas, hidden by intruders during the breach.

Key Phrases:

  • “Temple of our Democracy”: Symbolic reference to the Parliament building as a stronghold of India’s democratic strength.
  • “Sanctum Sanctorum of India’s Democracy”: Describing the innermost and most sacred area of the Parliament.

Key Quotes:

  • “How did a breach occur again? This is the main question. Those responsible should be punished.” – The author, a retired director general of Police.
  • “The incident happened on the very day on which the dreadful Parliament attacks took place 22 years ago.” – The article highlighting the irony of the timing.

Key Examples and References:

  • Arrests Made: Four individuals, including one with an entry pass signed by an MP, are arrested in connection with the breach.
  • Historical Comparison: Drawing parallels with the 2001 Parliament attack to emphasize the breach’s significance.

Key Statements:

  • “Egg on the Face”: The breach is described as an embarrassment to the security establishment, questioning overall preparedness.
  • “Collective Failure”: The incident is considered a collective failure of intelligence agencies, police, and security agencies responsible for Parliament security.

Key Facts:

  • Enhanced Security: The new Parliament building, inaugurated earlier in the year, is believed to be more secure than its predecessor.
  • Timely Breach: Occurred on the day Parliament paid tributes to the martyrs of the 2001 Parliament attack.

Key Data:

  • Total Arrests: Four individuals are arrested in connection with the breach.

Critical Analysis:

  • Security Vulnerabilities: The breach raises concerns about the ability to prevent intrusions into highly secure areas.
  • Symbolic Timing: The timing on the anniversary adds symbolic weight to the security lapse, emphasizing the need for improvement.

Way Forward:

  • Thorough Investigation: A comprehensive inquiry is essential to identify lapses and implement corrective measures.
  • Strengthen Security Protocols: Stricter verification processes for entry passes and enhanced security measures are crucial for preventing future breaches.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Mahua Moitra has no excuse

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: na

Mains level: broader ethical concerns raised by Moitra's allegations to maintain the credibility of Parliament

Key Supreme Court hearing in TMC's Mahua Moitra case today. Details |  Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Key Highlights:

  • Mahua Moitra, a former investment banker turned politician, faced allegations of sharing her Parliament ID and password with an industrialist to post questions about a rival group.
  • The Ethics Committee recommended her expulsion from Parliament, and on December 8, the motion for expulsion was adopted through a voice vote.
  • Moitra admitted to sharing her ID and password, receiving gifts, and made broader allegations that many MPs do not draft their own questions.

Key Challenges:

  • The credibility of Parliament is at stake due to false claims by Moitra and another MP, Giridhari Yadav, that MPs generally do not frame their own questions.
  • The issue of MPs sharing their ID and password, a violation of rules, raises concerns about the security and integrity of parliamentary processes.
  • The definition of “cash for query” is debated, involving considerations of gifts, hospitality, and other non-monetary benefits.

Key Terms:

  • Parliament Portal: The online platform where MPs submit questions, Zero Hour submissions, and Special Mentions.
  • Ethics Committee: A parliamentary committee responsible for examining matters related to the ethical conduct of MPs.
  • Cash for Query: The alleged practice of accepting material benefits in exchange for asking questions in Parliament.

Key Phrases:

  • “Cash for query”
  • “Parliamentary question”
  • “Expulsion from Parliament”
  • “Ethics Committee”
  • “ID and password sharing”
  • “Motion for expulsion”
  • “Voice vote”

Key Quotes:

  • Giridhari Yadav: “Even I do not remember my password. My PA knows it. I have not asked any questions, thinking God knows what will happen.”
  • Speaker’s Response: “I request all MPs to frame their questions themselves and put it up. No one else is allowed to do that.”

Key Examples and References:

  • Mahua Moitra’s admission to sharing her ID and password, receiving gifts, and the subsequent recommendation for expulsion by the Ethics Committee.
  • Giridhari Yadav’s statement about not framing his own questions and relying on his PA.

Key Statements:

  • Sharing ID and password with an outsider is a gross violation of parliamentary rules.
  • Moitra’s confession and broader allegations cast doubt on the autonomy of MPs in drafting their questions.

Key Facts:

  • Moitra graduated from Mount Holyoke College, worked as an investment banker, and joined politics with stints in the Indian National Congress and Trinamool Congress.
  • The motion for expulsion was adopted through a voice vote after the Opposition walked out of Parliament.

Key Data:

  • Date of Mahua Moitra’s expulsion: December 8
  • Number of questions MPs are allowed to submit: Five (two starred and three unstarred).

Critical Analysis:

  • False claims about MPs not framing their own questions undermine the reputation of Parliament.
  • The issue of ID and password sharing raises questions about the security of parliamentary processes.
  • The definition of “cash for query” is explored, considering various non-monetary benefits.

Way Forward:

  • Strengthen security measures to prevent unauthorized access to parliamentary portals.
  • Emphasize the importance of MPs independently framing their questions for the integrity of parliamentary proceedings.
  • Address the broader ethical concerns raised by Moitra’s allegations to maintain the credibility of Parliament.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Protecting Basic Structure from judicial arbitrariness

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kesavananda Bharati Case

Mains level: Basic Structure

1973: Kesavananda Bharati case - Frontline

Central idea 

The article reflects on the 50th anniversary of the Kesavananda Bharati case, emphasizing the enduring significance of the “Basic Structure Doctrine” in safeguarding constitutional pillars. It acknowledges debates surrounding its constitutional validity and introduces insights from jurist Dietrich Conrad, highlighting the need for checks and balances on institutional powers.

Key Highlights:

  • 50th Anniversary of Kesavananda Bharati Case: Marks the establishment of the “Basic Structure Doctrine” by the Supreme Court of India in 1973, consistently upheld but occasionally questioned for its open-ended nature.
  • Dietrich Conrad’s Contribution: Acknowledges the influence of Dietrich Conrad, a German jurist, whose lecture on “Implied Limitation of the Amending Power” laid the foundation for the Basic Structure doctrine in India.
  • Arun Jaitley’s Critique: Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s critique highlights concerns about the doctrine potentially undermining other constitutional mandates.

Key Challenges:

  • Constitutional Validity Doubts: Doubts raised about the constitutional validity of the Basic Structure doctrine, questioning its open-ended nature and the exclusive powers it grants to the Supreme Court.
  • Potential Undermining of Other Mandates: Criticisms, exemplified by Arun Jaitley’s statement, argue that the doctrine, while upholding judicial independence, may diminish other vital constitutional structures.

Key Terms and Phrases:

  • Basic Structure Doctrine: Judicial principle recognizing fundamental features of the Constitution, protecting them from amendments or legislative interventions.
  • Implied Limitation of Amending Power: Concept stressing the need for limitations on powers exercised by institutions, anticipating extreme cases of conflict.

Key Quotes:

  • “The judgment has upheld the primacy of one basic structure — independence of judiciary — but diminished five other basic structures of the Constitution.” – Arun Jaitley
  • “Any amending body… cannot by its very structure change the fundamental pillars supporting its constitutional authority.” – Dietrich Conrad
  • “The basic structure of our Constitution, like a north star, guides and gives a certain direction to the interpreters and implementers of the Constitution when the path ahead is convoluted.” – Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud

Key Examples and References:

  • Emergency Period: Recognition that the Basic Structure doctrine prevented potential recasting of the Constitution during the Emergency in 1975.
  • Constitutional Pillars: Arun Jaitley’s reference to the primacy of judicial independence but potential diminishment of parliamentary democracy, elected government, etc.

Key Facts and Data:

  • Kesavananda Bharati Case: Celebrates the 50th anniversary of the case that established the Basic Structure Doctrine.
  • Legislative Interventions during Emergency: Historical context emphasizing the need for checks and balances on parliamentary powers.

Critical Analysis:

  • Debate on Doctrine’s Validity: Ongoing debate about the constitutional validity of the Basic Structure doctrine, particularly its potential impact on other constitutional mandates.
  • Checks and Balances Necessity: Acknowledgment of the necessity for judicial checks and balances on parliamentary powers, especially in the context of historical abuses during the Emergency.

Way Forward:

  • Deeper Understanding of Jurisprudential Foundations: Emphasizes the importance of a fuller appreciation of the jurisprudential foundations of legal doctrines, including the Basic Structure doctrine.
  • Reducing Judicial Arbitrariness: Proposes a thoughtful examination of how judicial arbitrariness in deciding the Basic Structure can be minimized, ensuring greater legitimacy and transparency.
  • Public Demand for Transparency: Addresses the contemporary need for transparency in the functioning of democratic institutions, aligning with a changing information age and public demands.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Expulsion of MP from Lok Sabha

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Raja Ram Pal Case (2007), Article 105 , Article 20

Mains level: Parliamentary ethics and morals

MP expulsion mahua moitra

Central Idea: Expulsion of Mahua Moitra

  • A Member of Parliament from West Bengal was expelled from the Lok Sabha over allegations of a cash-for-query scandal.
  • Her expulsion highlights the importance of maintaining strict ethical standards and parliamentary etiquette in legislative proceedings.

Parliamentary Etiquette and Rules

  • Expected Conduct of MPs: MPs must adhere to rules of parliamentary etiquette, such as not interrupting speeches, maintaining silence, and avoiding obstruction during debates.
  • Updated Rules for Modern Protests: In 1989, rules were updated to include prohibitions against shouting slogans, displaying placards, tearing documents, and using electronic devices for protest in the House.
  • Rajya Sabha’s Similar Rules: The Rajya Sabha, like the Lok Sabha, has similar rules to ensure smooth conduct of proceedings.

Power of Suspension in Parliament

  • Presiding Officer’s Authority: The presiding officer of each House can direct an MP to withdraw from the chamber for disorderly conduct, resulting in absence for the day.
  • Naming and Suspension Process: MPs obstructing House business can be “named” by the presiding officer, leading to a possible suspension motion by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister.
  • Duration of Suspension: Suspensions can last until the end of the session.

Legal Recourse: Approaching the Supreme Court

  • Option for Judicial Review: The expelled MP has the option to challenge the expulsion in the Supreme Court, as explained by former Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Achary.
  • Constitutional Provisions: Article 122 of the Constitution provides immunity to parliamentary proceedings from judicial scrutiny based on procedural irregularity.
  • Scope for Judicial Review: Despite this immunity, the Supreme Court in the 2007 Raja Ram Pal case clarified that judicial review is possible in cases of substantive or gross illegality.

The Raja Ram Pal Case (2007)

  • Case Background: Raja Ram Pal, a BSP leader, was among 12 MPs expelled in the 2005 cash-for-query scam.
  • Supreme Court’s Stance: The Court upheld the expulsion but noted that proceedings tainted by substantial illegality are open to judicial scrutiny.
  • Judicial Review of Parliamentary Actions: The Court affirmed its role in scrutinizing legislative actions that infringe on fundamental rights.

Article 105 of the Constitution

  • Powers and Privileges of Parliament: Article 105 deals with the powers, privileges, and immunities of Parliament and its Members.
  • Judicial Scrutiny of Privilege Enforcement: The Court recognized that the enforcement of privilege by the legislature can be subject to judicial review, within certain constitutional limits.

Grounds for Challenging Expulsion

  • Examining Privilege and Procedure: The court can scrutinize whether the privilege cited for expulsion existed and if proper procedures were followed.
  • Functioning of Committees: The roles of the Privileges Committee and Ethics Committee are distinct, focusing on investigating misconduct and ensuring dignity in the House.
  • Investigative Procedures: Proper investigative procedures, including the right to depose and cross-examine, are essential for fairness and truth-finding.

Determining Offense and Punishment

  • Article 20 of the Constitution: This article stipulates that punishment requires an existing law defining the act as an offense.
  • Case-Specific Issues: In the case of the expelled MP, issues like sharing Parliament login-passwords and accepting money for questions are examined for rule violations.
  • Breach of Privilege and Inquiry: Accepting money for asking questions in Parliament is a breach of privilege warranting inquiry by the Privileges Committee.

Conclusion

  • Ongoing Debate and Implications: The case continues to spark debate on the limits of parliamentary privilege, the role of the judiciary, and the ethical standards expected of elected representatives.
  • Balancing Authority and Rights: The expulsion case underscores the delicate balance between parliamentary authority and the rights of its members.
  • Importance of Judicial Oversight: The potential for judicial review emphasizes the importance of legal oversight in maintaining democratic principles and fairness in legislative processes.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Derek O’Brien writes: Let’s bring laughter back to Parliament

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: na

Mains level: positive impact of humor in parliamentary debates, emphasizing recent instances of wit in economic discussions

Kharge's 'credit' request to PM Modi on India's Oscar wins causes laughter  riot | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Central idea 

The article celebrates the infusion of wit and humor in parliamentary debates, highlighting instances of playful banter among politicians. It emphasizes the positive impact of humor in diffusing tension and fostering a lighter atmosphere in the political arena. The ironic touch is noted as the article points out the absence of a dedicated “Wit and Humour” page on the Rajya Sabha website.

Key Highlights:

  • Introduction: The article explores the positive impact of humor in parliamentary debates, emphasizing recent instances of wit in economic discussions.
  • Historical Perspective: Various anecdotes showcase the witty exchanges among prominent politicians, such as Piloo Mody, Madhavrao Scindia, and Ram Manohar Lohia.
  • Current Scenario: The article humorously notes the absence of a dedicated “Wit and Humour” page on the Rajya Sabha website, highlighting an ironic aspect of parliamentary proceedings.

Key Terms:

  • Parliamentary debates
  • Wit and humour
  • Playful banter
  • Political discourse
  • Rajya Sabha
  • Economic parameters

Key Phrases:

  • “State of the country’s economy”
  • “Friendly banter”
  • “Cutthroat political colosseum”
  • “Bring back some wit”
  • “Lighter side of political debates”
  • “Positive impact of humor”
  • “Diffusing tension”
  • “Ironic touch”

Key Quotes:

  • “It is because you had a good governor for three years.” – Chairman of the House
  • “Let me confirm, sir, that is the only reason all this (progress) happened in Bengal.” – Response to the Chairman’s remark
  • “‘Wit and Humour’ page on the Rajya Sabha website reads ‘Feature under Development.'”

Anecdotes:

  • Piloo Mody’s witty response to disagreeing with a minister’s speech.
  • Madhavrao Scindia’s comment on the Janata government’s performance.
  • Ram Manohar Lohia’s anecdote about Nehru’s grandfather being a chaprasi in the Mughal court.
  • Mahavir Tyagi’s humorous remark on Nehru’s statement about Aksai Chin.

Key Statements:

  • “In the cutthroat political colosseum, let’s bring back some wit into Parliamentary debates.”
  • “Nothing like friendly banter to cool off a heated exchange.”

Key Examples and References:

  • Instances of witty exchanges involving Piloo Mody, Madhavrao Scindia, Ram Manohar Lohia, Mahavir Tyagi, and others.
  • The absence of a dedicated “Wit and Humour” page on the Rajya Sabha website.

Critical Analysis:

  • While the article positively highlights the role of humor, a more critical analysis could explore potential drawbacks or criticisms associated with the use of wit in parliamentary discussions.

Way Forward:

  • Encourage more friendly banter and wit in parliamentary discussions to foster a congenial atmosphere.
  • Consider developing a dedicated “Wit and Humour” page on parliamentary websites to showcase the lighter side of politics.
  • Conduct a more in-depth analysis of the impact of humor on political discourse, addressing potential challenges or criticisms.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Supreme Court questions Governor’s Discretion on TN Bills

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 200

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • The Supreme Court has taken notice of the Tamil Nadu government’s assertion that Governor R.N. Ravi lacks the “discretion” to withhold approval for the ten Bills “re-passed” by the State Legislative Assembly.
  • This legal matter revolves around the interpretation of Article 200 of the Constitution, which governs the Governor’s role in granting assent to Bills passed by the State Legislature.

Article 200 of the Indian Constitution

 

  • It pertains to the “Assent to Bills.”
  • It outlines the procedure for the Governor of a state in India to give their assent to bills passed by the state legislature.
  • Article 200 states that when a bill is passed by the legislative assembly of a state (or in the case of a bicameral legislature, by the legislative assembly and legislative council), it shall be presented to the Governor for their assent.

Governor’s Discretion: The Governor has the discretion to either:

  1. Give their assent to the bill, after which it becomes a law.
  2. Withhold their assent to the bill, in which case the bill does not become law.
  3. Return the bill (if it is not a money bill) to the legislature with a request for reconsideration, along with a specific message explaining the reasons for withholding assent.

Reconsideration by the Legislature: If the Governor returns a bill for reconsideration, the legislature can then reconsider the bill, taking into account the Governor’s message. They may choose to make amendments to the bill or pass it again without any changes.

Assent after Reconsideration: If the bill is passed again by the legislature, with or without amendments, and is presented to the Governor, the Governor is bound to give their assent to it. In other words, the Governor cannot withhold assent a second time.

 

Governor’s Discretion

  • Article 200 Interpretation: The Tamil Nadu government argued that once Bills have been re-passed by the Assembly, they are treated similarly to Money Bills and cannot be rejected by the Governor.
  • Questioning the Process: The CJI questioned whether the Governor must send the Bills back to the Assembly for reconsideration after withholding assent.
  • Limiting Presidential Referral: The State also emphasized that the Governor cannot refer the reiterated Bills to the President after withholding assent.

Background and Delay

  • Delayed Bills: The Bills in question were sent to the Governor’s office between January 2020 and April 2023, and the State accused the Governor of holding them indefinitely.
  • Special Session: The TN Assembly convened a special session to re-pass the Bills after the Governor withheld assent.
  • Governor’s Statement: The Governor returned the Bills with a simple statement: “I withhold consent,” prompting the Assembly to take action.

Legal Perspectives

  • Governor’s Ceremonial Role: The State contends that the Governor’s role is primarily ceremonial and that he must act within the State Legislature’s framework.
  • Will of the People: The Bills passed by the Assembly represent the will of the people and should not be delayed or rejected without valid reasons.

Supreme Court’s Response

  • Addressing Delay: The Supreme Court acknowledged the need to address whether there has been a delay in the Governor’s constitutional function.
  • Bill Status: The Attorney General mentioned that 182 Bills were presented to the Governor, with 152 approved, five withdrawn, and nine reserved for referral to the President.
  • Key Issue: The real issue in this case involves amendments to State universities’ legislations that affect the Governor’s powers to select Vice-Chancellors.

Conclusion

  • The Supreme Court’s hearing on this matter raises critical questions about the Governor’s role in granting assent to Bills and the need to ensure timely decision-making in the best interest of the people and governance of the State.
  • The interpretation of Article 200 of the Constitution will play a pivotal role in this legal dispute.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Governors can’t sit on Bills passed by Assembly: Supreme Court

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: State vs . Governor Row

governor

Central Idea

  • In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court has asserted that a State Governor cannot obstruct crucial bills passed by a State Legislature.
  • The court delivered this verdict in response to a writ petition filed by the Punjab government.
  • The Punjab government approached the Supreme Court, challenging Governor Banwarilal Purohit’s decision to withhold some bills, alleging the legislative session’s illegitimacy.

SC Ruling on Governors Bill Withholding

  • Court’s Warning: The court sternly warned the Governor that he was “playing with fire” and directed him to make a decision regarding these pending bills presented to him for assent.
  • Power of Elected Representatives: Emphasizing the supremacy of elected representatives in a parliamentary democracy, the court highlighted that real power resides with them.
  • Governor’s actual Role: The court underscored that the Governor’s role is that of a constitutional statesman guiding the government on constitutional matters.

Governor’s Grounds for Delay

  • Governor’s Grounds: Governor Purohit contended that the Assembly session was “patently illegal” because the Speaker had adjourned the Budget Session sine die in March without proroguing it.
  • Special Assembly Sitting: He refused to consider the proposed laws passed in a special June sitting, arguing that they were in breach of Punjab Vidhan Sabha Rules.
  • Court’s Disagreement: The court disagreed with the Governor’s claims, stating that the Speaker acted within his rights in adjourning the House sine die.
  • Constitutional Validity: The court upheld the Speaker’s authority and stressed that it was not constitutionally valid for the Governor to question how the Speaker conducted the House’s affairs.

Court’s Disagreement with the Governor

  • House’s Autonomy: The court affirmed that each legislative house has the right to be the sole judge of the legality of its own proceedings.
  • Legitimate Session: It found that the June 19-20 legislative session adhered to Rule 16 of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Rules, rejecting any doubts cast on its legitimacy.
  • Democratic Peril Warning: The court cautioned that any attempts to challenge the legislative session could pose a grave peril to democracy.

Governor’s Role Defined

  • No Judgment on Prorogation: The court questioned the Governor’s right to sit in judgment on whether the session was prorogued and emphasized that the Speaker’s decisions on adjournments governed the House.
  • Avoiding Perpetual Session: While acknowledging the Speaker’s authority, the court cautioned against exploiting the sine die adjournment to perpetually avoid prorogation.

Conclusion

  • The Supreme Court’s verdict reiterates the importance of upholding legislative proceedings and the authority of elected representatives.
  • It underscores that Governors should respect the autonomy of legislative houses and not obstruct the passage of bills based on perceived procedural violations.
  • This landmark decision ensures the preservation of democratic principles and the effective functioning of State Legislatures.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

TN moves Supreme Court against Governor over Bill withholds

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 32, Legislative Powers of Governor

Mains level: State vs . Governor Row

tn governor

Central Idea

  • The Tamil Nadu state government has taken its concerns to the Supreme Court regarding the prolonged delay in the approval of Bills and Government orders by the Governor.

TN Petition to the Supreme Court

  • Constitutional Challenge: The TN government has filed a Writ Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.
  • Objective: The petition seeks a declaration that the Governor’s inaction, omission, and delay in assenting to Bills and considering Government orders forwarded by the Tamil Nadu State Legislature is unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable, and a misuse of power.
  • Impact on Administration: The Governor’s delay in signing remission orders, day-to-day files, appointment orders, and granting approvals for prosecution is causing severe disruptions in the state administration.

Article 32 of Indian Constitution

  • Article 32 grants individuals the right to move to the Supreme Court of India for the enforcement of their fundamental rights.
  • It is considered a fundamental right in itself and is often referred to as the “Right to Constitutional Remedies.”

What are the Discretionary Powers of the Governor?

The Constitution makes it clear that if any question arises whether a matter falls within the governor’s discretion or not, the decision of the governor is final and the validity of anything done by him cannot be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion.

Constitutional Discretion:

  • Reservation of a bill for the consideration of the President (Article 200).
  • Recommendation for the imposition of the President’s Rule (Article 356) in the state.
  • While exercising his functions as the administrator of an adjoining union territory (in case of additional charge).
  • Determining the amount payable by the Government of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to an autonomous Tribal District Council as royalty accruing from licenses for mineral exploration.
  • Seeking information from the chief minister with regard to the administrative and legislative matters of the state.

Situational Discretion:

  • Appointment of chief minister when no party has a clear-cut majority in the state legislative assembly or when the chief minister in office dies suddenly and there is no obvious successor.
  • Dismissal of the council of ministers when it cannot prove the confidence of the state legislative assembly.
  • Dissolution of the state legislative assembly if the council of ministers has lost its majority.

Can the Governor withhold His Assent to a Bill in Exercise of His Discretionary Powers?

  • While a plain reading of Article 200 suggests that the Governor can withhold his assent, experts question whether he can do so only on the advice of the Council of Ministers.
  • The Constitution provides that the Governor can exercise his executive powers only on the advice of the Council of Ministers under Article 154.
  • The larger question is why a Governor should be allowed to withhold assent when the Bill is passed by the Assembly.

Rationale behind Governor’s Power

  • Checks and Balances: Delay in approval allows the Governor to scrutinize bills and orders more thoroughly, ensuring that they are in line with the constitution and the interests of the state.
  • Prevention of Hasty Decisions: It prevents hasty or ill-considered legislation from being passed, which might have unintended negative consequences.
  • Protection of Minority Rights: The Governor can act as a safeguard against the majority’s potentially oppressive decisions, protecting the rights and interests of minority groups.
  • Aid to Parliamentary Democracy: The delay provides time for public debate, expert opinions, and stakeholder consultations, which are essential aspects of parliamentary democracy.
  • Conflict Resolution: In situations where there are disputes between the state government and the center or between various state institutions, the Governor’s involvement can facilitate resolution.

Issues with the delays

  • Delay in Decision-Making: The Governor’s failure to take a decision on the Bills passed by the legislature leads to a delay in decision-making, which affects the effective functioning of the state government.
  • Delay in Implementation of Policies and Laws: When the Governor fails to make a decision on a Bill passed by the assembly, it delays the implementation of policies and laws.
  • Undermines the Democratic Process: The Governor, who is appointed by the Centre, can use his powers to delay or reject Bills passed by state assemblies for political reasons, which undermines the democratic process.
  • Public Perception: The public often views pending Bills with the Governor as a sign of inefficiency or even corruption in the state government, which can damage the government’s reputation.
  • Constitutional Ambiguity: There is ambiguity in the Constitution regarding the Governor’s power to withhold assent.
  • Lack of Accountability: When the Governor withholds assent, he does not provide any reason for his decision.

Recent Instances of Withholding Assent

  • Chhattisgarh (2020): The Chhattisgarh Governor withheld assent to a bill amending the Chhattisgarh Lokayukta Act, 2001.
  • Tamil Nadu (2021): The Tamil Nadu Governor reserved a bill exempting state students from NEET medical entrance exams for the President’s consideration after a significant delay.
  • Kerala (2023): Kerala’s Governor signed five bills into law but withheld assent to six others, citing concerns about their constitutionality and legality.

Mains Marks Enhancer: Supreme Court’s Stance and Commission Recommendations

  • Nabam Rebia and Bamang Felix vs Dy.Speaker (2016): The SC clarified that a Governor’s discretion under Article 200 is limited to deciding whether a bill should be reserved for the President’s consideration. The Court emphasized that actions or inactions by the Governor regarding bill assent can be subject to judicial review.
  • Punchhi Commission (2010): This commission recommended the establishment of a time limit within which the Governor should decide on granting assent or reserving a bill for the President’s consideration.
  • National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC): NCRWC proposed a four-month time limit for the Governor to decide on a bill’s fate. It also suggested the removal of the Governor’s power to withhold assent except in cases explicitly stipulated in the Constitution.

Conclusion

  • The dispute between the government and the Governor underscores the importance of timely decision-making to ensure the effective functioning of the state administration.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Ethics, parliamentary conduct and the Indian MP

parliamentary conduct

Central idea

The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee is checking if Mahua Moitra took money for asking questions, mixing parliamentary rules with possible law-breaking. Without a clear definition of ‘unethical conduct,’ it shows the challenge of balancing parliamentary norms and legal issues. The case highlights the complex process of handling allegations of misconduct among MPs.

Key Highlights:

  • Mahua Moitra, a Trinamool Congress MP, faces proceedings from the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee over allegations of receiving money for posing questions in Parliament.
  • Accepting money for parliamentary work is considered a breach of privilege and contempt of the House.
  • Past instances include expulsion of MPs found guilty of accepting money for putting up questions, emphasizing the seriousness of such charges.

Challenges:

  • Lack of clear definitions for ‘unethical conduct’ places the evaluation of MPs’ actions on the Ethics Committee’s discretion.
  • The term ‘unethical conduct’ remains undefined, and decisions rely on the committee’s judgment.
  • Cases of misconduct, misuse of privileges, and personal indiscretions fall under the purview of the Ethics Committee.

Concerns:

  • The Ethics Committee examines cases of moral lapses by MPs, ranging from personal misconduct to misuse of official privileges.
  • Legal implications of accepting illegal gratification for parliamentary work might involve criminal investigations, separate from parliamentary proceedings.
  • The scope of investigation by parliamentary committees differs from judicial probes, and evidence evaluation is based on the preponderance of probabilities.

 

Prelims focus

 

Establishment: Formed in 2000.

Mandate: Examines complaints related to unethical conduct of MPs.

Responsibilities: Investigates complaints, recommends action, and formulates a code of conduct.

Scope: Focuses on behavior that may not have a clear definition, leaving it to the committee’s discretion.

Decision Authority: Decides whether specific acts are unethical or not.

 

Analysis:

  • Past cases include MPs found guilty of unethical conduct, such as bringing companions under false pretenses on official tours.
  • Serious cases of misconduct, violating laws like the Passports Act, are often dealt with by the Committee of Privileges or special committees, not the Ethics Committee.
  • Investigative methods include examining written documents, oral testimonies, expert depositions, and findings are based on a common-sense approach.

Key Data:

  • The Ethics Committee was established in 2000 to examine complaints related to the unethical conduct of MPs and recommend actions.
  • MPs facing expulsion due to misconduct, such as accepting money for parliamentary work, may still face criminal charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Key Terms for mains value addition:

  • Breach of privilege and contempt of the House.
  • Unethical conduct, moral lapses, and misuse of privileges.
  • Committee of Privileges, special committees, and the Ethics Committee.
  • Article 105 of the Constitution grants MPs the freedom to speak without disclosing their information sources.

Way Forward:

  • The Ethics Committee’s role in probing MPs’ conduct necessitates a balance between parliamentary discipline and legal considerations.
  • Clarity in defining ‘unethical conduct’ and guidelines for online submission of questions could enhance transparency.
  • Recognizing the distinction between parliamentary discipline and criminal investigations in handling serious allegations against MPs.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Give up impropriety, demonstrate impartiality

Central idea

The Chief Justice of India expresses concern over the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker’s inaction on pending disqualification petitions since July 2022, emphasizing the importance of upholding the court’s orders. The article highlights the historical evolution of the Speaker’s role, citing instances of misuse, partisanship, and delays in addressing disqualification petitions, posing a threat to the stability of elected governments.

Key Themes:

  • The Supreme Court consistently emphasizes the need for an unbiased mechanism, possibly an independent tribunal, to handle disqualification cases.
  • Concerns about the Speaker’s delay in addressing disqualification petitions and potential challenges in the certification of Bills as Money Bills.

Data Highlights from the Article:

  • Parliamentary Standing Committees Referral: During 2004-14, over 60% of Bills in the Lok Sabha were referred to committees for detailed scrutiny. However, from 2014-2023, this referral rate dropped to less than 25%.
  • Suspension Instances: Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (Congress) swiftly suspended for remarks against the PM, later revoked. Ramesh Bidhuri (BJP) faced no swift action for passing communal slurs against an MP.
  • Challenges in Maharashtra Assembly: Unconstitutional suspension of 12 BJP MLAs for a year in July 2021, set aside by the Supreme Court.
  • Defection Decision Delays: Inaction by the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker on disqualification petitions pending since July 2022. Supreme Court recommends an independent tribunal for timely decisions on defection cases.
  • Certification of Bills Challenges: Ongoing challenges in the Court regarding the certification of certain Bills as Money Bills by the Lok Sabha Speaker.
  • International Speaker Practices: In Britain, the Speaker resigns from their political party upon election and seeks re-election as an impartial Speaker. This practice is not followed in India.

Speaker’s Functions and Gaps:

  • Dual functions of certifying Bills as Money Bills and deciding on disqualification under the Tenth Schedule.
  • Misuse of suspension provisions against Opposition members, highlighting instances of bias.
  • Failure to refer significant Bills to Parliamentary Standing Committees affecting parliamentary functioning.
  • Custodianship of the rights and privileges of the House, its committees, and members.

Challenges in Deciding Disqualification:

  • Misuse of powers against Opposition members, unequal treatment for remarks against leaders.
  • Delayed or inadequate actions on disqualification petitions, undermining stability in governance
  • Past instances show Speakers favoring ruling dispensation, raising concerns over neutrality.
  • Proposal for an independent tribunal, recommended by the Supreme Court, to handle disqualification cases.
  • Maharashtra Assembly Speaker’s inaction on pending disqualification petitions despite court directions.

Key Supreme Court Judgments Simplified

Kihoto Hollohan (1992):

  • Minority judges believed that giving the Speaker power to decide defections violated democratic principles.
  • The case suggests the need for an independent tribunal, headed by judges, to handle defection cases.

Keisham Meghachandra Singh vs The Hon’ble Speaker Manipur (2020):

  • The Supreme Court recommended a constitutional amendment for an independent tribunal to decide defections.
  • The ongoing inaction of the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker on disqualification petitions was highlighted.

Once a Speaker, Always a Speaker:

  • Comparison with Britain’s practice where the Speaker resigns from the political party for impartiality.
  • Indian Speakers rarely exercise the option to resign from their political party, impacting perceived impartiality.

Way Forward and Reforms:

  • Adoption of British practices to instill confidence, emphasizing Speaker’s impartiality.
  • Urgent need for Speakers to demonstrate impartiality, even if formal reforms are pending.
  • Consideration of reforms such as an independent tribunal for handling disqualification cases.
  • Urgent measures needed to address challenges and restore faith in the institution of the Speaker.
  • Speakers must commit to displaying impartiality, aligning their functions with democratic principles.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

LS Ethics Committee: Its’ Constitution, Members

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lok Sabha Ethics Committee

Mains level: Various parliamentary committees

Central Idea

  • The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee, set up over two decades ago, plays a pivotal role in overseeing the conduct of members and addressing cases of misconduct.
  • While it predominantly handles relatively minor offenses, its significance in maintaining ethical standards in Parliament cannot be understated.

History of Ethics Committees

  • Origin in 1996: The concept of ethics panels for the two Houses of Parliament was first proposed during a Presiding Officers’ Conference in Delhi in 1996.
  • Rajya Sabha’s Pioneering Committee: Vice President K R Narayanan, who served as Rajya Sabha Chairman, established the Ethics Committee for the Upper House on March 4, 1997. It officially commenced its duties in May of the same year.
  • Lok Sabha’s Journey: Lok Sabha’s Ethics Committee journey was delayed initially. A study group within the House Committee of Privileges recommended its formation in 1997 after studying legislative ethics practices worldwide. However, it only became a permanent fixture in the Lok Sabha in 2015, following its ad hoc establishment in 2000.

Procedure for Complaints

  • Complaint Origins: Any person can file a complaint against a Member of Parliament (MP) through another Lok Sabha MP. The complaint must be accompanied by evidence of alleged misconduct and an affidavit confirming its authenticity. MPs can also lodge complaints without the need for an affidavit.
  • Speaker’s Role: The Speaker can refer any complaint against an MP to the Ethics Committee.
  • Prima Facie Inquiry: The Committee conducts a preliminary inquiry to determine if a complaint warrants further examination. It proceeds to evaluate and make recommendations after this stage.
  • Report Presentation: The Committee presents its findings to the Speaker, who seeks the House’s input on whether to consider the report. A half-hour discussion on the report can also be scheduled.

Privileges Committee Comparison

  • Overlapping Responsibilities: The Ethics Committee and the Privileges Committee occasionally deal with similar cases. More serious allegations typically go to the Privileges Committee.
  • Privileges Committee’s Mandate: The Privileges Committee safeguards the “freedom, authority, and dignity of Parliament.” It can address breaches of privilege by MPs or non-MPs that undermine the House’s authority and dignity.
  • Ethics Committee’s Scope: The Ethics Committee primarily focuses on cases of misconduct involving MPs.

2005 Cash-for-Query Case

  • Expulsion of MPs: In 2005, a significant episode unfolded when both Houses expelled 10 Lok Sabha MPs and one Rajya Sabha MP implicated in the cash-for-query scandal. They were accused of accepting money to raise questions in Parliament.
  • Bansal Committee’s Report: The Lok Sabha took action based on the report of a special committee led by Chandigarh MP P K Bansal. In contrast, Rajya Sabha entrusted the House Ethics Committee with investigating the matter.
  • Evidence in the 2005 Case: Former Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Achary noted that the 2005 case was backed by substantial evidence from a sting operation. Establishing a money trail could be the challenge in the recent Bengal MP case.

Conclusion

  • The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee, although historically ad hoc and relatively recent in its permanent establishment, plays a critical role in upholding the ethical standards of India’s parliamentary members.
  • It serves as a guardian of parliamentary ethics, ensuring that members adhere to the highest moral standards while fulfilling their legislative responsibilities.
  • The Committee’s work, while often overshadowed, is integral to maintaining the integrity of the Lok Sabha.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

How MPs ask Questions in Lok Sabha?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Types of Questions in Parliament

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • A Parliamentarian is being questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee, in her alleged involvement in ‘cash for query’ allegations.
  • This has thrust the spotlight on the importance and procedure of asking questions in the Lok Sabha.

Procedure for Raising Questions

  • Rules and Directions: The process of raising questions is governed by Rules 32 to 54 of the “Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha” and Directions 10 to 18 issued by the Speaker, Lok Sabha.
  • Notice Submission: MPs initiate the process by submitting a notice addressed to the Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha, specifying the question’s text, the relevant Minister, desired answer date, and order of preference if multiple questions are tabled.
  • Limitations: MPs are allowed to submit a maximum of five notices for oral and written answers combined, per day, with any excess notices considered for the subsequent session days.
  • Notice Period: The notice period for a question is usually not less than 15 days.
  • Submission Modes: MPs can submit notices through the online ‘Member’s Portal’ using their login credentials or physical forms available in the Parliamentary Notice Office.

Conditions for Admissibility of Questions

  • Admissibility Rules: Various rules govern the admissibility of questions, such as a limit of 150 words, prohibition of arguments or defamatory statements, avoidance of character or conduct references except in official capacity, and disallowance of policy-related queries.
  • Legal Matters: Questions concerning subjects under court consideration or those that may compromise national unity and integrity are inadmissible.

Types of Questions

  • Starred Questions: MPs pose starred questions for oral responses from the Minister-in-charge. These questions require submission at least 15 days in advance, with a maximum of 20 listed for oral answers each day.
  • Unstarred Questions: Unstarred questions receive written replies from the Ministry and must also be submitted 15 days ahead. A daily limit of 230 unanswered questions for written answers exists.
  • Short Notice Questions: Pertaining to urgent public concerns, these questions can be asked with less than 10 days’ notice, accompanied by a valid reason.
  • Questions to Private Members: Addressed to the MP themselves, these are posed when the subject relates to bills, resolutions, or House-related matters under that MP’s responsibility.

Importance of Raising Questions

  • Parliamentary Right: MPs have an inherent and unrestricted parliamentary right to raise questions, serving as a legislative control mechanism over executive actions.
  • Information and Critique: Questions help obtain administration and government activity details, critique government policies, expose lapses, and prompt ministers to take corrective actions.
  • Government Feedback: For the government, questions gauge public sentiment towards policies, and administration, and can lead to parliamentary commissions, inquiries, or legislative actions in response.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Money Bill: SC to hear challenge

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Money Bill and related provisions and procedure

Mains level: Money Bill debate and Supreme Court in interpretations

What’s the news?

  • In recent years, some major legislations have been passed via the money bill route. Now a seven-judge SC bench will hear a challenge to the Centre’s use of money bills for passing important laws.

Central idea

  • In a significant development, the Chief Justice of India announced that a seven-judge bench will be constituted to address a series of pleas challenging the government’s use of the money bill route to enact certain key legislations. This move comes in response to mounting concerns about the validity and constitutional propriety of this legislative procedure.

What is a money bill?

  • A money bill is a type of legislative proposal that is defined and governed by Article 110 of the Indian Constitution.

What constitutes a money bill?

  • Subject: A bill is considered a money bill if it exclusively deals with specific financial matters outlined in Article 110(1)(a) to (g) of the Indian Constitution. These matters include taxation, government borrowing, and the appropriation of money from the Consolidated Fund of India, among others.
  • Introduction in Lok Sabha: Money bills can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha, which is the lower house of India’s Parliament. They cannot originate in the Rajya Sabha, which is the upper house.
  • Exclusion of Rajya Sabha Consent: Unlike ordinary bills, money bills do not require the consent or approval of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States). The Lok Sabha has the exclusive authority to pass or reject money bills.
  • Final Decision of the Speaker: Article 110(3) of the Constitution states that if any question arises whether a bill is a money bill or not, the decision of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha on this matter shall be final.
  • Judicial Scrutiny: While the Constitution grants the Speaker the final authority in deciding whether a bill is a money bill, the Indian judiciary has the power to review and examine the Speaker’s decision for compliance with constitutional provisions.

Challenged Legislations

  • Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) Amendments:
  • In July 2022, a three-judge bench composed of Justices A. M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and CT Ravikumar upheld the PMLA and the extensive powers of the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
  • However, they left the validity of amendments to the PMLA via the Money Bill route open for review by a larger Constitution bench.
  • The Finance Acts passed in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019 introduced significant changes to the PMLA, raising questions about the constitutionality of their passage.
  • Aadhaar Act:
  • The Aadhaar case marked a significant challenge to the categorization of a bill as a money bill.
  • In 2018, the Supreme Court, in a 4:1 majority, ruled in favor of the government, declaring the Aadhaar Act a valid money bill under Article 110 of the Constitution.
  • Notably, Justice Chandrachud dissented, condemning the government’s action as a fraud on the Constitution and subterfuge.
  • Tribunal Reform:
  • In the case of Roger Matthew vs. Union of India in November 2019, the Supreme Court confronted the issue of changes in the service conditions of tribunal members introduced as a money bill in the Finance Act, 2017.
  • While a five-judge bench deemed the law unconstitutional for impinging on judicial independence, it referred the money bill aspect to a larger constitution bench.
  • This move also cast doubt on the correctness of the five-judge Constitution Bench’s 2018 verdict upholding the Aadhaar Act as a money bill.

The Larger Bench and Implications

  • Constitutional Significance: The cases involve the interpretation of Article 110 and the determination of whether specific bills genuinely qualify as money bills. The decisions reached by the larger bench will establish crucial precedents in constitutional law.
  • Clarifying Legislative Boundaries: The larger bench’s decisions will play a pivotal role in clarifying the boundaries of legislative power in India. It will provide guidance on when a bill can be categorized as a money bill and, consequently, whether it requires the consent of the Rajya Sabha.
  • Impact on Challenged Legislations: The decisions of the larger bench will directly impact the validity of specific legislations challenged for being passed as money bills. For instance, in the case of amendments to the PMLA, the outcome will determine the fate of these amendments and whether they must undergo further scrutiny in both houses of Parliament.
  • Judicial Review of Speaker’s Decision: The larger bench’s deliberations may provide further clarity on the extent of judicial review over the Speaker’s decision regarding the classification of bills as money bills.

Conclusion

  • The announcement of a seven-judge bench by CJI Chandrachud signals a substantial step toward addressing these concerns and providing clarity on the boundaries of this legislative process, which has far-reaching implications for India’s legal and political framework.

Also read:

Money Bills vs Finance Bills: What are the differences, what the court has ruled

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

When can a Bill be designated as a ‘Money Bill’: SC to hear challenge

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Money Bill

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • CJI announced that a seven-judge bench will be established to address a series of petitions challenging the government’s use of the money bill route to pass significant legislations.
  • This move aims to provide clarity on the interpretation and application of money bills under Article 110 of the Constitution and their validity.

Understanding the Money Bill Issue

  • The PMLA Challenge: CJI Chandrachud’s statement came during the hearing of challenges against amendments made to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
  • Previous Judgment: In July 2022, a three-judge bench upheld the PMLA and the extensive powers of the Enforcement Directorate (ED). However, the validity of amendments to the PMLA passed as money bills remained open for review by a larger Constitution bench.
  • Finance Acts’ Impact: Key amendments to the PMLA were introduced through Finance Acts passed in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019, which are presented as money bills during the budget sessions under Article 110 of the Constitution.

Challenges beyond PMLA

[A] Aadhaar Controversy:

  • The issue of whether a bill qualifies as a money bill under Article 110 was first raised during the Aadhaar case.
  • In a 4:1 majority ruling in 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the Aadhaar Act as a valid money bill.
  • Notably, Justice Chandrachud dissented, criticizing the government’s passage of the Aadhaar Act as a money bill, labelling it a “fraud on the Constitution.”

[B] Tribunal Reform:

  • In the case of Roger Matthew vs. Union of India (2019), the Supreme Court addressed challenges related to changes in the service conditions of tribunal members, introduced as a money bill in the Finance Act of 2017.
  • While declaring the law unconstitutional for interfering with judicial independence, the court referred the money bill aspect to a larger constitution bench, expressing doubts about the correctness of its 2018 verdict upholding the Aadhaar Act.

Understanding a Money Bill

  • Article 110(1): A bill is considered a money bill if it exclusively pertains to matters specified in Article 110(1)(a) to (g), such as taxation, government borrowing, and appropriation of funds from the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • Lok Sabha Exclusive: Money bills can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha and do not require Rajya Sabha’s consent.
  • Role of Speaker: According to Article 110(3), the Speaker of the Lok Sabha has the final say in determining whether a bill is a money bill. However, the court in the Aadhaar case emphasized that the Speaker’s decision is subject to judicial scrutiny.

Conclusion

  • The formation of a seven-judge bench signifies a significant step towards resolving controversies surrounding money bills and their passage, ensuring a clearer understanding of their application under the Constitution.
  • This move underscores the importance of judicial review in upholding the constitutional principles of parliamentary proceedings and ensuring transparency and accountability in legislative processes involving money bills.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Types of Majorities in Parliament

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Types of Majority Votes

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • In a very rare event, the Parliament passed the women’s reservation bill with a near-unanimous 2/3rd Majority Votes.
  • Rajya Sabha gave the green light in an absolute majority vote.
  • In Lok Sabha, 454 members voted in favour of the bill that seeks to reserve one-third of seats to women in central and state legislatures.

Types of Majority Votes

  Description Examples of Use
Absolute Majority More than 50% of the total membership of the house. Formation of government at the Center and States.
Effective Majority More than 50% of the effective strength of the house (total strength minus vacancies). Removal of Vice-president in RS, Speaker/Deputy Speaker removal.
Simple Majority More than 50% of the members present and voting. Passing Ordinary/Money/Financial bills, Confidence Motion, etc.
Special Majority All majorities other than absolute, effective, or simple majority. Constitutional amendment bills, National emergency approval, etc.

Types of Special Majority:

Article 249 2/3rd members present and voting. Empowering Parliament to make laws in the state list.
Article 368 2/3rd members present and voting + more than 50% of the total strength of the house. Constitutional amendment bills not affecting federalism.
Article 368 + State Ratification 2/3rd members present and voting + more than 50% of state legislatures by a simple majority. Constitutional amendment bills affecting federalism.
Article 61 2/3rd members of the total strength of the house. Impeachment of the Indian President.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Transformations and Trends in the Indian Parliament over 75 Years

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Trends in Indian Parliament

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • India’s parliamentary journey spanning 75 years reflects a dynamic and evolving landscape of political representation, legislative processes, and societal changes.
  • From shifting demographics to parliamentary practices and electoral dynamics, this retrospective analysis sheds light on the fascinating facets of India’s parliamentary evolution.

Key Trends in Indian Parliament

Youth Representation
  • Despite a growing youth population, the number of MPs aged 35 and below in the Lok Sabha is at a record low.
  • In the First Lok Sabha, there were 82 such MPs, but in the 17th Lok Sabha, there are only 21.
  • This decline contrasts with India’s youthful demographic, where around 66% of the population is under 35.
Women’s Turnout and Representation
  • Women’s voter turnout has consistently risen since 1962, even surpassing male turnout in 2019.
  • Number of women candidates has increased, from 45 in 1957 to 726 in 2019.
  • However, women’s representation in the Lok Sabha remains low, with just 14.36% of the total seats occupied by women in 2019.
  • Women’s reservation Bill, aimed at increasing women’s representation to 33%, has faced hurdles in passing.
Missing Deputy Speaker
  • 17th Lok Sabha is set to become the first in independent India without a Deputy Speaker, breaking from tradition.
Declining Parliamentary Sittings
  • Between 1952 and 1974, the Lok Sabha consistently held over 100 sittings annually, but this trend has declined.
  • Pandemic in 2020 led to a significant decrease in sittings.
  • Average sitting time per day has also decreased over the years.
Bills Passed and Ordinances Issued
  • Both Houses of Parliament are passing fewer bills compared to earlier decades.
  • Highest number of bills passed occurred during the Emergency in 1976, while the lowest was in 2004.
  • An increase in ordinances issued by the Union government has coincided with fewer parliamentary sittings.
Voter Enrollment and Parties in the Fray
  • Number of voters has increased six-fold from 1951 to 2019, resulting in a higher number of polling stations.
  • Nos. of parties participating in Lok Sabha polls has multiplied over the years, with 673 parties in 2019 compared to 53 in 1951.
  • Number of contestants has also grown significantly.
Vote Share and Majority Trends
  • Out of 17 Lok Sabha elections held so far, 10 have resulted in clear majorities, while 7 have been fractured mandates.
  • Recent trends show that the winning party typically receives a higher vote share than the runner-up since 2004.
Changing Focus on Questions
  • Time allocated for questions in the Lok Sabha has decreased over the years.
  • First Lok Sabha dedicated 15% of its time to questions, whereas the 14th Lok Sabha allocated only 11.42%.
  • Data for the 15th, 16th, and 17th Lok Sabhas is not available for comparison.

Conclusion

  • As India’s Parliament embarks on its journey of 75 years, these trends provide a fascinating glimpse into the evolving dynamics of the nation’s highest legislative body.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Entrances in India’s New Parliament Building

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Gaja Dwar (Elephant Gate)

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar raised the national flag at the Gaja Dwar (elephant gate) of India’s new Parliament building just days before its first session.
  • This event sheds light on the symbolic importance of the Gaja Dwar and the other entrances in the new Parliament.

Gaja Dwar (Elephant Gate)

  • Wisdom and Wealth: The new Parliament building features six entrances, each representing a distinct role. The Gaja Dwar, adorned with a sculpture of an elephant, guards the northern entrance. The elephant is a symbol of wisdom, wealth, intellect, memory, and embodies the aspirations of elected representatives in the democracy.
  • Vastu Shastra: According to Vastu shastra, the northern direction is associated with planet Mercury, the source of higher intellect, and is presided over by Kubera, the god of wealth. Hence, the Gaja is placed at the northern entrance.

Cultural Symbolism

  • Guardian Statues: All six entrances of the New Parliament Building feature red sandstone sculptures of auspicious animals known as “guardian statues.” These selections were made based on their significance in Indian culture, aesthetic appeal, positive qualities, and Vaastu Shastra principles.
  1. Asva (Horse): Positioned at the southern entrance, the vigilant horse symbolizes endurance, strength, power, and speed, reflecting the quality of governance.
  2. Garuda (Eagle-like Bird): The Garuda stands at the eastern ceremonial entrance, representing the aspirations of the people and the country’s administrators. In Vastu shastra, the east is associated with the rising sun, symbolizing hope, victory, and success.
  3. Makara (Mythological Aquatic Creature): Combining features of different animals, the Makara signifies unity in diversity among the nation’s people.
  4. Shardula (Mythological Creature): Regarded as the most powerful among all living beings, the Shardula symbolizes the strength of the country’s people.
  5. Hamsa (Swan): Located at the public entrance to the northeast, the Hamsa highlights the essential quality of discernment and self-realization, born of wisdom, in the nation’s people.

Ceremonial Entrances

  • Three of these entrances are designed as ceremonial entrances, meant to welcome special guests and mark significant events.
  • These entrances showcase Indian art, culture, ethos, and patriotism.
  • They are named Gyan, Shakti, and Karma, representing the Indian knowledge system, patriotism, and artistic traditions, respectively.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Crafting a new chapter in parliamentary conduct

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: British and Indian Parliamentary model

Mains level: Indian Parliamentary model, increasing leniency towards disruption, consequences and solutions

What’s the news?

  • Disruptive behavior within India’s Parliament is on the rise, leading to concerns about declining decorum and public perception, as well as its impact on governance.

Central idea

  • India’s Parliament faces a decorum crisis with growing disruptive behavior during special sessions, raising concerns of impending chaos. Lawmakers from various parties resort to disruption instead of constructive debate. It’s high time to address this issue and seek inspiration from the British parliamentary model, which once inspired our nation’s leaders.

Initial Pride in the Parliamentary System

  • Britain’s Westminster model: In the early years following India’s independence, Indian politicians took great pride in the parliamentary system they had adopted. This system was modeled after Britain’s Westminster model.
  • Longing for Denied Benefits: India’s nationalists were determined to experience the democracy they had long been denied under British colonial rule. They believed that the British parliamentary system was the best model, and its adoption was a significant step toward achieving democratic governance.
  • Attlee’s Proposal: When Clement Attlee, a future British Prime Minister, visited India as part of a constitutional commission, he suggested the merits of a presidential system over a parliamentary one. However, this proposal was met with shock and horror by his Indian interlocutors, who strongly favored the parliamentary system.
  • Admiration for British Parliamentary Traditions: Many of India’s first-generation parliamentarians had received their education in England and held a deep admiration for British parliamentary traditions. They found authenticity in emulating these traditions.
  • Continuation of British Practices: India’s parliamentary practices continued to mirror British traditions. For example, Indian MPs still thump their desks in approbation, a practice similar to desk-thumping in the British Parliament. When voting on bills, the affirmative call is typically aye rather than yes, although hanh is gaining popularity on some Treasury benches.
  • A Compliment from a British Prime Minister: In an instance where an Anglophile Communist MP, Professor Hirendranath Mukherjee, proudly recounted how a visiting British Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, had remarked that the Indian Parliament was in every respect like the British one, This comment was regarded as a compliment, even by a Communist, and it emphasized the authenticity with which India had adopted British parliamentary traditions.

Departure from British parliamentary traditions and increasing leniency towards disruption

  • Change Over Decades: Over the course of seven and a half decades since India gained independence, significant changes have occurred in the functioning of its parliamentary system.
  • Emergence of Boisterous Behavior: India’s natural inclination towards boisterousness and assertiveness has reemerged in its legislative proceedings. This shift marks a departure from the decorum and traditions of the British parliamentary system.
  • Disruptions in State Assemblies: Some state assemblies have already experienced chaotic scenes, including instances where furniture was overturned, microphones were ripped out, and legislators threw slippers. Fisticuffs and torn garments have also been observed during scuffles among politicians in these assemblies.
  • Code of Conduct Violations: In the national legislature, the code of conduct, which is imparted to all newly-elected MPs, is frequently breached. This includes violations such as speaking out of turn, shouting slogans, waving placards, and marching into the well of the house.
  • Pepper Spray Incident: The situation reached an extreme point when a protesting MP released pepper spray within the parliamentary chamber. This act resulted in the hospitalization of some MPs and caused discomfort for the then-Speaker.
  • Impunity for Rule-Breaking: Lawmakers have exhibited a remarkable level of impunity in flouting the rules they are elected to uphold. Despite instances of MPs charging up to the presiding officer’s desk, wrenching his microphone, and tearing up his papers, they have often been quietly reinstated to their positions after a few months, accompanied by muted apologies.

Concerns and consequences of disruptive behavior in India’s Parliament

  • Obstruction of Meaningful Debate: Disruptive behavior obstructs meaningful debate on important issues, preventing critical legislation from being discussed and passed.
  • Weakening of Governance: Prolonged disruptions impede the government’s ability to implement policies and address the needs of the population, leading to weakened governance.
  • Erosion of Parliamentary Decorum: Disruptive behavior has led to a noticeable erosion of parliamentary decorum and traditional standards of conduct.
  • Negative Public Perception: Disruptions have contributed to a negative public perception of the Parliament, potentially leading to disillusionment with the democratic process.
  • Decline in Accountability: Leniency towards disruptive behavior has undermined the accountability of elected representatives.
  • Loss of Legislative Productivity: Frequent disruptions have resulted in a loss of valuable legislative time and productivity.
  • Threat to Democracy: The disruptive behavior poses a threat to India’s democratic system by hindering the functioning of democratic institutions and diminishing their credibility.

British parliamentary techniques that the Indian parliament must learn and implement

  • Opposition Day:
  • In the British parliamentary system, Opposition Day allows the opposition parties to select specific policy areas or issues they want to bring to the floor of the House for debate.
  • This practice provides the opposition with a designated platform to express their views, criticize government policies, and propose alternatives.
  • It promotes constructive debate on matters of political significance and ensures that the government must address issues raised by the opposition.
  • Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQs):
  • PMQs is a significant and widely watched parliamentary event in the United Kingdom.
  • During PMQs, MPs have the opportunity to question the Prime Minister about various issues.
  • This practice enhances transparency, accountability, and scrutiny of the government’s actions and decisions.
  • It is known for spirited exchanges and serves as a key aspect of the British parliamentary system’s tradition of executive accountability.

What else?

  • Speaker’s Role: The Speaker should reconsider the frequent rejection of adjournment motions and the practice of grouping proposed amendments to bills for voice votes without discussion.

Conclusion

  • India’s Parliament stands at a crossroads, with its credibility and functionality at stake due to persistent disruptions. By adopting some of the practices of the British parliamentary system and ensuring a more inclusive and accountable parliamentary culture, India can reinvigorate its democratic institutions and preserve the sanctity of its democracy. It is imperative for the government and the opposition to come together on these fundamental matters to salvage the integrity of the Parliament and the nation’s democracy.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Explained: Special Session of Parliament

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Special Session of Parliament

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • The Union government of India has announced a special session of Parliament to be held in the newly constructed building.
  • This session holds particular significance as it marks the first official use of the new parliamentary facility.

Special Session of Parliament: An Overview:

  • A special session of Parliament refers to a unique meeting convened outside of the regular parliamentary sessions.
  • The term “special session” is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution of India.
  • Its convening is carried out as per the provisions of Article 85(1) of the Constitution.

Procedure of calling such Session

  • Article 85(1) of the Indian Constitution stipulates the procedure for summoning Parliament.
  • This constitutional provision grants the President the authority to call Parliament into session, including special sessions, as deemed necessary.
  • It says:

“The President shall from time to time summon each House of Parliament to meet at such time and place as he/she thinks fit, but six months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session.”

Historical Context of Special Sessions:

Special sessions of Parliament have varied in their focus and format over the years:

[A] Special Sessions with Debates:

  • 2015: A special session commemorated Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary.
  • 1997: Parliament convened to mark India’s 50th anniversary of independence.
  • 1962: The agenda included a discussion on the India-China war situation.

[B] Midnight Special Sessions (Without Debates):

  • 1972: A session was held to celebrate 25 years of India’s independence.
  • 1992: A special session marked the 50th anniversary of the Quit India Movement.
  • 2017: A session was convened to mark the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

An overhaul, the criminal law Bills, and the big picture

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) analysis

What’s the news?

  • The government recently introduced three key penal bills in a bid to reform the justice system.

Central idea

  • In August, the central government introduced three significant bills in Parliament – Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), 2023, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), 2023, and Bharatiya Sakshya (BS) Bill, 2023 – aiming to replace the long-standing Indian Penal Code, 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, and Indian Evidence Act, 1872. These changes warrant a careful examination of their potential impact on law enforcement agencies

Key changes in The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS)

  • Formalizing FIR Registration:
  • The BNSS introduces a provision that mandates the registration of cognizable offenses at any police station, regardless of the location where the offense occurred.
  • This move, commonly known as recording FIR at Zero, promises easier access for complainants and streamlines the registration process.
  • Preliminary Inquiry Dilemma:
  • An added provision allows for a preliminary inquiry in cases involving cognizable offenses punishable with more than three but less than seven years of imprisonment.
  • This differs from the Supreme Court’s stance in Lalita Kumari versus Govt. of Uttar Pradesh (2013), which emphasized immediate FIR registration.
  • Restrictions on Arrest:
  • In cases of offenses punishable with less than three years of imprisonment, the BNSS permits arrests only with the prior permission of the Deputy Superintendent of Police for individuals over 60 or infirm.
  • Handcuffing Guidelines:
  • The BNSS permits handcuffing in specific instances like terrorism, murder, rape, acid attacks, or offenses against the state.
  • However, the enabling section retains the requirement that restraints should only be used as necessary to prevent escape.
  • Hence, the Supreme Court’s guidelines on handcuffing continue to apply.

At the Scene of the Crime

  • Forensic Evidence Collection:  The BNSS mandates a forensic expert’s visit to the crime scene and the collection of forensic evidence for offenses punishable with over seven years of imprisonment.
  • Use of Audio-Video Means:
  • The BNSS encourages the use of audio-video recording in investigations, including searches.
  • While the recommended use of smartphones has limitations, progress is underway, following the Supreme Court’s directive in Shafhi Mohammad vs. The State Of Himachal Pradesh (2018).
  • Two-Finger Test: Despite the Supreme Court’s ban on the two-finger test in rape cases (Lillu @ Rajesh & Anr vs State Of Haryana, 2013), the BNSS fails to explicitly include this prohibition.
  • Disclosure of Rape Victim’s Identity:  The provision authorizing the disclosure of a minor victim’s identity to their next of kin may be redundant, given the existing Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act.

Duration of Police Custody

  • Extended Police Custody:
  • The BNSS extends the period of police custody beyond the 15-day limit outlined in the CrPC.
  • However, this extension can only occur after the initial 40 or 60 days, depending on the offense’s severity, with the accused still eligible for default bail.
  • Suspicious Deaths and Statements: While the BNSS broadens the scope of judicial inquiries into suspicious deaths, it relaxes the mandatory recording of statements of women and males under 15 or above 60 at their residence based on their willingness.
  • Inquest Enhancements: The BNSS could enhance the inquest process by including provisions for the videography and photography of post-mortems, especially in cases of custodial deaths or deaths in confrontations with authorities.

Potential Impact

  • Streamlined FIR Registration: The formalized recording FIR at Zero practice may lead to quicker and more efficient FIR registration. Law enforcement agencies could experience reduced paperwork and administrative burdens, allowing them to focus on investigations promptly.
  • Reduced Case Backlog: The provision for preliminary inquiries, while introducing a variation from previous practices, has the potential to reduce the backlog of cases. By addressing non-prima facie cases early or facilitating compromises, law enforcement agencies may clear cases more efficiently.
  • Improved Evidence Collection: Mandating forensic expert visits and forensic evidence collection for serious offenses can enhance the quality of evidence presented in court. Law enforcement agencies may see stronger cases and higher conviction rates.
  • Enhanced Accountability: Encouraging the use of audio-video means in investigations increases transparency and accountability. Law enforcement agencies may benefit from clearer evidence documentation and reduced allegations of misconduct.
  • Modernization through Technology: Embracing audio-video recording and other modern technologies can help law enforcement agencies adapt to contemporary investigative practices. This could lead to more effective and efficient investigations.

Concerns and Challenges

  • Arrest Protocol: The BNSS retains all existing provisions of the CrPC regarding arrests, failing to incorporate the Supreme Court’s ruling in Arnesh Kumar versus State of Bihar (2014), which stresses the need for justifiable reasons for arrest and recording them formally.
  • Variation in Practice: The introduction of preliminary inquiries may lead to variations in how law enforcement agencies handle cases. Inconsistent practices could pose challenges for standardization and training.
  • Resource Allocation: Implementing forensic evidence collection may require additional resources, including forensic experts and equipment. Law enforcement agencies may need adequate funding and training to meet these demands.
  • Misuse of Powers: Concerns about potential misuse of provisions, such as handcuffing, need to be addressed through proper training and oversight to ensure responsible use of authority.
  • Compliance with Supreme Court Directives: The absence of an explicit ban on the two-finger test in rape cases may raise concerns about compliance with Supreme Court directives. Law enforcement agencies should ensure alignment with established legal standards.
  • Privacy and Victim Protection: Authorizing the disclosure of a minor rape victim’s identity to their next of kin requires sensitivity and strict adherence to privacy and protection provisions. Law enforcement agencies should handle such information with care.

Way forward

  • Review Preliminary Inquiry Provision: Reevaluate the provision allowing preliminary inquiries to ensure it aligns intelligently with other cognizable cases and stands up to constitutional scrutiny.
  • Implement Arrest Justification: Include the Supreme Court’s Arnesh Kumar vs. State of Bihar (2014) judgment to make it mandatory for police officers to justify arrests with reasons supported by justifiable material.
  • Enhance Forensic Infrastructure: Commit to providing sufficient resources for developing forensic infrastructure, including technology and manpower, to strengthen evidence collection and analysis.
  • Modernize Investigation Techniques: Develop facilities for videography and photography of crime scenes during investigations at the police station level, embracing modern technology for evidence documentation.
  • Ban Two-Finger Test: Explicitly include the ban on the two-finger test in rape cases to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court’s directives and protect the dignity and privacy of survivors.
  • Comprehensive Police Reformation: Recognize the need for comprehensive police reformation, addressing challenges such as understaffing, poor mobility, insufficient training infrastructure, and inadequate housing facilities, to ensure a more effective and accountable law enforcement system.

Conclusion

  • While some proposed changes in the BNSS demonstrate progress, they do not qualify as groundbreaking or radical. It is crucial to remember that police stations face numerous challenges, including understaffing, limited resources, inadequate training infrastructure, and poor housing facilities. To bring about true reform, a comprehensive approach to police reformation, rather than merely tweaking legal provisions, is necessary.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Decoding the Nyaya Sanhita Bill

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Three key bills, provisions

Mains level: Indian justice system reforms ,Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill

What’s the news?

  • The government recently introduced three key penal bills in a bid to reform the justice system.

Central Idea

  • The recent introduction of three penal bills in the Lok Sabha by the government, aimed at decolonizing the Indian justice system, is a significant step in the realm of legal reform. While this initiative is commendable, it is crucial to recognize that the process of law-making and reform requires careful consideration and empirical validation.

Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill

  • This bill aims to replace the existing Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860.
  • The IPC defines crimes, sets out their elements, and prescribes corresponding penalties.
  • The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill seeks to update and modernize the criminal laws to better reflect evolving societal values and democratic aspirations.

Why Public Participation Matters in Legal Reform?

  • The Colonial Legacy: Learning from Past Mistakes
    • The colonial penal law was replaced not due to inherent flaws but because it lacked participation from the Indian populace, imposing foreign ideas and values.
    • Recognizing the crucial need for broad public participation to avoid repeating this historical oversight
  • Macaulay’s Principle Revisited: Seeking Legal Certainty Through Debate
    • Reflecting on Thomas Babington Macaulay’s principle of “uniformity when you can have it, diversity where you must have it, but in all cases certainty.”
    • Emphasizing the goal of achieving equal and uniform application of the law through meaningful debate.
    • Stressing the significance of precise legal terminology for clarity and legal certainty.

What constitutes undesirable behavior?

  • Changing Norms: The Evolution of Legal Definitions
    • Highlighting the evolving societal perceptions concerning behaviors deemed undesirable.
    • Citing examples like the transition of attempted suicide from a criminal offense to a recognized mental health issue under Section 115(1) of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017.
    • Examining the Supreme Court’s role in redefining adultery and its legal implications
  • From Offense to Health Issue: The Case of Attempted Suicide
    • Illustrating the transformation of attempted suicide from a crime to a mental health concern, reflecting a more compassionate and holistic approach.
  • Challenging Tradition: Adultery and the Supreme Court Decision
    • Analyzing the Supreme Court’s decision to redefine adultery and emphasizing the judiciary’s role in adapting to evolving social norms
  • The Call for Social Audit: Rethinking “Undesirable” Behavior
    • Advocating for a comprehensive social audit to redefine the concept of “undesirable” behavior, taking into account changing societal perspectives.
    • Stressing the importance of empirical analysis in this process.
  • Independent Oversight: The Need for Impartiality
    • underscoring the necessity of an independent and impartial body to conduct the social audit to ensure fairness and objectivity in evaluating behavioral norms.

How to Balance Simplicity and Complexity in Penal Laws?

  • Simplification’s Promise: Streamlining the Legal Framework
    • Acknowledging efforts to simplify the legal framework through the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita and highlighting potential benefits like enhanced clarity and efficiency in legal procedures.
  • The Challenge of Overload: Retaining and Adding Offenses
    • Addressing concerns about the risk of retaining and introducing new offenses, which could offset the advantages of simplification and potentially overwhelm the legal system.
  • Revisiting Special Laws: The Malimath Committee’s Proposal
    • Noting the proliferation of special penal laws post-Indian Penal Code to address emerging crimes.
    • Suggesting an evaluation of whether these should be incorporated into the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita or managed through existing special laws or a new composite law, as proposed by the Malimath Committee.

Addressing Gender and Children’s Rights: What the Bill Says?

  • Constitutional Alignment: Article 15(3) and Article 51A(e)
    • Recognizing the alignment of the proposed Offenses Against Women and Children’ with the constitutional vision, specifically referencing Article 15(3) and Article 51A(e),
  • Outdated Notions: Analyzing Clause 63 on Marital Rape
    • Highlighting concerns with Clause 63, which excludes sexual intercourse between spouses above 18 from the definition of rape, and drawing parallels with colonial-era legal thinking
  • Contradictory Provisions: Clauses 20 and 21 vs. Juvenile Justice Act of 2015
    • Pointing out inconsistencies between retaining Clauses 20 and 21 in Chapter III (General Exceptions) and the philosophy of special laws for children outlined in Section 1(4) of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015.

What does the new penal law prioritize?

  • A Shift in Focus: Departing from the Colonial Framework
    • Recognizing a departure from the colonial chapter scheme that favored the interests of the ruling class over body and property offenses.
    • Placing bodily interests in Chapter VI, just before offenses against the state, indicating a significant shift in priorities.
  • Measuring against the Constitution: Article 13(2)
    • Raising questions about whether the proposed reforms will align with the constitutional vision enshrined in Article 13(2), which prohibits laws that infringe upon fundamental rights.
  • Upholding Values: Autonomy, Equality, and Fraternity
    • Highlighting the vital role of the proposed reforms in upholding principles of autonomy, equality, and fraternity as guaranteed by the Preamble of the Constitution

Conclusion

  • The government’s initiative to reform the Indian justice system is laudable, but it must be accompanied by extensive public participation, a thorough examination of undesirable behavior, and a balanced approach to legal complexity. Only through careful consideration and a commitment to justice can the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill truly decolonize and rejuvenate the Indian justice system.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Why the minimum age for Indian MPs must be brought down to 21?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Constitutional provisions

Mains level: Minimum age requirements for parliamentary candidacy analysis

What’s the news?

  • The 132nd Report on Election Process and Reform, presented to the Rajya Sabha in August 2023, recommends aligning the minimum age for candidacy with the voting age of 18.

Central idea

  • A Parliamentary Committee has proposed reducing the age restriction on MPs and MLAs to 18 years. Though the EC has opposed the proposal, Constituent Assembly debates show several leaders back then favored lower age criteria for our lawmakers. Calling the current criteria outdated, the committee argued that legislative bodies could benefit from a wider range of perspectives.

Background

  • On May 18, 1949, during the heated deliberations of India’s Constituent Assembly, responsible for drafting the nation’s Constitution, a pivotal debate emerged.
  • The focus was the insertion of an Article outlining criteria for prospective parliamentarians’ minimum age.
  • The motion proposed setting 25 years as the entry age for the Lok Sabha and 35 years for the Rajya Sabha.
  • Amidst this discourse, Durgabai Deshmukh, a prominent figure in India’s freedom struggle and an advocate for women’s emancipation, proposed an amendment.
  • Her amendment aimed to lower the minimum age for Rajya Sabha candidacy from 35 to 30, reflecting changing times and evolving youth engagement in civic matters.
  • The amendment’s adoption led to the incorporation of Article 84 and Article 173 in the Constitution, mandating 25 and 30 years as the minimum age for entry into the lower and upper houses, respectively, at both the central and state levels.

A Global Perspective on Youth Participation

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council’s 2018 report highlights challenges faced by youth in accessing their rights.
  • Less than 2% of parliamentarians worldwide are under 30, indicating a lack of youth representation.
  • Countries like the UK, Australia, and Canada have embraced young candidates with innovative ideas and fresh perspectives.
  • European nations such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Ireland have set lower minimum age requirements for candidates.
  • Fridays for the Future, led by Greta Thunberg, exemplifies the influence of youth-led activism on global issues.

Youth and Political Participation in India

  • Student Politics and University Campuses:
    • University campuses, traditionally seen as breeding grounds for free debate and critical thinking, have played a pivotal role in nurturing young leaders.
    • The Lyngdoh Committee’s recommendations in 2012, which introduced upper age limits for student union elections, marked a transformative shift.
    • Recent statistics reveal that student union office-bearers at top Indian universities have an average age of 22.5 years, reflecting more youthful leadership.
  • Panchayat-Level Representation:
    • At the grassroots level, efforts to infuse youth representation have resulted in significant positive changes.
    • In various states, a growing number of individuals aged 21 and above have found representation in roles such as village pradhan and block pramukh.
    • This demonstrates a trend towards acknowledging the capabilities and perspectives of younger individuals in local governance.
  • Parliamentary Representation:
    • However, this progressive trend is not consistently reflected at the national parliamentary level.
    • An analysis of India’s parliamentary history shows a decline in the percentage of MPs aged 25–40 from 26% in the first Lok Sabha to 12% in the current 17th Lok Sabha.
    • Despite India’s young country status, with 65% of the population below 35 years old, the average age of MPs remains relatively high.

The Impact of Youth Representation: Amplifying Progressive Agendas

  • Visibility of Youth-Centric Issues:
    • Diverse representation in parliament ensures increased visibility of issues pertinent to youth.
    • The long-standing demand for women’s reservation quotas highlights the effectiveness of targeted representation in addressing gender-specific concerns.
    • Similarly, youth representatives can champion matters like technology, unemployment, and education, shaping policies that resonate with younger generations.
  • Contemporary Relevance and Innovation:
    • Young parliamentarians are poised to bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to complex problems.
    • Issues like climate change, technology, and socio-economic disparities require dynamic approaches that youth are well-equipped to provide.
    • Their engagement can foster debates that reflect the current aspirations and challenges of the population.
  • Empowerment of Underrepresented Groups:
    • Youth representation also holds the promise of empowering marginalized and minority groups.
    • The inclusivity brought about by youth engagement ensures that the concerns of various communities are adequately addressed.
    • This can contribute to a more equitable and diverse governance approach.
  • Challenging Traditional Notions:
    • The presence of young parliamentarians challenges traditional notions that associate political competence solely with age.
    • Global examples of successful young leaders breaking barriers underscores the capacity of youth to drive change.
    • Age should not be a barrier to representation when youth demonstrate awareness, dedication, and commitment to their responsibilities.

Challenges Hindering Youth Inclusion

  • Experience and Maturity Concerns:
    • Critics contend that younger candidates may lack the life experience and maturity required to make informed decisions on complex issues.
    • The belief that political competence is directly proportional to age is deeply ingrained, presenting a challenge to reform efforts.
  • Entrenched Norms and Resistance:
    • Prevailing norms link effective leadership with advanced age, creating resistance to embracing younger candidates.
    • Societal skepticism toward entrusting significant responsibilities to youth can impede the acceptance of policy changes.
  • Divergence from International Trends:
    • The Election Commission’s cautious stance on lowering the minimum candidacy age contrasts with global trends.
    • Several democracies have successfully integrated younger leaders, tapping into their fresh perspectives and innovative thinking.
  • Balancing Youthful Vigor and Expertise:
    • Striking a balance between the energy of youth and the wisdom gained from experience remains a challenge.
    • Effective leadership requires not only innovative ideas but also a nuanced understanding of the intricacies of governance.
  • Perception of Representation Bias:
    • Concerns exist that youth-centric representation might overshadow the needs of other demographic groups.
    • Addressing this perception and ensuring comprehensive policy formulation are essential for garnering broad support.
  • Cultural and Mindset shifts:
    • Overcoming deep-rooted beliefs that equate age with political competence demands a cultural shift.
    • Effective awareness campaigns can challenge stereotypes and create a more inclusive environment for younger leaders.

Addressing the Age Discrepancy

  • The 132nd Report on Election Process and Reform, presented to the Rajya Sabha in August 2023, recommends aligning the minimum age for candidacy with the voting age of 18.
  • The report highlights global practices and underscores the significance of young parliamentarians voicing contemporary issues.

Way forward

  • Policy Alignment and Adaptation: Reassess existing policies to align the minimum candidacy age with the voting age, promoting consistency and inclusivity.
  • Youth-Centric Educational Initiatives: Establish comprehensive political education programs and leadership training to equip young aspirants with essential governance skills.
  • Cross-Generational Mentorship: Facilitate intergenerational dialogue to combine experience with innovation, allowing for a holistic approach to decision-making.
  • Incentivized Youth Participation: Encourage political parties to integrate young candidates into their election strategies through incentives and tangible support.
  • Collaborative Advocacy Efforts: Engage stakeholders in advocacy campaigns, leveraging global examples to advocate for reducing the minimum candidacy age.

Conclusion

  • The need for a more inclusive and representative democracy demands a reevaluation of the minimum age requirements for parliamentary candidacy. As the world embraces youthful voices, India’s evolving landscape should not lag behind. A political consensus can pave the way for a more dynamic, inclusive, and progressive parliamentary system, with the potential to reshape the nation’s future.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What is President’s Assent?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: President’s Assent

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • The President of India granted approval to four significant legislations, encompassing the Digital Personal Data Protection Act and a law related to controlling services in Delhi.
  • These Bills, recently endorsed during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, signify the nation’s resolve to adapt its legal framework to contemporary challenges.

Legislations receiving President’s Assent

  • The Digital Personal Data Protection Act: This law aims to establish a framework to prevent the misuse of individuals’ data by online platforms. It addresses issues related to data privacy and protection in the digital realm. Tap here to read more.
  • The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act: This act provides for the establishment of a three-member authority responsible for handling the transfer and postings of Group A officers under the Delhi government. It pertains to the administration of services in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. Tap here to read more.
  • The Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Act: This act designates digital birth certificates as the exclusive conclusive proof of age, which can be used for various purposes. It introduces the concept of digital certificates for births and deaths. Tap here to read more.
  • The Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Act: This act focuses on promoting ease of business by decriminalizing minor offenses. It introduces amendments to 183 provisions of 42 Acts to reduce legal complexities and facilitate business operations. Tap here to read more.

What is President’s Assent?

  • Article 111 of the Indian Constitution governs the President’s assent to bills, which marks the final step in the legislative process.
  • The President possesses the power of veto, giving them three options under Article 111 when presented with a bill passed by Parliament:
    1. Assent: The President can give their approval to the bill, leading to its enactment as a law.
    2. Withhold Assent: The President can refuse to sign the bill, preventing it from becoming a law.
    3. Return for Reconsideration: If the bill is not a Money Bill, the President can send it back to Parliament for reconsideration. If Parliament passes the bill again, with or without amendments, the President must give their assent.

Types of Veto

  • Absolute Veto: The President exercises this veto when refusing to sign a bill, causing it to be rejected and not turned into law. It is typically used when a Private Member’s Bill is used to pass a law or in the event of a change in the cabinet before the President’s signature, where the incoming government advises against signing the legislation.
  • Suspensive Veto: This allows the President to send a bill back to Parliament for further examination or deliberation. If Parliament reapproves the bill with or without amendments, it is adopted as law without the President’s veto.
  • Pocket Veto: In this form of veto, the President neither signs the bill nor sends it back to the legislature. The bill remains pending, and its outcome is uncertain. Unlike the U.S. President, the Indian President is not required to return the bill within a specific timeframe.
  • Qualified Veto: Unlike other types, this veto can be overridden by the legislature with a higher majority. However, this type of veto is not vested with the Indian President.

[A] Assent to Ordinary Bill:

For an ordinary bill, the President has three options:

  1. Assent: The President can sign the bill, transforming it into an act.
  2. Withhold Assent: The President can withhold their approval, resulting in the bill not becoming law.
  3. Return for Reconsideration: The President can send the bill back to the Houses for reconsideration. The Houses may amend the bill or not before returning it to the President for assent.

[B] Assent to Money Bill:

  • The President can give or withhold assent to a Money Bill. However, a Money Bill cannot be returned by the President to the House for reconsideration under the Indian Constitution.

[C] Assent to Constitutional Amendment Bill:

  • In the case of Constitutional Amendment Bills, the President’s assent is mandatory.
  • The President cannot withhold or return such bills; they become Constitutional Amendment Acts, modifying the Constitution in accordance with their provisions.

Making a Law Operational

  • After receiving the President’s assent, a law becomes effective.
  • The government drafts guidelines and standards to operationalize the law.
  • Implementation requires the issuance of these guidelines.
  • Rules should be issued within 6 months of law passage, as recommended by the parliament.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2022:

Q. Consider the following statements:

  1. A bill amending the Constitution requires a prior recommendation of the President of India.
  2. When a Constitution Amendment Bill is presented to the President of India, it is obligatory for the President of India to give his/her assent.
  3. A Constitution Amendment Bill must be passed by both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha by a special majority and there is no provision for joint sitting.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Post your answers here.
3
Please leave a feedback on thisx

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Renaming Kerala: From Kerala to Keralam

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: States renaming under Article 3

Mains level: Read the attached story

kerala

Central Idea

  • The Kerala Assembly’s recent unanimous resolution to rename the state as “Keralam” in the Constitution and official records has sparked discussions about the historical origins of the name and the process of renaming a state in India.

Renaming Kerala: Resolution and Historical Context

  • Unanimous Decision: The Kerala Assembly, led by CM, passed a resolution urging the Centre to rename the state as “Keralam” in both the Constitution and official records.
  • Language Basis: The resolution highlights that the Malayalam name of the state is “Keralam,” and states were formed based on language on November 1, 1956. The resolution seeks alignment between the Malayalam name and its representation in official documents.

Procedure for Renaming a State

State Government’s Proposal: The proposal to rename a state originates from the state government. The Union MHA reviews the proposal and seeks No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from various agencies.

Centre’s Approval: Unlike renaming cities, renaming a state requires approval from the Centre’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). A Constitutional amendment is necessary for this change (under Article 3 and 4 of the Constitution).

Parliamentary Approval: If accepted, the proposal is introduced as a Bill in the Parliament. Upon becoming law, the state’s name is officially changed.

Origin of the ‘Kerala’ Name

  • ‘Kerala’ and Asoka’s Edict: The earliest recorded mention of ‘Kerala’ is in Emperor Asoka’s Rock Edict II of 257 BC, where the local ruler is referred to as “Keralaputra” (son of Kerala) and “son of Chera” from the Chera dynasty.
  • ‘Keralam’ from ‘Cheram’: Scholars speculate that ‘Keralam’ could have derived from ‘Cheram.’ Dr. Herman Gundert, a German scholar, proposed that ‘keram’ is the Canarese (Kannada) form of ‘cheram,’ suggesting that ‘Keralam’ could mean the region between Gokarnam and Kanyakumari, stemming from the root ‘cher’ meaning to join.

Demand for a Unified State

  • Aikya Kerala Movement: In the 1920s, the Aikya Kerala movement gained momentum, advocating for a unified state for Malayalam-speaking people. It aimed to integrate Malabar, Kochi, and Travancore into a single territory.
  • Cultural Unity: The movement was driven by the shared language, cultural traditions, history, and customs of the Malayalam-speaking population.

Formation of Modern Kerala

  • Travancore-Cochin State: In 1949, Travancore and Kochi merged, forming the Travancore-Cochin State.
  • State Reorganisation Commission: The State Reorganisation Commission recommended the creation of Kerala as a state for Malayalam-speaking people. The inclusion of Malabar and Kasargod and the exclusion of certain areas were proposed.
  • Birth of Kerala: On November 1, 1956, the state of Kerala was officially formed, referred to as “Keralam” in Malayalam and “Kerala” in English.

Conclusion

  • The resolution to rename Kerala as “Keralam” reflects the historical and cultural significance attached to the state’s name.
  • The process of renaming a state underscores the federal structure of India, where Centre-State collaboration is essential for such significant changes.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Parliamentary Privilege and the Privileges Committee: A Closer Look

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Parliamentary Privileges

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • During the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament, there were differences between the ruling and opposition parties, leading to complaints against 2 MPs.
  • These complaints were referred to the Privileges Committee.

What is Parliamentary Privilege?

  • Definition: Parliamentary privilege refers to the rights and immunities enjoyed by legislators during the course of their legislative duties.
  • Protection: MPs/MLAs are protected from civil or criminal liability for actions or statements made while discharging their legislative functions.
  • Constitutional Basis: The powers, privileges, and immunities of both Houses of the Indian Parliament and their members are enshrined in Article 105 whereas Article 194 deals with State Legislatures.

Understanding Privilege Motion

  • Breaching Privilege: Any disregard of the rights and immunities constitutes a breach of privilege and is punishable under parliamentary law.
  • Motion: A notice in the form of a motion can be moved by any member of either House against those held guilty of a breach of privilege.
  • Contempt Actions: The Houses also have the right to punish actions that may not be a specific breach of privilege but are offenses against their authority and dignity.

Instances of Privilege Notices

  • Indira Gandhi’s Expulsion (1978): Indira Gandhi was expelled from the Lok Sabha for obstructing government officials from collecting information for a question on Maruti.
  • Subramanian Swamy’s Expulsion (1976): Subramanian Swamy faced expulsion from the Rajya Sabha for engaging in interviews perceived as “anti-India propaganda.”
  • Cash for Query Scandal (2005): Eleven “tainted” MPs involved in the cash for query scandal were expelled from the Lok Sabha.

Rules Governing Privilege

  • Lok Sabha: Rule No. 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book governs privilege.
  • Rajya Sabha: Correspondingly, Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook deals with privilege.
  • Scope of Notice: The notice must relate to a recent incident requiring the intervention of the House.
  • Timing: Notices must be given before 10 am to the Speaker or the Chairperson.

Role of the Speaker/Rajya Sabha Chair

  • Scrutiny: The Speaker/RS Chairperson is the first level of scrutiny for a privilege motion.
  • Decision Making: They can decide on the privilege motion themselves or refer it to the Privileges Committee.
  • Opportunity to Speak: If consent is given under Rule 222, the member involved is given an opportunity to make a brief statement.

Referring to the Privileges Committee

  • Composition: In the Lok Sabha, the Speaker nominates a 15-member Committee of Privileges based on respective party strengths.
  • Report Presentation: The Committee presents a report to the House for consideration. A half-hour debate may be permitted while considering the report.
  • Final Orders: The Speaker may pass final orders or direct that the report be tabled before the House.
  • Resolution: A resolution relating to the breach of privilege must be unanimously passed.
  • Rajya Sabha: In the Rajya Sabha, the Deputy Chairperson heads the 10-member Committee of Privileges.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Money Bills and Financial Bills: A Constitutional Perspective

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Money Bills vs. Financial Bills

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • The debate surrounding the classification of the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Bill as a Money Bill and its implications has sparked discussions on the nuances of Money Bills and Financial Bills in India’s parliamentary process.

Money Bills vs. Financial Bills

Money Bills Financial Bills
Definition and Scope Article 110 – Deals with taxes, government borrowing, expenditure, receipt of money from the Consolidated Fund of India, among others. Broader scope beyond Article 110(1)
Rajya Sabha’s Role Introduced only in Lok Sabha, no Rajya Sabha approval needed

Lok Sabha has the discretion to accept or reject any recommendations made by the Rajya Sabha on a Money Bill.

Can be introduced in either house, requires approval from both houses.
Origin and President’s Recommendation Must be introduced only in Lok Sabha, and the President’s recommendation is required for its introduction. Can be introduced in either house, no President’s recommendation needed.
Passage Procedure Passed by Lok Sabha, sent to Rajya Sabha for recommendations within 14 days.

Rajya Sabha’s recommendations are not binding.

If rejected by Lok Sabha, the Bill is considered passed without Rajya Sabha’s concurrence.

Require agreement of both houses for passage, subject to Rajya Sabha amendments or rejections.

 

Supreme Court’s Perspective

  • Striking Down Amendments: In Nov 2019, a five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi, struck down amendments to the 2017 Finance Act, passed as a Money Bill. The court found the amendments altering the structure and functioning of various tribunals contrary to constitutional principles.
  • Referring the Matter: The court referred the issue of whether these amendments could have been passed as a Money Bill to a seven-judge bench for consideration, indicating the complexity of the matter.
  • Doubts Over Aadhaar Act: The same Constitution Bench expressed doubts about the correctness of the 2018 verdict upholding the 2016 Aadhaar Act, which was also passed as a Money Bill. This matter is yet to be conclusively settled, as petitions seeking a review of the Aadhaar Act ruling remain pending in the Supreme Court.

Conclusion

  • The distinction between Money Bills and Financial Bills is crucial in India’s parliamentary process, as it determines the extent of Rajya Sabha’s role and the passage procedure.
  • While Money Bills have limited Rajya Sabha involvement and cannot be amended or rejected by it, other Financial Bills and ordinary Bills require the agreement of both houses for passage.
  • The Supreme Court’s perspective on the correct classification of certain Bills as Money Bills adds further complexity to the debate, underscoring the need for a comprehensive understanding of these constitutional provisions.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Money Bills vs Finance Bills: What are the differences, what the court has ruled

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Money Bills and Financial Bills and related provisions and procedure

Mains level: Money Bills and Financial Bills debate and Supreme Court in interpretations

What’s the news?

  • The recent discussions over the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Bill have brought to light an important constitutional question – Is it a Money Bill or an Ordinary Bill? The distinction between these two types of bills holds significant implications for the legislative process and decision-making.

Central Idea

  • In a recent statement, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi clarified that the DPDP Bill is a regular Bill and not a Money Bill. This clarification comes against the backdrop of earlier reports suggesting that the Bill was being introduced under Article 117 of the Constitution, which deals with special provisions for Finance Bills.

What is a Finance Bill?

  1. Definition: A Finance Bill is a type of Financial Bill that relates to revenue or expenditure matters.
  2. Money Bill Criteria: A Finance Bill becomes a Money Bill when it exclusively deals with matters specified in Article 110(1)(a) to (g) of the Constitution.
  • Classification of Finance Bills
  1. Category 1: Financial Bills related to Article 110(1)(a) to (f):
    • Introduced or moved only on the President’s recommendation.
    • Cannot be introduced in the Rajya Sabha.
    • Examples: Money Bills and other Financial Bills originating solely in the Lok Sabha.
  2. Category 2: Financial Bills related to other matters (Article 110(1)(g)):
    • Similar to ordinary Bills.
    • Require the President’s recommendation if they involve expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India.
    • It can be introduced in the Rajya Sabha, amended by it, or deliberated by both Houses in a joint sitting.

Money Bill Requirements

  • Exclusivity: A Money Bill must exclusively deal with matters specified in Article 110(1)(a) to (g).
  • Certification: A Money Bill must be certified by the Speaker.

Preconditions for a Financial Bill to become a money bill

  • Introduction: Must be introduced only in the Lok Sabha and not in the Rajya Sabha, as per Article 117(1) of the Constitution.
  • President’s Recommendation: Can only be introduced on the President’s recommendation, as per Article 117(1) of the Constitution.

Key Differences between Finance Bills and Money Bills

  • Scope: Finance Bills cover general revenue and expenditure matters, while Money Bills exclusively address specific matters listed in Article 110(1)(a) to (g).
  • Introduction: Finance Bills can be introduced in either House, but Money Bills can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha.
  • President’s Recommendation: Finance Bills require the President’s recommendation if they involve expenditure, while Money Bills always require the President’s recommendation.
  • Rajya Sabha’s Role: The Rajya Sabha can discuss and recommend amendments for Finance Bills, but its role is limited for Money Bills. The Lok Sabha can reject the Rajya Sabha’s recommendations for Money Bills.

Important Legal Perspective

  • 2017 Finance Act:
  • In November 2019, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the then Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, struck down amendments to the 2017 Finance Act passed as a Money Bill.
  • The court directed the formulation of fresh norms for appointing tribunal members and raised questions about the correct interpretation of Article 110. The matter was referred to a seven-judge bench.
  • 2016 Aadhaar Act:
  • The Supreme Court also expressed doubts over its 2018 verdict upholding the 2016 Aadhaar Act, which was passed as a Money Bill.
  • Review petitions regarding the Aadhaar Act are still pending before the court.

Conclusion

  • The distinction between Money Bills and Financial Bills is essential for understanding the legislative process and the powers of the two Houses of Parliament. The role of the Supreme Court in interpreting and upholding the constitutional validity of various Bills remains critical to ensuring a robust and accountable legislative framework.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What is No-Confidence Motion?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: No-Confidence Motion

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • Opposition parties belonging to the new Alliance INDIA plan to move a no-confidence motion against the government to force the PM to speak on Manipur unrest.

Motion of No-Confidence

  • In the Indian parliamentary system, a motion of no-confidence plays a crucial role in assessing the government’s strength and accountability.
  • This motion allows opposition parties or any member to express their lack of confidence in the Council of Ministers, leading to a significant political event.

Procedure for No-Confidence Motion:

  • Rule 198: The procedure for a no-confidence motion is laid down under Rule 198 of the rules of procedure and conduct of the Lok Sabha.
  • Absence of Grounds: Such does not require specific grounds to be mentioned in the motion, and even if mentioned, these grounds do not form part of the motion.
  • Lok Sabha Exclusive: It can only be moved in the Lok Sabha and not in the Rajya Sabha.
  • Written Notice: Any member of the Lok Sabha can move a no-confidence motion by providing a written notice before 10 am.
  • Acceptance and Discussion: For the motion to be accepted, a minimum of 50 members must support it. Once accepted, the Speaker announces the date for the motion’s discussion within 10 days.
  • Voting: Voting can be conducted through a voice vote, division vote (using electronic gadgets, slips, or a ballot box), or a secret ballot vote.

Implications of Voting

  • Majority Decision: Following the vote, the side with the majority determines the motion’s outcome.
  • Speaker’s Role: In the event of a tie, the Speaker casts the deciding vote to resolve the impasse.

Outcomes

  • Government Resignation: If the government fails to prove its majority in the House, it is obligated to resign from power.
  • Political Impact: A successful no-confidence motion can lead to significant political changes and reshuffling of the government.

Try this PYQ:

Q. Consider the following statements regarding a No-Confidence Motion in India:

  1. There is no mention of a No-Confidence Motion in the Constitution of India.
  2. A Motion of No-Confidence can be introduced in the Lok Sabha only.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Post your answers here.
2
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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Adjournment Motion in Indian Parliament

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Adjournment motion

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • During the monsoon Session of Parliament, Opposition parties demanded discussions on alleged sexual assaults in Manipur and ongoing ethnic violence.
  • Many MPs moved adjournment motions, leading to the Lok Sabha’s adjournment.

Let’s explore the various motions raised in Indian Parliament and their significance.

(A) Short Duration Discussion (Rule 193)

  • Applicability: This procedure is available in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
  • Description: A short-duration discussion can take place when the Chairman or Speaker believes that a matter is urgent and of sufficient public importance. The discussion can last for a maximum of two and a half hours.

(B) Motion with a Vote (Rule 184)

  • Applicability: This motion is relevant in Lok Sabha.
  • Description: If a motion meets certain conditions, such as not containing defamatory statements, being on a matter of recent occurrence, and not being pending before any statutory authority or court of enquiry, it can be admitted. The Speaker can then allocate a time period for the discussion. This type of motion involves a vote to determine Parliament’s position on the issue and requires the government to follow Parliament’s decision.

(C) Adjournment Motion

  • Applicability: The adjournment motion is relevant only in Lok Sabha and is not available in Rajya Sabha.
  • Description: An adjournment motion is moved to discuss a “definite matter of urgent public importance” with the Speaker’s consent. The notice for this motion must be given before 10 AM on a given day to the Lok Sabha Secretary-General. The motion must meet specific criteria to be admitted. The passage of an adjournment motion does not require the government to resign but is seen as a strong censure of the government.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What is an adjournment motion, moved by Congress MPs in Parliament?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Motions and other parliamentary procedures and related provisions

Mains level: Adjournment motion, its significance and criticism and various parliamentary procedures

adjournment

What’s the news?

  • In the second day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament, the Lok Sabha witnessed adjournment proceedings as Opposition parties demanded an urgent discussion on the alleged sexual assault of women in Manipur amid the ongoing ethnic violence in the state.

Central idea

  • Congress MPs moved adjournment motions, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the matter and uphold the government’s constitutional commitment to protect religious minorities and Scheduled Tribes. This article will delve into the concept of adjournment motions and their differences from other parliamentary motions raised in Indian Parliament.

What is an adjournment motion?

  • An adjournment motion is a parliamentary procedure used to raise an issue of urgent public importance that requires immediate discussion and debate.
  • It allows Members of Parliament (MPs) to interrupt the regular business of the house and seek the attention of the entire house on a specific matter that is deemed pressing and critical.
  • Adjournment motion can be moved in the Lok Sabha by any member who seeks the Speaker’s consent to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance.
  • The notice for an adjournment motion must be given before 10 am to the Lok Sabha Secretary-General on the day it is to be raised.

Parliamentary Procedures in Indian Parliament

  • Members of Parliament in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have various procedures to draw attention to relevant issues.
  • There are four main procedures under which discussions can take place in the Lok Sabha – a debate without voting under Rule 193, a motion (with a vote) under Rule 184, an adjournment motion, and a no-confidence motion.
  • Similar measures, except no-confidence motion, also exist in the Rajya Sabha.

Rule 193: Short Duration Discussion

  • Under Rule 193 of the Lok Sabha’s rules and Rule 176 of the Rajya Sabha’s rules, Short Duration Discussions can take place.
  • These discussions require the Chairman or Speaker’s satisfaction that the matter is urgent and of sufficient public importance.
  • The Chairman or Speaker can then fix a date for discussion, allowing a time period of up to two and a half hours.
  • Disagreements over the rule to invoke led to the adjournment of the Rajya Sabha on the issue of Manipur.

Rule 184: Motion with a Vote

  • A motion on a matter of general public interest can be admitted under Rule 184 if it satisfies certain conditions.
  • The motion should not contain arguments, inferences, ironical expressions, imputations, or defamatory statements.
  • It must be restricted to a recent occurrence and cannot pertain to a matter pending before any statutory authority, commission, or court of enquiry.
  • The Speaker can allow such a motion to be raised at his own discretion, and a time period for discussion can be allotted.

Significance of the adjournment motion

  • It allows the Parliament to discuss pressing matters promptly, ensuring that critical issues do not get overlooked or delayed.
  • It serves as a tool for holding the government accountable for its actions or inactions.
  • By raising urgent matters and initiating discussions, MPs can seek clarifications, explanations, and government responses, which promotes transparency in governance.
  • The discussions resulting from an adjournment motion bring urgent matters into the public domain, raising awareness among citizens about significant issues affecting the country.
  • The government is obligated to address the concerns raised during the adjournment motion debate.
  • It provides an opportunity for the government to present its stance, actions, and plans to address the issue, thus ensuring greater accountability.
  • It empowers the Opposition to raise important issues and bring government shortcomings to the forefront.
  • It gives them a platform to voice dissent and critique government policies, fostering healthy democratic debates.

Criticisms over the adjournment motion

  • The adjournment motion, once admitted, disrupts the regular proceedings of the house.
  • Other important legislative business, debates, or bills scheduled for that session may get delayed or postponed, affecting the overall productivity of the Parliament.
  • The debate resulting from an adjournment motion can be time-consuming
  • Some critics argue that the adjournment motion overlaps with other parliamentary motions, such as the calling attention motion and the motion for an urgent discussion, which also provide opportunities to discuss urgent matters.
  • In some cases, the adjournment motion can be misused for political purposes rather than genuinely addressing urgent matters.
  • While the adjournment motion raises urgent matters and demands government attention, it does not guarantee immediate action or resolution.

Conclusion

  • The recent demand for an urgent discussion on the ethnic violence in Manipur through an adjournment motion resulted in the Lok Sabha’s adjournment. Parliament has various procedures to address relevant issues, each with its own set of conditions and implications. As the proceedings are set to resume, it remains to be seen how the government and Opposition parties will navigate the demands for discussion on this critical matter.

Also read:

Short Duration Discussions in Parliament

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Short Duration Discussions in Parliament

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Short Duration Discussions

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • The Opposition called for the suspension of all other business under Rule 267 to discuss the Manipur issue, while the government preferred a “Short Duration Discussion” under Rule 176.
  • Understanding the nuances of these rules and their implications is essential for effective parliamentary discussions.

Rule 267: Suspension of Business

  • Overview: Rule 267 allows Rajya Sabha MPs to suspend all listed business and engage in discussions on matters of national importance.
  • Consent and Suspension: As per the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha, any member can seek the Chairman’s consent to suspend the application of a rule related to the day’s listed business.
  • Temporary Suspension: If the motion receives approval, the concerned rule is temporarily suspended.

Short Duration Discussions under Rule 176

  • Brief Duration Discussions: Rule 176 facilitates short-duration discussions in Rajya Sabha, lasting up to two-and-a-half hours.
  • Notice and Explanatory Note: MPs desiring to raise urgent public matters must provide a written notice to the Secretary-General, including an explanatory note justifying the discussion.
  • Scheduling and Procedure: The Chairman, in consultation with the Leader of the Council, schedules the discussion without formal motions or voting.
  • Statement and Reply: The member who issued the notice presents a brief statement, followed by a concise reply from the Minister.

Contention Surrounding Rule 267

  • Opposition’s Discontent: The Opposition expresses discontent as their notices under Rule 267 have not been addressed recently.
  • Past Precedents: In the past, several discussions on diverse subjects occurred under this rule during different Chairmen’s tenures.
  • Misuse of Rule: Experts suggest that Rule 267 is being misused as a substitute for the adjournment motion in Lok Sabha, where discussions involve motions with elements of censure, which do not apply to Rajya Sabha.

Why discuss this?

  • Parliamentary debates hold significant value in addressing pressing public matters and discussing issues critical to the nation.
  • They provide a platform for representatives from various political parties to engage in informed discussions, leading to more effective decision-making and improved governance.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

PRISM: 24-hr hotline for MPs Research

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: PRISM Hotline

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • Lok Sabha Speaker has established ‘PRISM’ a 24-hour research reference telephone hotline for Members of Parliament (MPs) to provide assistance with policy issues.

What is PRISM?

  • The Parliamentary Research and Information Support for Members of Parliament (PRISM) offers round-the-clock services, including weekends during Parliament Sessions.
  • It aims to support first-term MPs and those without extensive secretarial teams who may find it daunting to speak in Parliament on policy matters.
  • A team of 30-32 officers serves on the hotline on a rotational basis to provide research and reference support.

Usage and Enquiries

  • Between 2019 and 2023, 87% of MPs have utilized either online or offline reference services, which are also shared through WhatsApp and email.
  • Enquiries mainly focused on bills such as the Juvenile Justice Bill, Wildlife Protection Bill, and short-duration discussions on topics like climate change, drug abuse, and price rise.

Need for PRISM

  • First-term MPs often face challenges when asked to speak on bills without extensive research support.
  • The hotline and reference services have proven invaluable in assisting MPs, allowing them to contribute effectively to debates and discussions.
  • The initiative has particularly aided MPs who may not be proficient in English or Hindi, enabling them to raise pertinent issues in Parliament.

Significance

  • Parliament can be a fragmented environment, with various cliques and clubs forming over the years.
  • Backbenchers, in particular, often spend much time in obscurity.
  • The research and reference services provided by PRISM can make these years on the backbench more productive by facilitating informed participation in policy debates.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Elections to 10 Rajya Sabha Seats

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Elections to the Rajya Sabha

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • The Election Commission announced elections to 10 Rajya Sabha seats from three States that are falling vacant in July and August.

Rajya Sabha and its Composition

  • Rajya Sabha, or the Council of States, is the upper house of the Parliament of India.
  • It plays a vital role in the legislative process, representing the interests of states and providing a platform for deliberations on important national issues.

Composition of Rajya Sabha

  • Members: Rajya Sabha consists of a maximum of 250 members, of which 238 members are representatives of states and union territories, while the President of India nominates 12 members having special knowledge or practical experience in various fields.
  • Allocation of Seats: The allocation of seats in Rajya Sabha is based on the population of each state, with larger states having more representatives. The President can also nominate members to ensure the representation of expertise and diverse backgrounds.
  • Term: Members of Rajya Sabha serve for a term of 6 years, with one-third of the members retiring every two years. This rotational system ensures continuity in the functioning of the house.

Nominated Members

  • Nominations: In addition to the elected members, Rajya Sabha includes 12 nominated members who are appointed by the President of India. These nominations are made to ensure the representation of individuals with special knowledge or practical experience in various fields such as literature, science, art, social service, and more.
  • Expertise and Diversity: Nominated members bring diverse perspectives and expertise to Rajya Sabha. They contribute to the legislative process by providing valuable insights and enriching debates on critical issues.
  • Contribution: Nominated members play an essential role in shaping legislation and policy discussions. Their expertise and experience contribute to a more comprehensive and informed decision-making process in Rajya Sabha.

Functions of Rajya Sabha

  • Legislative Functions: Rajya Sabha has equal legislative powers with the Lok Sabha in most matters, including passing bills related to constitutional amendments, finance, and non-financial matters. In certain circumstances, it enjoys exclusive powers, such as creating all-India services.
  • Representation of States: Rajya Sabha represents the interests of states, allowing them to participate in the decision-making process at the national level. It ensures that laws and policies are formulated with the consideration of diverse regional perspectives.
  • Role in Impeachment: Rajya Sabha, along with the Lok Sabha, plays a role in the impeachment of the President of India, Chief Justice, and judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts. It ensures a fair and balanced process in cases of impeachment.

Significance of Rajya Sabha

  • Federal Character: Rajya Sabha represents the federal character of India’s political system by giving states and union territories a voice in the national legislature. It serves as a platform for states to raise their concerns and participate in policy discussions.
  • Reviewing and Amending Legislation: Rajya Sabha plays a critical role in the legislative process by reviewing and amending bills passed by the Lok Sabha. It acts as a revising chamber and provides an opportunity for in-depth scrutiny and debate on proposed laws.
  • Expertise and Stability: The nomination of members with specialized knowledge and experience, along with the rotational system, ensures that Rajya Sabha benefits from their expertise. The continuity of membership allows for stability and the accumulation of institutional knowledge.

 

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. The Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha are not the members of that House.
  2. While the nominated members of the two Houses of the Parliament have no voting right in the presidential election, they have the right to vote in the election of the Vice President.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Post your answers here.
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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

[VERY IMPORTANT] Executive Democracy vs Parliamentary Democracy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India's parliamentary democracy and key constitutional provisions

Mains level: Increasing subordination of Parliament and executive dominance in India's democracy

Parliament

Central Idea

  • The recent inauguration of a new Parliament building in India was accompanied by both grandeur and controversy. While the exclusion of the President and the symbolic gestures surrounding the Sengol stirred significant debate, there is a deeper issue that remains overlooked the growing subordination of Parliament in India’s parliamentary democracy and the emergence of Executive democracy.

What is mean by Parliamentary Democracy?

  • Parliamentary democracy is a form of government in which the executive branch, headed by a Prime Minister or equivalent position, derives its legitimacy and authority from the legislative branch, known as Parliament. In this system, the executive is accountable to Parliament and relies on its support to govern effectively.

What is mean by Executive Democracy?

  • Executive democracy refers to a form of governance where the executive branch of government holds a dominant or disproportionate amount of power and influence compared to other branches, such as the legislature or judiciary. In an executive democracy, the executive branch, usually headed by a President or Prime Minister, exercises significant control over policy-making and decision-making processes

Executive Democracy vs. Parliamentary Democracy

Aspect Executive Democracy Parliamentary Democracy
Concentration of Power Executive branch holds dominant power and control Power is shared between executive and legislature
Decision-making Decisions made primarily by the executive Decisions made through deliberation in Parliament
Checks and Balances Limited checks on executive power Robust system of checks and balances
Accountability Limited avenues for holding executive accountable Strong mechanisms to ensure executive accountability
Legislative Influence Legislature may have limited influence Legislature plays a significant role in shaping policies
Separation of Powers Potential for blurred separation of powers Clear separation of powers between branches
Opposition Role Opposition may have limited influence Opposition has an important role in holding the government accountable
Civic Engagement Limited avenues for civic engagement Opportunities for civic engagement and participation
Pluralism and Representation Potential for limited representation of diverse interests Emphasis on diverse representation and pluralism
Policy Stability Potentially streamlined decision-making Decision-making through debate and deliberation
Potential for Authoritarianism Increased risk of authoritarian tendencies Strong democratic safeguards against authoritarianism

How the safeguards against executive dominance are being diluted?

  • Intra-Party Dissent: The anti-defection law, introduced through the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution in 1985, suppresses intra-party dissent by disqualifying members who defy the party whip. Despite its intention to curb horse-trading and unprincipled floor-crossing, this law has reinforced the power of party leadership, particularly the executive, while making intra-party dissent more difficult due to the risk of disqualification from Parliament.
  • Limited Space for Opposition: Unlike other parliamentary democracies, the Indian Constitution does not allocate specific space for the political opposition in the House. As a result, parliamentary proceedings are largely under the control of the executive, leaving no constitutional checks on how that control is exercised. This hampers the opposition’s ability to hold the executive accountable.
  • Partisan Speakers: The Speaker, who should be an impartial authority representing the interests of Parliament, often acts in a partisan manner.
  • Undermining the Role of the Upper House: The Upper House’s role is further undermined by the misclassification of bills and the constitutional power to issue ordinances. Ordinances, meant for emergency situations when Parliament is not in session, are increasingly used as a parallel process of law-making, bypassing the scrutiny of the Upper House and creating a fait accompli.

Parliament

The implications of executive dominance

  • Weakened Checks and Balances: Executive dominance can undermine the system of checks and balances that is vital for democratic governance. When the executive branch holds excessive power, the ability of other institutions, such as the legislature and judiciary, to effectively monitor and limit executive actions can be compromised.
  • Reduced Accountability: The concentration of power in the executive can diminish accountability mechanisms. Transparency and oversight mechanisms may suffer, limiting public scrutiny and the ability to hold the government accountable for its decisions, actions, and policies.
  • Limited Legislative Influence: Executive dominance may curtail the influence and effectiveness of the legislature. The executive may have significant control over the legislative agenda, which can limit the ability of lawmakers to shape policies, propose amendments, and exercise meaningful oversight.
  • Diminished Role of Opposition: Executive dominance can marginalize the role and impact of the political opposition. With limited avenues to influence decision-making, the opposition’s ability to present alternative viewpoints, challenge government actions, and hold the executive accountable may be restricted.
  • Impaired Deliberative Democracy: Executive dominance may result in limited deliberation and debate on important legislative matters. When decision-making is centralized in the executive, opportunities for comprehensive discussion, public input, and the exploration of diverse perspectives may be diminished.
  • Potential for Policy Capture: Concentrated executive power can create opportunities for special interest groups or powerful individuals to exert undue influence over policy decisions. This can lead to policy capture, favoritism, and a lack of equitable representation of diverse interests.
  • Threat to Judicial Independence: Executive dominance can pose risks to the independence of the judiciary. The executive’s influence over judicial appointments and the potential for encroachment on the judiciary’s autonomy can undermine the impartial administration of justice and compromise the protection of individual rights.
  • Democratic Backsliding: Excessive executive dominance without proper checks and balances can contribute to democratic backsliding. It can erode democratic norms, undermine institutional integrity, and potentially lead to authoritarian tendencies.

Facts for prelims: key constitutional provisions related to India’s parliamentary democracy

Constitutional Provision Description
The Preamble Declares India as a sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic republic
Article 79 Establishes the Parliament of India as the supreme legislative body
Article 74 Outlines the role and powers of the President as the head of the executive branch
Article 75 Deals with the appointment and powers of the Prime Minister
Article 86 Outlines the powers and functions of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament)
Article 105 Grants privileges and immunities to members of Parliament
Article 266 Establishes the Consolidated Fund of India and Contingency Fund of India
Article 368 Outlines the procedure for amending the Constitution of India
Article 226 Grants High Courts the power to issue writs and remedies for the enforcement of rights and laws

Parliament

Way forward: Restoring the prominence of Parliament

  • Review and Amend the Anti-Defection Law: Revisit the anti-defection law, Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, to strike a balance between party discipline and intra-party dissent. The law should focus on curbing unprincipled floor-crossing while allowing space for lawmakers to express dissenting views within their parties.
  • Strengthen Opposition Rights: Allocate specific space and time for the political opposition in the House to hold the executive accountable. Consider implementing sessions like Prime Minister’s questions, where the Prime Minister faces direct questioning from the Leader of the Opposition and other politicians.
  • Enhance Impartiality of the Speaker: Encourage the Speaker to act independently and impartially by introducing reforms that require the Speaker to relinquish party membership and impose constitutional obligations to ensure neutrality and fairness in conducting House proceedings.
  • Preserve the Role of the Upper House: Protect the role and importance of the Upper House, the Rajya Sabha, by ensuring that bills are not misclassified as “money bills” to bypass its scrutiny. Limit the misuse of ordinances to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the legislative process.
  • Strengthen Parliamentary Oversight: Enhance the capacity of parliamentary committees to scrutinize executive actions, policies, and budgets effectively. Provide them with adequate resources and powers to conduct thorough investigations and hold the government accountable.
  • Public Participation and Transparency: Promote public participation in the legislative process by making parliamentary proceedings more accessible to the public through live streaming, public consultations, and the dissemination of information. Enhance transparency by ensuring timely publication of bills, reports, and other parliamentary documents.
  • Judicial Independence and Judicial Review: Uphold the independence of the judiciary and ensure that it acts as a strong check on executive power. Respect the decisions of the judiciary and safeguard its autonomy to ensure that laws and executive actions align with the constitution and protect individual rights.

Conclusion

  • While the inauguration of a new Parliament building attracts attention, it is imperative to address the underlying issue of the increasing subordination of Parliament in India’s democracy. Restoring the prominence of Parliament in the democratic process necessitates comprehensive constitutional changes and reforms. Only then can India reclaim its status as a robust parliamentary democracy.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Asymmetric Federalism: Examining the Impact of the Delhi Ordinance

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ordinance related provisions

Mains level: Recent ordinance amending the Government of NCTD Act concerns over federalism and way ahead

Federalism

Central Idea

  • The recent promulgation of an ordinance by the Union government, amending the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCTD) Act, 1991, has raised concerns about federalism, democracy, bureaucratic accountability, executive law-making, and judicial review. This move nullified the Supreme Court judgment that recognized the elected government of Delhi’s legislative and administrative powers over services.

What is mean by asymmetric federalism?

  • Asymmetric federalism refers to a governance model in which different regions or constituent units within a country are granted varying degrees of autonomy or special provisions based on their unique characteristics, circumstances, or historical factors.
  • It recognizes that not all regions or constituent units are the same and may require different arrangements to accommodate their specific needs and aspirations

Key points regarding Delhi’s unique position and asymmetric federalism

  • Sui generis status: The Supreme Court recognized that the addition of Article 239AA in the Constitution granted the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCTD) a distinct and special status. This acknowledgment indicates that Delhi does not fit neatly into the category of either a full-fledged state or a union territory.
  • Examples of special governance arrangements: India’s federal system already incorporates examples of asymmetric federalism. For instance, the special provisions under Article 370 (before its dilution) for Jammu and Kashmir and the protections provided under Article 371, as well as the 5th and 6th Schedule Areas, demonstrate the existence of differential treatment based on regional considerations.
  • Legislative and administrative powers: The Supreme Court’s verdict on May 11 acknowledged that the elected government of Delhi possesses legislative and administrative powers over certain subjects, including services. This recognition further solidifies the idea that Delhi operates under a distinctive constitutional framework, allowing it to exercise powers similar to those of states.
  • Federal entity status: While Delhi remains a Union Territory, the Court’s judgment emphasized that the unique constitutional status conferred upon it makes it a federal entity. This recognition affirms the existence of a distinct arrangement for Delhi within India’s federal structure.
  • Contrasts with Jammu and Kashmir: It is worth noting that the Court’s application of asymmetric federalism principles in Delhi contrasts with the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, where similar principles were not upheld. This discrepancy highlights the need for consistent application and recognition of federalism across different regions.

Inconsistent Application of Asymmetric Federalism

  • Differential treatment: Inconsistencies arise when different regions or constituent units within a country receive varying degrees of autonomy, special provisions, or protections based on their unique characteristics, historical factors, or political considerations.
  • Unequal distribution of powers: In some cases, certain regions may enjoy greater devolved powers, legislative authority, or administrative autonomy compared to others. This disparity can create imbalances in decision-making and resource allocation, leading to perceptions of favoritism or discrimination.
  • Varying levels of cultural or linguistic protections: Asymmetric federalism may involve granting special cultural or linguistic protections to specific regions or constituent units. However, the extent and nature of these protections can differ, leading to disparities in the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity and linguistic rights.
  • Financial arrangements: Inconsistent application of asymmetric federalism can also manifest in the distribution of financial resources. Some regions may benefit from preferential funding or fiscal arrangements, while others may receive fewer resources, resulting in economic disparities and regional imbalances.
  • Selective application based on political considerations: In some cases, the application of asymmetric federalism may be influenced by political factors, resulting in inconsistent treatment. Regions that align with the ruling party or have greater political influence may receive more favourable treatment, while others may be neglected or marginalized.
  • Perception of unfairness and tensions: Inconsistencies in the application of asymmetric federalism can lead to a sense of unfairness, grievances, and tensions among regions or constituent units. This can undermine trust, unity, and cooperative governance within a federal system.

Facts for prelims

Article Description
Article 123 Empowers the President to issue ordinances during Parliament’s recess.
Article 239 Deals with the administration of Union Territories.
Article 239A Provides for the creation of a Legislative Assembly for the Union Territory of Delhi.
Article 239AA Contains special provisions for the Union Territory of Delhi, including the establishment of a Legislative Assembly and governance structure.
Article 368 Outlines the procedure for amending the Constitution.
Article 144 Deals with the binding nature of the Supreme Court’s judgments on all courts and authorities in India.
Article 213 Empowers the Governor of a state to promulgate ordinances during the recess of the state legislature.

Challenges Posed by the Ordinance

  • Judicial independence: The swift and brazen act of undoing a Supreme Court judgment through an ordinance raises concerns about judicial independence. While the legislature has the authority to alter the legal basis of a judgment, directly overruling it undermines the independence of the judiciary.
  • Executive overreach: The use of an ordinance, which is meant to address extraordinary situations, for political ends raises questions about executive overreach. The Supreme Court has previously held that ordinances should not be perverted to serve political objectives, indicating that their use should be limited and justified.
  • Constitutional subterfuge: The ordinance adds an additional subject of exemption (services) to the legislative power of Delhi without amending the Constitution. This raises concerns about constitutional subterfuge, as it potentially circumvents the constitutional amendment process and undermines the constitutional framework.
  • Bureaucratic accountability: The creation of a National Capital Civil Service Authority, where appointed bureaucrats can overrule an elected Chief Minister, undermines established norms of bureaucratic accountability. This consolidation of power in the hands of bureaucrats weakens democratic principles and dilutes the authority of elected representatives.
  • Assault on federalism: The ordinance directly assaults the principles of federalism by limiting the control and decision-making power of the elected government of Delhi. It erodes the federal structure by introducing a mechanism where Union-appointed bureaucrats and the Lieutenant Governor can overrule the decisions of the Chief Minister and the elected government.
  • Threat to democracy: The ordinance’s provisions, including the majority voting system and the decision-making authority of the Lieutenant Governor, raise concerns about democratic principles. By allowing unelected officials to wield significant power over elected representatives, it undermines the democratic ideals of representative governance and the will of the people.

Way Ahead: The Need for a New Politics of Federalism

  • Protection of constitutional values: As the foundations of India’s constitutionalism are threatened, a new politics of federalism is required to safeguard the core values enshrined in the Constitution. Federalism serves as a vital mechanism to ensure a balance of power, protect the rights of states and regions, and uphold democratic principles.
  • Counter-hegemonic idea: By championing the principles of decentralization, autonomy, and cooperative governance, a renewed focus on federalism can challenge the concentration of power and promote a more inclusive and participatory political system.
  • Normative framework: Opposition parties often fail to take a principled stance on federalism or articulate it as a normative idea. A new politics of federalism should aim to establish federalism as a guiding principle based on first principles, emphasizing the importance of cooperative governance, checks and balances, and the protection of regional diversity.
  • Articulating underlying values: A reimagined politics of federalism should consistently articulate the underlying values of federal governance. This includes recognizing the interplay between federalism and democracy, understanding the diverse interests and aspirations of regions, and ensuring equitable distribution of powers, resources, and opportunities.
  • Balancing the centre-state dynamics: A robust politics of federalism can foster a healthy balance between the central government and the states or regions. It should promote dialogue, cooperation, and respect for the autonomy and authority of elected representatives at all levels.

Conclusion

  • The recent ordinance amending the Government of NCTD Act has ignited debates about federalism, democracy, and bureaucratic accountability. Opposition parties must recognize the importance of federalism as a guiding principle and act to safeguard it. The protection of federalism requires a principled approach that upholds democratic values and ensures the balance of power between different tiers of government.

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Delhi Governance New Ordinance

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

[VERY IMPORTANT]: Performance of 17th Lok Sabha: Challenges and Concerns

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 17th Lok Sabha performance and related facts

Mains level: Low performance of 17th Lok Sabha, concerns and way forward

Lok Sabha

Central Idea

  • India’s new Parliament building, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, symbolizes the aspirations of 140 crore Indians. However, as the 17th Lok Sabha nears its final year, it faces scrutiny over its performance.

Performance of 17th Lok Sabha

  • Sitting Days: The 17th Lok Sabha has functioned for 230 sitting days so far. However, if it falls short of surpassing the lowest recorded full-term Lok Sabha (331 sitting days in the 16th Lok Sabha), it would become the shortest full-term Lok Sabha since 1952.
  • Referral of Bills to Committees: There has been a decline in the referral of bills to Parliamentary Standing Committees. Since 2004, only 45% of the total bills introduced in Parliament have been referred to committees. This suggests a potential decrease in comprehensive scrutiny and review of proposed legislation.
  • Legislative Output: The number of bills introduced and passed in the 17th Lok Sabha has seen a decline. Out of the 150 bills introduced, 131 have been passed so far (excluding Finance and Appropriation Bills). The decreasing trend raises questions about the legislative productivity of the Lok Sabha.
  • Budget Discussions: The latest Budget session of the 17th Lok Sabha was one of the shortest since 1952. The limited time dedicated to discussing financial matters, particularly the Budget, raises concerns about the depth of analysis and deliberation on critical fiscal issues.
  • Debates on Matters of Public Importance: The number of debates conducted in the Lok Sabha during the tenure of the 17th Lok Sabha has been limited. There have been only 11 short duration discussions and one half-an-hour discussion, indicating a restricted avenue for robust parliamentary discourse on matters of public importance.
  • Delayed Election of Deputy Speaker: Despite the constitutional provision mandating the election of a Deputy Speaker, the 17th Lok Sabha has not elected one, even as it enters its final year of the five-year term. This delay raises concerns about adherence to constitutional norms and the effective functioning of parliamentary proceedings.

Value addition box from Civilsdaily

Lok Sabha Term Total Sitting Days Bills Introduced Bills Passed Average Sitting Days per Year
15th 2009-2014 357 244 181 71
16th 2014-2019 331 247 156 66
17th 2019-2024 Less than 331 (projected) 150 (as of April 2023) 131 (as of April 2023) 58 (projected)

Why the 17th Lok Sabha’s productivity has been low?

  • Disruptions and Protests: The 17th Lok Sabha witnessed frequent disruptions and protests from opposition parties, leading to a significant loss of time and decreased productivity. Some of the major issues that led to disruptions include the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC), and farm laws.
  • Lack of Consensus: The ruling party enjoyed a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, but there was still a lack of consensus on many key issues, resulting in a delay in passing important bills and legislation.
  • COVID-19 Pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to the low productivity of the Lok Sabha as many sessions were delayed or cancelled due to safety concerns.
  • Speaker’s Decision: The decision of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to disallow opposition MPs from raising certain issues also resulted in protests and disruptions, further reducing the productivity of the house.
  • Shorter Sessions: The 17th Lok Sabha had shorter sessions compared to previous Lok Sabhas, which also contributed to lower productivity. Many important bills and issues were left pending as there was not enough time to discuss and debate them thoroughly.

The concerns associated with the performance of MPs in the old Parliament building

  • Limited Parliamentary Engagement: The limited number of sitting days raises concerns about the MPs’ ability to fully engage in legislative proceedings and address the various challenges and issues faced by the country.
  • Decreased Scrutiny of Legislation: The declining referral of bills to Parliamentary Standing Committees raises concerns about the thorough scrutiny and review of proposed legislation.
  • Legislative Productivity: The decreased number of bills introduced and passed in the 17th Lok Sabha raises concerns about its legislative productivity. This may limit the ability of MPs to address critical issues, propose new policies, and enact necessary reforms, hindering progress and development.
  • Limited Budget Discussions: The shortened Budget sessions and reduced time allocated for financial discussions raise concerns about the depth of analysis and deliberation on critical fiscal matters.
  • Restricted Debates on Public Matters: The limited number of debates conducted in the Lok Sabha raises concerns about the comprehensive discussion and examination of matters of public importance.

Lok Sabha

New Parliament Building: An Opportunity for Efficiency

  • Responsible Parliamentary Conduct: Members of Parliament should prioritize constructive and meaningful debates, fostering a culture of respect, collaboration, and consensus-building. It is essential to move away from disruptive tactics and focus on substantive discussions that address the complex governance challenges of our time.
  • Reducing Disruptions: Long periods of deadlock and disruptions hinder the smooth functioning of Parliament. Efforts should be made to minimize disruptions and ensure that discussions remain focused on key issues. Rules and procedures can be reviewed to encourage more disciplined and productive parliamentary conduct.
  • Enhancing Communication and Participation: The new Parliament building, equipped with modern facilities, offers opportunities for better communication and engagement. Members should utilize these resources effectively to engage with constituents, share information, and seek feedback, fostering a more inclusive and participatory democracy.

Conclusion

  • The performance of MPs in the 17th Lok Sabha is pivotal in driving effective governance and representing the aspirations of the Indian people. It is crucial for MPs to embrace their roles as custodians of democracy, remaining accountable to their constituents and working collectively to shape a brighter future for India.

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Inauguration of New Parliament House: Shaping the Concept of Aatmanirbhar Bharat

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Parliamentary Institutions in Ancient India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Tripitaka

Mains level: Democracy in Indian Civilizations

parliament

Central Idea

  • The construction and history of the Indian Parliament building serve as a reminder of India’s rich democratic traditions.
  • Dr BR Ambedkar, the Chairman of the Drafting Committee for the Indian Constitution, highlighted the presence of democratic aspects in Indian history that predate Western influence.

Democratic Traditions in Ancient India

  • Ambedkar had challenged the notion that India’s parliamentary procedures were borrowed from European countries.
  • Ambedkar referred to the Vinaypitaka, a Theravada Buddhist scripture, as evidence of existing democratic procedures in India.
  • The scripture regulated meetings of the Bhikkhus Sangh (monks) and included rules for debates, motions, and voting through a secret ballot system.

Comparison with Western Democracies

  • Ambedkar acknowledged the importance of contributions made by Western democracies in moving away from autocracy and religious dominance.
  • He highlighted the separation of Church and State in Western societies and the transition to secular laws created by the people rather than divine or religious authorities.

Caution against Failure to Address Defects

  • Ambedkar pointed out the tendency of ancient societies to neglect repairing their own defects, leading to their decay.
  • He criticized the Indian society’s reliance on divine laws established by figures like Manu and Yajnavalkya, which hindered the ability to address societal issues.

Conclusion

  • While acknowledging India’s rich democratic history, it is essential to continue building and strengthening democratic institutions to address the evolving needs and challenges of society.
  • This includes fostering an introspective approach, embracing inclusive governance, and upholding the principles of secularism, equality, and social justice.

Back2Basics: Tripitaka

  • The Tripitaka, also known as the Pali Canon, is a collection of sacred Buddhist scriptures that form the foundational texts of the Theravada Buddhist tradition.
  • It is divided into three sections, known as the Tripitaka, which literally means “Three Baskets.”

History and significance

  • The Tripitaka was orally transmitted from the time of Gautama Buddha in the 5th century BCE until it was eventually written down in the 1st century BCE.
  • It holds immense historical and religious significance as it contains the teachings, discourses, rules, and guidelines given by the Buddha and his prominent disciples.

Composition of the Tripitaka:

(1) Vinaya Pitaka (Basket of Discipline):

  • Comprises the rules and guidelines for monastic discipline in the Buddhist community.
  • Provides detailed instructions on the conduct and behavior expected from monks and nuns.
  • Covers various aspects, including ethical guidelines, disciplinary codes, and procedures for resolving disputes.
  • Offers insights into the monastic life, the organization of the Sangha (monastic community), and the role of the monastic code in maintaining harmony and ethical conduct.

(2) Sutta Pitaka (Basket of Discourses):

  • Contains the discourses and teachings delivered by Gautama Buddha and his close disciples.
  • Includes a vast collection of discourses covering a wide range of topics, such as ethics, meditation, philosophy, and social issues.
  • Consists of individual suttas (discourses) grouped into different collections or Nikayas, such as the Digha Nikaya (Long Discourses), Majjhima Nikaya (Middle-Length Discourses), Samyutta Nikaya (Connected Discourses), and Anguttara Nikaya (Numerical Discourses).
  • Presents the Buddha’s profound teachings on the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, dependent origination, and other core concepts of Buddhism.

(3) Abhidhamma Pitaka (Basket of Higher Teachings):

  • Provides a comprehensive and systematic analysis of Buddhist philosophy and psychology.
  • Explores the nature of mind, consciousness, and reality in intricate detail.
  • Presents the teachings in a more technical and analytical manner, offering an advanced understanding of Buddhist concepts.
  • Divided into seven books, known as the Abhidhamma books, which delve into topics such as consciousness, mental factors, elements, and the path to liberation.
  • Offers a deep exploration of the ultimate nature of existence and the workings of the mind.

Features and Characteristics

  • Authenticity and Authority: The Tripitaka is regarded as the most authoritative and authentic collection of Buddhist scriptures in the Theravada tradition.
  • Canonical Language: The texts are primarily written in Pali, an ancient Indian language close to the language spoken during the Buddha’s time.
  • Extensive Coverage: The Tripitaka covers a wide range of topics, offering comprehensive guidance for practitioners in various aspects of life.
  • Preservation of Early Buddhist Teachings: The Tripitaka is believed to preserve the original teachings of the Buddha, providing insights into his wisdom and teachings.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Inauguration of New Parliament House: Shaping the Concept of Aatmanirbhar Bharat

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: New Parliament House

Mains level: New Parliament Building, significance, vision and aspirations

Parliament

Central Idea

  • India is on the brink of a historic moment as it celebrates its 75th year of Independence with the inauguration of the new Parliament House on May 28. This remarkable event marks the transition from a century-old colonial-era building to a new structure that reflects India’s vision and aspirations in the post-independence era.

Challenges and Limitations of the Old Parliament House

  • Space Limitations: As the demands of governance have grown and evolved, the available space has become insufficient to accommodate the increasing number of staff, offices, and facilities required to support the functioning of the legislature. This space constraint has led to multiple additions and retrofits, such as the Parliament Annexe and the Parliament Library, but they have not fully addressed the need for modern and adequate facilities.
  • Infrastructure Constraints: The installation of additional wirings for computers, air conditioners, and security gadgets has cluttered the building and affected its aesthetic appeal. Safety concerns have necessitated measures like safety nettings in the Chambers and Central Hall to prevent the risk of falling tiles and plaster.
  • Technological Obsolescence: With rapid technological advancements, the old Parliament House struggles to meet the technological needs of the modern era. The building lacks state-of-the-art facilities for audio-visual communication, simultaneous interpretations in multiple languages, and efficient information management systems limiting the ability to leverage modern tools for improved legislative output.
  • Functional Limitations: The cramped working spaces, lack of dedicated facilities for MPs, and inadequate access to necessary resources and reports hinder the ability of legislators to perform their duties effectively. These functional constraints can hamper productivity and limit the quality of discussions and debates within the legislative body.
  • Historical Significance: While the old Parliament House holds historical significance and represents the journey of independent India, it also reflects a bygone era. The old building’s colonial-era architecture may not be best suited to symbolize India’s present and future ambitions.

How the New House is Equipped for the Future?

  • Spacious and Accessible: The new building offers increased space compared to the old Parliament House, allowing for better movement and functionality. It is designed to accommodate the growing number of MPs and staff, ensuring a more comfortable and accessible environment for all.
  • State-of-the-Art Technology: The new Parliament House is equipped with the most updated technology, enabling seamless communication and information sharing among lawmakers. It provides advanced audio-visual communication features, ensuring effective interaction and collaboration during debates and discussions.
  • Simultaneous Interpretation: The new building is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for simultaneous interpretation. This enables MPs to communicate and understand proceedings in their preferred languages, promoting inclusivity and facilitating effective participation from diverse linguistic backgrounds.
  • E-Library and Digital Resources: The new Parliament House offers access to an e-library and digital resources, providing lawmakers with easy and instant access to important reports, documents, and research materials. This promotes informed decision-making and enhances the capacity of legislators.
  • Energy Efficiency: The new building prioritizes energy efficiency through the use of sustainable design elements and eco-friendly systems. It incorporates renewable energy sources, efficient lighting, and climate control systems, reducing energy consumption and minimizing the ecological footprint.
  • Visitor Facilities: The new Parliament House includes publicly accessible museum-grade galleries and a Constitution Hall that showcase India’s democratic history. These spaces serve as educational resources for visitors, offering a deeper understanding of the country’s democratic values and principles.
  • Future Expansion: The new Parliament House is designed to accommodate future expansions and requirements. As the complex grows and evolves, provisions have been made to ensure that each member will have dedicated spaces for interacting with constituents, fostering closer engagement and representation.

New Parliament Building: An Opportunity for Efficiency

  • Responsible Parliamentary Conduct: Members of Parliament should prioritize constructive and meaningful debates, fostering a culture of respect, collaboration, and consensus-building. It is essential to move away from disruptive tactics and focus on substantive discussions that address the complex governance challenges of our time.
  • Reducing Disruptions: Long periods of deadlock and disruptions hinder the smooth functioning of Parliament. Efforts should be made to minimize disruptions and ensure that discussions remain focused on key issues. Rules and procedures can be reviewed to encourage more disciplined and productive parliamentary conduct.
  • Enhancing Communication and Participation: The new Parliament building, equipped with modern facilities, offers opportunities for better communication and engagement. Members should utilize these resources effectively to engage with constituents, share information, and seek feedback, fostering a more inclusive and participatory democracy.

Way forward: Preparing for New Challenges

  • Embracing Technological Advancements: The world is rapidly evolving, driven by advancements in technology. The Parliament should adapt to these changes by harnessing digital tools, promoting e-governance initiatives, and leveraging innovations like machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  • Legislative Reforms: Regular review and reform of existing laws and procedures are crucial to ensure their relevance and effectiveness in a dynamic environment. Parliamentarians should actively engage in legislative reforms, focusing on updating outdated laws, streamlining processes, and addressing emerging issues.
  • Capacity Building: Members of Parliament should be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to tackle complex policy challenges. Training programs, workshops, and knowledge-sharing platforms can help enhance their understanding of diverse subjects, enabling them to make informed decisions and contribute effectively to lawmaking.
  • Embracing Innovation and Research: Encouraging research and evidence-based policymaking can lead to more informed and effective legislative outcomes. Parliament should foster collaborations with research institutions, think tanks, and experts to access reliable data, analysis, and innovative solutions to address emerging challenges.

Parliament

Facts for prelims

Important facts about Sengol?

  • Sengol is a historical sceptre that holds significant cultural and historical value in Tamil Nadu.
  • Derived from the Tamil word Semmai, meaning Righteousness, Sengol represents a symbol of justice and good governance and holds cultural significance as recorded in ancient Tamil texts like Silapathikaram and Manimekalai.
  • The presentation of the Sengol aligns with a traditional Chola practice where Samayacharyas (spiritual leaders) led the coronation of kings, sanctifying the transfer of power and symbolically recognizing the ruler.
  • It gained prominence during the transfer of power from the British to the Indian people at the time of India’s independence

Conclusion

  • The new parliament building symbolizes the journey of our Parliament from its past to the future, shaping the concept of Aatmanirbhar Bharat. As the fountainhead of people’s hopes and aspirations, particularly the younger generations, the new Parliament House will serve as a lighthouse guiding us towards the ambitious journey of building Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat. It is an opportunity for serious introspection, aiming to make our parliamentary conduct more efficient and productive.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What does the Constitution say about the sovereignty of India?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sovereignty

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • The article revolves around the issue of a political party filing a complaint against a politician of foreign origin with the Election Commission of India (ECI).
  • She had allegedly been advocating the secession of Karnataka from India in her election speeches.

Definition of sovereignty

  • Sovereignty is the idea of having supreme authority over a defined territory.
  • In Western philosophy, the concept is used to describe the supremacy of the state over the people being governed.
  • The state has a legitimate claim to sovereignty in exchange for providing protection to its citizens, keeping society cohesive and at peace, and controlling law and order.

Sovereignty in India’s Constitution

  • The word sovereignty appears in the beginning of the Preamble to the Constitution of India as the first attribute of the independent republic of India.
  • Its placement as the first among the core principles of the republic underlines its importance in the Constitution.
  • Sovereignty is invoked in the Indian Constitution to “declare the ultimate sovereignty of the people of India and that the Constitution rests on their authority.”
  • It is mentioned in the Constitution under Fundamental Duties, and citizens have a duty to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India.

Relationship of Indian states with the sovereign Union

  • The Indian political system is described as “quasi-federal.”
  • India is a Union of States, and the component units have no freedom to secede or break away from it.
  • The Indian setup is more unitary in nature than the federal one, and the central government has more powers than the states.
  • The choice of a unitary bias that the Constitution makers made was possibly rooted in the difficulty of getting around 600 princely states to accede to India.

Provisions attesting to the superior position of the Centre

  • The States in India need not be consulted in the matter of amendment to the bulk of the Constitution.
  • Governors in states are appointed “during the pleasure” of the President and are seen as representatives of the Union in the States.
  • The Sixteenth Amendment of 1963 laid down that even the advocacy of succession under Article 19 (1) will not be protected under law in the name of Freedom of Speech as directed under Article 19 (2).
  • The right to alter the boundaries of states and to create new states lies with Parliament alone.
  • The Constitution offers no guarantee to the States against their territorial integrity without their consent since it was not a result of an ‘agreement’ between the States.

These provisions demonstrate the superior position of the Centre in the Indian political system.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Governor’s Constitutional Limits: A Resolution to President

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Governor's role and related articles

Mains level: Issues over the role of governor in state legislature

Central Idea

  • The Tamil Nadu Governor’s recent statement implying that he would not give assent to a Bill passed by the legislature if it transgresses constitutional limits has resulted in the Tamil Nadu Assembly passing a resolution requesting the President of India to issue directions to the Governor to function within constitutional limits.

Who is Governor?

  • Parallel to President: The Governors of the states of India have similar powers and functions at the state level as those of the President of India at the Central level.
  • Nominal head: The governor acts as the nominal head whereas the real power lies with the Chief Ministers of the states and her/his councils of ministers.
  • Similar offices: Governors exist in the states while Lieutenant Governors or Administrators exist in union territories including the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
  • Non-local appointees: Few or no governors are local to the state that they are appointed to govern.

New Constitutional Development

  • Passing a resolution by the Assembly requesting the President of India to ensure that the Governor functions within the Constitution is a new constitutional development.

What are the relevant articles?

  • Article 355: Article 355 of the Constitution states that it is the duty of the Union to ensure that every State’s government is carried out according to the Constitution.
  • R. Ambedkar on Article 355: While the general meaning and purpose of Article 355 was explained by B.R. Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly, the Constitution’s concepts and doctrines have been interpreted and reinterpreted to meet society’s changing needs
  • Article 200: Although Article 200 provides options to the Governor when a Bill is presented to him after being passed by the legislature, withholding assent is not an option given by the Constitution.

Governor’s Discretionary Powers and the confusion of Withholding assent

  • Options to the Governor: Article 200 provides options to the Governor when a Bill is presented to him after being passed by the legislature.
  • These options are:
  1. To give assent;
  2. To withhold assent;
  3. To send it back to the Assembly to reconsider it; or
  4. To send the Bill to the President for his consideration.
  • Idea of the Third option: In case the Assembly reconsiders the Bill as per the request of the Governor under the third option, he has to give assent even if the Assembly passes it again without accepting any of the suggestions of the Governor.
  • One of the options is required to be exercised:  It is only logical to think that when the Constitution gives certain options to the Governor, he is required to exercise one of them.
  • Sitting on the bill goes against the constitutional direction: Since sitting on a Bill passed by the Assembly is not an option given by the Constitution, the Governor, by doing so, is only acting against constitutional direction. A judicial pronouncement on this matter is needed to eliminate the confusion.

The issue of justiciability

Whether the process of assent by the Governor is subject to judicial review?

  • Not justiciable: According to D.D. Basu, quoting judgments of the Supreme Court, it is not justiciable.
  • For instance, Purushothaman Namboothiri vs State of Kerala (1962): In this case the court held that a Bill which is pending with the Governor does not lapse on the dissolution of the Assembly, but this judgment did not deal with the justiciability of the process of assent.
  • Hoechst Pharmaceuticals Ltd. And vs State Of Bihar And Others (1983): In this case the court dealt with the power of the Governor to reserve a Bill for the consideration of the President, and held that the court cannot go into the question of whether it was necessary for the Governor to reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President.
  • Government can challenge the inaction of the Governor in a court of law: The issue that is agitating State governments is the non-decision/indecision on the part of the Governor on a Bill passed by the Assembly. Therefore, the government can challenge the inaction of the Governor in a court of law, and the answer seems to be in the affirmative.

Way ahead

  • Ensuring constitutional principles are upheld: The state governments and the Governor’s office should work together to establish a mutual understanding of the constitutional provisions and procedures for assent to a bill, with a focus on expediting the process while ensuring constitutional principles are upheld.
  • Avoiding confrontation and legal battles: In case of disagreements between the state government and the Governor, the matter should be resolved through dialogue and mutual agreement, rather than resorting to confrontation and legal battles.
  • Clarity on the issues of justifiability: The Supreme Court could provide clarity on the issue of justiciability of the Governor’s role in assent to a bill, while keeping in mind the constitutional provisions and the principles of federalism.
  • Judicious use of discretionary powers: The Governor should exercise his discretionary powers judiciously and in line with constitutional provisions, without delaying or withholding assent to a bill without any valid reason.
  • Transparent and consultative mechanism: The state government should ensure that bills are passed in a transparent and consultative manner, and the Governor should give due consideration to the views and opinions of all stakeholders before exercising his discretion.
  • Promoting cooperative federalism: There should be a greater emphasis on promoting cooperative federalism, where the Centre, states, and governors work together in a spirit of collaboration and cooperation, while ensuring the protection of the Constitution and the rights of all citizens.

Conclusion

  • The framers of the Constitution would never have imagined that Governors would sit on Bills indefinitely without exercising any of the options given in Article 200. This is a new development which needs new solutions within the framework of the Constitution. So, it falls to the Supreme Court to fix a reasonable time frame for Governors to take a decision on a Bill passed by the Assembly in the larger interest of federalism in the country.

Mains question

  1. Passing a resolution by the Assembly requesting the President of India to ensure that the Governor functions within the Constitution is a new constitutional development. In the light of the statement discuss the constitutionality of role of Governor in withholding assent to a bill passed by a state legislature. Suggest a way for this legal battle.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

50 years of Kesavananda Bharati Case

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kesavananda Bharati Case

Mains level: Read the attached story

kesav

Fifty years ago, on April 24, 1973, the Supreme Court delivered its judgment in Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru and Ors vs. State of Kerala and Anr, the landmark case that redefined the relationship between Parliament and the Constitution.

Kesavananda Bharati Case (1973)

  • The Kesavananda Bharati judgement, was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court that outlined the basic structure doctrine of the Indian Constitution.
  • The case is also known as the Fundamental Rights Case.
  • The SC in a 7-6 decision asserted its right to strike down amendments to the constitution that were in violation of the fundamental architecture of the constitution.
  • The Court asserted through the Basic Structure doctrine that the constitution possesses a basic structure of constitutional principles and values.
  • Key outcomes were:
  1. Basic Structure Doctrine: It is a principle that limits Parliament’s power to amend the Indian Constitution. It holds that certain fundamental features of the Constitution, such as the principle of separation of powers, cannot be amended by Parliament.
  2. Judicial Review: The Court partially cemented the prior precedent Golaknath v. State of Punjab, which held that constitutional amendments through Article 368 were subject to fundamental rights review, but only if they could affect the ‘basic structure of the Constitution’.
  3. Exceptions to Judicial Review: At the same time, the Court also upheld the constitutionality of the first provision of Article 31-C, which implied that amendments seeking to implement the Directive Principles, which do not affect the ‘Basic Structure,’ shall not be subjected to judicial review.

Criticism of the doctrine

  • Dilution of powers: The basic structure doctrine has been criticized for diluting the principle of separation of powers and undermining the sovereignty of Parliament.
  • Ambiguous nature: It has also been criticized as a vague and subjective form of judicial review.

Landmark cases of the doctrine

  • Indira Gandhi v Raj Narain (1975): The Supreme Court applied the principle laid down in the Kesavananda ruling for the first time in this case. It struck down The Constitution (39th Amendment) Act, 1975, which barred the Supreme Court from hearing a challenge to the election of President, Prime Minister, Vice-President, and Speaker of Lok Sabha.
  • Minerva Mills Ltd vs. Union of India (1980): The Supreme Court struck down a clause inserted in Article 368, which said “there shall be no limitation whatever on the constituent power of Parliament to amend by way of addition, variation or repeal the provisions of this Constitution.”
  • P Sambamurthy v State of Andhra Pradesh (1986): The Supreme Court struck down a portion of the 32nd Amendment (1973), which constituted an Administrative Tribunal for Andhra Pradesh for service matters, taking away the P jurisdiction of the High Court.
  • L Chandra Kumar v Union of India (1997): The Supreme Court struck down a portion of the 42nd Amendment, which set up administrative tribunals excluding judicial review by High Courts.

Significance of the Judgment and the doctrine

  • Strengthen judicial review: The doctrine forms the basis of the power of the Indian judiciary to review and override amendments to the Constitution of India enacted by the Parliament.
  • Clarification about Article 368: Article 368 postulates only a ‘procedure’ for amendment of the Constitution. The same could not be treated as a ‘power’ vested in the Parliament to amend the Constitution to alter the ‘core’ of the Constitution, which has also been described as the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.
  • Not antithetical to legislative authority: Justice Shastri said Judicial Review was undertaken by the courts “not out of any desire to tilt at legislative authority in a crusader’s spirit, but in the discharge of a duty laid down upon them by the Constitution”.
  • A system of checks and balances: The Kesavananda Bharati verdict (1973) made it clear that judicial review is not a means to usurp parliamentary sovereignty. It is a “system of checks and balances” to ensure constitutional functionaries do not exceed their limits.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Role of Parliamentary Committees

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Parliamentary Committees

Mains level: Legislative consultation

Central idea: This article discusses the importance and functions of parliamentary committees in India.

Why in news?

  • As little as 25% of the Bills introduced were referred to committees in the 16th Lok Sabha, as compared to 71% and 60% in the 15th and 14th Lok Sabha respectively.
  • This represents a declining trend of national legislation being subjected to expert scrutiny.

What is a Parliamentary Committee?

  • A committee appointed or elected by the House or nominated by the Speaker that works under the direction of the Speaker and presents its report to the House or the Speaker.
  • Two kinds of committees: Standing Committees and Ad hoc Committees.

(1) Standing Committees

  • Permanent and regular committees constituted from time to time in pursuance of the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
  • The work of these Committees is of continuous nature.
  • Examples include the Financial Committees and DRSCs.

(2) Ad hoc Committees

  • Appointed for a specific purpose and cease to exist when they finish the task assigned to them and submit a report.
  • The principal Ad hoc Committees are the Select and Joint Committees on Bills.
  • Examples include the Railway Convention Committee and Joint Committee on Food Management in Parliament House Complex.

Why need Parliamentary Committee?

  • Parliament scrutinizes legislative proposals (Bills) in two ways: discussion on the floor of the two Houses and referring the Bill to a parliamentary committee.
  • Since Parliament meets for 70 to 80 days in a year, there is not enough time to discuss every Bill in detail on the floor of the House.

Role of the committee in the passage of a Bill

  • The debate in the house is mostly political and does not go into the technical details of a legislative proposal.
  • Referring a Bill to a parliamentary committee takes care of the legislative infirmity of debate on the floor of the House.
  • However, referring Bills to parliamentary committees is not mandatory.

What is a Select Committee?

  • India’s Parliament has multiple types of committees.
  • Departmentally related Standing Committees focus on the working of different ministries.
  • Each committee has 31 MPs, 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha.
  • The main purpose is to ensure the accountability of Government to Parliament through a more detailed consideration of measures in these committees.

When does a committee examine a Bill?

  • Bills can reach a committee through a recommendation by the minister piloting the Bill or the presiding officer of the House.

What happens when a Bill goes to a Committee?

  • The committee undertakes a detailed examination of the Bill, inviting comments and suggestions from experts, stakeholders and citizens.
  • The government also appears before the committee to present its viewpoint.
  • The committee’s report makes suggestions for strengthening the Bill.
  • While the committee is deliberating on a Bill, there is a pause in its legislative journey.
  • The Bill can only progress in Parliament after the committee has submitted its report.

What happens after the report?

  • The report of the committee is of a recommendatory nature.
  • The government can choose to accept or reject its recommendations.
  • Select Committees and JPCs have an added advantage of including their version of the Bill in the report.
  • The minister in charge of that particular Bill can move for the committee’s version of the Bill to be discussed and passed in the House.

Importance of these Committees

  • Parliamentary committees analyze the impact that a specific piece of legislation may have on governance indicators.
  • It recommends the government to take an ‘Action Taken’ report for the House to judge the progress made on the suggestions of the committee.
  • Though committee reports aren’t binding on the government, it helps the legislature ensure oversight of the executive.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

The 17th Lok Sabha: A Short-Lived Parliament with Low Productivity

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lok Sabha and its devices

Mains level: Low productivity of Lok Sabha, reasons and implications

17th Lok Sabha

Central Idea

  • The 17th Lok Sabha is set to complete its five-year term in 2024. However, with only 230 sitting days so far, it is unlikely to surpass the 331 days of the shortest full-term Lok Sabha since 1952. The latest session, the Budget session, was marked by minimal legislative activity and continuous disruptions, with only one item, the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address, being discussed.

Low Productivity of the 17th Lok Sabha

  • The Lok Sabha has functioned for only 33% of its scheduled time (46 hours) during the Budget session, with the Rajya Sabha working for 24% (32 hours).
  • The second part of the session was even more unproductive, with the Lok Sabha working for only 5% and the Rajya Sabha for 6% of their scheduled time.
  • The number of Bills introduced and passed has also declined significantly since the first session, with fewer than 10 Bills being introduced or passed in each of the last four sessions.
  • The latest Budget session was also one of the shortest since 1952, with the Lok Sabha spending only 18 hours on financial business, compared to an average of 55 hours in previous Budget sessions of the 17th Lok Sabha.
Lok Sabha Term Total Sitting Days Bills Introduced Bills Passed Average Sitting Days per Year
15th 2009-2014 357 244 181 71
16th 2014-2019 331 247 156 66
17th 2019-2024 Less than 331 (projected) 150 (as of April 2023) 131 (as of April 2023) 58 (projected)

Lack of Debates and Discussions

  • Short-duration discussions: The Rules of Procedure of both Houses of Parliament provide for various devices that can be used to draw attention to matters of public importance and hold the government accountable. However, in the 17th Lok Sabha, only 11 short-duration discussions and one half-an-hour discussion have been held so far, and none were held during the latest session.
  • Question Hour: This is despite the fact that the latest session saw the least amount of time spent on questions in the current Lok Sabha. Question Hour functioned for only 19% of the scheduled time in the Lok Sabha and 9% of the scheduled time in the Rajya Sabha.

Why the Lok Sabha’s productivity has been low?

  • Disruptions and Protests: The 17th Lok Sabha witnessed frequent disruptions and protests from opposition parties, leading to a significant loss of time and decreased productivity. Some of the major issues that led to disruptions include the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC), and farm laws.
  • Lack of Consensus: The ruling party enjoyed a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, but there was still a lack of consensus on many key issues, resulting in a delay in passing important bills and legislation.
  • COVID-19 Pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to the low productivity of the Lok Sabha as many sessions were delayed or cancelled due to safety concerns.
  • Speaker’s Decision: The decision of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to disallow opposition MPs from raising certain issues also resulted in protests and disruptions, further reducing the productivity of the house.
  • Shorter Sessions: The 17th Lok Sabha had shorter sessions compared to previous Lok Sabhas, which also contributed to lower productivity. Many important bills and issues were left pending as there was not enough time to discuss and debate them thoroughly.

Implications of low productivity of the Lok Sabha

  • Delay in passing important bills: When the Lok Sabha is unable to function effectively, it can lead to a delay in passing important bills, which may have an adverse impact on the economy and governance. For example, crucial bills related to taxation, infrastructure, and social welfare may get delayed, affecting the overall progress of the country.
  • Poor quality of legislation: When the Lok Sabha is unable to function effectively, it may lead to poor quality of legislation. There may be a lack of debate and discussion, leading to hasty decision-making and poor-quality laws that may have unintended consequences.
  • Damage to democratic institutions: When the Lok Sabha is unable to function effectively, it can damage the democratic institutions of the country. It can erode the trust of citizens in the democratic process and lead to a feeling of disenchantment and disengagement among the people.
  • Wastage of taxpayers’ money: When the Lok Sabha is unable to function effectively, it leads to wastage of taxpayers’ money. The salaries and allowances of Members of Parliament are paid from the public exchequer, and if they are not able to discharge their duties effectively, it amounts to a waste of taxpayers’ money.
  • Negative impact on investor confidence: When the Lok Sabha is unable to function effectively, it can have a negative impact on investor confidence. Investors may be hesitant to invest in the country, leading to a slowdown in economic growth and development.
  • Lack of accountability: When the Lok Sabha is unable to function effectively, it may lead to a lack of accountability. Members of Parliament may not be held accountable for their actions, and the executive may be able to push through decisions without proper scrutiny or oversight.

17th Lok Sabha

Conclusion

  • The 17th Lok Sabha has been marked by low productivity and a lack of debates and discussions, despite the availability of mechanisms to hold the government accountable. The upcoming year is unlikely to see a significant increase in the number of sitting days. This lack of productivity and accountability could undermine the role of Parliament in a democracy and the ability of the government to pass important legislation.

Mains Question

Q. What are the reasons for the low productivity of the 17th Lok Sabha? What are the implications of its low productivity, and how might it affect the country’s progress and democratic institutions?

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Set time limit to Governor to grant assent to Bills: TN urges Centre

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Office of the Governor

Mains level: Read the attached story

governor

Central idea: The Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed a resolution urging the Union Government to issue appropriate instructions to Governor to give his assent to bills passed by the Assembly within a specific period.

Who is Governor?

  • Parallel to President: The Governors of the states of India have similar powers and functions at the state level as those of the President of India at the Central level.
  • Nominal head: The governor acts as the nominal head whereas the real power lies with the Chief Ministers of the states and her/his councils of ministers.
  • Similar offices: Governors exist in the states while Lieutenant Governors or Administrators exist in union territories including the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
  • Non-local appointees: Few or no governors are local to the state that they are appointed to govern.

Governor-State Relations: How are they guided?

  • Acting on aid and advice: Although envisaged as an apolitical head who must act on the advice of the council of ministers, the Governor enjoys certain powers granted under the Constitution.
  • Discretion: He has monopoly for giving or withholding assent to a Bill passed by the state legislature, or determining the time needed for a party to prove its majority, or which party must be called first do so, generally after a hung verdict in an election.
  • Apparatus of interaction: There are no provisions laid down for the manner in which the Governor and the state must engage publicly when there is a difference of opinion. The management of differences has traditionally been guided by respect for each other’s boundaries.

Role of Governor in Legislature

  • Integral part: A Bill passed by the State Assembly becomes law only after it is assented to by the Governor. The Governor being a part of the State legislature, the process of law making is complete only when he signs it, signifying his assent.
  • Established practice: In all democratic countries, similar provision exists in their constitutions.

Power of Governor vis-a-vis legislature

  • What Article 200 says: The Constitution provides certain options for the Governor to exercise when a Bill reaches him from the Assembly.
  • There are four possible scenarios:
  1. Assent: He may give assent.
  2. Reconsider: He can send it back to the Assembly requesting it to reconsider some provisions of the Bill, or the Bill itself. In this case, if the Assembly passes the Bill without making any change and sends it back to the Governor, he will have to give assent to it.
  3. Reserve: The third option is to reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President.
  4. Withhold: The fourth option, of course, is to withhold the assent.

Why there is ambiguity over the role of governors in India?

  • Role of the governor: The question of whether a Governor is permitted by the Constitution to cause uncertainty in the matter of giving assent to the Bills passed by State legislatures assumes great importance.
  • Presidential Assent: The provision concerned makes it clear that a Bill can be reserved for the consideration of the President only if the Governor forms an opinion that the Bill would endanger the position of the High Court by whittling away its powers. The Constitution does not mention any other type of Bill which is required to be reserved for the consideration of the President.
  • Constitution is silent: the Constitution does not mention the grounds on which a Governor may withhold assent to a Bill.
  • No remedy: The Indian Constitution, however, does not provide any such remedy as that of USA or UK. The courts too have more or less accepted the position that if the Governor withholds assent, the Bill will go. Thus, the whole legislative exercise will become fruitless. It does not square with the best practices in old and mature democracies.

Various friction points

In recent years, these have been largely about:

  1. Selection of the party to form a government
  2. Deadline for proving the majority
  3. Sitting on Bills
  4. Withhold of assents
  5. Passing negative remarks on the state administration

Why does this happen?

  • Political appointment: This is because Governors have become political appointees. Politicians become Governors and then resign to fight elections.
  • Nature of appointment: In the Constitution, there are no guidelines for exercise of the Governor’s powers, including for appointing a CM or dissolving the Assembly.
  • Defying constituent assembly: The Constituent Assembly envisaged governor to be apolitical.
  • Nature of appointment: The CM is answerable to the people. But the Governor is answerable to no one except the Centre.
  • Constitutional vacuum: Once can sugercoat it with ideas of constitutional morality and values, but the truth is there is a fundamental defect in the Constitution.
  • Security of Tenure: There is no provision for impeaching the Governor, who is appointed by the President on the Centre’s advice. While the Governor has 5-year a tenure, he can remain in office only until the pleasure of the President.
  • Powers in legislation: There is no limit set for how long a Governor can withhold assent to a Bill.

What reforms have been suggested?

  • From the Administrative Reforms Commission of 1968 to Sarkaria Commission of 1988 and the one mentioned above, several panels have recommended reforms, such as:
  1. Selection of the Governor through a panel comprising the PM, Home Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker and the CM,
  2. Fixing his tenure for five years
  3. Provision to impeach the Governor by the Assembly
  • No government has implemented any of these recommendations.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Disqualification of a MP: Constitutional and Legal Issues

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Disqualification of MP, Constitutional provisions

Mains level: Disqualification of sitting MP's, Constitutional and legal issues

Central Idea

  • The recent conviction and disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi have raised some important constitutional and legal issues, especially related to the disqualification of members of the legislature. The interpretation of Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and the role of the President in cases of disqualification is resurfaced again.

Background of the case

  • The Congress leader during campaigning for the 2019 parliamentary polls had made a remark, “How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?”
  • On the basis of this remark, a criminal defamation case was filed against him in a surat court by a BJP MLA who had alleged that the congress leader while addressing a poll rally in 2019 in Karnataka defamed the entire Modi community with his remark.
  • The Surat court on Thursday convicted the Congress leader in a criminal defamation case and awarded him a two-year jail term.
  • On basis of this, the Congress leader has been disqualified from the Lok Sabha,. A notice issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat said that he stood disqualified from the House from March 23, the day of his conviction.

Disqualification under the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951

  • Grounds of disqualification: Section 8 of the RPA, 1951 specifies the various offenses, conviction for which entail the disqualification of a member of the legislature.
  • Clause (3): Clause (3) of this section says that a person convicted of any offense other than those mentioned in the other two clauses, and sentenced to not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of conviction.
  • Exemption under clause (4): The clause (4) has exempted sitting members from instant disqualification for three months to enable them to appeal against the conviction.

Role of the President in Disqualification

  • President has the authority: Article 103 of the Indian Constitution provides the President of India as the authority who decides that a sitting member has become subject to disqualification in all cases which come under Article 102(1).
  • President’s adjudicatory and declaratory functions: There are differences of opinion on the scope of Article 103, but the Supreme Court, in Consumer Education and Research Society vs Union of India (2009), upholds the position that the President performs adjudicatory and declaratory functions here.

Flaws in the Judgment in Lily Thomas Case

  • Parliament cannot enact a temporary exemption: It says that Parliament cannot enact a temporary exemption in favor of sitting members of the Legislature.
  • Article 103 provides an exception: But Article 103 itself provides an exception in the case of sitting Members by stating that the disqualification of sitting Members shall be decided by the President.
  • Distinction between the candidates and sitting Members: The Constitution itself makes a distinction between the candidates and sitting Members. This was ignored by the judgment and the Court struck down the three months window given to the sitting members to enable them to appeal against their conviction.

Defamation in India

  • What is Defamation: Defamation refers to the act of publication of defamatory content that lowers the reputation of an individual or an entity when observed through the perspective of an ordinary man. Defamation in India is both a civil and a criminal offence.
  • The Laws which Deal with Defamation: Sections 499 and 500 of IPC: Sections 499 and 500 in the IPC deal with criminal defamation. While the former defines the offence of defamation, the latter defines the punishment for it.

Facts for prelims: Lily Thomas Verdict

  • The Lily Thomas verdict was a landmark judgment delivered by the Supreme Court of India in 2013.
  • The verdict struck down a provision in the Representation of the People Act (RPA), which allowed convicted lawmakers to continue in office if they filed an appeal within three months of their conviction.
  • The provision, which was part of Section 8(4) of the RPA, had been criticized for allowing convicted politicians to continue to hold public office while their appeals were pending in higher courts, and for contributing to the criminalization of politics in India.
  • The verdict was seen as a major step towards cleaning up Indian politics and ensuring that convicted criminals do not get to occupy public offices.

Conclusion

  • The recent conviction and disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi have raised important constitutional and legal issues related to the disqualification of members of the legislature. While the issues relating to the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi will be dealt with by the appellate courts, the legal and constitutional issues raised by this case need to be examined carefully

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Disqualification of a MP over Criminal Charges

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various provisions for disqualifications of MP/MLAs

Mains level: Not Much

disqualification

Central idea: A politician has been sentenced to two years in jail by a Surat court in a 2019 defamation case filed against him for his remarks about the surname of a community. This conviction could lead to his disqualification.

Disqualification of a Lawmaker

Disqualification of a lawmaker is prescribed in three situations-

  1. Constitutional provisions: First is through Articles 102(1) and 191(1) for disqualification of a member of Parliament and a member of the Legislative Assembly respectively. The grounds here include holding an office of profit, being of unsound mind or insolvent or not having valid citizenship.
  2. Defection: It is in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, which provides for the disqualification of the members on grounds of defection.
  3. Representation of The People Act (RPA), 1951: It provides for disqualification for conviction in criminal cases.

Disqualification under RPA, 1951

  • It provides for disqualification for conviction in criminal cases.
  • Section 8 of the RPA deals with disqualification for conviction of offences.
  • The provision is aimed at “preventing the criminalisation of politics” and keeping ‘tainted’ lawmakers from contesting elections.

Section 8(3) states: “A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.”

Appeal and stay of disqualification

  • The disqualification can be reversed if a higher court grants a stay on the conviction or decides the appeal in favour of the convicted lawmaker.
  • In a 2018 decision in ‘Lok Prahari v Union of India’, the Supreme Court clarified that the disqualification “will not operate from the date of the stay of conviction by the appellate court.”
  • This means that Gandhi’s first appeal would be before the Surat Sessions Court and then before the Gujarat High Court.

Changes in the Law

  • Under the RPA, Section 8(4) stated that the disqualification takes effect only “after three months have elapsed” from the date of conviction.
  • Within that period, lawmakers could file an appeal against the sentence before the High Court.
  • However, in the landmark 2013 ruling in ‘Lily Thomas v Union of India’, the Supreme Court struck down Section 8(4) of the RPA as unconstitutional.

Lily Thomas Verdict

  • The Lily Thomas verdict was a landmark judgment delivered by the Supreme Court of India in 2013.
  • The verdict struck down a provision in the Representation of the People Act (RPA), which allowed convicted lawmakers to continue in office if they filed an appeal within three months of their conviction.
  • The provision, which was part of Section 8(4) of the RPA, had been criticized for allowing convicted politicians to continue to hold public office while their appeals were pending in higher courts, and for contributing to the criminalization of politics in India.The verdict was seen as a major step towards cleaning up Indian politics and ensuring that convicted criminals do not get to occupy public offices.

 


 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What does ‘Guillotine’ refer to in legislative parlance?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Guillotine Motion

Mains level: Not Much

Central idea: Amidst the ongoing stalemate in Parliament, some MPs said the government may guillotine the demands for grants and pass the Finance Bill without any discussion in the Lok Sabha.

What is a Guillotine?

  • A guillotine is an apparatus designed for efficiently carrying out executions by beheading.
  • It consists of a large, weighted blade that is raised to the top of a tall, erect frame and released to fall on the neck of a condemned person secured at the bottom of the frame, executing them in a single, clean pass.
  • The origin of the exact device as well as the term can be found in France.
  • The design of the guillotine was intended to make capital punishment more reliable and less painful in accordance with new Enlightenment ideas of human rights.

Guillotine Motion in Parliament

  • In legislative parlance, to “guillotine” means to bunch together and fast-track the passage of financial business.
  • It is a fairly common procedural exercise in Lok Sabha during the Budget Session.
  • After the Budget is presented, Parliament goes into recess for about three weeks, during which time the House Standing Committees examine Demands for Grants for various Ministries, and prepare reports.
  • After Parliament reassembles, the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) draws up a schedule for discussions on the Demands for Grants.
  • Given the limitation of time, the House cannot take up the expenditure demands of all Ministries; therefore, the BAC identifies some important Ministries for discussion.
  • It usually lists Demands for Grants of the Ministries of Home, Defence, External Affairs, Agriculture, Rural Development and Human Resource Development.

Why use such a motion?

  • Members utilise the opportunity to discuss the policies and working of Ministries.
  • Once the House is done with these debates, the Speaker applies the “guillotine”, and all outstanding demands for grants are put to vote at once.
  • This usually happens on the last day earmarked for the discussion on the Budget.
  • The intention is to ensure the timely passage of the Finance Bill, marking the completion of the legislative exercise with regard to the Budget.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Deputy Speaker Is An Officer of Parliament

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Speaker and Deputy speaker

Mains level: Importance of Deputy speaker, Constitutional provisions, Parliamentary rules

Officer

Central Idea

  • The present Lok Sabha has not elected a Deputy Speaker even after three years and seven months of its term, and the non-election has reached the Supreme Court, which has reportedly sent notice to the Union government; historically, a Deputy Speaker is as important as the Speaker for the House.

What is the practice?

  • Two presiding officers in Lok Sabha: There are two presiding officers for the Lok Sabha, namely the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, who are elected by the members of the House.
  • Article 93 of the constitution: Under Article 93 of the Constitution, as soon as the House meets after the election these two presiding officers are elected one after the other.
  • Practice of electing speaker and deputy speaker: The practice followed so far has been to elect the Speaker after the oath-taking. Thereafter, within a few days, the Deputy Speaker is also elected.

Officer

Office of Deputy Speake Speaker of the Lok Sabha

  • The Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha is not subordinate to the speaker of Lok Sabha; is responsible for the Lok Sabha. and
  • He/she is the second-highest-ranking legislative officer of the Lok Sabha.
  • He/ She acts as the presiding officer in case of leave of absence caused by death or illness of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

Pin this Note

  • It is by convention that the position of Deputy Speaker is offered to the opposition party in India.
  • But if a government does not favour an Opposition member for political reasons, it is free to choose a member from its own party.

The Historical Significance of the office

  • Government of India Act of 1919: The history of the office of Deputy Speaker goes back to the government of India Act of 1919 when he was called Deputy President as the Speaker was known as the president of the central legislative assembly.
  • Role is necessary to share the responsibility of running the House: Although the main functions of a Deputy Speaker were to preside over the sittings of the assembly in the absence of the Speaker and chair the select committees etc., the position was considered necessary to share the responsibility of running the House with the Speaker and guide the nascent committees.

Did you know?

  • The first Speaker was G V Mavalankar and the first Deputy Speaker was M Ananthasayanam Ayyangar who was elected by the Constituent Assembly (Legislative) on September 3, 1948.
  • Later under the new Constitution, M Ananthasayanam Ayyangar was elected the first Deputy Speaker of the House of the people on May 28, 1952.

Officer

Importance of the Office

  • Powers Under Article 95(1) of the Constitution: The Deputy Speaker gets all the powers of the Speaker when the office of the Speaker is vacant, so the Deputy Speaker can also determine the petitions relating to disqualification under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution.
  • Speaker is powerless in matters of revising: The Speaker is powerless in the matter of revising or overruling a decision of the Deputy Speaker. No appeal lies to the Speaker against a ruling given by the Deputy Speaker.

Conclusion

  • Although the Deputy Speaker gets to exercise these powers only in the absence of the Speaker his decisions are final and binding when he gives a ruling. In the eventuality of the Speaker remaining absent for a longer time due to illness or otherwise the government will have to grapple with the unpredictability of a ruling or an adverse decision by a Deputy Speaker who comes from the Opposition ranks. Article 93 contains a mandatory provision which needs to be carried out by the House.

Officer

Mains Question

Q. Speaker and Deputy speaker of Lok Sabha are known as Officers of the parliament. In this context discuss the importance Deputy speaker.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Disqualification of Sitting MP: The Conundrum

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Constitutional provisions

Mains level: Disqualification of Member of parliament, Differential treatment of candidates and related Judgements

Central Idea

  • The instance where the Kerala High Court, in January this year, suspended the verdict passed by the Kavaratti District and Sessions Court (in an attempt to murder case) in which the then sitting Member of Parliament (MP) of Lakshadweep was sentenced to 10 years in jail. The issue is on whether disqualification for conviction is final or whether it can be revoked. This issue can arise whenever a legislator is disqualified.

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The background: Facts are as follows

  • The facts are as follows. Mr. Faizal The then sitting MP of Lakshadweep was convicted by the Kavaratti sessions court on January 11 for attempt to murder, and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
  • On January 13, the Lok Sabha announced that he was disqualified as an MP with effect from the date of conviction.
  • On January 18, the Election Commission of India (ECI) fixed February 27 as the date for by-election to that constituency, with the formal notification to be issued on January 31.
  • Faizal appealed to the Kerala High Court for a stay on his conviction and sentence, which the High Court suspended on January 25.
  • The High Court suspended Faizal Faizal’s conviction due to the cost of a parliamentary election and the disruption of developmental activities in Lakshadweep.
  • Faizal challenged the ECI’s announcement in the Supreme Court of India. On January 30, the ECI said it was deferring the election.

The specific provisions

  • The provision for disqualification is given in Article 102 of the Constitution: It specifies that a person shall be disqualified for contesting elections and being a Member of Parliament under certain conditions. These include holding an office of profit, being of unsound mind or insolvent, or not being a citizen of India. It also authorises Parliament to make law determining conditions of disqualifications.
  • The Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951: The RPA provides that a person will be disqualified if convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more. The person is disqualified for the period of imprisonment and a further six years.
  • Exception for the sitting members: There is an exception for sitting members; they have been provided a period of three months from the date of conviction to appeal; the disqualification will not be applicable until the appeal is decided.

A case of differential treatment of candidates

  • Challenges under Article 14 of the constitution: The differential treatment of candidates for elections and sitting members was challenged under Article 14 (right to equality).
  • Prabhakaran vs P. Jayarajan: A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, in 2005 (K. Prabhakaran vs P. Jayarajan), decided that the consequences of disqualifying a contestant and a sitting member were different.
  • Reasoning behind treating differently: The strength of the party in the legislature would change, and could have an adverse impact if a government had a thin majority. It would also trigger a by-election. Therefore, it was reasonable to treat the two categories differently.
  • Lily Thomas vs Union of India: In 2013, a two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court again considered whether this exception was constitutionally invalid (Lily Thomas vs Union of India). It stated that Article 102 empowers Parliament to make law regarding disqualification of a person for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament.
  • Exception for sitting members was unconstitutional: The judgment stated that making an exception for sitting members was against the constitution. As per Article 101, if a Member of Parliament is disqualified under Article 102, their seat will become vacant immediately. This means that if the conditions outlined in Article 102 are met, the disqualification will take effect automatically and immediately.

What is the confusion?

  • In Navjot Singh Sidhu case, Supreme Court stayed his conviction: Navjot Singh Sidhu, an MP, was convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment. He resigned from his seat but wanted to contest the election and appealed for a stay on his conviction. In 2007, the Supreme Court stayed his conviction, which removed the disqualification until the appeal was decided, allowing him to contest the election.
  • Question arises In Kerala case: The Lakshadweep seat was declared vacant, but the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced deferring the by-election after a stay order was granted. The Lok Sabha has kept the seat vacant and has not reinstated the MP. The question is whether the disqualification can be backdated, as if it never happened, and the election avoided. Or, whether the disqualification is removed only from the date of the stay order, and the vacated seat can be filled only through a by-election.
  • Conundrum and Implications: The conundrum arises because the Lily Thomas judgment requires the seat to be vacated immediately upon disqualification, whereas the Kerala High Court stay aims to keep the MP in the seat until the appeal is decided. The answer to this issue will have implications for similar cases in the future.

Conclusion

  • As India continues to strengthen its democratic system, one important issue that needs resolution is determining the correct answer for when a disqualification is removed for a sitting member of parliament who has been granted a stay on their conviction. The conflicting court judgments and constitutional provisions only highlight the need for a clear and definitive resolution to this issue, which will undoubtedly enhance the credibility and legitimacy of the Indian political system.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Vacancy of Deputy Speaker Chair in States

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dy Speaker

Mains level: Important constitutional posts and their significance

The Supreme Court issued notices to the Centre and five states — Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand — over the failure to elect a Deputy Speaker.

The Post of Deputy Speaker

  • The Deputy Speaker is the second-highest-ranking official of the Lok Sabha, after the Speaker.
  • She/he presides over the House in the absence of the Speaker, maintains order and decorum, and decides points of order raised by the members.
  • She/he is elected by the members of the House and holds office until the next Lok Sabha is constituted.

Constitutional provisions for Dy. Speaker

  • The Constitution of India provides for the post of Deputy Speaker in the Lok Sabha under Article 93.
  • The Deputy Speaker is elected by the members of the House and holds the office until the next Lok Sabha is constituted.
  • The Constitution does not provide for a temporary or acting Deputy Speaker in case of the incumbent’s absence or inability to perform the duties.
  • Article 178 contains the corresponding position for Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of a state.

Is it mandatory to have a Deputy Speaker?

  • Constitutional experts point out that both Articles 93 and 178 use the word “shall”, indicating that the election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker is mandatory under the Constitution.

What if she/he remains absent?

  • In the absence of Dy. Speaker, the house functions with the Speaker or the panel of chairpersons presiding over the House.
  • The House may elect a new Deputy Speaker to fill the post until the next assembly is constituted.
  • The House might need to elect a new Deputy Speaker in case of the incumbent’s absence or inability to perform the duties.

Why discuss this?

  • The post of Deputy Speaker is an important position in the Lok Sabha/Legislative Assembly and plays a crucial role in conducting the House proceedings.
  • It is important to ensure the post’s functioning to maintain the House’s order and decorum and conduct the House proceedings smoothly.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Freedom of Speech and the Speaker in the House

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Motion of thanks

Mains level: Freedom of speech in the House and the role of Speaker

Speech

Central Idea

  • The expunction of portions of the speeches made by some Opposition politicians in Parliament recently is an issue that has sparked off a debate on an action taken by the Speaker. Parliamentarians Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Kharge were both speaking on the Motion of Thanks to the President of India for her address to the Members of Parliament of both Houses.

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Motion of Thanks

  • After the President’s address, the two Houses move a motion to thank the President for her speech.
  • This is customary practice although the Constitution does not provide for any such motion, except direct that each House shall discuss the matters contained in the address.
  • This is a practice adopted from the British Parliament.

Debate after the motion

  • An occasion to point out lapses on the government’s part: Debate in When such a motion is discussed, MPs are generally permitted to speak on anything under the sun. It is an occasion to point out lapses on the government’s part and discuss the gamut of issues that concern the governance of the country.
  • Speeches are generally political and the Chair never insists on relevance: Since the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to Parliament, MPs have the right to critically scrutinise the performance of the government.
  • Government must respond to the question raised: Accountability to Parliament requires the government to respond adequately to the questions raised by MPs in the debate. Under the Rules of the House, it is the Prime Minister who replies to the debate in both Houses.

The rules that are in place

  • Freedom of speech in the House: Article 105 of the Constitution confers on members, freedom of speech in the House and immunity from interference by the court for anything said in the House. Freedom of speech in the House is the most important privilege of a Member of Parliament
  • Power of presiding officers and breach of such privilege: Rule 380 of the Rules of procedure of the Lok Sabha and Rule 261 of the Rules of the Rajya Sabha give the power to the presiding officers of these Houses to expunge any words used in the debate which are defamatory, unparliamentary, undignified or indecent. Once expunged they do not remain on record and if anyone publishes them thereafter, they will be liable for breach of privilege of the House.
  • Rule 353 if there’s an allegation against a MP or an outsider: There are also occasions when an MP may, during his speech, make an allegation against a fellow MP or an outsider. Rule 353 of the Lok Sabha regulates the procedure in that regard. Under this Rule, the MP is required to give “adequate advance notice” to the Speaker as well as the Minister concerned. The Rule does not prohibit the making of any allegation, the only requirement is advance notice.

Allegations and Speaker rulings

  • MP’s who make allegations must be sure about the factual basis: Making an allegation against a Minister or the Prime Minister is considered to be a serious matter; therefore, the presiding officers have carefully laid down a stipulation that the MP who makes an imputation against a Minister should be sure about the factual basis of the allegation, and that he must take responsibility for it.
  • Allegations complies with stipulation allowed to remain on record: If the MP complies with this stipulation, then the allegation will be allowed to remain on record. There have been many instances in the Lok Sabha when MPs have made allegations against Ministers.

Here are two rulings made by the Speakers on such occasions

  • Allegation bases on press report: On September 2, 1965 when Prakash Vir Shastri, MP, made personal allegations against Humayun Kabir, the then Minister for Education. The MP reiterated his allegation and referred to press reports.
  • Ruling- Press report could not be sufficient basis of allegations: In his ruling, the Speaker, Sardar Hukam Singh, said, “Normally the source of information available to members is newspapers. But that is not a sufficient basis for a member to make an allegation against a Minister, member or other dignitaries.
  • Allegation based on a weekly: On December 21 1981 in the Lok Sabha, Bapusaheb Parulekar, MP, made a reference to an allegation published in the Sunday (a weekly) against the then Railway Minister, Kedar Pande, and his family members in connection with permanent railway card passes.
  • Ruling- The member should be prepared to accept the responsibility for the allegation: The Deputy Speaker, G. Lakshmanan ruled that, “The member should, before making an allegation in the House, satisfy himself after making enquiries that there is a basis for the allegation. The member should be prepared to accept the responsibility for the allegation and the member should be prepared to substantiate the allegation.”

Issue of defamation

  • Under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code (Second exception), any statement respecting the conduct of a public servant in the discharge of his public function or his character is not defamation. If such a statement is made in the House against a Minister who is a public servant, it does not come within the ‘mischief’ of Rule 353 or Rule 380.
  • Therefore, it does not afford an occasion for the presiding officers to expunge words in or portions of a speech on the ground that they are defamatory.

Conclusion

  • In a House where freedom of speech is the most important privilege of a Member of Parliament, establishing defamatory or incriminatory statements as opposed to critical comments, which an MP has the right to make, is important. It also needs to be ensured that the freedom of speech enjoyed by the Members in the House is not needlessly curtailed.

Mains question

Q. What is motion of thanks? Freedom of speech is the most important privilege of a Member of Parliament which should not be needlessly curtailed. Discuss.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Expunging Un-Parliamentary Speeches from Records

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 105(2) of the Constitution

Mains level: Parilamentary Conduct

Portions of a politicians’ speech delivered in Lok Sabha have been expunged — or removed — from the records of Parliament by the orders of the Speaker.

Constitutional immunity for parliamentary speeches

  • Under Article 105(2) of the Constitution, “no Member of Parliament shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said…in Parliament or any committee thereof”.
  • However, MPs don’t enjoy the freedom to say whatever they want inside the House.
  • The speech of MPs is subject to the discipline of the Rules of Parliament, “good sense” of its Members, and the control of proceedings by the Speaker.
  • These checks ensure that MPs cannot use “defamatory or indecent or undignified or unparliamentary words” inside the House.

How should Parliamentary Speeches be?

  • The Indian Parliament has a code of conduct which requires all members to speak in a civil and courteous manner.
  • Un-parliamentary speeches are not tolerated and offenders can be suspended or even expelled from the house.
  • The Speaker has the power to expunge any un-parliamentary speech from the record of the House and from the transcripts of the proceedings.

Disciplinary action against unruly speeches

  • The Lok Sabha Speaker has the power to expunge any un-parliamentary speech made in the House.
  • The Speaker can also refer the matter to the Ethics Committee for further action.
  • The Speaker can also refer the matter to the Ethics Committee for further action which may include imposing fines and imprisonment for a period of up to six months.
  • The Speaker may also order the offender to apologize to the House.
  • Similar is the procedure with the Rajya Sabha Chairman.

What is the expunging of speeches?

  • The expunging of certain words, sentences, or portions of a speech from the records is fairly routine procedure, and is carried out in accordance with laid down rules.
  • The decision on which parts of the proceedings are to be expunged lies with the Presiding Officer of the House.

What are the rules on expunging from the record?

  • Rule 380 (“Expunction”) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha states the procedure for removal of a speech from the records.
  • Rule 381 says: The portion of the proceedings of the House so expunged shall be marked by asterisks and an explanatory footnote shall be inserted in the proceedings as follows: ‘Expunged as ordered by the Chair’.”

What happens after a word has been expunged?

  • Expunged portions of the proceedings cease to exist in the records of Parliament, and they can no longer be reported by media houses, even though they may have been heard during the live telecast of the proceedings.
  • However, the proliferation of social media has introduced challenges in the watertight implementation of expunction orders.

Way forward

  • Parliamentary speeches should be polite, respectful and dignified, avoiding any kind of personal attacks or slurs.
  • They should focus on the issue at hand, avoiding any kind of partisan rhetoric.
  • No offensive language should be used and all debates should be conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.
  • As a rule, all speakers should show due consideration for their colleagues and refrain from any kind of personal criticism.
  • They should stick to the facts and avoid unsubstantiated claims. Parliamentary speeches should be concise, clear and fact-based.
  • Finally, all speakers should remain mindful of their role as representatives of the people and should strive to maintain the highest standards of public discourse.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Lack of Quorum in Lok Sabha

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Quorum

Mains level: Features of parliamentary democracy

The Lok Sabha began a discussion on the general Budget but the House had to be adjourned before the scheduled time due to lack of quorum.

What is Quorum?

  • Quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly necessary to conduct the business of that assembly.
  • Article 100 of the Indian Constitution states that the quorum to constitute a meeting of either House of Parliament shall be one-tenth of the total number of members of that House.
  • This means that the quorum of Lok Sabha (Lower House) is 55 and that of Rajya Sabha (Upper House) is 25.

Who decides the Quorum?

  • The quorum is usually decided at the beginning of the session and if it is not present when a vote is taken, the vote is invalid.
  • In the event of inadequate quorum, the Speaker or the Chairman can adjourn the House or suspend the sitting till the quorum is present.

Challenging a Quorum

  • Furthermore, the quorum can be challenged by any member of the House.
  • In the event that the quorum is challenged, the Speaker or the Chairman can direct that a count of the members present be taken.
  • If the quorum is not present, the House is adjourned. However, if the quorum is present, the business of the House is resumed.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

History, Significance of President’s Address

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: President Address, Motion of Thanks

Mains level: Read the attached story

president

President Droupadi Murmu addressed the joint sitting of Parliament for the first time after assuming the position.

Mains PYQ: The President’s address is one of the most solemn occasions in the Parliamentary calendar. Discuss. Highlight its importance in Parliamentary Democracy. (250W)

President’s Address: What is the history?

  • United Kingdom: The tradition of the monarch addressing the Parliament began in the 16th century.
  • United States: President Gorge Washington addressed Congress for the first time in 1790.

President’s Address in India

(A) Colonial period

  • GoI Act, 1919: In India, the practice of the President addressing Parliament was established after the promulgation of the Government of India Act in 1919.
  • Governor General’s address: This law gave the GG the right of addressing the Legislative Assembly and the Council of State.
  • No joint address: The law did not have a provision for a joint address but the Governor-General did address the Assembly and the Council together on multiple occasions.
  • During constituent assembly: Between 1947 and 1950, there was NO address to the Constituent Assembly (Legislative).

(B) After the enactment of Constitution

  • After the Constitution came into force, President Rajendra Prasad (after taking over from Dr Sachchidananda Sinha) addressed members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the first time on January 31, 1950.
  • When the Constitution came into force, the President was required to address each session of Parliament. The Constitution gave the President and the Governor the power to address a sitting of the legislature.
  1. Article 87: It provides two special occasions on which the President addresses a joint sitting. The first is to address the opening session of a new legislature after a general election. The second is to address the first sitting of Parliament each year. A session of a new or continuing legislature cannot begin without fulfilling this requirement.
  2. Making it an annual affair: So during the provisional Parliament in 1950, President Prasad gave an address before every session. In 1951, the First Amendment to the Constitution changed this and made the President’s address an annual affair.

What is the procedure and tradition?

  • Motion of Thanks: After the President’s address, the two Houses move a motion to thank the President for her speech.
  • Debate on the speech: This is an occasion for MPs in the two Houses to have a broad debate on governance in the country.
  • PM addresses the questions: The issues raised by MPs are then addressed by the Prime Minister, who also replies to the motion of thanks.
  • Unanimous voting: The motion is then put to vote and MPs can express their disagreement by moving amendments to the motion.
  • Scope for Amendment: Opposition MPs have been successful in getting amendments passed to the motion of thanks in Rajya Sabha on five occasions, including in 1980, 1989, 2001, 2015 and 2016.
Do you know?

The Motion of Thanks must be passed in Parliament. Otherwise, it amounts to the defeat of the government. It is one of the ways through which the Lok Sabha can also express a lack of confidence in the government.

Content of the address

  • There is no set format for the President’s or Governor’s speech.
  • During the making of the Constitution, Prof K T Shah wanted the President’s address to be more specific.
  • He suggested that the language be changed to specify that the President shall inform Parliament “on the general state of the Union including financial proposals, and other particular issues of policy he deems suitable for such address”.
  • His proposal took inspiration from the US Constitution.
  • But the Constituent Assembly didn’t accept Prof Shah’s amendment.

What is the government’s role?

  • Written by the government: The President’s speech is essentially the govt. viewpoint and is also written by the government itself.
  • Inputs from various ministries: Usually, in December, the Prime Minister’s Office asks the various ministries to start sending in their inputs for the speech.
  • Collation of information: The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs sends a message, asking ministries to give information about any legislative proposals that need to be included in the President’s address. All this information is collated and shaped into a speech, which is then delivered to the President.
  • Role of Lok Sabha Secretariat: The address is an event, associated with ceremony and protocol, and the Lok Sabha Secretariat makes extensive arrangements for it.

Significance of the address

  • Policy announcements: The President’s address serves as a platform for the government to make policy and legislative announcements.
  • Report card of the government: It highlights the government’s accomplishments from the previous year and sets the broad governance agenda for the coming year.

What if the President disagrees with the text of the speech?

Ans. It is CONSTITUTIONAL OBLIGATION on the President.

  • The President or Governor cannot refuse to perform the constitutional duty of delivering an address to the legislature.
  • But there can be situations when they deviate from the text of the speech prepared by the government.
  • So far, there have been no instances of a President doing so.

Recent instances of defiance

Ans. States vs. Governors

  • There have been occasions when a Governor skipped or changed a portion of the address to the Assembly.
  • Most recently, Tamil Nadu’s Governor made changes to the prepared speech he read out in the Assembly.
  • TN Chief Minister had to step in and move a resolution, which demanded that only the original speech given to the Governor be put in records.
  • In 2020, Kerala Governor, during his address to the Assembly, stopped before reading out his speech’s paragraph 18, which related to the Kerala government’s opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

Why it is so cherished in democracy?

  • Parliament as a unit: The President’s address is one of the most solemn occasions in the Parliamentary calendar. It is the only occasion in the year when the entire Parliament, i.e. the President, Lok Sabha, and Rajya Sabha come together.
  • Ceremonial event: The event is associated with ceremony and protocol. The Lok Sabha Secretariat prepares extensively for this annual event.
  • Grandeur: In the past, it used to get 150 yards of red baize cloth from the President’s house for the ceremonial procession.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What is Adjournment Sine Die?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Parliamentary efficiency

Both houses of the Parliament were adjourned sine die, six days ahead of their schedule.

Session of Parliament and Related Terminologies

  • During a session, both the Houses meet almost daily barring holidays to transact business be it to discuss a matter of public matters, frame laws, amend laws, place Standing Committee reports and pass financial bills among others.
  • The Houses are in session thrice a year: Budget Session (February to May); Monsoon Session (July to September); and Winter Session (November to December).

Terminating the session

  • During a session of Parliament, usually, there are two sittings: morning sitting from 11 am to 1 pm and post-lunch sitting from 2 pm to 6 pm.
  • The sitting of the Parliament in both the Houses can be terminated only by adjournment, adjournment sine die, prorogation and dissolution (not applicable for Rajya Sabha).
  • Technically, a session of the Parliament means the period between the first sitting of a House and its prorogation or dissolution.
  • The period between the prorogation of a House and its reassembly in a new session is called a recess.

(1) Adjournment sine die

  • Adjournment sine die means terminating a sitting of Parliament for an indefinite period, that is, when the House is adjourned without naming a day for reassembly, it is called adjournment sine die.
  • The power of adjournment sine die lies with the presiding officer of the House.
  • However, the presiding officer of a House can call a sitting of the House before the date or time to which it has been adjourned or at any time after the House has been adjourned sine die.

(2) Adjournment

  • An adjournment results in the suspension of work in a sitting for a specified time, which may be hours, days or weeks.
  • In this case, the time of reassembly is specified as an adjournment only terminates a sitting and not a session of the House.
  • The power of adjournment lies with the presiding officer of the House.

(3) Prorogation

  • The term prorogation means the termination of a session of the House by an order made by the President under Article 85(2)(a) of the Constitution.
  • The prorogation terminates both the sitting and session of the House and is usually done within a few days after the House is adjourned sine die by the presiding officer.
  • The President issues a notification for the prorogation of the session. However, the president can also prorogue the House while in session.
  • It must be noted that all pending notices except those for introducing bills lapse.

(4) Dissolution

  • Whenever a dissolution happens, it ends the very life of the existing House and a new House is constituted after the General Elections.
  • However, only the Lok Sabha is subject to dissolution as the Rajya Sabha, being a permanent House, is not subject to dissolution. The dissolution of the Lok Sabha may take place in two ways:
  1. Automatic dissolution: On the expiry of its tenure: five years or the terms as extended during a national emergency.
  2. Order of President: If the President is authorised by the Council of Ministers, he or she can dissolve Lok Sabha, even before the end of the term. The president may also dissolve Lok Sabha if the Council of Ministers loses confidence and no party is able to form the government. Once the Lok Sabha is dissolved before the completion of its normal tenure, the dissolution is irrevocable.

Impact on legislation process

  • When the Lok Sabha is dissolved, all business including bills, motions, resolutions, notices and petitions that are pending before it or its committees lapse.
  • Summoning: Summoning is the process of calling all members of the Parliament to meet.

When does a Bill lapse in Indian Parliament? 

Depending on the status of the pending legislation, and where it originated, there are certain cases in which the Bill lapses on dissolution of Assembly.

  1. Bills originated in Lok Sabha
  • Any Bill that originated in the Lok Sabha, but could not be passed, lapses.
  • A Bill originated and passed by the Lok Sabha but pending in the Rajya Sabha also lapses
  1. Bills originated in Rajya Sabha
  • The Constitution also gives MPs in Rajya Sabha the power to introduce a Bill.
  • Therefore a Bill that originated in Rajya Sabha and was passed by it, but remains pending in Lok Sabha also lapses.
  • A Bill originated in the Rajya Sabha and returned to that House by the Lok Sabha with amendments and still pending in the Rajya Sabha on the date of the dissolution of Lok Sabha lapses.

When a Bill does not lapse

  1. Not all Bills, which haven’t yet become law, lapse at the end of the Lok Sabha’s term.
  2. A Bill pending in the Rajya Sabha, but not passed by the Lok Sabha, does not lapse.
  3. A Bill passed by both the Houses but pending assent of the President of India, does not lapse.
  4. A Bill passed by both Houses but returned by the President of India for reconsideration of the Parliament does not lapse.
  5. Some pending Bills and all pending assurances that are to be examined by the Committee on Government Assurances also does not lapse on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Rule 267 becomes the bone of contention in Rajya Sabha

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Rule 267 of Rajya Sabha

Mains level: Significance of Rajya Sabha

rajya-sabha

Rule 267 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook, which allows for suspension of day’s business to debate the issue suggested by a Member, has become a bone of contention in the Upper House.

What is Rule 267 of Rajya Sabha?

  • The Rule gives special power to a Rajya Sabha member to suspend the pre-decided agenda of the House, with the approval of the Chairman.
  • The Rajya Sabha Rule Book says, “Any member, may, with the consent of the Chairman, move that any rule may be suspended in its application to a motion related to the business listed before the Council of that day.
  • If the motion is carried, the rule in question shall be suspended for the time being: provided further that this rule shall not apply where specific provision already exists for suspension of a rule under a particular chapter of the Rules”.

Why this rule has become important?

  • In the Upper House, the Opposition members have been consistent in demanding a debate on the India-China border situation.
  • There have been hundreds of notices by Members to invoke Rule 267 in the past eight years.
  • After the latest clash between the two sides in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang, the Opposition members have become more vocal with their demand.
  • Every day, Opposition leaders are demanding that the Chair suspends all other business and allow a discussion on the latest situation in India-China border by applying Rule 267.

Is Rule 267 the only way to raise important issues in the House?

In Parliament, a member has a number of ways to flag issues and seek the government’s reply.

  • Question Hour: An MP can ask questions related to any issue during the Question Hour in which the concerned minister has to provide oral or written answers.
  • Zero Hour: An MP can raise the issue during Zero Hour. Every day, 15 MPs are allowed to raise issues of their choice in the Zero Hour.
  • Special Mention: An MP can even raise it during Special Mention. A Chairman can allow up to 7 Special Mentions daily.
  • Debate over president’s address: An MP can try to bring the issue to the government’s notice during other discussions such as the debate on the President’s speech.
  • Budget speech: Opposition leaders have also used the Budget debate to attack the government politically.

Why the Opposition is insisting on Rule 267?

  • Any discussion under Rule 267 assumes great significance in Parliament simply because all other business would be put on hold to discuss the issue of national importance.
  • No other form of discussion entails suspension of other business.
  • If an issue is admitted under Rule 267, it signifies it’s the most important national issue of the day.
  • Also, the government will have to respond to the matter by replying during the discussions under Rule 267.

What is the current controversy over Rule 267?

  • Opposition members have alleged that the Rajya Sabha chairman has consistently refused to allow any discussion under Rule 267 for a long time.
  • While Dhankhar has not allowed any matter under Rule 267, his predecessor M Venkaiah Naidu too didn’t allow any admission under Rule 267 during his entire five years.

Has the Rule been ever used?

  • The rule has been used several times.
  • The Chair had agreed to suspend the business to discuss urgent national issues in the past.
  • The last time it was used was in November 2016, when the Upper House invoked Rule 267 to discuss demonetization.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What is the Doctrine of Pleasure?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Doctrine of Pleasure

Mains level: Not Much

The Kerala Governor has sought dismissal of a minister from the Cabinet, declaring that he has withdrawn the pleasure of having him in the Council of Ministers.

Doctrine of Pleasure: The concept behind

  • The pleasure doctrine is a concept derived from English common law.
  • It says is that a civil servant of the Crown holds office during the pleasure of the Crown.
  • This means his services can be terminated at any time by the Crown, without assigning any reason.

How is it practised in India?

  • In India, Article 310 of the Constitution says every person in the defence or civil service of the Union holds office during the pleasure of the President.
  • Similarly, every member of the civil service in the States holds office during the pleasure of the Governor.
  • However, Article 311 imposes restrictions on the removal of a civil servant.

How arbitrary is this doctrine?

  • It provides for civil servants being given a reasonable opportunity for a hearing on the charges against them.
  • There is also a provision to dispense with the inquiry if it is not practicable to hold one, or if it is not expedient to do so in the interest of national security.
  • In practical terms, the pleasure of the President referred to here is that of the Union government, and the Governor’s pleasure is that of the State government.

Is the governor entitled to exercise his/her displeasure?

  • Under Article 164, the Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor; and the other Ministers are appointed by the Governor on the CM’s advice.
  • It adds that Ministers hold office during the pleasure of the Governor.
  • In a constitutional scheme in which they are appointed solely on the CM’s advice, the ‘pleasure’ referred to is also taken to mean the right of the CM to dismiss a Minister, and not that of the Governor.

Why in news now?

Ans. Issue over appointment of Vice-Chancellor

  • The latest controversy has arisen after the Governor sought the resignation of several vice-chancellors following a Supreme Court judgment.
  • The V-C’s appointment of a technical university was contrary to the regulations of the University Grants Commission (UGC).
  • The appointment Committee had identified only one candidate and recommended the name to the Chancellor for appointment.
  • However, under UGC regulations, a panel of three to five names should be recommended so that the Chancellor has a number of options to choose from.

How is Governor involved in this?

  • The Governor, in his capacity as Chancellor of universities, responded by directing the V-Cs of nine universities to resign the very next day.
  • He contended that the infirmities pointed out by the Supreme Court in one case also vitiated their appointments.

 

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Kerala Governor says he can sack errant Ministers

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Office of the Governor

Mains level: Issues with role of Governor

Kerala Governor has opened the next battlefront against the State government by threatening to remove Ministers from their posts if they continued to lower the dignity of his office.

Why in news?

  • This is for the very first time that any Governor has expressed his displeasure.
  • There has been no occasion so far of a Governor unilaterally removing a minister from the government.

Governor in the parliamentary system

  • The position, role, powers, and conditions of office of the Governor are described in Articles 153-161 of the Constitution.
  • The position of Governor is similar to that of the President at the Union.
  • He is at the head of the state’s executive power, and barring some matters, acts on the advice of the council of ministers, which is responsible, in accordance with the parliamentary system, to the state legislature.

Apolitical nature of his appointment

  • The Governor is appointed by the President (on the advice of the central government) and, therefore, acts as the vital link between the Union and the state governments.
  • The post was envisaged as being apolitical; however, the role of Governors has been a contentious issue in Centre-state relations for decades.
  • The Governor enjoys certain powers such as giving or withholding assent to a Bill passed by the state legislature or determining the time needed for a party to prove its majority.
  • The party must be called first to do so, generally after in a hung Assembly — which have been weaponized by successive central governments against the political opposition.

Is the Governor capable to remove a Minister?

  • Article 164(1) says state “Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor”.
  • This is the provision that the Kerala Governor was seemingly alluding to.
  • Article 164(1) deals with the appointment of the Chief Minister and other ministers.
  • While the Governor does not have to seek anyone’s advice while appointing the Chief Minister, he can appoint a minister only on the recommendation of the Chief Minister.
  • The Governor has no power to pick anyone he chooses to make a minister. He can appoint a minister only on the advice of the CM.

Major judicial observation in this regard

Ans.  Shamsher Singh & Anr vs State Of Punjab (1974)

  • The Supreme Court ruled that- the President and Governor exercise their formal constitutional powers only upon and in accordance with the advice of their Ministers save in a few well known exceptional situations.

What were the exception situations referred to?

  • These situations could arise if:
  1. The PM or CM cease to command majority in the House
  2. The government loses majority but refuses to quit office
  3. For the dissolution of the House where an appeal to the country is necessitous.
  • But even in the third scenario, the President or Governor should avoid getting involved in politics and must be advised by his PM/CM who will eventually take the responsibility for the step the court ruled.

What did the founding fathers of the constitution believe?

  • B R Ambedkar said- The Governor under the Constitution has no function which he can discharge by himself; no functions at all.

So what does the “pleasure” of the Governor mean?

  • The Governor can have his pleasure as long as the government enjoys majority in the House.
  • The Governor can withdraw his pleasure only when the government loses majority but refuses to quit.
  • Then he withdraws the pleasure and dismisses it.
  • Without the advice of the Chief Minister, a Governor can neither appoint nor dismiss a minister.
  • That’s the constitutional position.

What maximum can a Governor do?

  • If a minister lowers the dignity of the Governor or his office, as Kerala Governor has alleged, Raj Bhavan can ask the Chief Minister to inquire.
  • If it is found that the minister has defamed or disrespected the Governor, he/ she can ask the Chief Minister to drop the minister.
  • This does not mean the Governor has the right to dismiss the Chief Minister or ministers at will.

Attempts to moralize such situations

(1) National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution

  • The NCRWC appointed by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2000 recommended significant changes in the selection of Governors.
  • The Commission suggested that the Governor should be appointed after consultation with the CM of that State.
  • Normally the five year term should be adhered to and removal or transfer of the Governor should be by following a similar procedure as for appointment.

(2) Sarkaria Commission

  • The Sarkaria Commission was set up in 1983 to look into Centre-state relations.
  • It proposed that the Vice President of India and the Speaker of Lok Sabha should be consulted by the Prime Minister in the selection of Governors. (without any logic behind explaining!)

(3) Punchhi Committee

  • The Justice Madan Mohan Punchhi Committee was constituted in 2007 on Centre-state relations.
  • It proposed in its report submitted in March 2010 that a committee comprising the PM, Home Minister, Vice President, Speaker, and the concerned Chief Minister should choose the Governor.
  • The Punchhi Committee recommended deleting the “Doctrine of Pleasure” from the Constitution.
  • However, it backed the right of the Governor to sanction the prosecution of ministers against the advice of the state government.
  • It also argued for a provision for the impeachment of the Governor by the state legislature.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Parliamentary Committees, their leaders, and their role in law-making

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Parliamentary Committess

Mains level: Not Much

A recent revamp of the Standing Committees of Parliament could potentially worsen the relations between the government and opposition parties.

Why in news?

  • Of the 22 committees announced, the erstwhile ruling party has the post of chairperson in only one, and the opposition party from West Bengal has none.
  • The ruling party has the chairmanship of the important committees on Home, Finance, IT, Defence and External Affairs.

What are Committees of Parliament?

  • A Parliamentary Committee is a panel of MPs that is appointed or elected by the House or nominated by the Speaker, and which works under the direction of the Speaker.
  • It presents its report to the House or to the Speaker.
  • Parliamentary Committees have their origins in the British Parliament.
  • They draw their authority from Article 105, which deals with the privileges of MPs, and Article 118, which gives Parliament authority to make rules to regulate its procedure and conduct of business.

What do they do?

  • Legislative business begins when a Bill is introduced in either House of Parliament.
  • But the process of lawmaking is often complex, and Parliament has limited time for detailed discussions.
  • Also, the political polarisation and shrinking middle ground has been leading to inconclusive debates in Parliament.
  • As a result of this, a great deal of legislative business ends up taking place in the Parliamentary Committees instead.
  • The aim is to increase Parliamentary scrutiny, and to give members more time and a wider role in examining important legislation.

What are the various Committees of Parliament?

  • Broadly, Parliamentary Committees can be classified into Financial Committees, Departmentally Related Standing Committees, Other Parliamentary Standing Committees, and Ad hoc Committees.
  • The Financial Committees include the Estimates Committee, Public Accounts Committee, and the Committee on Public Undertakings.
  • These committees were constituted in 1950.
  • Seventeen Departmentally Related Standing Committees came into being in 1993, when Shivraj Patil was Speaker of Lok Sabha.
  • They aimed to examine budgetary proposals and crucial government policies.

Composition of these committees

  • The number of Committees was subsequently increased to 24.
  • Each of these Committees has 31 members — 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha.
  • Ad hoc Committees are appointed for a specific purpose.

How are the Committees constituted?

  • There are 16 Departmentally Related Standing Committees for Lok Sabha and eight for Rajya Sabha; however, every Committee has members from both Houses.
  • Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha panels are headed by members of these respective Houses.
  • Among the important Lok Sabha panels are: Agriculture; Coal; Defence; External Affairs; Finance; Communications & Information Technology; Labour; Petroleum & Natural Gas; and Railways.
  • The important Rajya Sabha panels include Commerce; Education; Health & Family Welfare; Home Affairs; and Environment.
  • There are other Standing Committees for each House, such as the Business Advisory Committee and the Privileges Committee.
  • The Presiding Officer of each House nominates members to these panels. A Minister is not eligible for election or nomination to Financial Committees, and certain Departmentally Related Committees.

Appointing of chairmen

  • The appointment of heads of the Committees is also done in a similar way. By convention, the main Opposition party gets the post of PAC chairman; it is currently with the Congress.
  • Chairmanship of some key committees has been allocated to opposition parties in the past. However, this pattern has changed in the latest rejig.
  • The heads of the panels schedule their meetings.
  • They play a clear role in preparing the agenda and the annual report, and can take decisions in the interest of the efficient management of the Committee.
  • The chairperson presides over the meetings and can decide who should be summoned before the panel.

How do they work?

  • Bills that are referred to Committees often return to the House with significant value-addition.
  • The Committees look into the demands for grants of Ministries/departments, examine Bills pertaining to them, consider their annual reports, and look into their long-term plans and report to Parliament.

What are Ad hoc Committees?

  • Ad hoc Committees cease to exist after they have completed the task assigned to them, and have submitted a report to the House.
  • The principal Ad hoc Committees are the Select and Joint Committees on Bills.
  • Committees like the Railway Convention Committee, Committee on Food Management and Security in Parliament House Complex, etc. also come under the category of Ad hoc Committees.

What about Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC)?

  • Parliament can also constitute a JPC with a special purpose, with members from both Houses, for detailed scrutiny of a subject or Bill.
  • Also, either of the two Houses can set up a Select Committee with members from that House.
  • JPCs and Select Committees are usually chaired by ruling party MPs, and are disbanded after they have submitted their report.

Why need all these committees?

  • The time to speak on a Bill is allocated according to the size of the party in the House.
  • MPs often do not get adequate time to put forward their views in Parliament, even if they are experts on the subject.
  • Committees are small groups with relatively less demands on their time; in these meetings, every MP gets a chance and the time to contribute to the discussion.
  • Parliament has only around 100 sittings a year; Committee meetings are independent of Parliament’s calendar.

How do discussions/ debates here differ from those in Parliament?

  • The discussions are confidential and off-camera.
  • Political Party affiliations usually do not come in the way of MPs speaking their minds in ways they are unable to do in Parliament.
  • The Committees work closely with multiple Ministries, and facilitate inter-ministerial coordination.

How important are the recommendations of the Committees?

  • Reports of Departmentally Related Standing Committees are recommendatory in nature.
  • However, suggestions by the Select Committees and JPCs — which have a majority of MPs and heads from the ruling party — are accepted more frequently.
  • They are not binding on the government, but they do carry significant weight.
  • In the past, governments have accepted suggestions given by the Committees and incorporated them into the Bills.

Significance of Parliamentary committees

  • Many MPs concede that “real discussions” happen inside the Committees.
  • The former US President Woodrow Wilson had observed that “Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work”.

Try this PYQ:

Q.With reference to the Parliament of India which of the following Parliamentary Committees scrutinizes and reports to the House whether the powers to make regulations, rules, sub rules, bylaws, etc. conferred by the Constitution or delegated by the Parliament are being properly exercised by the Executive within the scope of such delegation?

 

(a) Committee on Government Assurances

(b) Committee on Subordinate Legislation

(c) Rules Committee

(d) Business Advisory Committee

 

Post your answers here.
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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

The Mediation Bill,2021: Needs And Concerns

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mediation Bill

Mains level: Scope of Mediation Bill

MediationContext

  • The Mediation Bill, 2021 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on December20, 2021,with the Parliamentary Standing Committee being tasked with a review of the Bill. The committee’s report to the Rajya Sabha was submitted on July 13, 2022. In its report, the Committee recommends substantial changes to the Mediation Bill, aimed at institutionalising mediation and establishing the Mediation Council of India.

What is mean by mediation?

  • Mediation: Mediation is a process wherein the parties meet with a mutually selected impartial and neutral person who assists them in the negotiation of their differences.
  • Brings Parties Together: Parties can save and sometimes rebuild their relationship like during a family dispute or commercial dispute.
  • Very Convenient: The parties can control the time, location, and duration of the proceedings to large extent. Scheduling isn’t subject to the convenience of courts

MediationWhy does India need mediation?

  • No separate law: While there is no standalone legislation for mediation in India, there are several statutes containing mediation provisions,such as the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908,the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996,the Companies Act, 2013, the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, and the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
  • Supreme Court mandate: The Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee of the Supreme Court of India describes mediation as a tried and tested alternative for conflict resolution.
  • Being an international signatory: As India is a signatory to the Singapore Convention on Mediation (formally the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation), it is appropriate to enact a law governing domestic and international mediation.

What are the Key features of the Mediation bill?

  • Promote mediation: The Bill aims to promote, encourage, and facilitate mediation, especially institutional mediation, to resolve disputes, commercial and otherwise.
  • Mandatory Mediation: The Bill further proposes mandatory mediation before litigation. At the same time, it safeguards the rights of litigants to approach competent adjudicatory forums/courts for urgent relief.
  • Confidentiality: The mediation process will be confidential and immunity is provided against its disclosure in certain cases.
  • Legally binding: The outcome of the mediation process in the form of a Mediation Settlement Agreement (MSA) will be legally enforceable and can be registered with the State district or taluk legal authorities within 90days to ensure authenticated records of the settlement.
  • Mediation Council of India: The Bill establishes the Mediation Council of India and also provides for community mediation.
  • Services of Mediator: If the parties agree, they may appoint any person as a mediator. If not, they may apply to a mediation service provider to appoint a person from its panel of mediators.
  • Disputes where no mediation required: The Bill lists disputes that are not fit for mediation (such as those involving criminal prosecution, or affecting the rights of third parties). The central government may amend this list.
  • Time bound process: The mediation process must be completed within 180 days, which may be extended by another 180 days by the parties.

MediationWhat are the Concerns over the bill?

  • Mandatory provision: According to the Bill, pre-litigation mediation is mandatory for both parties before filing any suit or proceeding in a court,whether or not there is a mediation agreement between them.
  • Monetary punishment: Parties who fail to attend pre-litigation mediation without a reasonable reason may incur a cost. However,as per Article 21 of the Constitution,access to justice is constitutional right which cannot be fettered or restricted. Mediation should just be voluntary and making it otherwise would amount to denial of justice.
  • Clause 26: According to Clause26 of the Bill, court annexed mediation, including pre-litigation mediation, will be conducted in accordance with the directions or rules framed by the Supreme Court or High Courts. However, the Committee objected to this. It stated that Clause26 went against the spirit of the Constitution.In countries that follow the Common Law system, it is a healthy tradition that inthe absence of statutes, apex court judgments and decisions carry the same weight. The moment a law is passed however, it becomes the guiding force rather than the instructions or judgments given by the courts. Therefore, Clause 26 is unconstitutional.
  • Lack of international enforceability: Bill considers international mediation to be domestic when it is conducted in India with the settlement being recognised as a judgment or decree ofa court. The Singapore Convention does not apply to settlements that already have the status of judgments or decrees. As a result, conducting cross border mediation in India will exclude the tremendous benefits of worldwide enforceability.

MediationConclusion

  • In order to enable a faster resolution of disputes,the Bill should be implemented after discussion with stakeholders and resolve the issues in an amicable manner. It’s a good opportunity for India to become an international mediation hub for easy business transactions.

Mains Question

Q.Address the key concerns in the mediation bill 2021 and how India can become the centre of international dispute resolutions.Discuss.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

In news: Attorney-General (A-G) of India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Attorney General

Mains level: Not Much

Attorney General of India (AGI)

  • The AGI is the Indian government’s chief legal advisor and is a primary lawyer in the Supreme Court of India.
  • They can be said to be the advocate from the government’s side.
  • They are appointed by the President of India on the advice of Union Cabinet under Article 76(1) of the Constitution and holds office during the pleasure of the President.
  • They must be a person qualified to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court ( i.e. a judge of some high court for five years or an advocate of some high court for ten years or an eminent jurist, in the opinion of the President and must be a citizen of India.).

Functions and duties

  • The AGI is necessary for advising the Government of India on legal matters referred to them.
  • They also perform other legal duties assigned to them by the President.
  • The AGI has the right of audience in all Courts in India as well as the right to participate in the proceedings of the Parliament, though not to vote.
  • The AGI appears on behalf of the Government of India in all cases (including suits, appeals and other proceedings) in the Supreme Court in which GoI is concerned.
  • They also represent the Government of India in any reference made by the President to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution.
  • The AG is assisted by a Solicitor General and four Additional Solicitors General.

Powers of AG

  • The AG can accept briefs but cannot appear against the Government.
  • They cannot defend an accused in criminal proceedings and accept the directorship of a company without the permission of the Government.
  • The AG is to be consulted only in legal matters of real importance and only after the Ministry of Law has been consulted.
  • All references to the AG are made by the Law Ministry.

Term of Attorney General’s office

  • There is no fixed term for the Attorney General of India. The Constitution mentions no specified tenure of Attorney General. Similarly, the Constitution also does not mention the procedure and ground of his removal.

Facts about his office:

  • He can be removed by the President at any time.
  • He can quit by submitting his resignation only to the President.
  • Since he is appointed by the President on the advice of the Council of Ministers, conventionally he is removed when the council is dissolved or replaced.

Limitations to his powers

The AG:

  • should not advise or hold a brief against the Government of India
  • should not defend accused persons in criminal cases without the permission of the government of India
  • should not accept appointment as a director in any company without the permission of the government

Office of AG across the world

  • Unlike the Attorney General of the United States, the AGI does not have any executive authority.
  • Those functions are performed by the Law Minister of India.
  • Also, the AG is not a government servant and is not debarred from private legal practice.

 

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Parliamentary Standing Committees

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CCI

Mains level: deliberation for effective democracy

Parliamentary CommitteesContext

  • In the recent monsoon session of Parliament (July-August) the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022 sent to the Parliamentary Committees for detailed examination and a report thereon.

Background

  • Parliament had only limited legislative time this session and could pass only five pieces of legislation
  • Oppositions stand: opposition alleging that the Government has been trying to steamroll various pieces of legislation in the last few sessions.
  • Governments stand: Government worries that so much time is lost in disruptions in Parliament that the legislative process, as it is, becomes unduly delayed and therefore, referring the bills to the Standing Committees.

Parliamentary CommitteesParliamentary Committees

  • Need of parliamentary committees: The functions of the Parliament are varied, complex and voluminous. Moreover, it has neither the adequate time nor necessary expertise to make a detailed scrutiny of all legislative measures.
  • Function: To assist parliament to discharge of its duties.
  • Mandate: To examine various legislations referred to it, the budget proposals of different Ministries, and also to do policy thinking on the vision, mission and future direction of the Ministries concerned.
  • Composition: Members of the Parliament of both the LokSabha and the RajyaSabha in the ratio 2:1,
  • Authority: constituted by the Speaker of the LokSabha and the Chairman of the RajyaSabha, jointly.
  • Classification: Broadly, two kinds–Standing Committees and Ad Hoc Standing Committees are permanent (constituted every year or periodically) and work on a continuous basis, while Ad Hoc Committees are temporary and cease to exist on completion of the task assigned to them.
  • Parliament has 24 Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees (DRSC).

Relevance of parliamentary committees

  • Withdrawal of farm law bills shows that if bills are not discussed thoroughly, these laws are just bizarre pieces of legislation from point of view consumers and stakeholders.
  • Parliamentary committee’s discussions are held closed door. Members can express their opinion freely.
  • Members of DRSC always try reach to consensus despite political differences. Such practices are essential for healthy democracy.
  • To strengthen the relevance of parliamentarians the parliamentary committees are crucial tools.

Parliamentary CommitteesHow to improve Efficacy of committees?

  • Compulsory process: The Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha have powers to refer Bills to a DRSC of Parliament. Making the process of reference of Bills to these committees compulsory/an automatic process will be useful. An exemption could be made with the specific approval of the Speaker/ Chairman after detailed reasons for the same.
  • No whip: All discussions in the Parliamentary Standing Committee should be frank and free. No whip of the party would apply to them during the discussion.
  • Time bound: fixed timeline to come up with the recommendation and present its report which can be decided by the Speaker/Chairman. In case the committee if fails to give its recommendation within the approved/extended time, the Bill may be put up before the House concerned directly.
  • Inviting filed Expertise: To ensure quality work in the committees, experts in the field may be invited who could bring with them the necessary domain knowledge and also help introduce the latest developments and trends in that field from Some subject matter experts/young researchers could be associated with the committee for a short period would be fruitful.
  • Authority: The Speaker/Chairman should have the right to fix a time limit, sometimes even stringent, if the government of the day asks for it and the demand is found to be reasonable by the Speaker/Chairman.
  • Organized work in the gap: Between two sessions, there is generally enough time to organise committee meetings for discussions on Bills in the parliamentary committees. It is important for the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs in collaboration with the committee chairmen to get these parliamentary works organized during the intersessional period, in advance.
  • Other than Budget Proposals: The committees should not limit themselves to discussing just the budget proposals and endorsing them with a few qualifications here or amendments there. They should also come up with suggestions for the Ministry to take up new initiatives and people friendly measures.

Conclusion

  • Discussion is not a stumbling block but an indispensable preliminary of any wise actions.
  • Discussion is soul of democracy.
  • Parliamentary committees are truly democratic institutions in India due to its consensus and bonhomie while functioning.
  • Government of the day should take step to strengthen DRSC and refer more bills to committees. 

Other related information

Parliamentary sessions

  • The president from time to time summons each House of Parliament to meet.
  • The maximum gap between two sessions of Parliament cannot be more than six months.
  • In other words, the Parliament should meet at least twice a year.
  • There are usually three sessions in a year: 1. The Budget Session (February to May); 2. The Monsoon Session (July to September); and 3. The Winter Session (November to December).

Competition Commission of India (CCI)

  • CCI is the chief national competition regulatorin India.
  • The commission was established on 14 October 2003. It became fully functional in May 2009
  • It is a statutory body within the Ministry of Corporate Affairs
  • Responsibility: To enforce the Competition Act, 2002 to promote competition and to prevent activities that effects negatively on competition in India.
  • The CCI looks into cases and investigates them if the same has a negative impact on competition.
  • CCI also approves combination under the act so that two merging entities do not overtake the market.

Mains Question Q.

Evaluate the significance of parliamentary standing committee in parliamentary democracy. Suggest the steps to strengthen the parliamentary committees.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Rajpath, Central Vista lawns renamed ‘Kartavya Path’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kartavya Path

Mains level: Read the attached story

Rajpath and Central Vista Lawns in the national capital will now be known as “Kartavya Path”, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) announces.

Updating to Kartavya Path

  • The entire stretch and the area from the Netaji statue under the Grand Canopy to the Rashtrapati Bhavan will be known as Kartavya Path.
  • Kartavya Path, which will be opened to the public at the end of the official function, will exhibit landscapes, lawns with walkways, added green spaces, refurbished canals, amenity blocks, improved signages and vending kiosks.
  • New pedestrian underpasses, improved parking spaces, new exhibition panels, and upgraded night lighting are some other features that will enhance the public experience.
  • It also includes a number of sustainability features like solid waste management, storm-water management, recycling of used water, rainwater harvesting, water conservation and energy-efficient lighting systems, among others.

Kingsway to Rajpath

  • Called Kingsway during British rule, the three-km stretch was built as a ceremonial boulevard by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, the architects of New Delhi, more than a hundred years ago.
  • The capital of the Raj moved to New Delhi from Calcutta in 1911, and construction continued for several years thereafter.
  • Lutyens conceptualised the modern imperial city centred on a “ceremonial axis”, which was named Kingsway in honour of the then Emperor of India, George V.
  • He visited Delhi during the Durbar of 1911, where he formally proclaimed the decision to move the capital.
  • The nomenclature followed that of the Kingsway in London, an arterial road built in 1905, which was named in honour of King Edward VII, the father of George V.
  • Following Independence, the road was given its Hindi name, Rajpath, on which the Republic Day parades took place over the decades that followed.

Why sudden renaming?

  • During his address from the Red Fort on August 15, Modi had stressed on the abolition of symbols of colonialism.
  • The new name and look of Rajpath, as well as the installation of the 28-foot statue of Netaji under the Grand Canopy under which a statue of George V once stood, are meant to represent that spirit of the proud new India.

Significance of all recent event

  • The construction of the Central Vista Redevelopment Project began in February 2021, with the new Parliament building and redevelopment of the Central Vista Avenue in the first phase.
  • The aim is to build an iconic avenue that truly befits the New India, the government has said about the Rs 608 crore Central Vista Avenue project.
  • It symbolizes a shift from erstwhile Rajpath being an icon of power to Kartavya Path being an example of public ownership and empowerment.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What is Floor Test?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Floor Test

Mains level: Not Much

Bihar Chief Minister has won the floor test in the Assembly.

What is a floor test?

  • A floor test is a measure to check whether the executive is enjoying the confidence of the legislature.
  • It is a constitutional mechanism under which a Chief Minister appointed by the Governor can be asked to prove majority on the floor of the Legislative Assembly of the state.

How is it conducted?

  • As per the Constitution, the Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor of the state.
  • When a single party secures the majority of the seats in the house, the Governor appoints the leader of the party as the Chief Minister.
  • In case the majority is questioned, the leader of the party which claims majority has to move a vote of confidence and prove majority among those present and voting.
  • The Chief Minister has to resign if they fail to prove their majority in the house.
  • This happens both in the parliament and the state legislative assemblies.
  • In situations when there are differences within a coalition government, the Governor can ask the Chief Minister to prove majority in the house.

Can a floor test be postponed?

  • The Supreme Court recently had given some respite to some rebel leaders in Maharashtra to respond to the disqualification notice issued by the Speaker.
  • Citing this as the reason, the original party leaders and loyalists have stated that it is ‘unlawful’ to initiate a floor test when the disqualification decision of the rebel leaders is pending.
  • However, the previous judgments of the Supreme Court had ruled that the floor test needs not to be deferred even if the decision to disqualify the members is pending.
  • In the 2020 Shivraj Singh Chouhan v/s Speaker case, the court had clarified the same.
  • Additionally, the top court had allowed the rebel leaders to skip the floor test during the political crisis in Karnataka in 2019.

What is composite floor test?

  • There is another test, Composite Floor Test, which is conducted only when more than one person stakes claim to form the government.
  • When the majority is not clear, the governor might call for a special session to see who has the majority.
  • The majority is counted based on those present and voting. This can also be done through a voice vote where the member can respond orally or through division voting.
  • Some legislators may be absent or choose not to vote.
  • In division vote, voting can be done through electronic gadgets, ballots or slips.
  • The person who has the majority will form the government. In case of tie, the speaker can also cast his vote.

Governors’ discretion

  • When no party gets a clear majority, the governor can use his discretion in the selection of chief ministerial candidate to prove the majority as soon as possible.

Issues with the floor test

  • Sometimes ruling party MLAs are lured with rewards, political or otherwise.
  • Thus, the “floor test” becomes constitutionally immoral and unjust.
  • This will amount to circumventing the Tenth Schedule through engineered defections through the judicial process.

Back2Basics: No Confidence Motion

  • The process is explained under rule 198 of the Lok Sabha.
  • Though there is no mention of the term ‘No confidence motion’ or ‘floor test’ in the Constitution, Articles 75 and 164 do mention that the executive both at the Centre and state is collectively responsible to their respective legislatures.
  • Any member from the Opposition can move the no-confidence motion against the ruling government.
  • The motion has to receive the backing of at least 50 members before it is accepted and subsequently.
  • A date for the discussion of the motion is announced by the Speaker, which has to be within 10 days from the date of acceptance.

 

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Explained: The Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Competition Amendment Bill 2022

Mains level: Read the attached story

The long-awaited Bill to amend the Competition Act, 2002, was finally tabled in the Lok Sabha recently.

What is the Indian Competition Act?

  • The Indian Competition Act was passed in 2002, but it came into effect only seven years later.
  • The Competition Commission primarily pursues three issues of anti-competitive practices in the market: anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominance and combinations.
  • As the dynamics of the market changes rapidly due to technological advancements, AI, and the increasing importance of factors other than price, amendments became necessary to sustain and promote market competition.
  • Therefore, a review committee was established in 2019 which proposed several major amendments.

Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022: Key features

(1) Regulation of combinations based on transaction value

  • The Act prohibits any person or enterprise from entering into a combination which may cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition.
  • Combinations imply mergers, acquisitions, or amalgamation of enterprises.
  • The prohibition applies to transactions where parties involved have: (i) cumulative assets of more than Rs 1,000 crore, or (ii) cumulative turnover of more than Rs 3,000 crore, subject to certain other conditions.
  • The Bill expands the definition of combinations to include transactions with a value above Rs 2,000 crore.

(2)  Definition of control for classification of combination:

  • For classification of combinations, the Act defines control as control over the affairs or management by one or more enterprises over another enterprise or group.
  • The Bill modifies the definition of control as the ability to exercise material influence over the management, affairs, or strategic commercial decisions.

(3) Time limit for approval of combinations

  • The Act specifies that any combination shall not come into effect until the CCI has passed an order or 210 days have passed from the day when an application for approval was filed, whichever is earlier.
  • The Bill reduces the time limit in the latter case to 150 days.

(4) Anti-competitive agreements

  • Under the Act, anti-competitive agreements include any agreement related to production, supply, storage, or control of goods or services, which can cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India.
  • Any agreement between enterprises or persons, engaged in identical or similar businesses, will have such adverse effect on competition if it meets certain criteria.
  • These include: (i) directly or indirectly determining purchase or sale prices, (ii) controlling production, supply, markets, or provision of services, or (iii) directly or indirectly leading to collusive bidding.
  • The Bill adds that enterprises or persons not engaged in identical or similar businesses shall be presumed to be part of such agreements, if they actively participate in the furtherance of such agreements.

(5) Settlement and Commitment in anti-competitive proceedings

  • Under the Act, CCI may initiate proceedings against enterprises on grounds of: (i) entering into anti-competitive agreements, or (ii) abuse of dominant position.
  • Abuse of dominant position includes: (i) discriminatory conditions in the purchase or sale of goods or services, (ii) restricting production of goods or services, or (iii) indulging in practices leading to the denial of market access.
  • The Bill permits CCI to close inquiry proceedings if the enterprise offers: (i) settlement (may involve payment), or (ii) commitments (may be structural or behavioral in nature).
  • The manner and implementation of settlement and commitment may be specified by CCI through regulations.

(6) Relevant product market

  • The Act defines relevant product market as products and services which are considered substitutable by the consumer.
  • The Bill widens this to include the production or supply of products and services considered substitutable by the suppliers.

(7) Decriminalization of certain offences

  • The Bill changes the nature of punishment for certain offences from imposition of fine to penalty.
  • These offences include failure to comply with orders of CCI and directions of Director General with regard to anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position.

Most notable amendment on: Merger and acquisition

  • Any acquisition, merger or amalgamation may constitute a combination.
  • Section 5 currently says parties indulging in merger, acquisition, or amalgamation need to notify the Commission of the combination only on the basis of ‘asset’ or ‘turnover’.
  • The new Bill proposes to add a ‘deal value’ threshold.
  • It will be mandatory to notify the Competition Commission of any transaction with a deal value in excess of ₹2,000 crore and if either of the parties has ‘substantial business operations in India’.

Key note on gun-jumping

  • Parties should not go ahead with a combination prior to its approval.
  • If the combining parties close a notified transaction before the approval, or have consummated a reportable transaction without bringing it to the Commission’s knowledge, it is seen as gun-jumping.
  • The penalty for gun-jumping was a total of 1% of the asset or turnover.
  • This is now proposed to be 1% of the deal value.

What next?

  • By implementing these amendments, the Competition Commission should be better equipped to handle certain aspects of the new-age market and transform its functioning to be more robust.
  • The proposed amendments are undoubtedly needed; however, these are heavily dependent on regulations that will be notified by the Commission later.
  • These regulations will influence the proposals.
  • Also, the government needs to recognize that market dynamics change constantly, so it is necessary to update laws regularly.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Disruptions in Parliament

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Disruptions in legislatures

Context

The inability of Parliament to transact any business and the lack of serious deliberation must be a matter of grave concern for all.

Purpose of deliberative democracy

  • In a deliberative democracy, Parliament works as a special purpose vehicle for the legislative scrutiny of bills, grievance redressal and debate on policies and related governance issues.
  • Its failure to transact business is a sad commentary on three aspects — Members of Parliament, the presiding officers as well as the rules and regulations that define the functioning of both Houses.

How disruption affects Member of Parliaments

  • For any parliamentarian, it is extremely disappointing to be unable to speak in the House for which he or she has — in most cases —given notice and come prepared.
  • And when this happens too often, their enthusiasm decreases.
  • Impact on quality of debate: In such a situation, members are often tempted to make a popular intervention than a substantive one.
  • This certainly impacts the quality of debates negatively.

Challenges for presiding officer

  • For the presiding officers too, preventing disruptions is a serious challenge.
  • Perhaps presiding officers can emulate the courts of law.
  • Use of in-camera proceedings: Like in courts, the presiding officers  need to consider conducting in-camera proceedings in their chambers to insulate at least the Zero Hour and Question Hour from getting washed out.
  • While the House remains force-adjourned, presiding officers can order in-camera hearing of questions of MPs and replies of ministers.
  • Zero Hour submissions could also be dealt with similarly.
  • Some tweaking of existing rules and regulations may facilitate this.

Issues with media coverage of Parliamentary proceedings

  • In any polity, systems work effectively when wrongdoers are punished and rule-abiding people are rewarded.
  •  What happens currently is exactly the opposite, especially in the context of coverage of parliamentary proceedings in mainstream media.
  •  The space allocated for parliamentary proceedings in both, print and electronic media is shrinking fast.
  • Rarely does one finds adequate coverage of Question Hour or Zero Hour compared to the past.
  • Debates on bills are also subject to brief and sketchy reporting.
  • Although disruptions have become common, they continue to get reported without fail and disruptors often bask in the media limelight.
  • As against this, those who make a reasonably good speech — well argued and supported by statistics, examples or case studies — rarely get adequate attention.
  • This too hampers the interest of parliamentarians.
  • It is high time we rise above the temptations of this tendency and think seriously about systemic reforms.

Conclusion

As the Parliament of independent India enters the eighth decade of its history and prepares to enter a new, more well-equipped and modern Parliament House, it is the right time to think about how we can add value to our deliberative democracy.

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Jagdeep Dhankhar is new Vice-President

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vice President of India

Mains level: Not Much

National Democratic Alliance candidate and former West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar will be the 14th Vice-President of the country.

About Vice President of India

  • The VP is the deputy to the head of state of the Republic of India, the President of India.
  • His/her office is the second-highest constitutional office after the president and ranks second in the order of precedence and first in the line of succession to the presidency.

Qualifications

  • As in the case of the president, to be qualified to be elected as vice president, a person must:
  1. Be a citizen of India
  2. Be at least 35 years of age
  3. Not hold any office of profit
  • Unlike in the case of the president, where a person must be qualified for election as a member of the Lok Sabha, the vice president must be qualified for election as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
  • This difference is because the vice president is to act as the ex officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Roles and responsibilities

  • When a bill is introduced in the Rajya Sabha, the vice president decides whether it is a money bill or not.
  • If he is of the opinion that a bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha is a money bill, he shall refer it to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
  • The vice president also acts as the chancellor of the central universities of India.

Election procedure

  • Article 66 of the Constitution of India states the manner of election of the vice president.
  • The vice president is elected indirectly by members of an electoral college consisting of the members of both Houses of Parliament and NOT the members of state legislative assembly.
  • The election is held as per the system of proportional representation using single transferable votes.
  • The voting is conducted by Election Commission of India via secret ballot.
  • The Electoral College for the poll will comprise 233 Rajya Sabha members, 12 nominated Rajya Sabha members and 543 Lok Sabha members.
  • The Lok Sabha Secretary-General would be appointed the Returning Officer.
  • Political parties CANNOT issue any whip to their MPs in the matter of voting in the Vice-Presidential election.

Removal

  • The Constitution states that the vice president can be removed by a resolution of the Rajya Sabha passed by an Effective majority (majority of all the then members) and agreed by the Lok Sabha with a simple majority( Article 67(b)).
  • But no such resolution may be moved unless at least 14 days’ notice in advance has been given.
  • Notably, the Constitution does not list grounds for removal.
  • No Vice President has ever faced removal or the deputy chairman in the Rajya Sabha cannot be challenged in any court of law per Article 122.

 

 

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PM and President’s photos in Govt Ads: Judicial Interpretation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Govt advertisement and related issues

The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to include the photographs of the President of India and Prime Minister in advertisements on the 44th Chess Olympiad underway in Chennai.

Why in news?

  • The HC relied on a 2015 Supreme Court ruling that issued guidelines on government spending on advertisements.

How can we classify Govt Ads with other political ads?

The primary cause of government advertisement is to use public funds:

  • To inform the public of their rights, obligations, and entitlements
  • To explain Government policies, programs, services and initiatives.

2015 Supreme Court’s Ruling

  • In Common Cause v Union of India, the Supreme Court sought to regulate the government expenditure on advertisements.
  • It essentially regulated the 2007 New Advertisement Policy of the Government of India.
  • The petitioners had argued that there is arbitrary spending on advertisements by the government.
  • The allegations ranged from wastage of public money for political mileage to using advertisements as a tool to manipulate media.
  • A three-judge Bench comprising then CJI P Sathasivam, and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana had set up a committee to suggest a better policy.

What are the guidelines?

  • No endorsement: Patronization of any particular media house must be avoided and award of advertisements must be on an equal basis to all newspapers who may, however, be categorized depending upon their circulation.
  • The Government Advertisements (Content Regulation) Guidelines 2014 have five broad principles:
  1. Advertising campaigns are to be related to government responsibilities
  2. Materials should be presented in an objective, fair manner and designed to meet objectives of the campaign
  3. Advertisements must not directed at promoting political interests of a party
  4. Campaigns must be justified and undertaken in a cost-effective manner
  5. Advertisements must comply with legal requirements and financial regulations

What did the Supreme Court rule?

  • It largely accepted the committee report except on a few issues:
  1. The appointment of an ombudsman to oversee the implementation of the guidelines
  2. A special performance audit of government spending
  3. An embargo on publication of advertisements on the eve of elections
  • The ruling mandated that government advertisements will not contain a political party’s symbol, logo or flag.
  • They are required to be politically neutral and must refrain from glorifying political personalities.

What about photographs in advertisements?

  • The Supreme Court agreed with the committee’s suggestion that photographs of leaders should be avoided and only the photographs of the President/ PM or Governor/ CM shall be used for effective government messaging.
  • Then-Attorney General had opposed the recommendation arguing that if the PM’s photograph is allowed in the advertisement, then the same right should be available to his cabinet colleagues as the PM is the “first among the equals”.
  • The court, while restricting the recommendation to the photos of the President and Prime Minister, added the photograph of the Chief Justice of India to that list of exceptions.

What are the takeaways from the SC and HC verdicts?

  • The SC ruling stepped into content regulation, which is a facet of the right to freedom of speech and expression, and was also in the domain of making policy.
  • This raised questions on the judiciary stepping on the executive’s domain.
  • The SC ruling did not mandate publication of the photograph of the PM and President, but only restricts publication of photos of government officials other than the President, PM, CJI, CM and the Governor.
  • In an opposition-ruled state such as Tamil Nadu, exclusion of the PM’s photos is seen as a political move.
  • The HC said that considering the “national interest” in the issue, the “excuses taken by the state” cannot be accepted.

 

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Kerala tops in holding Assembly sittings in 2021

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: State Assemblies for 2021 Report

Mains level: States Legislature efficiency

Kerala, which slipped to the eighth slot in holding Assembly sittings during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, returned to the top spot in 2021, with its House sitting for 61 days, the highest in the country.

State Assemblies for 2021 Report

  • The report on the functioning of State Assemblies for 2021 is published by the PRS Legislative Research (PRS), a New Delhi-based think tank.

How did other states fare?

  • Odisha followed Kerala with 43 sitting days; Karnataka 40, and Tamil Nadu 34 days.
  • But for the top three States, the average number of sittings of State legislatures would have been far lower than the present figure of 21 days.
  • Of the 28 State Assemblies and one Union Territory’s legislature, 17 met for less than 20 days.
  • Of them, five — Andhra Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Delhi — met for less than 10 days.
  • The figures for Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Punjab were 17, 16 and 11, respectively.
  • Andhra Pradesh with 20 ordinances and Maharashtra with 15 followed Kerala.

Why is this ranking significant?

  • The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2000-02), headed by former Chief Justice of India M.N. Venkatachaliah, had prescribed the standards for working of legislatures.
  • The Houses of State (/Union Territory) legislatures with less than 70 members, for example, Puducherry, should meet for at least 50 days a year and other Houses (Tamil Nadu), at least 90 days.
  • The Presiding Officers’ conference, held in Gandhinagar in January 2016, suggested State legislatures hold a minimum of 60 days of sittings in a year.
  • Between 2016 and 2021, the PRS points out, 23 State Assemblies met for an average of 25 days.
  • As for the ordinance route, which should be, according to the Supreme Court, used under exceptional circumstances, 21 out of 28 States promulgated ordinances last year.

 

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Money Bill verdict holds the key: SC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Money Bill

Mains level: Issues with PMLA

The court has left it open for a seven-judge Bench to decide whether the amendments to the PMLA could have been made to the PMLA through the Money Bill route.

What was the case about Money Bill?

  • In November 2019, a five-judge Bench led by then CJI Ranjan Gogoi had referred to a larger Bench the issue and question posed in the Roger Mathew vs South Indian Bank Ltd. Case.
  • It inquired to whether amendments like these can be passed as a Money Bill in violation of Article 110 of the Constitution.
  • The petitioners had questioned the legality of the PMLA amendments which were introduced via Finance Acts/Money Bills.

Correlation Money Bill

  • A Money Bill is deemed to contain only provisions dealing with all or any of the matters under clauses (a) to (g) of Article 110(1), largely including the appropriation of money from the Consolidated Fund of India and taxation.
  • In other words, a Money Bill is restricted only to the specified matters and cannot include within its ambit any other matter.

What is a Money Bill?

  • A money bill is defined by Article 110 of the Constitution, as a draft law that contains only provisions that deal with all or any of the matters listed therein.
  • These comprise a set of seven features, broadly including items such as-
  1. Imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax
  2. Regulation of the borrowing of money by the GOI
  3. Custody of the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI) or the Contingency Fund of India, the payment of money into or the withdrawal of money from any such fund
  4. Appropriation of money out of the CFI
  5. Declaration of any expenditure charged on the CFI or increasing the amount of any such expenditure
  6. Receipt of money on account of the CFI or the public account of India or the custody or issue of such money, or the audit of the accounts of the Union or of a state
  7. Any matter incidental to any of the matters specified above.

Who controls such bills?

  • In the event proposed legislation contains other features, ones that are not merely incidental to the items specifically outlined, such a draft law cannot be classified as a money bill.
  • Article 110 further clarifies that in cases where a dispute arises over whether a bill is a money bill or not, the Lok Sabha Speaker’s decision on the issue shall be considered final.

Difference between money and finance bill

  • While all Money Bills are Financial Bills, all Financial Bills are not Money Bills.
  • For example, the Finance Bill which only contains provisions related to tax proposals would be a Money Bill.
  • However, a Bill that contains some provisions related to taxation or expenditure, but also covers other matters would be considered a Financial Bill.
  • Again, the procedure for the passage of the two bills varies significantly.

Issues with notifying a bill as Money Bill

  • The Rajya Sabha (where the ruling party might not have the majority) has no power to reject or amend a Money Bill.
  • However, a Financial Bill must be passed by both Houses of Parliament.
  • The Speaker (nonetheless, a member of the ruling party) certifies a Bill as a Money Bill, and the Speaker’s decision is final.
  • Also, the Constitution states that parliamentary proceedings, as well as officers responsible for the conduct of business (such as the Speaker), may not be questioned by any Court.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What is a Private Member’s Bill?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Private Members Bill

Mains level: Places of worship act

Opposition members protested against the introduction of a private member’s Bill on the repeal of The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, in the Rajya Sabha.

Private Member’s Bill

  • A private member’s Bill is different from a government Bill and is piloted by an MP who is not a minister. An MP who is not a minister is a private member.
  • Individual MPs may introduce private member’s Bill to draw the government’s attention to what they might see as issues requiring legislative intervention.

Difference between private and government Bills

  • While both private members and ministers take part in the lawmaking process, Bills introduced by private members are referred to as private member’s Bills and those introduced by ministers are called government Bills.
  • Government Bills are backed by the government and also reflect its legislative agenda.
  • The admissibility of a Private Bill is decided by the Chairman in the case of the Rajya Sabha and the Speaker in the case of the Lok Sabha.
  • Before the Bill can be listed for introduction, the Member must give at least a month’s notice, for the House Secretariat to examine it for compliance with constitutional provisions and rules on legislation.
  • While a government Bill can be introduced and discussed on any day, a private member’s bill can only be introduced and discussed on Fridays.

Has a private member’s bill ever become a law?

  • No private member’s Bill has been passed by Parliament since 1970.
  • To date, Parliament has passed 14 such Bills, six of them in 1956.
  • In the 14th Lok Sabha, of the over 300 private member’s Bills introduced, roughly four per cent were discussed, the remaining 96 per cent lapsed without a single dialogue.
  • The selection of Bills for discussion is done through a ballot.

Back2Basics: Places of Worship Act, 1991

  • It was passed in 1991 by the P V Narasimha Rao-led government.
  • The law seeks to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship as it was in 1947 — except in the case of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, which was already in court.
  • The law was brought in at the peak of the Ram Mandir movement, exactly a year before the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
  • Introducing the law, then Home Minister S B Chavan said in Parliament that it was adopted to curb communal tension.

What are its provisions?

The objective of the law describes it as an Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship.

  • It aims to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.
  • Sections 3 and 4 of the Act declared that the religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be the same as it was on August 15, 1947.
  • No person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
  • Section 4(2) says that all suits, appeals or others regarding converting the character of a place of worship, that was pending on August 15, 1947, will stand abated when the Act commences and no fresh proceedings can be filed.
  • However, legal proceedings can be initiated after the commencement of the Act if the change of status took place after the cut-off date of August 15, 1947.

What does it say about Ayodhya, and what else is exempted?

  • Act does not to apply to Ram Janma Bhumi Babri Masjid.

Besides the Ayodhya dispute, the Act also exempted:

  • any place of worship that is an ancient and historical monument or an archaeological site, or is covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958;
  • a suit that has been finally settled or disposed of;
  • any dispute that has been settled by the parties or conversion of any place that took place by acquiescence before the Act commenced.

What has the Supreme Court said about the Act?

  • In the 2019 Ayodhya verdict, the Constitution Bench led by former CJI Ranjan Gogoi referred to the law and said it manifests the secular values of the Constitution and strictly prohibits retrogression.
  • In providing a guarantee for the preservation of the religious character of places, Parliament determined that independence from colonial rule furnishes a constitutional basis for healing the injustices of the past.
  • The law addresses itself to the State as much as to every citizen of the nation. Its norms bind those who govern the affairs of the nation at every level.
  • Those norms implement the Fundamental Duties under Article 51A and are hence positive mandates to every citizen as well.

Why is the law under challenge?

  • A politician has challenged the law on the ground that violates secularism.
  • He has also argued that the cut-off date of August 15, 1947, is “arbitrary, irrational and retrospective” and prohibits Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs from approaching courts to “reclaim” their places of worship.
  • Such places, he argued, were “invaded” and “encroached” upon by “fundamentalist barbaric invaders”.
  • The right-wing politicians have opposed the law even when it was introduced, arguing that the Centre has no power to legislate on “pilgrimages” or “burial grounds” which is under the state list.
  • Another criticism against the law is that the cut-off is the date of Independence, which means that the status quo determined by a colonial power is considered final.

 

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Droupadi Murmu elected 15th President of India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: President of India

Mains level: Read the attached story

Former Jharkhand Governor Droupadi Murmu was elected the 15th President of India, the first (santhal) tribal woman to be appointed to the position and the youngest as well.

Here’s a look at some interesting facts about the past Presidents of India:

* Rajendra Prasad was the first President of India. He is also the only President to have served two consecutive terms.

* Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the second President. He was the first to have served as Vice President before being elected to the top post.

* Zakir Hussain was the third President of India, and the first Muslim President. He also was the first President to die in office. He was the shortest serving President of India (less than two years).

* On his election, fourth President V.V. Giri became the first one to have also been an acting President.

* Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was the fifth President and the second Muslim to hold the post. The Emergency was declared during his tenure. He is the second President to have died in office.

* Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was the sixth President. He became the youngest to take the post at the age of 64. He is also the only one to have been elected unopposed.

* Giani Zail Singh was the seventh President of India and the first Sikh President.

* Eighth President Ramaswamy Venkataraman was the first President to have worked with four Prime Ministers and appointed three: V. P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar and P. V. Narasimha Rao.

* Shankar Dayal Sharma was the 9th President. He also worked with four PMs and appointed three of them in his last year: Atal Bihari Vajpayee, H. D. Deve Gowda, I. K. Gujral.

* Kocheril Raman Narayanan was the 10th President of India and the first Dalit President. At 76 years and 271 days, he was the oldest President to be elected.

* APJ Abdul Kalam was the 11th President and first Muslim President to serve an entire term.

* Elected as the 12th President, Pratibha Patil was the first woman President of India.

* Pranab Mukherjee, the 13th President, was the first Bengali to hold the post.

* 14th President Ram Nath Kovind was the first BJP candidate to be elected to the post.

* 11 Presidents have been members of a political party before being elected. 8 were from Congress, 2 from BJP, 1 from Janata Party, and the rest were Independents.

The President of India

  • The President of India is recognized as the first citizen of the country and the head of the state.
  • The elected President of India is a part of the Union Executive along with several other members of the parliament including the Prime Minister, Attorney-General of India and the Vice – president.

Electing the President

  • The provisions of the election of the President are laid down in Article 54 of the Constitution of India.
  • The Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election Act 1952 led to the establishment of this Constitutional provision.

Qualifications to become the President of India

The qualification of being the President of India are given below:

  • He/ She must be an Indian citizen
  • A person must have completed the age of 35.
  • A person must be qualified for election as a member of the House of the People.
  • Must not hold a government (central or state) office of profit
  • A person is eligible for election as President if he/she is holding the office of President or Vice-President.

Actual course of election

  • The President of India is elected indirectly by an Electoral College following the system of proportional representation utilizing a single transferable vote system and secret ballots.
  • MPs and MLAs vote based on parity and uniformity values.

Electoral College composition-

(1) Legislative Assemblies of the States:

  • According to the provision of Article 333, every state’s Legislative Assembly must consist of not less than 60 members but not more than 500 members.

(2) Council of States:

  • 12 members are nominated by the President of India based on skills or knowledge in literature, arts, science, and social service to act as the members of the Council of States.
  • In total, 238 represent act as representatives from both the States and Union Territories.

(2) House of the People:

  • The composition of the House of People consists of 530 members (no exceeding) from the state territorial constituencies.
  • They are elected through direct election.
  • The President further elects 20 more members (no exceeding) from the Union Territories.

Uniformity in the scale of representation of states

To maintain the proportionality between the values of the votes, the following formula is used:

Value of vote of an MLA= total no. of the population of the particular state/ number of elected MLAs of that state divided by 1000.

Single vote system

  • During the presidential election, one voter can cast only one vote.
  • While the MLAs vote may vary state to state, the MPs vote always remain constant.

MPs and MLAs vote balance

  • The number of the total value of the MPs votes must equal the total value of the MLAs to maintain the State and the Union balance.

Quotas:

  • The candidate reaching the winning quota or exceeding it is the winner.
  • The formula sued is ‘Winning quota total number of poll/ no.of seats + 1’.

Voters’ preference:

  • During the presidential election, the voter casts his vote in favor of his first preferred candidate.
  • However, in case the first preference candidate does not touch the winning quota, the vote automatically goes to the second preference.
  • The first preferred candidate with the lowest vote is eliminated and the votes in his/her favor are transferred to the remaining candidates.

Why need Proportional representation?

  • The President of India is elected through proportional representation using the means of the single transferable vote (Article 55(3)).
  • It allows the independent candidates and minority parties to have the chance of representation.
  • It allows the practice of coalition with many voters under one government.
  • This system ensures that candidates who are elected don’t represent the majority of the electorate’s opinion.

Why is President indirectly elected?

If Presidents were to be elected directly, it would become very complicated.

  • It would, in fact, be a disaster because the public doesn’t have absolute clarity of how the president-ship runs or if the candidate fits the profile of a president.
  • Another reason why the direct election system isn’t favorable is that the candidate running for the president’s profile will have to campaign around the country with the aid of a political party.
  • And, this will result in massive political instability.
  • Moreover, it would be difficult and impossible for the government to hand out election machinery (given the vast population of India).
  • This will cost the government financially and may end up affecting the economy as well.
  • The indirect election system is a respectable system for the First Man of India (rightly deserving).
  • The system/method of indirect electing of the president also allows the states to maintain neutrality and minimize hostility.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

No inner-party democracy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Anti-defection law

Mains level: Paper 2- Inner-party democracy

Context

The ousting of Boris Johnson as leader of the British Conservative Party is the latest in a series of coups periodically mounted by the party’s MPs. What is instructive about this whole process, however, is how much power ordinary MPs have over the Prime Minister.

Lack of inner-party democracy in India

  • A Prime Minister in UK has to be able to maintain the confidence of his own backbencher MPs at all times or risk political oblivion.
  • If there is a sense that the leader is no longer acceptable to the country, then a well-oiled machine springs into action to protect the party’s electoral gains by providing fresh leadership.
  • In India, PM exercises absolute authority over party MPs, whose ability to even diverge slightly from the official government line on routine policy matters is almost non-existent.
  • Impact of anti-defection law: The Prime Minister’s power is strengthened by India’s unique anti-defection set-up, where recalcitrant MPs who do not manage to carry two-thirds of their colleagues with them can always be disqualified.
  • Lack of autonomy: In effect, MPs do not enjoy any autonomy at all to question and challenge their party leadership.
  • Prime Ministers or Chief Ministers at the State level are chosen by party high command, and then submitted to MPs/MLAs to be rubber stamped.

Way forward

  • Strengthening local constituency party:  It is time for India to seriously consider empowering its elected representatives, to ensure accountability for party leadership.
  • MPs in the U.K. are able to act boldly because they do not owe their nomination to the party leader, but are selected by the local constituency party.
  • In India, however, it is the party leadership that decides candidates, with an informal consultation with the local party.
  • Amending anti-defection law: Neither do MPs in the U.K. stand a risk of disqualification if they speak out against the leader, a threat perpetuated in India through the anti-defection law.
  • These factors are the biggest stumbling blocks towards ensuring inner-party democracy in India.
  • System on the lines of 1922 Committee in UK: In U.K. where individual Conservative MPs write to the 1922 Committee (which comprises backbench MPs, and looks out for their interests) expressing that they have “no confidence” in their leader.
  • If a numerical or percentage threshold (15% of the party’s MPs in the U.K.) is breached, an automatic leadership vote is triggered, with the party leader forced to seek a fresh mandate from the parliamentary party.
  •  Of course, the only way such a model would work is if an exception is made to the anti-defection law.

Conclusion

Inner-party democracy is a essential for keeping the spirit of democracy alive. Westminster model dictates that control over candidates must shift from central party leaders to local party members.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Curtailing ‘unparliamentary’ expressions could stifle voice of MPs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Curtailing unparliamentary expressions

Context

The Lok Sabha secretariat recently released a booklet of unparliamentary words that will henceforth be banned and if used, will be expunged, it created an uproar among the opposing parties.

Historical Background

  • In the early days of parliamentary functioning in England, members would challenge one another to a duel if they felt dishonoured by another member’s speech.
  • It led to the Speaker of the House of Commons removing the offending words from the written proceedings.
  • In 1873, the constitutional theorist Erskine May started recording words and expressions that the Speaker considered unparliamentary in an eponymous guide to parliamentary procedure.
  •  Later editions of the book laid down the principle of parliamentary language.

Who decides the nature of a word

  • MPs have freedom of speech in Parliament.
  • But the presiding officers of Parliament have the final authority on what gets recorded in the day’s proceedings.
  •  MPs can also draw attention to any unparliamentary words and urge the chair to delete them.
  • Any reporting of the parliamentary discussion that includes the deleted portion is a breach of parliamentary privilege and invites the ire of the House.
  • Deleted words are then added by the parliament secretariat to its compilation of unparliamentary expressions.
  • Why context is important? In any language, the context in which an individual uses a word is critical.
  • “Context” means how the word is said, the circumstances in which it is said and when it is said.

Issues with addition of unparliamentary words

  • Effectiveness of measure: The first issues about the list is its effectiveness in maintaining decency in parliamentary debates.
  • Impact on the debate: The second that that needs to be considered is the effectiveness of such a list help in promoting or stifling discussion.
  • Role of technology: Technological advances have ensured that Parliament can no longer control how its proceedings are recorded and disseminated.
  • As a result, even if Parliament edits its record, the unparliamentary expression will be available online.
  • In such a scenario, a compilation of the words classified as unparliamentary will not deter an MP from using them.

Conclusion

Parliament is all about the cut and thrust of debate. And in a political discussion, a restriction of unparliamentary expression, without considering context, will unnecessarily stifle the voices of MPs.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

How is the Vice-President of India elected?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vice President of India

Mains level: Not Much

A major political party has declared that West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar would be the candidate for the post of Vice-President.

About Vice President of India

  • The VP is the deputy to the head of state of the Republic of India, the President of India.
  • His/her office is the second-highest constitutional office after the president and ranks second in the order of precedence and first in the line of succession to the presidency.
  • The vice president is also a member of the Parliament as the ex officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Qualifications

  • As in the case of the president, to be qualified to be elected as vice president, a person must:
  1. Be a citizen of India
  2. Be at least 35 years of age
  3. Not hold any office of profit
  • Unlike in the case of the president, where a person must be qualified for election as a member of the Lok Sabha, the vice president must be qualified for election as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
  • This difference is because the vice president is to act as the ex officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Roles and responsibilities

  • When a bill is introduced in the Rajya Sabha, the vice president decides whether it is a money bill or not.
  • If he is of the opinion that a bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha is a money bill, he shall refer it to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
  • The vice president also acts as the chancellor of the central universities of India.

Election procedure

  • Article 66 of the Constitution of India states the manner of election of the vice president.
  • The vice president is elected indirectly by members of an electoral college consisting of the members of both Houses of Parliament and NOT the members of state legislative assembly.
  • The election is held as per the system of proportional representation using single transferable votes.
  • The voting is conducted by Election Commission of India via secret ballot.
  • The Electoral College for the poll will comprise 233 Rajya Sabha members, 12 nominated Rajya Sabha members and 543 Lok Sabha members.
  • The Lok Sabha Secretary-General would be appointed the Returning Officer.
  • Political parties CANNOT issue any whip to their MPs in the matter of voting in the Vice-Presidential election.

Removal

  • The Constitution states that the vice president can be removed by a resolution of the Rajya Sabha passed by an Effective majority (majority of all the then members) and agreed by the Lok Sabha with a simple majority( Article 67(b)).
  • But no such resolution may be moved unless at least 14 days’ notice in advance has been given.
  • Notably, the Constitution does not list grounds for removal.
  • No Vice President has ever faced removal or the deputy chairman in the Rajya Sabha cannot be challenged in any court of law per Article 122.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Parliamentary language in the digital age

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Language in legislature

Context

Language not only changes across region but also profession. Similarly, Parliament, too, has its own list of absurd and archaic phrases.

Debate over expunged words

  • Today there is much debate on language again after the Lok Sabha Secretariat compiled a list of 151 words, which have been expunged in 2021 and 2020 in Parliaments across the Commonwealth countries and State Assemblies in India.
  • Many of these words may look harmless, but in a heated exchange between parliamentarians, they may not exactly be virtuous.
  • The current compilation has especially caused consternation among Opposition parties which see this as an attempt to restrict their vocabulary.
  • The government argues that this list is at best only “instructive” and not “definitive”.
  • The preface of the document states that the context in which these words were used is far more important than the words themselves.
  • Ultimately, the final call of whether a word is “unparliamentary” or not lies with the presiding officer of the House.
  • In the first two decades of the Indian Parliament, English was the primary language used for parliamentary work.
  • This changed as the social composition of Parliament changed from the 1970s onwards.
  • At present, as many as 30 languages are used by parliamentarians during speeches, with many insisting on speaking their mother tongue during crucial debates.
  • Perhaps, the next such compilation will also have words expunged from different regional languages.

Challenges in digital age

  •  The proceedings of both Houses of Parliament are relayed in real time on TV channels and YouTube.
  • There have been instances where live transmission has been halted on the Chair’s orders.
  • To circumvent this, many members have recorded the proceedings on their mobile phone cameras.
  • There are many instances of the Chair intervening and expunging words or phrases that it finds “objectionable”.
  • Herein lies the problem. The order of the Chair is often relayed by late evening to reporters, but by then, the video clip would have already been circulated many times over.
  • Print reporters are careful and abide by the orders, but in a digital ecosystem, this is not easy.

Conclusion

The problems posed to the Parliament in terms of language and words should be dealt with keeping in focus the freedom of speech of the members.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Legal and constitutional framework to deal with split in political party

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 324

Mains level: Paper 2- Powers of Election Commission

Context

The recent split in Shiv Sena and the subsequent political slugfest in Maharashtra has brought into focus the legal and constitutional framework to deal with issues when a party splinters and rival factions assert themselves as the recognised political party.

Culture of functioning political parties in India

  • What is a political party? A political party is an organised group of citizens who hold common views on governance and act as a political unit that seeks to obtain control of government with a view to further the agenda and policy they profess.
  • Political parties maintain a continuous connection between the people and those who represent them either in government or in the opposition.
  • Political parties in India are extra-constitutional, but they are the breathing air of the political system.
  • There are reportedly 2,598 registered political parties, eight national parties and 50 state parties.
  • The regulation of these parties and elections in the country is a crucial segment of India’s constitutional imagination.
  • Yet, the proliferation of political parties also means that established parties splinter.
  • A battle ensues for recognition of one faction or group as the recognised political party and securing the party symbol.

Legal and Constitutional framework

  • There is a legal and constitutional framework to deal with issues when a party splinters and rival factions assert themselves as the recognised political party.
  • Article 324 of the Constitution provides that the superintendence, direction and control of elections is vested in the Election Commission.
  • Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, Rule 5 specifies that the Commission shall specify the symbols that may be chosen by candidates at elections in parliamentary or assembly constituencies and the restrictions to which their choice will be subject.
  • Choice and allotment of symbol: The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order 1968 provides for the choice and allotment of symbols in Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies and for recognition of political parties and matters connected.
  • Power to recognise party from splinter group: Paragraph 15 of this Order specifies that the Commission has the power to recognise as the party, from amongst splinter groups or rival sections.

Important case on recognition of faction

  • The classic case on recognition of a faction and accrual of the party symbol is Sadiq Ali v the Election Commission of India (1972). 
  • Here, the Supreme Court was confronted with the case of the Indian National Congress which had split into two factions.
  • The Commission ruled in favour of Congress (J) being the recognised political party and the case reached to the Supreme Court,
  • The SC relied on the figures presented to the Commission and found that a substantial majority of the members of the Congress in both its legislative wing as well as the organisational wing supported the Congress (J).
  • The SC concludes that “numbers have importance in a democratic system of government or political set up, and it is neither possible nor permissible to lose sight of them. Indeed, it is the view of the majority which in the final analysis proves decisive in a democratic set-up.”
  • It was also concludes that paragraph 15, which gives the Commission power to settle such disputes pertaining to symbols between factions of a party, is entirely legal, for this power accrues from Article 324 that creates the Commission and vests in it the power of superintendence over elections.

Conclusion

In India’s 72nd year as a constitutional democracy, the free and fair regulation of political parties by the Election Commission and the courts is a crucial part of our political success as a nation. The Supreme Court’s thoughtful judgment decades ago is a realisation of the importance accorded to judicial oversight of our political parties.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Nominated Members in Rajya Sabha

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nominated members in Rajya Sabha

Mains level: Functioning of Rajya Sabha

Olympic sprinter PT Usha and music composer Ilaiyaraaja among others have been nominated to the Rajya Sabha in the category of eminent persons nominated by the President.

Nominated Members in RS

  • Twelve members are nominated to the RS by the President of India for six-year term.
  • This is for their contributions towards arts, literature, sciences, and social services.
  • This right has been bestowed upon the President according to the Fourth Schedule under Articles 4(1) and 80(2) of the Constitution of India.

Normal composition

  • The present strength is 245 members of whom 233 are representatives of the states and UTs and 12 are nominated by the President.
  • The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution; one-third of its members retire every second year.

Constitutional provisions for nominated members

  • 80(1)(a) of Constitution of India makes provision for the nomination of 12 members to the Rajya Sabha by the President of India in accordance with provisions of Arts.80(3).
  • 80(3) says that the persons to be nominated as members must be possessing special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as the following namely: Literature, science, art and social service.

Powers and privileges of such members

  • A nominated member enjoys all the powers and privileges and immunities available to an elected Member of Parliament.
  • They take part in the proceedings of the House as any other member.
  • Nominated members are however not entitled to vote in an election of the President of India.
  • They however have rights to vote in the vice presidential election.
  • As per Article 99 of the Constitution, a nominated member is allowed six months’ time should he join a political party.

Try this PYQ:

Consider the following statements:

  1. The Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha are not the members of that House.
  2. While the nominated members of the two Houses of the Parliament have no voting right in the presidential election, they have the right to vote in the election of the Vice President.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Post your answers here.
8
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

Also read:

[Sansad TV] Perspective – Rajya Sabha: The Upper House

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

How is Vice-President of India elected?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Office of the VP

Mains level: Read the attached story

The Election Commission has announced that the election to the post of the Vice-President (VP) will be held on August 6, as M. Venkaiah Naidu’s term was coming to an end on August 10.

About Vice President of India

  • The VP is the deputy to the head of state of the Republic of India, the President of India.
  • His/her office is the second-highest constitutional office after the president and ranks second in the order of precedence and first in the line of succession to the presidency.
  • The vice president is also a member of the Parliament as the ex officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Qualifications

  • As in the case of the president, to be qualified to be elected as vice president, a person must:
  1. Be a citizen of India
  2. Be at least 35 years of age
  3. Not hold any office of profit
  • Unlike in the case of the president, where a person must be qualified for election as a member of the Lok Sabha, the vice president must be qualified for election as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
  • This difference is because the vice president is to act as the ex officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Roles and responsibilities

  • When a bill is introduced in the Rajya Sabha, the vice president decides whether it is a money bill or not.
  • If he is of the opinion that a bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha is a money bill, he shall refer it to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
  • The vice president also acts as the chancellor of the central universities of India.

Election procedure

  • Article 66 of the Constitution of India states the manner of election of the vice president.
  • The vice president is elected indirectly by members of an electoral college consisting of the members of both Houses of Parliament and NOT the members of state legislative assembly.
  • The election is held as per the system of proportional representation using single transferable votes.
  • The voting is conducted by Election Commission of India via secret ballot.
  • The Electoral College for the poll will comprise 233 Rajya Sabha members, 12 nominated Rajya Sabha members and 543 Lok Sabha members.
  • The Lok Sabha Secretary-General would be appointed the Returning Officer.
  • Political parties CANNOT issue any whip to their MPs in the matter of voting in the Vice-Presidential election.

Removal

  • The Constitution states that the vice president can be removed by a resolution of the Rajya Sabha passed by an Effective majority (majority of all the then members) and agreed by the Lok Sabha with a simple majority( Article 67(b)).
  • But no such resolution may be moved unless at least 14 days’ notice in advance has been given.
  • Notably, the Constitution does not list grounds for removal.
  • No Vice President has ever faced removal or the deputy chairman in the Rajya Sabha cannot be challenged in any court of law per Article 122.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Upper House, a question

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 89

Mains level: Paper 2- Role of Rajya Sabha

Context

This article seeks to re-articulate a question pertaining to the composition of the Council of States.

Historical background and CAD over the issue of second chamber

  • Lokanath Misra led the charge against a federal second chamber in the Constituent Assembly stating that there was not need for the second chamber and also that it will not serve any useful purpose.
  • Shibban Lal Saksena, was equally emphatic: He said that as per their experience, the Upper House acts as a clog in the wheel of progress.
  • They were not the only ones who had concerns. Other members expressed them too in different contexts during the Constituent Assembly debate on draft Article 67.

Issues with the role of Rajya Sabha

  • Unable to protect the interest of the States: Article 1(1) of the Indian Constitution states “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”
  • Therefore, the primary responsibility of a Council of States would be to protect the interests of the states vis a vis the Union.
  • There is hardly any empirical evidence that substantiates that the Rajya Sabha has measured upto the task ever since it came into existence on April 3r 1952.
  • No focus on states: From 1952 to 2003, at least there was a veneer of a state focus when it was mandatory that any citizen desirous of contesting a Rajya Sabha election had to be an elector from that particular state.
  • By amending Section 3(1) of the Representation of People’s Act 1952 and doing away with the domicile requirement, the Government removed this fig leaf also in 2003.
  •  A five-judge bench did not uphold tha challenge to this judgement.
  •  This amendment and the subsequent judgment buried the earlier practice of individuals entering the Rajya Sabha from anywhere based upon rather dodgy but still some form of domicile credentials.
  • All states do not have bicameral legislature: Twenty-four states have unicameral legislatures, that is, only one legislative body, and only six states are bicameral.
  • If the bulk of the states can make do with one House why not the Centre?
  • Rajya Sabha as continuous house argument: It is also argued that the Rajya Sabha is a continuous House as opposed to the Lok Sabha that gets mandatorily dissolved every five years if not sooner.
  • That can be fixed with a simple amendment to Article 83 (2) that should state that “Lok Sabha would remain in existence till the time its successor body/house is not constituted.
  • Article 83 (1) would stand deleted and consequential amendments can be carried out to other parts of the Constitution.

Conclusion

It would be instructive to keep in mind that the Basic Structure doctrine enunciated by the Supreme Court in Re: Kesvananda Bharti holds parliamentary democracy to be basic structure, not bicameralism.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Back in news: Central Vista Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Central vista project

Mains level: New parliament building

The Central Vista Avenue is set to open in the next few days after remaining closed to the public since February 2021 for redevelopment.

Central Vista Project

  • The project aims to renovate and redevelop 86 acres of land in Lutyens’s Delhi.
  • In this, the landmark structures of the government, including Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Gate, North Block and South Block, etc. stand.
  • This dream project of redeveloping the nation’s administrative heart was announced by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs back in September 13, 2019.

This project has three main parts:

  1. New parliament building
  2. New secretariat complex to bring all the central govt ministries in one place
  3. Development of the Rajghat and the area around it
  • This project will involve demolition of some non-heritage buildings in the area, and construction of new buildings in place of them.

Why need this Project?

The most significant aspect of the project is the construction of a new parliament building.  There are several reasons for needing a new building.

  • Pre Independence building: The current one was built in 1927to house the legislative council and was not intended to house a bicameral legislature that the country has today.
  • Lack of Space: The current building will be under more stress when the number of seats to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are raised. Both Houses are already packed and members have to sit on plastic chairs when joint sessions are held, diminishing the dignity of the House.
  • Safety Concerns: The existing building does not conform to fire safety norms. Water and sewer lines are also haphazard and this is damaging its heritage nature. Security concerns in the wake of the 2001 Parliament attack shows its vulnerable nature. It is also not quake-proof.
  • Cost Advantage: Many central ministries are housed in different buildings with the result that the government ends up paying rent for many of them. The new building, a new central secretariat will help avoid this.
  • Environmental Benefits: The fact that people and officials have to run around the city to go to different ministries also increases traffic and pollution. The project also proposes interlinking of metro stations which will minimise use of vehicles.

Due to these reasons, a pressing need was felt to construct a new parliament building.

Significance of the project

  • Modernising parliament’s facilities: The new Parliament building will be India’s first purpose-designed parliament, equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure to meet all needs of an expanded parliament.
  • Improving productivity and efficiency: All ministries of the government will be consolidated in one place and will be served by highly energy-efficient and sustainable infrastructure.
  • Strengthening cultural and recreational facilities: The National Museum will be relocated and conceptualized to present the rich heritage and achievements of the nation.
  • Providing modern and secure infrastructure: A modern, secure, and appropriately equipped executive enclave is proposed to house executive offices and facilities.
  • Providing residential facilities for the PM: Modern and secure residential facilities for the vice president and the PM are proposed to the north of North Block and south of South Block respectively.
  • Cultural significance: The overall objective of works planned on the Central Vista is to ensure environmental sustainability, restore the vista’s architectural character, protect its heritage buildings, expand and improve public space, and to extend its axis.

Criticism

  • The Opposition, environmentalists, architects and citizens have raised many concerns even before the pandemic brought in extra issues.
    • They have questioned the lack of studies to ascertain the need for the project and its impact on the environment, traffic and pollution.
  • Several key approvals for the proposed Parliament building have been pushed during the lockdown. This led to allegations of a lack of transparency.
  • They argue that in the situation created by the pandemic, the project must be deferred as the country can’t afford it at this time.

Back2Basics: Making of New Delhi

  • The Central Vista was designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, to house the capital of British India.
  • The top of the Raisina Hill and adjacent hills in the area was flattened to create space for the buildings.
  • At his coronation as Emperor of India on December 12, 1911, Britain’s King George V announced the transfer of the seat of the Government from Calcutta to the ancient Capital of Delhi.
  • Thereafter, a 20-year-long project to build modern New Delhi was spearheaded by architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker.
  • They built Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, North and South Blocks, Rajpath, India Gate, National Archives and the princes’ houses around India Gate.
  • Thus, New Delhi was unveiled in 1931.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Parliament & Women

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Making the Parliament inclusive

Context

Due to systemic issues, Parliament continues to alienate women. The number of women representatives is still considerably small, but even more subtly, Parliament as a workspace continues to be built exclusively for men.

Women’s participation in the initial years

  • In 1952, when the Indian Republic held its first Parliamentary session, there were 39 strong, intelligent, and passionate women as its member.
  • Leading in the world in inclusiveness: At a time when women formed only 1.7% of the total members of the United States Congress and 1.1% of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, India was leading the way in the fight towards more inclusive world democracies with 5.5% women representation.
  • Women played an important role in India’s struggle for independence and that contribution was reflected in their presence in the parliament.
  • What happened in 1952 was a highly progressive step, but 70 years hence, it seems we have strayed from that path.

Electoral representation of women in India: Current scenario

  • 14.6 per cent in current Lock Sabha: In India, women currently make up 14.6 per cent of MPs (78 MPs) in the Lok Sabha, which is a historic high.
  • Although the percentage is modest, it is remarkable because women barely made up 9 per cent of the overall candidates in 2019.
  • In electoral representation, has fallen several places in the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s global ranking of women’s parliamentary presence, from 117 after the 2014 election to 143 as of January 2020. 
  • In terms of electoral quotas, there were two outstanding exceptions in the 2019 general elections.
  • Voluntary parliamentary quota: West Bengal under Mamata Banerjee and Odisha under Naveen Patnaik opted for voluntary parliamentary quotas, fielding 40 per cent and 33 per cent women candidates, respectively.
  • Women reservation bill: The bill to reserve 33 per cent seats for women in Parliament and state legislatures was passed in the Rajya Sabha in 2010, but it was never introduced in the Lok Sabha.
  • India ranks a dismal 146th in women’s representation in the national Parliament.
  • At the turn of the century, it ranked 66th.
  • The decline has come because progress has been piecemeal — several other countries have improved their share of women in Parliament far more rapidly.

Struggle for inclusivity

  • Despite a good start in the past, our struggle with inclusivity has not eased.
  • Due to systemic issues, Parliament continues to alienate women.
  • The number of women representatives is still considerably small, but even more subtly, Parliament as a workspace continues to be built exclusively for men.

Lack of inclusivity in the Parliament

  • Absence of gender-neutral language: A closer look at our parliamentary discourse and communication reveals a concerning and disconcerting absence of gender-neutral language.
  • After 75 years of Independence, Parliament often refers to women in leadership positions as Chairmen and party men.
  • In the Rajya Sabha, the Rules of Procedure continue to refer to the Vice-President of India as the ex-officio Chairman, stemming from the lack of gender-neutral language in the Constitution of India.
  • The alarming degree of usage of masculine pronouns assumes a power structure biased towards men.
  • Lack of gender-neutral Acts: The issue further extends to law-making.
  • In the last decade, there have hardly been any gender-neutral Acts.
  • Acts have made references to women not as leaders or professionals (such as policemen), but usually as victims of crimes.
  • The root of such instances lies with a gender-conforming Constitution.
  • In its present state, the Constitution reinforces historical stereotypes that women and transgender people cannot be in leadership positions, such as the President and the Vice-President of India.
  • This represents the failure of the many Union Governments which did not take the initiative of amending it.
  • In the past, amendments have been brought about to make documents gender neutral.
  •  In 2014, under the leadership of the then Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar, the Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha were made entirely gender neutral.

Way forward

  • Correcting the language: Internationally, even mature democracies that legalised universal suffrage after India, such as Canada (1960 for Aboriginal women), Australia (1962 for Indigenous women), and the United States (1965 for women of African-American descent), have now taken concrete measures towards gender-inclusive legislation and communication..
  • Amendments: India can and must begin with an amendment to the Constitution and the entire reservoir of laws.
  • Focus on the deeper issues of aspiration: Once the language is corrected, the entire country, including Parliament, can focus on the deeper issues of the aspirations and growth of its woman workforce.
  • Women staff in Parliament: Women are not adequately represented in Parliament staff,.
  • We need a single, transparent appointment and promotion process for women staff in Parliament.
  • We need to make sure that their professional growth is not being hindered by other issues such as harassment and domestic responsibilities.

Conclusion

In the 21st century, when people of all genders are leading the world with compassion, strength and ambitions, the Indian Parliament needs to reflect on its standing.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Explained: Inter-State Council

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Inter-State Council

Mains level: Not Much

Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin wrote to PM asking that at least three meetings of the Inter-State Council should be held every year to “strengthen the spirit of cooperative federalism”.

What is the news?

  • TN CM suggested that bills of national importance should be placed before the Council before being tabled in Parliament.
  • He said this was because there is no “effective and interactive communication” between the states and the Centre on issues of common interest.

What is the Inter-State Council?

  • The Inter-State Council is a mechanism that was constituted “to support Centre-State and Inter-State coordination and cooperation in India”.
  • It was established under Article 263 of the Constitution, which states that the President may constitute such a body if a need is felt for it.
  • The Council is basically meant to serve as a forum for discussions among various state governments.

Its establishment

  • In 1988, the Sarkaria Commission suggested the Council should exist as a permanent body, and in 1990 it came into existence through a Presidential Order.

Functions of the Inter-State Council

  • The main functions of the Council are:
  1. Inquiring into and advising on disputes between states
  2. Investigating and discussing subjects in which two states or states and the Union have a common interest
  3. Making recommendations for the better coordination of policy and action

Its composition

  • The Prime Minister is the chairman of the Council, whose members include the Chief Ministers of all states and UTs with legislative assemblies, and Administrators of other UTs.
  • Six Ministers of Cabinet rank in the Centre’s Council of Ministers, nominated by the Prime Minister, are also its members.
  • Its procedure states that the council should meet at least three times a year.

What issues has TN CM raised?

  • The leader has flagged the lack of regular meetings.
  • The Council has met only once in the last six years — and that there has been no meeting since July 2016.
  • Since its constitution in 1990, the body has met only 11 times,

Recent development: Reconstitution of the Council

  • The CM appreciated the reconstitution of the Council, carried out last month.
  • The body will now have 10 Union Ministers as permanent invitees, and the standing committee of the Council has been reconstituted with Home Minister Amit Shah as Chairman.
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, UP, and Gujarat are some of the other standing committee members.

Why did TN raise this issue?

  • Many CM frequently disagreed with the central government’s policies on matters of taxation, on the medical examination NEET, and often talked about the rights of states.
  • What could be settled amicably among the executive branches is often taken to the doorsteps of the judicial branch.

Role of TN in the Council’s formation

Tamil Nadu has long advocated the need for a Council.

  • In 1969, late leader M Karunanidhi, spoke about setting up an expert committee to study Centre-state relations.
  • Months later, his government appointed a committee headed by P V Rajamannar, a former Madras High Court Chief Justice, which submitted a report in 1971.
  • It then recommended “the Inter-State Council should be constituted immediately”.

What happened in the last meeting of the Inter State Council?

  • In 2016, the meeting included consideration of the Punchhi Commission’s recommendations on Centre-State Relations that were published in 2010.
  • At the time, M Karunanidhi had criticised then CM J Jayalalithaa for not personally attending the meeting.
  • The meeting saw detailed discussion on the recommendations.
  • States asked for maintaining the federal structure amid growing “centralisation”.
  • Imposition of Article 356 of the Constitution, which deals with the imposition of President’s Rule in states, was a matter of concern.
  • Bihar Chief Minister demanded that the post of Governor should be abolished!

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

E-Vidhan System for Paperless Legislation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: National e-Vidhan Application (NeVA)

Mains level: Parliamentary efficiency

A delegation of MLAs from Gujarat visited the UP Legislative Assembly to learn about the novel e-Vidhan system for paperless proceedings that has been recently adopted by the UP state assembly.

E-Vidhan System

  • The National e-Vidhan Application (NeVA) is a system for digitising the legislative bodies of all Indian states and the Parliament through a single platform.
  • It includes a website and a mobile app.
  • The house proceedings, starred/unstarred questions and answers, committee reports etc. will be available on the portal.
  • Nagaland became the first state to implement NeVA, in March this year.

Significance of NeVA

  • There has been a shift towards digitisation in recent years by the government.
  • NeVA aims for streamlining information related to various state assemblies, and to eliminate the use of paper in day-to-day functioning.
  • PM Modi mentioned the idea of “One Nation One Legislative Platform” in November 2021.
  • A digital platform not only gives the necessary technological boost to our parliamentary system, but also connects all the democratic units of the country.

Has this been done elsewhere?

  • Himachal Pradesh’s Legislative Assembly implemented the pilot project of NeVA in 2014, where touch-screen devices replaced paper at the tables of the MLAs.
  • Though both Houses of Parliament have not gone fully digital yet, governments world over are heading towards embracing the digital mode.
  • In December last year, the Government of Dubai became the world’s first government to go 100 percent paperless.
  • It announced all procedures were completely digitised.
  • This, as per a government statement, would cut expenditure by USD 350 million and also save 14-million-man-hours.

What are the challenges?

  • Access to devices and reliable internet and electricity was an issue particularly for legislators representing rural constituencies.
  • Lack of training and heightened concerns over security are some more recent issues in the road to digitization.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Presidential polls scheduled for July 18

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Election of the President

Mains level: Read the attached story

The presidential polls are expected to be held in July to decide on the successor of President Ram Nath Kovind, who will complete his term on July 24, 2022.

The President of India

  • The President of India is recognised as the first citizen of the country and the head of the state.
  • The elected President of India is a part of the Union Executive along with several other members of the parliament including the Prime Minister, Attorney-General of India and the Vice – president.

Electing the President

  • The provisions of the election of the President are laid down in Article 54 of the Constitution of India.
  • The Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election Act 1952 led to the establishment of this Constitutional provision.

Qualifications to become the President of India

The qualification of be the President of India are given below:

  • He/ She must be an Indian citizen
  • A person must have completed the age of 35.
  • A person must be qualified for election as a member of the House of the People.
  • Must not hold a government (central or state) office of profit
  • A person is eligible for election as President if he/she is holding the office of President or Vice-President.

Actual course of election

  • The President of India is elected indirectly by an Electoral College following the system of proportional representation utilizing a single transferable vote system and secret ballots.
  • MPs and MLAs vote based on parity and uniformity values.

Electoral College composition-

(1) Legislative Assemblies of the States:

  • According to the provision of Article 333, every state’s Legislative Assembly must consist of not less than 60 members but not more than 500 members.

(2) Council of States:

  • 12 members are nominated by the President of India based on skills or knowledge in literature, arts, science, and social service to act as the members of the Council of States.
  • In total, 238 represent act as representatives from both the States and Union Territories.

(2) House of the People:

  • The composition of the House of People consists of 530 members (no exceeding) from the state territorial constituencies.
  • They are elected through direct election.
  • The President further elects 20 more members (no exceeding) from the Union Territories.

Uniformity in the scale of representation of states

To maintain the proportionality between the values of the votes, the following formula is used:

Value of vote of an MLA= total no. of the population of the particular state/ number of elected MLAs of that state divided by 1000.

Single vote system-

  • During the presidential election, one voter can cast only one vote.
  • While the MLAs vote may vary state to state, the MPs vote always remain constant.

MPs and MLAs vote balance-

  • The number of the total value of the MPs votes must equal the total value of the MLAs to maintain the State and the Union balance.

Quotas:

  • The candidate reaching the winning quota or exceeding it is the winner.
  • The formula sued is ‘Winning quota total number of poll/ no.of seats + 1’.

Voters’ preference:

  • During the presidential election, the voter casts his vote in favor of his first preferred candidate.
  • However, in case the first preference candidate does not touch the winning quota, the vote automatically goes to the second preference.
  • The first preferred candidate with the lowest vote is eliminated and the votes in his/her favor are transferred to the remaining candidates.

Why need Proportional representation?

  • The President of India is elected through proportional representation using the means of the single transferable vote (Article 55(3)).
  • It allows the independent candidates and minority parties to have the chance of representation.
  • It allows the practice of coalition with many voters under one government.
  • This system ensures that candidates who are elected don’t represent the majority of the electorate’s opinion.

Why is President indirectly elected?

If Presidents were to be elected directly, it would become very complicated.

  • It would, in fact, be a disaster because the public doesn’t have the absolute clarity of how the president-ship runs or if the candidate fits the profile of a president.
  • Another reason why the direct election system isn’t favorable is that the candidate running for the president’s profile will have to campaign around the country with the aid of a political party.
  • And, this will result in a massive political instability.
  • Moreover, it would be difficult and impossible for the government to hand out election machinery (given the vast population of India).
  • This will cost the government financially, and may end up affecting the economy as well.
  • The indirect election system is a respectable system for the First Man of India (rightly deserving).
  • The system/method of indirect electing of the president also allows the states to maintain neutrality and minimize hostility.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

How are Rajya Sabha MPs elected?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Rajya Sabha

Mains level: Functioning of Rajya Sabha

Ahead of Rajya Sabha elections in four states, various parties have accommodated legislators from at least three states in resorts, away from potential poaching by rival parties.

Do you know?

  • Only two UTs elect members to the Rajya Sabha, not all.
  • Polling is held only if the number of candidates exceeds the number of vacancies.
  • Independent members can also be elected etc.

Read this newscard for all such interesting facts which can be directly asked in the prelims.

Rajya Sabha Polls

  • A third of MPs in the Rajya Sabha (which is a permanent House and is not subject to dissolution), from each State, retire once in two years and polls are held to fill up the vacancies.
  • Only elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies can vote in a Rajya Sabha election.
  • The legislators send a batch of new members to the Upper House every two years for a six-year term.
  • In addition, vacancies that arise due to resignation, death or disqualification are filled up through by-polls after which those elected serve out the remainder of their predecessors’ term.

Composition of Rajya Sabha

  • A bloc of MPs belonging to one or more parties can elect a member of their choice if they have the requisite numbers.
  • This is to avoid the principle of majority, which would mean that only candidates put up by ruling parties in the respective States will be elected.
  • The Delhi and Puducherry Assemblies elect members to the Rajya Sabha to represent the two UTs.

What is the election process?

  • Polling for a Rajya Sabha election will be held only if the number of candidates exceeds the number of vacancies.
  • Since the strength of each party in the Assembly is known, it is not difficult to estimate the number of seats a party would win in the Rajya Sabha poll.
  • In many states, parties avoid a contest by fielding candidates only in respect to their strength. Where an extra candidate enters the fray, voting becomes necessary.
  • Candidates fielded by political parties have to be proposed by at least 10 members of the Assembly or 10% of the party’s strength in the House, whichever is less.
  • For independents, there should be 10 proposers, all of whom should be members of the Assembly.

Voting procedure

  • Voting is by single transferable vote, as the election is held on the principle of proportional representation.
  • A single transferable vote means electors can vote for any number of candidates in order of their preference.
  • A candidate requires a specified number of first preference votes to win. Each first choice vote has a value of 100 in the first round.
  • To qualify, a candidate needs one point more than the quotient obtained by dividing the total value of the number of seats for which elections are taking place plus one.

Example: If there are four seats and 180 MLAs voting, the qualifying number will be 180/5= 36 votes or value of 3,600.

Why do not the Rajya Sabha polls have a secret ballot?

  • The Rajya Sabha polls have a system of the open ballot, but it is a limited form of openness.
  • As a measure to check rampant cross-voting, which was taken to mean that the vote had been purchased by corrupt means.
  • There is a system of each party MLA showing his or her marked ballots to the party’s authorised agent (called Whip), before they are put into the ballot box.
  • Showing a marked ballot to anyone other than one’s own party’s authorised agent will render the vote invalid.
  • Not showing the ballot to the authorised agent will also mean that the vote cannot be counted.
  • And independent candidates are barred from showing their ballots to anyone.

Is there any NOTA option in voting?

  • The ECI issued two circulars, on January 24, 2014, and November 12, 2015, giving Rajya Sabha members the option to press the NOTA button in the Upper House polls.
  • However, in 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the provision, holding that the ‘none of the above’ option is only for general elections.
  • It cannot be applied to indirect elections based on proportional representation.

Does cross-voting attract disqualification?

  • The Supreme Court, while declining to interfere with the open ballot system, ruled that not voting for the party candidate will not attract disqualification under the anti-defection law.
  • As voters, MLAs retain their freedom to vote for a candidate of their choice.
  • However, the Court observed that since the party would know who voted against its own candidate, it is free to take disciplinary action against the legislator concerned.

Can a legislator vote without taking oath as a member of the Assembly?

  • While taking oath as a member is for anyone to function as a legislator, the Supreme Court has ruled that a member can vote in a Rajya Sabha election even before taking oath as a legislator.
  • It ruled that voting at the Rajya Sabha polls, being a non-legislative activity, can be performed without taking the oath.
  • A person becomes a member as soon as the list of elected members is notified by the ECI, it said.
  • Further, a member can also propose a candidate before taking the oath.

Try this PYQ:

Q. Consider the following statements:

  1. The Rajya Sabha has no power either to reject or to amend a Money Bill.
  2. The Rajya Sabha cannot vote on the Demands for Grants.
  3. The Rajya Sabha cannot discuss the Annual Financial Statement.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) Only 1

(c) 2 and 3 only

(b) 1 and 2 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Post your answers here.
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Also read

[Sansad TV] Perspective – Rajya Sabha: The Upper House

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

British PM faces No-Confidence Vote

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: No-Confidence Vote

Mains level: Not Much

British Prime Minister will face a no-confidence vote that could oust him from power.

What is No-Confidence Vote?

  • If the government has to demonstrate its strength on the floor of the House, it can have a motion of confidence.
  • However, the opposition parties (or any member) can move a motion expressing want of confidence (no confidence) in the Council of Ministers.
  • The procedure is laid down under Rule 198 of the rules of procedure and conduct of the business of the Lok Sabha.
  • A no-confidence motion need not set out any grounds on which it is based.
  • Even when grounds are mentioned in the notice and read out in the House, they do not form part of the no-confidence motion.

Its procedure

  • A no-confidence motion can be moved by any member of the House.
  • It can be moved only in the Lok Sabha and not Rajya Sabha.
  • Rule 198 of the Rules of Procedure and conduct of Lok Sabha specifies the procedure for moving a no-confidence motion.
  • The member has to give written notice of the motion before 10 am which will be read out by the Speaker in the House.
  • A minimum of 50 members have to accept the motion and accordingly, the Speaker will announce the date for discussion for the motion.
  • The allotted date has to be within 10 days from the day the motion is accepted. Otherwise, the motion fails and the member who moved the motion will be informed about it.
  • If the government is not able to prove its majority in the House, then the government of the day has to resign.

How is the voting done?

These are the modes by which voting can be conducted:

  1. Voice vote: In a voice vote, the legislators respond orally.
  2. Division vote: In case of a division vote, voting is done using electronic gadgets, slips or in a ballot box.
  3. Ballot vote: The ballot box is usually a secret vote – just like how people vote during state or parliamentary elections.

What happens if there is a tie?

  • Following the vote, the person who has the majority will be allowed to form the government.
  • In case there is a tie, the speaker can cast his vote.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements regarding a No-Confidence Motion in India:

  1. There is no mention of a No-Confidence Motion in the Constitution of India.
  2. A Motion of No-Confidence can be introduced in the Lok Sabha only.

Which of the statements given above is / are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Post your answers here.
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Back2Basics:  What is a Trust-Vote?

  • A confidence motion or a trust vote is a procedure for the government to prove its majority in the House.
  • A trust vote can take place by way of a motion of confidence which is moved by the government or brought by the opposition.
  • It is a motion normally proposed by the Prime Minister to test the majority in the Lok Sabha.
  • Such an exercise normally takes place when a new government is set to be formed.
  • Any party will first have to prove its majority on the floor of the House before taking over.
  • A trust vote can also be brought about if a government resigns and another party stakes a claim to form the government.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

India needs parliamentary supervision of trade pacts

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 253

Mains level: Paper 2- Parliamentary supervision of trade pacts

Context

India is negotiating and signing several free trade agreements (FTAs) with countries like Australia, the UK, Israel, and the EU. While the economic benefits of these FTAs have been studied, there is very little discussion on the lack of parliamentary scrutiny of these treaties.

Provisions in the Constitution

  • In the Constitution, entry 14 of the Union list contains the following item — “entering into treaties and agreements with foreign countries and implementing of treaties, agreements and conventions with foreign countries”.
  • According to Article 246, Parliament has the legislative competence on all matters given in the Union list.
  • Thus, Parliament has the power to legislate on treaties. 
  • This power includes deciding how India will ratify treaties and thus assume international law obligations.
  • Article 253  elucidates that the power of Parliament to implement treaties by enacting domestic laws also extends to topics that are part of the state list.

Lack of parliamentary oversight and its implications

  • No law laying down the process: While Parliament in the last seven decades has passed many laws to implement international legal obligations imposed by different treaties, it is yet to enact a law laying down the processes that India needs to follow before assuming international treaty obligations.
  • Given this legislative void, and under Article 73(the powers of the Union executive are co-terminus with Parliament), the Centre has been not just negotiating and signing but also ratifying international treaties and assuming international law obligations without much parliamentary oversight.
  • Arguably, Parliament exercises control over the executive’s treaty-making power at the stage of transforming a treaty into the domestic legal regime.
  • However, this is a scenario of ex-post parliamentary control over the executive.
  • In such a situation, Parliament does not debate whether India should or should not accept the international obligations; it only deliberates how the international law obligations, already accepted by the executive, should be implemented domestically.
  • Against the practice in other liberal democracies: This practice is at variance with that of several other liberal democracies.
  • In the US, important treaties signed by the President have to be approved by the Senate.
  • In Australia, the executive is required to table a “national interest analysis” of the treaty it wishes to sign in parliament, and then this is examined by a joint standing committee on treaties – a body composed of Australian parliamentarians.

Way forward

  • Indian democracy needs to inculcate these healthy practices of other liberal democracies.

Conclusion

Effective parliamentary supervision will increase the domestic acceptance and legitimacy of international treaties, especially economic agreements, which are often critiqued for imposing undue restraints on India’s economic sovereignty.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Centre reconstitutes Inter-State Council (ISC)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Inter-State Council (ISC)

Mains level: Read the attached story

The Inter-State Council, which works to promote and support cooperative federalism in the country, has been reconstituted with PM Modi as Chairman and CMs of all States and six Union Ministers as members.

What is Inter-State Council (ISC)?

Genesis of ISC

  • The Constitution of India in Article 263, provides for the establishment of Inter-State Council (ISC).
  • The objective of the ISC is to discuss or investigate policies, subjects of common interest, and disputes among states.

Temporary or permanent?

  • The articles says that ISC may be established “if at any time it appears to the President that the public interests would be served by the establishment of a Council”.
  • Therefore, the constitution itself did not establish the ISC, because it was not considered necessary at the time the constitution was being framed, but kept the option for its establishment open.

Establishment as permanent body

  • This option was exercised in 1990.
  • The ISC was established as a permanent body on 28 May 1990 by a presidential order on the recommendation of the Sarkaria Commission.
  • It had recommended that a permanent Inter-State Council called the Inter-Governmental Council (IGC) should be set up under Article 263.
  • It cannot be dissolved and re-established.
  • Therefore, the current status of ISC is that of a permanent constitutional body.

Aims of the ISC

  • Decentralisation of powers to the states as much as possible
  • More transfer of financial resources to the states
  • Arrangements for devolution in such a way that the states can fulfil their obligations
  • Advancement of loans to states should be related to as ‘the productive principle’
  • Deployment of Central Armed Police Forces in the states either on their request or otherwise

Composition

The Inter-State Council composes of the following members:

  • Prime Minister, Chairman.
  • Chief Ministers of all states.
  • Chief Ministers of the union territories having legislative assemblies.
  • Administrators of the union territories not having legislative assemblies.
  • 6 Union Cabinet Ministers, including Home Minister, to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
  • Governors of the states being administered under President’s rule.

Standing Committee

  • Home Minister, Chairman
  • 5 Union Cabinet Ministers
  • 9 Chief Ministers

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Union Finance Ministry revises MPLADS Rules

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: MPLAD Scheme

Mains level: Read the attached story

At a time when MPs have been asking for an increase in the MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) fund, the Union Finance Ministry has ordered revised rules, under which the interest that the fund accrues will be deposited in the Consolidated Fund of India.

What is the MPLAD scheme?

  • The Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) is a program first launched during the Narasimha Rao Government in 1993.
  • It was aimed towards providing funds for developmental works recommended by individual MPs.

Funds available

  • The MPs then were entitled to recommend works to the tune of Rs 1 crore annually between 1994-95 and 1997-98, after which the annual entitlement was enhanced to Rs 2 crore.
  • The UPA government in 2011-12 raised the annual entitlement to Rs 5 crore per MP.

Implementation

  • To implement their plans in an area, MPs have to recommend them to the District Authority of the respective Nodal District.
  • The District Authorities then identify Implementing Agencies that execute the projects.
  • The respective District Authority is supposed to oversee the implementation and has to submit monthly reports, audit reports, and work completion reports to the Nodal District Authority.
  • The MPLADS funds can be merged with other schemes such as MGNREGA and Khelo India.

Guidelines for MPLADS implementation

  • The document ‘Guidelines on MPLADS’ was published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation in June 2016 in this regard.
  • It stated the objective of the scheme to enable MPs to recommend works of developmental nature with emphasis on the creation of durable community assets based on the locally felt needs in their Constituencies.
  • Right from the inception of the Scheme, durable assets of national priorities viz. drinking water, primary education, public health, sanitation, and roads, etc. should be created.
  • It recommended MPs to works costing at least 15 percent of their entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 percent for areas inhabited by ST population.
  • It lays down a number of development works including construction of railway halt stations, providing financial assistance to recognized bodies, cooperative societies, installing CCTV cameras etc.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

With reference to the funds under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), which of the following statements are correct? (CSP 2020)

  1. MPLADS funds must be used to create durable assets like physical infrastructure for health, education, etc.
  2. A specified portion of each MP’s fund must benefit SC/ST populations.
  3. MPLADS funds are sanctioned on a yearly basis and the unused funds cannot be carried forward to the next year.
  4. The district authority must inspect at least 10% of all works under implementation every year.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 and 4 only

(c) 1, 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 4 only

 

Post your answers here.
6
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Value of MPs’ vote for President Poll to go down

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Election of the President

Mains level: Read the attached story

The value of the vote of an MP in the presidential polls to be held in July is likely to go down to 700 from 708 due to the absence of a Legislative Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir.

Do you know?

The value of an MP’s vote has been 708 since the 1997 presidential election.

What is the news?

  • Before it was bifurcated into the UTs of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir in August 2019, the erstwhile State of J&K had 83 Assembly seats.
  • According to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, the Union Territory of J&K will have an Assembly, while Ladakh will be governed directly by the Centre.

The President of India

  • The President of India is recognised as the first citizen of the country and the head of the state.
  • The elected President of India is a part of the Union Executive along with several other members of the parliament including the Prime Minister, Attorney-General of India and the Vice – president.

Electing the President

  • The provisions of the election of the President are laid down in Article 54 of the Constitution of India.
  • The Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election Act 1952 led to the establishment of this Constitutional provision.

Qualifications to become the President of India

The qualification of be the President of India are given below:

  • He/ She must be an Indian citizen
  • A person must have completed the age of 35.
  • A person must be qualified for election as a member of the House of the People.
  • Must not hold a government (central or state) office of profit
  • A person is eligible for election as President if he/she is holding the office of President or Vice-President.

Actual course of election

  • The President of India is elected indirectly by an Electoral College following the system of proportional representation utilizing a single transferable vote system and secret ballots.
  • MPs and MLAs vote based on parity and uniformity values.

Electoral College composition-

(1) Legislative Assemblies of the States:

  • According to the provision of Article 333, every state’s Legislative Assembly must consist of not less than 60 members but not more than 500 members.

(2) Council of States:

  • 12 members are nominated by the President of India based on skills or knowledge in literature, arts, science, and social service to act as the members of the Council of States.
  • In total, 238 represent act as representatives from both the States and Union Territories.

(2) House of the People:

  • The composition of the House of People consists of 530 members (no exceeding) from the state territorial constituencies.
  • They are elected through direct election.
  • The President further elects 20 more members (no exceeding) from the Union Territories.

Uniformity in the scale of representation of states

To maintain the proportionality between the values of the votes, the following formula is used:

Value of vote of an MLA= total no. of the population of the particular state/ number of elected MLAs of that state divided by 1000.

Single vote system

  • During the presidential election, one voter can cast only one vote.
  • While the MLAs vote may vary state to state, the MPs vote always remain constant.

MPs and MLAs vote balance

  • The number of the total value of the MPs votes must equal the total value of the MLAs to maintain the State and the Union balance.

Quotas:

  • The candidate reaching the winning quota or exceeding it is the winner.
  • The formula sued is ‘Winning quota total number of poll/ no.of seats + 1’.

Voters’ preference:

  • During the presidential election, the voter casts his vote in favor of his first preferred candidate.
  • However, in case the first preference candidate does not touch the winning quota, the vote automatically goes to the second preference.
  • The first preferred candidate with the lowest vote is eliminated and the votes in his/her favor are transferred to the remaining candidates.

Why need Proportional representation?

  • The President of India is elected through proportional representation using the means of the single transferable vote (Article 55(3)).
  • It allows the independent candidates and minority parties to have the chance of representation.
  • It allows the practice of coalition with many voters under one government.
  • This system ensures that candidates who are elected don’t represent the majority of the electorate’s opinion.

Why is President indirectly elected?

If Presidents were to be elected directly, it would become very complicated.

  • It would, in fact, be a disaster because the public doesn’t have the absolute clarity of how the president-ship runs or if the candidate fits the profile of a president.
  • Another reason why the direct election system isn’t favorable is that the candidate running for the president’s profile will have to campaign around the country with the aid of a political party.
  • And, this will result in a massive political instability.
  • Moreover, it would be difficult and impossible for the government to hand out election machinery (given the vast population of India).
  • This will cost the government financially, and may end up affecting the economy as well.
  • The indirect election system is a respectable system for the First Man of India (rightly deserving).
  • The system/method of indirect electing of the president also allows the states to maintain neutrality and minimize hostility.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Quasi-Federalism in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Federal and Unitary features

Mains level: India's quasi-federalism

This newscard is an excerpt from the original article published in the TH.

Why in news?

  • The contemporary discourse on federalism in India is moving on a discursive across multiple dimensions, be it economic, political and cultural,
  • It is argued that India is at an inflection point vis-a-vis Centre-State relations owing to increasing asymmetry.

What is Federalism?

  • Federalism is a system of government in which the power is divided between a central authority and various constituent units of the country.
  • This vertical division of power among different levels of governments is referred to as federalism.
  • Federalism is one of the major forms of power-sharing in modem democracies.

Indian case: Federal, quasi-federal or hybrid?

  • India consciously adopted a version of federalism that made the Union government and State governments interdependent on each other (latter more vis-a-vis the former).

The federal features of the Constitution of India are:

  • Written Constitution: Features of the Indian Constitution is not only a written document but also the longest constitution in the world. Originally, it included a Preamble, 395 articles (22 parts), and 8 schedules.
  • Dual Polity: The constitution establishes a dual polity that includes the union at the periphery. Each is endowed with sovereign powers to be exercised in the field assigned to them respectively by the Constitution.
  • Bicameralism: The constitution provides for a bicameral legislature in which an upper house (Rajya Sabha) and a lower house (Lok Sabha). Rajya Sabha represents the states of the Indian Union, whereas The Lok Sabha represents the people of India as a whole.
  • Division of Powers: The Constitution divided the powers between the Center and the states in terms of the Union List, State List, and Concurrent List in the Seventh Schedule.
  • Supremacy of the Constitution: The Constitution is the supreme law of the country. The laws made by the Center and the states should be in conformity with Provision. Otherwise, they may be declared invalid by the Supreme or High Court through its power of judicial review.
  • Rigid Constitution: The division of powers established by the Constitution as well as supremacy of the constitution can be maintained only if the method of its amendment is rigid. It is necessary for both houses to agree to amend the constitution.
  • Independent judiciary: The constitution establishes an independent judiciary headed by the Supreme Court for two purposes: one, to protect the supremacy of the constitution, and two, to settle the disputes between the Centre and states or between the states.

Besides the above federal features, the Indian constitution also possesses the following unitary features:

  • Strong Centre: The division of powers is in favour of the centre and unequal from a federal point of view. Firstly, the Union list contains more subjects than the state list, secondly, the more important subjects have been included in the union list and the Centre has overriding authority over the concurrent list.
  • Single constitution: The constitution of India embodies not only the constitution of the Centre but also those of the states. Both the Centre and the States must operate within this single frame.
  • Destructible nature of states: Unlike in other federations, the states in India have no right to territorial integrity. The parliament can change the area, boundaries, or name of any state.
  • Emergency provisions: The emergency provisions are contained in Part XVIII of the Constitution of India, from Articles 352 to 360. In the emergency provisions, the central government becomes all-powerful and the states go into total control of the Centre.
  • Single citizenship: Single citizenship means one person is the citizenship of the whole country. The constitution deals with citizenship from Articles 5 and 11 under Part 2.
  • All India services: In India, there are all India services (IAS, IPS and IFS) which are common to both the Centre and the states. These services violate the principle of federalism under the constitution.
  • Appointment of governor: The governor is appointed by the president. He also acts as an agent of the Centre. Through him, the Centre exercises control over the states.
  • Integrated election machinery: The election commission conducts elections for central and state legislatures. But the Election commission is constituted by the president and the states have no say in this matter.
  • Equality (= Equity) of representation: The states are given representation in the upper house on the basis of population. Hence, the membership varies from 1 to 31.
  • Integrated Judiciary: The term Integrated Judiciary refers to the fact that rulings made by higher courts bind lower courts. The Supreme Court of India incorporates all lower courts, from the Gram Panchayat to the High Courts. The Supreme Court is at the very top.
  • Union veto over State Bills:  The governor has the authority to hold certain sorts of laws passed by the state legislature for presidential consideration. The President has the authority to refuse to sign such bills not only in the first instance but also in the second.

Reasons for a centralised federal structure

There are at following reasons that informed India’s choice of a centralised federal structure.

  1. Partition of India and the concomitant concerns: The 1946 Objectives Resolution introduced by Nehru in the Assembly were inclined towards a decentralised federal structure wherein States would wield residuary powers.
  2. Reconstitution of social relations in a highly hierarchical and discriminatory society: The centralised structure would unsettle prevalent trends of social dominance, help fight poverty better and therefore yield liberating outcomes.
  3. Building of a welfare state: In a decentralised federal setup, redistributive policies could be structurally thwarted by organised (small and dominant) groups. Instead, a centralised federal set-up can prevent such issues and further a universal rights-based system.
  4. Alleviation of inter-regional economic inequality: Provincial interventions seemed to exacerbate inequalities. India’s membership in the International Labour Organization, the Nehru Report (1928), and the Bombay Plan (1944) pushed for a centralised system to foster socio-economic rights and safeguards for the working and entrepreneurial classes.
  5. Linguistic reorganization: It would not have been possible if India followed a rigid or conventional federal system. In other words, the current form of federalism in the Indian context is largely a function of the intent of the government of the day and the objectives it seeks to achieve.
  • From the above, it is clear that India has deviated from the traditional federal systems like the USA   and incorporated a large number of unitary features, tilting the balance of power in favor of the Centre.
  • Hence K C Wheare described the constitution of India as “quasi-federal”.

Conclusion

  • The majoritarian tendencies sometimes are subverting the unique and indigenised set-up into an asymmetrical one.
  • Inter alia, delayed disbursal of resources and tax proceeds, bias towards electorally unfavourable States, evasion of accountability, imposition of language, weakening institutions, proliferation of political ideologies all signal towards the diminishing of India’s plurality or regionalisation of the nation.
  • While it would be safe to argue that our federal set-up is a conscious choice, its furthering or undoing, will depend on the collective will of the citizenry and the representatives they vote to power.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Criminal Procedures (Identification) Bill violates right against self-incrimination

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 20

Mains level: Paper 2- Right against self-incrimination

Context

The Bill proposes to collect “measurements” of convicted persons, those who are arrested (or detained under preventive detention laws) or those who have executed bonds promising good behaviour.

Dilution of right against self-incrimination

  • The Constitution, under Article 20(3), protects an accused from being compelled to give witness against himself.
  • This fundamental right has been diluted over the years.
  • In 2005, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was amended to allow a magistrate to order any person to give their handwriting samples for the purpose of an investigation or proceeding.
  • In 2019, the Supreme Court, in Ritesh Sinha v. State of UP, held that such handwriting samples could include voice samples.
  • It relied upon its judgment in the Kathi Kalu Oghad case (1962) that held that giving palm impressions or footprints could not be called self-incriminatory because impressions were unchangeable, except in rare cases”.
  • Instead, it held that the Constitution bars the compulsory extraction of a statement — oral or written — from the accused, “which makes the case against the accused person at least probable, considered by itself”.

Provisions in the Bill

  • While the databasing of convicted persons is not new, the new piece of legislation allows for taking information, including finger-impressions, palm-print impressions, footprint impressions, photographs, iris and retina scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, behavioural attributes including signatures, handwriting or any other examination referred to in Sections 53, 53A of the CrPC.
  • It also mandates the National Crime Records Bureau to store, preserve and destroy the record of measurements at the national level as well as process and share them with any law enforcement agency.

Issues with the Bill

  • Right against self-incrimination is unlikely to apply to technologies in use today.
  • Wide scope of under new technologies: The logic that was used in 1962 to interpret what would violate the right against self-incrimination is unlikely to apply to technologies in use today.
  • The Bill is vaguely worded and the nature of the processing, sharing, and dissemination of data it entails will most certainly involve the use of new and emerging technologies. 
  •  Their application to policing and the criminal justice system has new implications for the right against self-incrimination.
  • The compulsory submission of such information could have chilling effects after being subjected to new technologies – in other words, the past of an accused person might be enough to incriminate him.
  • Possibility of coercive data collection: The Bill proposes to collect “measurements” of convicted persons, those who are arrested (or detained under preventive detention laws) or those who have executed bonds promising good behaviour.
  • Only those arrested for petty offences that are punishable with less than seven years may not be obliged to allow the recording of measurements.
  • This rings a warning bell about coercive data collection, especially when seen in the light of the practices used to police oppressed communities.
  • For instance, under the Criminal Tribes Act, 1871, many nomadic and semi-nomadic communities were labelled hereditary criminals.
  •  Despite the Act being repealed in 1952, these denotified tribal (“Vimukta”) communities continue to be treated as criminals by birth through the “Habitual Offenders” provisions in state-level police regulations that allow local police stations to keep records of such persons residing in their area.
  • It condemns a section of the country’s population to several cycles of arrest, bail, and acquittal.
  • The new piece of legislation could make the practice of history-sheeting, undertaken when a person is merely alleged of a crime, and not convicted, even more coercive.
  • Long storage period and no clear process for destroying information: the “measurements” are to be stored at the national level for 75 years, with no clear procedure outlined for destroying the information.

Conclusion

The right against self-incrimination is at the heart of protection against police excess and torture. Record-keeping as mandated by the Bill violates this right. Parliament must make laws that protect against such blatant attacks on fundamental rights and freedoms, rather than enable them.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Privacy concerns in the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Identification of Prisoners Act 1920

Mains level: Paper 2- Issues with the Criminal Procedure(Identification) Bill

Context

The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs introduced the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022.

Purpose of the introduction of the Bill

  • The Bill aims to replace the Identification of Prisoners Act 1920 that has been in need of amendment for several decades.
  • The criticism and the need for amendment was predominantly in respect of the limited definition of ‘measurements’ as under that Act.
  • Back in the 1980s, the Law Commission of India (in its 87th Report) and the Supreme Court of India in a judgment titled State of U.P. vs Ram Babu Misra had nearly simultaneously suggested the need to amend the statute.

What are the issues with the provisions in the Bill?

1] Definition of ‘measurement’ includes analysis of the data

  • The definition of measurements is not restricted to taking measurements, but also their “analysis”.
  • The definition now states “iris and retina scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, behavio[u]ral attributes including signatures….”
  • It goes beyond the scope of a law that is only designed for taking measurements and could result in indirectly conferring legislative backing for techniques that may involve the collection of data from other sources(For instance, using facial recognition).
  • At present there are extensive facial recognition technology programmes for “smart policing” that are deployed all across the country.
  • Such experimental technologies cause mass surveillance and are prone to bias, impacting the fundamental rights of the most vulnerable in India.

2] Power of the police and prison officials widened

  • The existing law permits data capture by police and prison officers either from persons convicted or persons arrested for commission of offences punishable with a minimum of one year’s imprisonment.
  • Parallel powers are granted to judges, who can order any person to give measurements where it is in aid of investigation.
  • While the judicial power is left undisturbed, it is the powers of the police and prison officials that are being widened.
  • The law removes the existing — albeit minimal — limitation on persons whose measurements could be taken.
  • It is poised to be expanded to all persons who are placed under arrest in a case.
  • Here, the proposed Bill also contains muddied language stating that a person, “may not be obliged to allow taking of his biological samples”.

3] Storage and retention of data for a long period

  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shall for a period of 75 years from the date of collection maintain a digital record, “in the interest of prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of any offense”.
  • The provision permits the NCRB to, “share and disseminate such records with any law enforcement agency, in such manner as may be prescribed”.
  • The NCRB already operates a centralised database, namely the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS), without any clear legislative framework.
  • The existence of such legislative power with a technical framework may permit multiple mirror copies and parallel databases of the “measurements” being stored with law enforcement, beyond a State Police department which will be prosecuting the crime and the NCRB which will store all records centrally.
  • For instance, in response to a Standing Committee of Parliament on police modernisation, Rajasthan has stated that it maintains a ‘RajCop Application’ that integrates with “analytics capabilities in real-time with multiple data sources (inter-department and intra-department)”.
  • Similarly, Punjab has said that the “PAIS (Punjab Artificial Intelligence System) App uses machine learning, deep learning, visual search, and face recognition for the identification of criminals to assist police personnel.
  • Hence, multiple copies of “measurements” will be used by State government policing departments for various purposes and with experimental technologies.
  • This also takes away the benefit of deletion which occurs on acquittal and will suffer from weak enforcement due to the absence of a data protection law.
  •  The end result is a sprawling database in which innocent persons are treated as persons of interest for most of their natural lives.

Conclusion

To protect individual autonomy and fulfil our constitutional promises, the Supreme Court of India pronounced the Justice K.S. Puttaswamy judgment, reaffirming its status as a fundamental right. The responsibility to protect it falls to each organ of the government, including the legislature and the union executive.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Indian Legislative Service

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 98

Mains level: Paper 2- Need for All India Legislative Service

Context

The appointment of Dr. P.P.K. Ramacharyulu as the Secretary-General of the Upper House by M. Venkaiah Naidu, Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, on September 1, 2021, was news that drew much attention. Ramacharyulu was the first-ever Rajya Sabha secretariat staff who rose to become the Secretary-General of the Upper House.

Responsibilities and role of Secretaries-General of both the Houses

  • Secretaries-General of both the Houses are mandated with many parliamentary and administrative responsibilities.
  • Privileges: The Secretary-General also enjoys certain privileges such as freedom from arrest, immunity from criminal proceedings, and any obstruction and breach of their rights would amount to contempt of the House.

Principle of secretariate independent of executive government

  • Article 98 of the Constitution provides the scope of separate secretariats for the two Houses of Parliament.
  • The principle, hence, laid in the Article is that the secretariats should be independent of the executive government. 

Issues with appointing civil servant

  • A separate secretariat marks a feature of a functioning parliamentary democracy.
  • Against the principle of independence: Serving civil servants or those who are retired come with long-held baggage and the clout of their past career.
  • When civil servants are hired to the post of Secretary-General, this not only dishonours the purpose of ensuring the independence of the Secretariat but also leads to a conflict of interests.
  • Against the principle of separation of power: It breaches the principle of separation of power.
  • The officials mandated with exercising one area of power may not expect to exercise the others.
  • Lack of expertise: One of the prerequisites that demand the post of the Secretary-General is unfailing knowledge and vast experience of parliamentary procedures, practices and precedents.
  • Most of the civil servants lack precisely this aspect of expertise.

Way forward: All-India service

  • There are thousands of legislative bodies in India, ranging from the panchayat, block panchayat, zila parishad, municipal corporations to State legislatures and Union Parliament at the national level.
  • Despite these mammoth law-making bodies, they lack their own common public recruiting and training agency at the national level.
  • Ensuring competent and robust legislative institutions demands having qualified and well-trained staff in place.
  • The growth of modern government and expansion of governmental activities require a matching development and laborious legislative exercise.
  • Creating a common all-India service cadre — an Indian Legislative Service — is a must.
  • The Rajya Sabha can, under Article 312, pass a resolution to this effect.
  • In the United Kingdom, the Clerk of the House of Commons has always been appointed from the legislative staff pool created to serve Parliament.
  • It is high time that India adapts and adopts such democratic institutional practices.

Conclusion

A common service can build a combined and experienced legislative staff cadre, enabling them to serve from across local bodies to Union Parliament.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

How is the President of India Elected?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Election of the President

Mains level: Read the attached story

The presidential polls are expected to be held in July to decide on the successor of President Ram Nath Kovind, who will complete his term on July 24, 2022.

The President of India

  • The President of India is recognised as the first citizen of the country and the head of the state.
  • The elected President of India is a part of the Union Executive along with several other members of the parliament including the Prime Minister, Attorney-General of India and the Vice – president.

Electing the President

  • The provisions of the election of the President are laid down in Article 54 of the Constitution of India.
  • The Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election Act 1952 led to the establishment of this Constitutional provision.

Qualifications to become the President of India

The qualification of be the President of India are given below:

  • He/ She must be an Indian citizen
  • A person must have completed the age of 35.
  • A person must be qualified for election as a member of the House of the People.
  • Must not hold a government (central or state) office of profit
  • A person is eligible for election as President if he/she is holding the office of President or Vice-President.

Actual course of election

  • The President of India is elected indirectly by an Electoral College following the system of proportional representation utilizing a single transferable vote system and secret ballots.
  • MPs and MLAs vote based on parity and uniformity values.

Electoral College composition-

(1) Legislative Assemblies of the States:

  • According to the provision of Article 333, every state’s Legislative Assembly must consist of not less than 60 members but not more than 500 members.

(2) Council of States:

  • 12 members are nominated by the President of India based on skills or knowledge in literature, arts, science, and social service to act as the members of the Council of States.
  • In total, 238 represent act as representatives from both the States and Union Territories.

(2) House of the People:

  • The composition of the House of People consists of 530 members (no exceeding) from the state territorial constituencies.
  • They are elected through direct election.
  • The President further elects 20 more members (no exceeding) from the Union Territories.

Uniformity in the scale of representation of states

To maintain the proportionality between the values of the votes, the following formula is used:

Value of vote of an MLA= total no. of the population of the particular state/ number of elected MLAs of that state divided by 1000.

Single vote system

  • During the presidential election, one voter can cast only one vote.
  • While the MLAs vote may vary state to state, the MPs vote always remain constant.

MPs and MLAs vote balance

  • The number of the total value of the MPs votes must equal the total value of the MLAs to maintain the State and the Union balance.

Quotas:

  • The candidate reaching the winning quota or exceeding it is the winner.
  • The formula sued is ‘Winning quota total number of poll/ no.of seats + 1’.

Voters’ preference:

  • During the presidential election, the voter casts his vote in favor of his first preferred candidate.
  • However, in case the first preference candidate does not touch the winning quota, the vote automatically goes to the second preference.
  • The first preferred candidate with the lowest vote is eliminated and the votes in his/her favor are transferred to the remaining candidates.

Why need Proportional representation?

  • The President of India is elected through proportional representation using the means of the single transferable vote (Article 55(3)).
  • It allows the independent candidates and minority parties to have the chance of representation.
  • It allows the practice of coalition with many voters under one government.
  • This system ensures that candidates who are elected don’t represent the majority of the electorate’s opinion.

Why is President indirectly elected?

If Presidents were to be elected directly, it would become very complicated.

  • It would, in fact, be a disaster because the public doesn’t have the absolute clarity of how the president-ship runs or if the candidate fits the profile of a president.
  • Another reason why the direct election system isn’t favorable is that the candidate running for the president’s profile will have to campaign around the country with the aid of a political party.
  • And, this will result in a massive political instability.
  • Moreover, it would be difficult and impossible for the government to hand out election machinery (given the vast population of India).
  • This will cost the government financially, and may end up affecting the economy as well.
  • The indirect election system is a respectable system for the First Man of India (rightly deserving).
  • The system/method of indirect electing of the president also allows the states to maintain neutrality and minimize hostility.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Anti defection: Related issues

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Tenth Schedule

Mains level: Paper 2- Exemptions to anti-defection laws

Context

In its verdict in the Goa MLAs case, Bombay High Court has misread the 10th schedule of the Constitution, which was meant to prevent horse trading among legislators.

Understanding the Paragraph (4) of Tenth Schedule

  • Paragraph (4) is an exception to the Tenth Schedule’s main provisions.
  • It operates only when the defectors’ original political party has merged with the party to which they have defected and two-thirds of the members of the legislature belonging to that party have agreed to the merger.
  • Under this provision, the merger of the original political party has to take place first, followed by two-thirds of the MLAs agreeing to that merger.
  • The basic premise of the February 25 judgment is that sub-paragraph (2) is distinct from the parent paragraph, and a factual merger of the original political party is not necessary.
  • This does not square with the content, context and thrust of paragraph (4), which contemplates the factual merger of the original political party — in this case, the INC.
  • The court’s view — the merger of the 10 MLAs of the Congress Legislative Party with the BJP should be regarded as the Congress itself merging with the BJP — goes against the letter and spirit of the Tenth Schedule, paragraph (4) in particular.

Process for the merger: 2 conditions need to be satisfied

  • 1] Merger alone is not enough: The opening words of sub-paragraph (2) — “for the purposes of sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph” — clearly mean that to exempt a member from disqualification on account of defection, and for considering this member’s claim that he has become a member of the party with which the merger has taken place, a merger of two political parties alone is not enough.
  • 2] Not less than 2/3 members should also agree: Not less than two-thirds of the members should also agree to such a merger.
  • The lawmakers made it tough for potential defectors to defect.
  •  The words “such merger” make it clear beyond any shadow of doubt that the merger of the original political party has to take place before two-thirds of the members agree to such a merger.
  • The members of the legislature cannot agree among themselves to merge as the court has said, but they can agree to a merger after it takes place.

Conclusion

The anti-defection law was designed to eliminate political defection. However, the judgment of the Bombay HC seems to assume that paragraph (4) of the 10th schedule is meant to facilitate defection. This judgment is likely to open the flood gates to defection. The Supreme Court must intervene quickly.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Enforcement of the Fundamental Duties

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Fundamental Duties

Mains level: FD vs DPSP vs FR

The Supreme Court has asked the Union and the State governments to respond to a petition to enforce the fundamental duties of citizens, including patriotism and unity of the nation, through comprehensive, well-defined laws.

What did the plea say?

  • The plea emphasized- the need to enforce FD arises from a new illegal trend of protest by protesters in the garb of freedom of speech and expression.
  • This has been increasingly done by way of blocking of road and rail routes in order to compel the government to meet their demands.

What are Fundamental Duties?

  • The fundamental duties of citizens were added to the constitution by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, upon the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee.
  • It basically imply the moral obligations of all citizens of a country and today, there are 11 fundamental duties in India, which are written in Part IV-A of the Constitution, to promote patriotism and strengthen the unity of India.
  • The FDs obligate all citizens to respect the national symbols of India, including the constitution, to cherish its heritage, preserve its composite culture and assist in its defence.
  • They also obligate all Indians to promote the spirit of common brotherhood, protect the environment and public property, develop scientific temper, abjure violence, and strive towards excellence in all spheres of life.

Judicial interpretation of FDs

  • The Supreme Court has held that FDs are not enforceable in any Court of Law.
  • It ruled that these fundamental duties can also help the court to decide the constitutionality of a law passed by the legislature.
  • There is a reference to such duties in international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 51A brings the Indian constitution into conformity with these treaties.

Total FDs

  • Originally ten in number, the fundamental duties were increased to eleven by the 86th Amendment in 2002.

The 10 fundamental duties are as follows:

  1. To oblige with the Indian Constitution and respect the National Anthem and Flag
  2. To cherish and follow the noble ideas that inspired the national struggle for freedom
  3. To protect the integrity, sovereignty, and unity of India
  4. To defend the country and perform national services if and when the country requires
  5. To promote the spirit of harmony and brotherhood amongst all the people of India and renounce any practices that are derogatory to women
  6. To cherish and preserve the rich national heritage of our composite culture
  7. To protect and improve the natural environment including lakes, wildlife, rivers, forests, etc.
  8. To develop scientific temper, humanism, and spirit of inquiry
  9. To safeguard all public property
  10. To strive towards excellence in all genres of individual and collective activities

The 11th fundamental duty which was added to this list is:

  1. To provide opportunities for education to children between 6-14 years of age, and duty as parents to ensure that such opportunities are being awarded to their child. (86th Amendment, 2002)

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What is Privilege Motion?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Privilege Motion

Mains level: Parliamentary privileges

An MP from Telangana submitted a Privilege Motion against PM regarding his remarks over the bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh.

What is Parliamentary Privilege?

  • Parliamentary privilege refers to the right and immunity enjoyed by legislatures.
  • The legislators are granted protection against civil or criminal liability for actions done or statements made in the course of their legislative duties.
  • They are granted so that the MPs/MLAs can effectively discharge their functions.
  • The powers, privileges, and immunities of either House of the Indian Parliament and of its members and committees are laid down in Article 105 of the Constitution.
  • Article 194 deals with the powers, privileges and immunities of the State Legislatures, their members and their committees.

What is a Privilege Motion?

  • When any of the rights and immunities are disregarded, the offence is called a breach of privilege and is punishable under the law of Parliament.
  • A notice is moved in the form of a motion by any member of either House against those being held guilty of breach of privilege.
  • Each House also claims the right to punish as contempt actions which, while not breach of any specific privilege, are offenses against its authority and dignity.

What are the rules governing privilege?

  • Rule No 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book and correspondingly Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook govern privilege.
  • It says that a member may, with the consent of the Speaker or the Chairperson, raise a question involving a breach of privilege either of a member or of the House or of a committee thereof.
  • The rules however mandate that any notice should be relating to an incident of recent occurrence and should need the intervention of the House.
  • Notices have to be given before 10 am to the Speaker or the Chairperson.

What is the role of the Speaker/Rajya Sabha Chair?

  • The Speaker/RS chairperson is the first level of scrutiny of a privilege motion.
  • The Speaker/Chair can decide on the privilege motion himself or herself or refer it to the privileges committee of Parliament.
  • If the Speaker/Chair gives consent under Rule 222, the member concerned is given an opportunity to make a short statement.

What is the Privileges Committee?

  • In the Lok Sabha, the Speaker nominates a committee of privileges consisting of 15 members as per respective party strengths.
  • A report is then presented to the House for its consideration. The Speaker may permit a half-hour debate while considering the report.
  • The Speaker may then pass final orders or direct that the report be tabled before the House.
  • A resolution may then be moved relating to the breach of privilege that has to be unanimously passed.
  • In the Rajya Sabha, the deputy chairperson heads the committee of privileges, which consists of 10 members.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.With reference to the Parliament of India, which of the following Parliamentary Committees scrutinizes and reports to the House whether the powers to make regulations, rules, sub-rules, by-laws etc. conferred by the constitution of delegated by the Parliament are being properly exercised by the Executive within the scope of such delegation?

(a) Committee on Government Assurances

(b) Committee on Subordinate Legislation

(c) Rules Committee

(d) Business Advisory Committee

 

Post your answers here.
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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Supreme Court revokes Suspension of Maharashtra MLAs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various articles mentioned in news

Mains level: Suspensions of MLAs in MH Assembly

The Supreme Court has set aside the one-year suspension of 12 MLAs from the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.

What was the case?

  • A petition was filed against the suspension.
  • It stated the move as “grossly arbitrary and disproportionate”.
  • The challenge relied mainly on grounds of denial of the principles of natural justice, and of violation of laid-down procedure.

What did the judgment observe?

  • The apex court observed the decision to suspend them for a year was ‘unconstitutional, substantively illegal and irrational’.

What did the court say about members being suspended beyond an ongoing session?

(A) Arbitrary Action

  • The court agreed with the MLAs’ contention that the suspension has to follow the procedure laid down in Rule 53.
  • It said that the suspension of a member must be preferred as a short term or a temporary, disciplinary measure for restoring order in the Assembly.
  • Anything in excess of that would be irrational suspension, the court said.
  • It said that Rule 53 only provides for the withdrawal of a member for the remainder of the day or in case of repeat misconduct in the same session, for the remainder of the session.

(B) Defining ‘disorderly behaviour’

  • The court said that as per this rule, withdrawal of a member can only be done in case of the member’s conduct being “grossly disorderly”.
  • It relied on definitions of the two words and said that the conduct has to be considered in a graded objective manner.
  • It is not a punishment like expulsion but more a direction to ensure that the business of the House can be carried on smoothly, without any disruption.

(C) Violative of Fundamental Rights

  • The MLAs were not given an opportunity to present their case and that the suspension violated their fundamental right to equality before the law under Article 14 of the Constitution.
  • They also submitted that they were not given access to video of the proceedings of the House, and it was not clear how they had been identified in the large crowd that had gathered in the chamber.

(D) Against constitutional ethos

  • It termed the one-year suspension worse than expulsion or disqualification or resignation as far as the rights of the constituency to be represented in the House are concerned.
  • It would also impact the democratic setup.

(E) Immunity of the state legislature

  • It also considered whether the legislature had complete immunity from judicial review in matters of irregularity of procedure.
  • It ruled that procedures are open to judicial review on the touchstone of being unconstitutional, grossly illegal, irrational or arbitrary.

Legal basis of the Judgment

Ans. The bench referred to Article 190 (4) of the Constitution

  • It says- if for a period of sixty days a member of a House of the Legislature of a State is without permission of the House absent from all meetings thereof, the House may declare his seat vacant.
  • Under Section 151 (A) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951, “a bye-election for filling any vacancy shall be held within a period of six months from the date of the occurrence of the vacancy”.
  • This means that barring exceptions specified under this section, no constituency can remain without a representative for more than six months.

What was the Assembly’s response to the judicial enquiry?

  • It argued that the House had acted within its legislative competence.
  • Under Article 212, courts do not have jurisdiction to in