Posted in Polity

Political Parties

updated on May 4th, 2019

Political Parties

Meaning And Types

Political parties are voluntary associations or organised groups of individuals who share the same political views and who try to gain political power through constitutional means and who desire to work for promoting the national interest. There are four types of political parties in the modern democratic states, viz., (i) reactionary parties which cling to the old socio-economic and political institutions; (ii) conservative parties which believe in the status-quo; (iii) liberal parties which aim at reforming the existing institutions; and (iv) radical parties which aim at establishing a new order by overthrowing the existing institutions. In their classification of political parties on the basis of ideologies, the political scientists have placed the radical parties on the left and the liberal parties in the centre and reactionary and conservative parties on the right. In other words, they are described as the leftist parties, centrist parties and the rightist parties. In India, the CPI and CPM are the examples of leftist parties, the Congress of centrist parties and the BJP is an example of rightist parties.

There are three kinds of party systems in the world, viz., (i) one party system in which only one ruling party exists and no opposition is permitted, as for example, in the former communist countries like the USSR and other East European countries; (ii) two-party system in which two major parties exists, as for example, in USA and Britain; and (iii) multi-party system in which there are a number of political parties leading to the formation of coalition governments, as for example, in France, Switzerland and Italy.

PARTY SYSTEM IN INDIA

The Indian party system has the following characteristic features:

Multi-Party System

The continental size of the country, the diversified character of Indian society, the adoption of universal adult franchise, the particular type of political process, and other factors have given rise to a large number of political parties. In fact, India has the largest number of political parties in the world. At present (2013), there are 6 national parties, 51 state parties and 1415 registered – unrecognized parties in the country2. Further, India has all categories of parties—left parties, centrist parties, right parties, communal parties, non-communal parties and so on. Consequently, the hung Parliaments, hung assemblies and coalition governments have become a common phenomenon.

One-Dominant Party System

In spite of the multiparty system, the political scene in India was dominated for a long period by Congress. Hence, Rajni Kothari, an eminent political analyst, preferred to call the Indian party system as a ‘one-party dominance system’ or the ‘Congress system’3. The dominant position enjoyed by the Congress has been declining since 1967 with the rise of regional parties and other national parties like Janata (1977), Janata Dal (1989) and the BJP (1991) leading to the development of a competitive multi-party system.

Lack of Clear Ideology

Except for the BJP and the two communist parties (CPI and CPM), all other parties do not have a clearcut ideology. They (i.e., all other parties) are ideologically closer to each other. They have a close resemblance in their policies and programmes. Almost every party advocates democracy, secularism, socialism, and Gandhism. More than this, every party, including the so-called ideological parties, is guided by only one consideration—power capture. This, politics has become issue-based rather than the ideology and pragmatism has replaced the commitment to the principles.

Personality Cult

Quite often, the parties are organized around an eminent leader who becomes more important than the party and its ideology. Parties are known by their leaders rather than by their manifesto. It is a fact that the popularity of Congress was mainly due to the leadership of Nehru, Indira Gandhi, and Rajiv Gandhi. Similarly, the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu and TDP in Andhra Pradesh got identified with MG Ramachandran and NT Rama Rao respectively. Interestingly, several parties bear the name of their leader like Biju Janata Dal, Lok Dal (A), Congress (I) and so on. Hence, it is said that “there are political personalities rather than political parties in India”.

Based on Traditional Factors

In the western countries, the political parties are formed on the basis of socio-economic and political programme. On the other hand, a large number of parties in India are formed on the basis of religion, caste, language, culture, race and so on. For example, Shiv Sena, Muslim League, Hindu Maha Sabha, Akali Dal, Muslim Majlis, Bahujan Samaj Party, Republican Party of India, Gorkha League and so on. These parties work for the promotion of communal and sectional interests and thereby undermine the general public interest.

Emergence of Regional Parties

Another significant feature of the Indian party system is the emergence of a large number of regional parties and their growing role. They have become the ruling parties in various states like BJD in Orissa, DMK or AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, Akali Dal in Punjab, AGP in Assam, National Conference in J&K, JD(U) in Bihar and so on. In the beginning, they were confined to regional politics only. But, of late, they have come to play a significant role in the national politics due to coalition governments at the Centre. In the 1984 elections, the TDP emerged as the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha.

Factions and Defections

Factionalism, defections, splits, mergers, fragmentation, polarisation and so on have been an important aspect of the functioning of political parties in India. Lust for power and material considerations have made the politicians to leave their party and join another party or start a new party. The practice of defections gained greater currency after the fourth general elections (1967). This phenomenon caused political instability both at the Centre and in the states and led to the disintegration of the parties. Thus, there are two Janata Dals, two TDPs, two DMKs, two Communist Parties, two Congress, three Akali Dals, three Muslim Leagues and so on.

Lack of Effective Opposition

An effective Opposition is very essential for the successful operation of the parliamentary democracy prevalent in India. It checks the autocratic tendencies of the ruling party and provides an alternative government. However, in the last 50 years, an effective, strong, organized and viable national Opposition could never emerge except in flashes. The Opposition parties have no unity and very often adopt mutually conflicting positions with respect to the ruling party. They have failed to play a constructive role in the functioning of the body politic and in the process of nation-building.

RECOGNITION OF NATIONAL AND STATE PARTIES

The Election Commission registers political parties for the purpose of elections and grants them recognition as national or state parties on the basis of their poll performance. The other parties are simply declared as registered-unrecognized parties.

The recognition granted by the Commission to the parties determines their right to certain privileges like allocation of the party symbols, provision of time for political broadcasts on the state-owned television and radio stations and access to electoral rolls.

Every national party is allotted a symbol exclusively reserved for its use throughout the country. Similarly, every state party is allotted a symbol exclusively reserved for its use in the state or states in which it is so recognized. A registered-unrecognized party, on the other hand, can select a symbol from a list of free symbols. In other words, the Commission specifies certain symbols as ‘reserved symbols’ which are meant for the candidates set up by the recognized parties and others as ‘free symbols’ which are meant for other candidates.

Conditions for Recognition as a National Party:******

At present (2014), a party is recognised as a national party if any of the following conditions is fulfilled:

  • The party wins 2% of seats in the Lok Sabha (11 seats) from at least 3 different States.
  •  At a General Election to Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly, the party polls 6% of votes in four States and in addition, it wins 4 Lok Sabha seats.
  • A party gets recognition as State Party in four or more States.

Both national and state parties have to fulfil these conditions for all subsequent Lokshabha or State elections. Else, they lose their status.

Conditions for Recognition as a State Party ********

At present (2014), a party is recognized as a state party in a state if any of the following conditions is fulfilled:

  •  At General Elections or Legislative Assembly elections, the party has won 3% of seats in the legislative assembly of the State ( subject to a minimum of 3 seats).
  • At a Lok Sabha General Elections, the party has won 1 Lok sabha seat for every 25 Lok Sabha seat allotted for the State.
  •  At a General Election to Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly, the party has polled minimum of 6% of votes in a State and in addition, it has won 1 Lok Sabha or 2 Legislative Assembly seats.
  • At a General Election to Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly, the party has polled 8% of votes in a State.

The number of recognized parties keeps on changing on the basis of their performance in the general elections. At present (2019), there are 7 national parties, 51 state parties. The national parties and state parties are also known as all-India parties and regional parties respectively.

Recognised National Parties and State Parties (First to Fifteenth General Elections)

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General Elections (Year)Number of National PartiesNumber of State Parties
First (1952)1439
Second (1957)411
Third (1962)611
Fourth (1967)714
Fifth (1971)817
Sixth (1977)515
Seventh (1980)619
Eighth (1984)719
Ninth (1989)820
Tenth (1991)928
Eleventh (1996)830
Twelfth (1998)730
Thirteenth (1999)740
Fourteenth (2004)636
Fifteenth (2009)740

Recognised National Parties and their Symbols (2013)

Sl.No.

Name of the Party (Abbreviation)
Symbol Reserved

1.Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)Elephant*
2.Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)Lotus
3.

Communist Party of India (CPI)Ears of Corn and Sickle

4.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM)Hammer, Sickle and Star

5.

Indian National Congress (INC)Hand

6.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)Clock

7Trinamool Congress Two Flowers
  • In all States / U.T.s except in Assam, where its candidates will have to choose a symbol out of the list of free symbols specified by the Election Commission.

Recognised State Parties and their Symbols (2013)

Sl. No.


Name of the State / Union Territory

Name of the State Party (Abbreviation)Symbol Reserved


1.

Andhra Pradesh

1. Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Car

2. Telugu Desam (TDP) Bicycle

2.

Arunachal Pradesh

1. All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) Flowers and Grass

2. People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) Maize

3.


Assam


1. All India United Democratic Front (AUDF)Lock and Key


2. Asom Gana Parishad (AGP)Elephant

3. Bodoland People’s Front (BPF)Nangol

4.

Bihar

1. Janata Dal (United) (JD(U))Arrow

2. Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJSP)Bungalow

3. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)Hurricane Lamp
5.

Goa

Maharashtrawadi Gomantak (MAG)Lion

6.

Haryana

1. Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) (HJC(BL))Tractor

2. Indian National Lok Dal (INLD)Spectacles
7.


Jammu & Kashmir


1. Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (JKNC)Plough


2. Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP)Bicycle


3. Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party (JKPDP)Ink Pot and Pen


8.

Jharkhand

1. All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU)Banana

2. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)Bow and Arrow

3. Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) (JVM(P))Comb


4. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)Hurricane Lamp

9.

Karnataka

Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S))A Lady Farmer carrying Paddy on her head
10.

Kerala

1. Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S))
A Lady Farmer carrying Paddy on her head
2. Kerala Congress (M) (KEC(M))Two Leaves

3. Indian Union Muslim League (IUML)Ladder

11.

Maharashtra

1. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS)Railway Engine

2. Shiv Sena (SHS)Bow and Arrow
12.

Manipur

1. All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)Flower and Grass

2. Manipur State Congress PartyCultivator Cutting Crop
3. Naga People’s Front (NPF)Cock

4. People’s Democratic AllianceCrown

13.

Meghalaya

1. United Democratic Party (UDP)Drum

2. Hill State People’s Democratic PartyLion

14.

Mizoram

1. Mizo National Front (MNF)Star

2. Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC)Electric Bulb

3. Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP)Sun (without rays)

15.

Nagaland

Naga People’s Front (NPF)Cock

16.OrissaBiju Janata Dal (BJD)Conch
17.



Puducherry



1. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) or (AIADMK)Two Leaves


2. All India N.R. CongressJug

3. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)Rising Sun

4. Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK)Mango

18.

Punjab

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)Scales

19.

Sikkim

Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF)Umbrella

20.



Tamil Nadu



1. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) or (AIADMK)Two leaves



2. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)Rising Sun

3. Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK)Nagara


21.

Uttar Pradesh

1. Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD)Hand Pump

2. Samajwadi Party (SP)Bicycle

22.

West Bengal

1. All India Forward Bloc (AIFB)Lion

2. All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)Flowers and Grass

3. Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP)Spade and Stoker

Formation of Political Parties (Chronological Order)

Sl. No.

Name of the Party (Abbreviation)Year of Formation

1.Indian National Congress (INC)1885
2.Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)1920
3.Communist Party of India (CPI)1925
4.Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (JKNC)1939
5.All India Forward Bloc (AIFB)1939
6.Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP)1940
7.Indian Union Muslim League (IUML)1948
8.Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)1949
9.Mizo National Front (MNF)1961
10.Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MAG)1963
11.Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM)1964
12.Shiv Sena (SHS)1966
13.Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC)1972
14.Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)1972
15.All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)1972
16.Kerala Congress (M) (KEC (M))1979
17.Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)1980
18.Telugu Desam Party (TDP)1982
19.Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)1984
20.Asom Gana Parishad (AGP)1985
21.People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA)1987
22.Samajwadi Party (SP)1992
23.Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF)1993
24.Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD)1996
25.Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP)1997
26.Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)1997
27.Biju Janata Dal (BJD)1997
28.All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)1998
29.Indian National Lok Dal (INLD)1998
30.Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party (PDP)1999
31.Janata Dal (United) (JD (U))1999
32.Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S))1999
33.Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)1999
34.Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJSP)2000
35.Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)2001
36.Naga People’s Front (NPF)2002
37.All India United Democratic Front (AUDF)2004
38.Desiya Murpokku Dravidar Kazhagam (DMDK)2005
39.Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS)2006

How to get registered as a Political party with Election Commission of India?

.1. Is it necessary for an association to get registered by the Election Commission?
Ans. No

It is not necessary for every association to get registered by the Election Commission. Only an association or body of individual citizens of India calling itself a political party and intending to avail itself of the provisions of Part-IV-A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, (relating to registration of political parties) is required to get itself registered with the Election Commission of India.

Q.2. What are the benefits of registration with the Election Commission of India?
Ans.
 The candidates set up by a political party registered with the Election Commission of India will get preference in the matter of allotment of free symbols vis-à-vis purely independent candidates. Further, registered political parties, in course of time, can get recognition as `State Party’ or National Party’ subject to the fulfillment of the conditions prescribed by the Commission in the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, as amended from time to time. If a party is recognised as a State Party’, it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it in the State of States in which it is so recognised, and if a party is recognised as a `National Party’ it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it throughout India. Recognised `State’ and `National’ parties need only one proposer for filing the nomination and are also entitled for two sets of electoral rolls free of cost and broadcast/telecast facilities over Akashvani/Doordarshan during general elections.

Q.3. What is the procedure for registration?
Ans.
 An application for registration is to be submitted to the Secretary, Election Commission of India, Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road, New Delhi-110001 in the proforma prescribed by the Commission. The Performa is available on request by post or across the counter from the office of the Commission. The proforma and necessary guidelines are also available on the Commission’s website under the main heading Judicial References, sub-heading Political Party and sub-sub-heading Registration of Political Parties(Click Here). The same can be downloaded from there also. The application should be neatly typed on the party’s letter head, if any, and it should be sent by registered post or presented personally to the Secretary to the Election Commission within thirty days following the date of formation of the party.

2. The application must be accompanied by the following documents/information:-

(i) A demand draft for Rs. 10,000/- (Rupees Ten Thousand Only) on account of processing fee drawn in favour of Under Secretary, Election Commission of India, New Delhi. The processing fee is non-refundable.

(ii) A neatly typed/printed copy of the memorandum/rules and regulations/Constitution of the Party containing a specific provision as required under sub-section (5) of Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 in the exact terms, which reads “—————(name of the party) shall bear true faith and allegiance to the constitution of India as by law established, and to the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy and would uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India”. The above mandatory provision must be included in the text of party constitution/rules and regulations/memorandum itself as one of the Articles/clauses.

(iii) The copy of the party Constitution should be duly authenticated on each page by the General Secretary/President/Chairman of the Party and the seal of the signatory should be affixed thereon.

(iv) There should be a specific provision in the Constitution/rules and regulations/memorandum of the party regarding organizational elections at different levels and the periodicity of such elections and terms of office of the office-bearers of the party.

(v) The procedure to be adopted in the case of merger/dissolution should be specifically provided in the Constitution/rules and regulations/memorandum.

(vi) Certified extracts from the latest electoral rolls in respect of at least 100 members of the party (including all office-bearers/members of main decision-making organs like Executive Committee/Executive Council) to show that they are registered electors.

(vii) An affidavit duty signed by the President/General Secretary of the party and sworn before a First Class Magistrate/Oath Commissioner)/ Notary Public to the effect that no member of the party is a member of any other political party registered with the Commission.

(viii) Individual affidavits from at least 100 members of the party to the effect that the said member is a registered elector and that he is not a member of any other political party registered with the Commission duly sworn before a First Class Magistrate/Oath Commissioner)/Notary Public. These affidavits shall be in addition to the furnishing of certified extracts of electoral rolls in respect of the 100 members of the applicant party mentioned at (vi) above.

(ix)Particulars of Bank accounts and Permanent Account Number, if any, in the name of the party.

(x)Duly completed CHECK LIST alongwith requisite documents prescribed therein.

3. The application along with all the required documents mentioned above should reach the Secretary to the Commission within 30 days following the date of formation of the party.

4. Any application made after the said period will be time-barred.

Q.4. What are the criteria for recognition of a party?
Ans.
 A political party shall be treated as a recognised political party in a State, if and only if either the conditions specified in Clause (A) are, or the condition specified in Clause (B) is, fulfilled by that party and not otherwise, that is to say-

(A) that such party –

has been engaged in political activity for a continuous period of five years; and
has, at the last general election in that State to the House of the People, or, as the case may be, to the Legislative Assembly of the State, returned-
either ( i ) at least one member to the House of the People for every twenty-five members of that House or any fraction of that number from that State;

or (ii) at least one member to the Legislative Assembly of that State for every thirty members of that Assembly or any fraction of that number;

(B) that the total number of valid votes polled by all the contesting candidates set up by such party at the last general election in the State to the House of the People, or as the case may be, to the Legislative Assembly of the State, is not less than six per cent of the total number of valid votes polled by all the contesting candidates at such general election in the State.

2. The conditions in Clause (A) or Clause (B) above shall not be deemed to have been fulfilled by a political party, if a member of the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State becomes a member of that political party after his election to that House or, as the case may be, that Assembly.

3. ‘State’ includes the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Pondicherry.


4. If a political party is treated as a recognised political party in four or more States, it shall be known as a `National Party’ throughout the whole of India, but only so long as that political party continues to fulfill thereafter the conditions for recognition in four or more States on the results of any subsequent general election either to the House of the People or to the Legislative Assembly of any State.

5. If a political party is treated as a recognised political party in less than four States, it should be known as a `State Party’ in the State or States in which it is so recognised, but only so long as that political party continues to fulfill thereafter the conditions for recognition on the results of any subsequent general election to the House of the People or, as the case may be, to the Legislative Assembly of the State, in the said State or States.

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Posted in Polity

The Prime Minister of India and The Union Council of Ministers

updated on May 22nd, 2019

The Prime Minister of India and The Union Council of Ministers

  • Prime Minister is the most important functionary at the Centre. If you go through the Constitution, you may get a different impression, because all the powers are mentioned as powers of the President. But one provision turns the situation. According to the Constitution, there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President who shall act according to that advice. In fact, the President is bound to exercise all the powers exactly according to the advice of the Council of Ministers, which is headed by the Prime Minister. It is the Prime Minister who is the real head of the Union executive.
  • The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, but the President has to invite only that person to be the Prime Minister, who is the leader of the majority in the Lok Sabha. Earlier the person to be invited used to be the leader of only one political party commanding an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. But with the initiation of the phase of coalitions, he/she may be the leader of a group of more than one political party. In the changed situation, the President invites the person who is the leader elected by the political party that has the largest number of seats in the Lok Sabha and who receives the support of other political parties to manage the needed majority. Besides being the leader of the majority in Lok Sabha, to be the Prime Minister, the person has to be a Member of Parliament. If he/she is not a Member at the time of appointment, he/she has to acquire it within six months from the state of his appointment as PM.

Functions of the Prime Minister

Is it not interesting to note that the Constitution does not make any specific provision for the powers of the Prime Minister, though he/she is the most powerful functionary of the Union government? The only provision in the Constitution is that the President shall exercise his/her powers on the aid and advise of the Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head, and that advice will be binding. But in practice, it is the Prime Minister who makes and unmakes the Council of Ministers. It is on his/her Recommendations that the President appoints the members of the Council of Ministers and distributes portfolios among them. He/She presides over the meetings of the Cabinet and communicates its decisions to the President. The Prime Minister acts as the link between the President and the Council of Ministers. If, due to any reason, he/she submits his/her resignation, the entire Council of Ministers stands dissolved. As and when the necessity arises, he/she may recommend to the President that the Lok Sabha be dissolved and fresh general elections be held. In fact, the Prime Minister is not only the leader of the majority party, or the leader of the Parliament but he/she is also the leader of the nation. His/Her office is the office of power, while that of the President is the office of honour, respect and dignity. He/She represents the nation at the international conferences as the head of the government.

The Union Council of Ministers

The Union Council of Ministers
As you have noted above, the Constitution of India states that, “There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President who shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice, provided that the President may require the Council of Ministers to reconsider such advice, either generally or otherwise, and the President shall act in accordance with the advice tendered after such consideration.”

The members of the Council of Ministers are appointed by the President on the recommendations of the Prime Minster. The Council of Ministers has three categories of Ministers – Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers. These Ministers work as a team under the leadership of the Prime Minister. The Ministers hold office during the pleasure of the President, but they cannot be removed so long as they have the support of the majority in the Lok Sabha, In fact, according to the Constitution, Ministers are collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. If the Lok Sabha passes a ‘no-confidence motion’, the entire Council of Ministers including PM has to resign. A no-confidence motion is a legislative motion brought by the members of the Lok Sabha, expressing lack of trust in the Council of Ministers. That is why, it is said that the ministers swim and sink together.

Regarding the functions of the Council of Ministers, these are the same as those of the Prime Minister. The proceedings of the Cabinet or Council of Ministers are kept secret. The Council of Ministers is a large body of Ministers. We have seen during recent years, the top category, known as the Ministers of Cabinet rank are about 20 to 25 and they hold the charge of important departments. Then there is a group of ministers, called Ministers of State, some of them hold independent charges of ministries while others are attached to Cabinet Ministers. Yet another category of ministers known as Deputy Ministers are attached to Cabinet Ministers or Ministers of State. The Cabinet meeting is attended only by the Ministers of Cabinet rank, but if need be the Ministers of State also may be invited to attend such meetings.

Position of the Prime Minister

In the background of the above discussion, it is obvious that the Prime Minister occupies a key position in the Union government. He/She is the ‘principal spokesperson’ and defender of the policies of the government in the Parliament. The Council of Ministers functions as his/her team. The nation looks to him/her for needed policies and programmes and required actions. All international agreements and treaties with other countries are concluded with the consent of the Prime Minister. He/She has a special status both in the government and in the Parliament. The Prime Minister chooses his team (Council of Ministers) very carefully and gets willing cooperation from them. However, it is true that in a coalition government the Prime Minister has to seek help from like-minded political parties. The experience of the last ten to twelve years has shown that in such a scenario he/she has to be very vigilant and diplomatic. He/She has to take major decisions regarding the defense and security of the country. He/She has to formulate policies not only for providing better living conditions but also to maintain peace, friendly relations with the neighboring countries. It is because of the facts mentioned above that the Prime Minister is the keystone of the cabinet arch.

Real Executive Authority

As the President of India is a constitutional executive head, the real executive authority of the Union is exercised by the Prime Minister and his council of ministers.

The Prime Minister

The office of the Prime Minister has been created by the Constitution. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President (Article 75). Generally, the President has no choice in the appointment of the Prime Minister and invites the leader of the majority political party) in the Lok Sabha for this office. The Prime Minister theoretically holds office during the pleasure of the President. But the Prime Minister actually stays in office as long as he enjoys the confidence of the Parliament especially the Lok Sabha. The normal term is five years but it is automatically reduced if the Lok Sabha is dissolved earlier.

The Prime Minister gets the same salary and allowances which are paid to the members of Parliament. He also receives a constituency allowance like other MPs. In addition, he is also entitled to a sumptuary allowance, free official residence, free travel, medical facilities, etc.

Powers The Prime Minister enjoys extensive powers.

  1. The President convenes and prorogues all sessions of the Parliament in consultation with him.
  2. He can recommend the dissolution of Lok Sabha to the President before the expiry of its normal term.
  3. All the members of the council of ministers are appointed by the President on the recommendations of the Prime Minister.
  4. He allocates portfolios among the various ministers and reshuffles them. He can ask a minister to resign and can even get him dismissed by the President.
  5. He presides over the meetings of the council of ministers and exercises a strong influence on its decisions.
  6. He exercises general supervision over the working of other ministers and ensures that they work as a team.
  7. The Prime Minister can bring about the fall of the council of ministers if he resigns. He is the pivot around which the council of ministers revolves.
  8. The Prime Minister is the chief channel of communication between the President and the council of ministers and keeps the former informed about all the decisions of the council.
  9. He assists the President in the appointment of all high officials.
  10. He can recommend to the President, with the concurrence of other cabinet ministers, to proclaim a state of emergency on grounds of war, external aggression or armed rebellion.
  11. He advises the President about the imposition of presidential the rule in the states on grounds of break down of constitutional machinery or imposition of an emergency due to financial instability.

The Prime Minister occupies a position of tremendous influence and prestige. But the position of the Prime Minister depends to a large extent, on his personality and the position of his political party in the Parliament.

PRIME MINISTERS OF INDIA

S.No.NameTenure
1.Jawaharlal Nehru15 August, 1947-27 May, 1964
2.Gulzari Lai Nanda
(Acting)
27 May, 1964-9 June, 1964
3.Lai Bahadur Shastri9 June, 1964-11 January, 1966
4.Gulzari Lai Nanda
(Acting)
11 January, 1966-24 January,
1966
5.Indira Gandhi24 January, 1966-24 March, 1977
6.Morarji Desai24 March, 1977-28 July, 1979
7.Charan Singh28 July, 1979-14 January. 1980
8.Indira Gandhi14 January,1980-31October,
1984
9.Rajiv Gandhi31 October, 1984-2 December,
1989
10.Vishwanath Pratap
Singh
2 December, 1989-
10 November, 1990
11.Chandra Shekhar10 November, 1990-21 June. 1991
12.P.V. Narasimha Rao21 June, 19991-16 May, 1996
13.Atal Bihari Vajpayee16 May, 1996-1 June. 1996
14.H.D, Deve Gowda1 June.1996-21 April, 1997
15.I.K. Gujaral21 April, 1997-19 March, 1998
16.Atal Bihari Vajpayee19 March, 1998-13 October, 1999
17.Atal Bihari Vajpayee13 October, 1999-22 May, 2004
18.Manmohan Singh22 May, 2004-20 May, 2009
19.Manmohan Singh22 May, 2009-May 16, 2014
20.Narendra Modi26 May, 2014-Till date.

Deputy Prime Minister

The post of Deputy Prime Minister is not known to the Constitution, although seven persons have occupied this post since the inauguration of the Constitution. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was the first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister in Nehru’s ministry. Morarji Desai. was Deputy Prime Minister under Indira Gandhi. He was imposed on her by the Syndicate Congress. Charan Singh and Jagjivan Ram were given this position in Morarji Desai s ministry to defuse the crisis in the Janata Party. Y.B. Chavan served as Deputy Prime Minister during the brief tenure of Charan Singh. Devi Lai became Deputy Prime Minister in V.P. Singh’s Janata Dal government of 1989. Finally, Lai Krishan Advani was designated as Deputy Prime Minister by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 29 June 2002. L.K. Advani. as Deputy Prime Minister, also continued to look after the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Deputy Prime Minister occupies position next to the Prime Minister. He assists the Prime Minister and discharges his duties when he is not available. It may be observed that the Administrative Reforms Commission of India (1966-70) in its Report on the Machinery of Government and its Procedure of Work recommended the creation of the post of Deputy Prime Minister to ensure the effective functioning of the governmental machinery. It suggested that the Prime Minister could allot to the Deputy Prime Minister such tasks and ad hoc assignments as he considers appropriate in order to reduce his workload. lt may be noted that under the Manmohan Singh led government formed in 2004 as well as 2009 the post of Deputy Prime Minister has not been filled.

Council of Ministers

The Constitution provides for a council of ministers under the leadership of the Prime Minister. Under the original Constitution the council of ministers was expected to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions. There was nothing in the Constitution to suggest that the President was bound by the advice of the council of ministers. In 1976, the Constitution was amended and it was stipulated that the President in the exercise of his functions shall act in accordance with the advice of the council of ministers (Article 74).

The council of ministers consists of three types of ministers—ministers of cabinet rank, ministers of state and deputy ministers. The ministers of cabinet rank usually hold independent charge of a department and are considered as superior to ministers of other ranks. The ministers of state can either hold independent charge of a department or be attached to a minister of cabinet rank. The deputy ministers generally do not hold separate charge of a department and arc attached to the cabinet or state ministers.

The formation of this council starts with the appointment of the Prime Minister. The President then appoints other members of the council of ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COUNCIL OF MINISTERS AND CABINET

The terms Council of Ministers and Cabinet are often used for each other. However, they differ from each other in following respects.

  1. In comparison with the Cabinet, the Council of Ministers is a bigger body consisting of 60 to 70 members. On the other hand, the Cabinet has only 15 to 20 members.
  2. All policy decisions are taken by the Cabinet and the Council of Ministers merely implements those decisions.
  3. The Council of Ministers comprises of three types of ministers viz. Cabinet Ministers, State Ministers, and Deputy Ministers. The Cabinet, on the other hand, consists of only Cabinet Ministers.
  4. The Constitution vests all the powers in the Council of Ministers, but actually, these powers are exercised by the Cabinet.
  5. The Cabinet determines the functions to be performed
    by the various ministers.
  6. The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha and the Cabinet enforces this responsibility.
  7. The Council of Ministers as a body seldom meets to discharge its responsibilities. On the other hand, the Cabinet holds weekly meetings to discharge the government work.
  8. Throughout the Constitution, the term Council of Ministers has been used. Only in Article 352, the term Cabinet has been used, and that too was added by the 44th Amendment. This Article stipulates that the President can make a declaration of National Emergency only on the written recommendation of the Cabinet.

Generally, the Prime Minister includes all prominent leaders of his party in the council. The members must be members of either house of the Parliament. However, if a person who is not a member of either house is appointed, he must become a member of either house within six months. Failing this, he ceases to be a member of the council of ministers. The council is collectively responsible to the Parliament and a vote of no-confidence against any minister automatically leads to the resignation of the entire council.

In September 2006 the salary and allowances of the members of Council of Ministers were revised. At present they draw a monthly salary of Rs 16.000; Constituency Allowance of Rs 20.000 per month: allowance for attending sessions of parliament and Panel meetings at the rate of Rs 1000; pension of Rs 6000 per month: road travel within the constituency at Rs 12 per km; 34 free air tickets per year; unlimited train travel; free accommodation with 50.000 units of electricity and 4000 kilolitres of water; medical expenses; office expenses of 1.68,000 per annum. In addition, the Cabinet, State, and Deputy Minister’s arc entitle to the sumptuary allowance at various rates. The right of Parliament to allow members of Parliament to draw the pension after he ceases to hold people’s mandate was challenged on the ground that the Constitution does not contain any provision for the pension for the ex-lawmakers. However, the five-judge bench of Supreme Court upheld the right of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies to amend the Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament Act. 1976, and permit the MPs and MLAs to draw pension once they cease to hold people’s mandate.

Collective Responsibility The council of ministers is collectively responsible (Article 75) to the Lok Sabha and has to resign as soon as it loses the confidence of Lok Sabha. Even a vote of no confidence against a single minister by the Lok Sabha is taken as a vote of no confidence against the entire council of ministers and entails its resignation. The principle of collective responsibility also implies that the ministers are expected not to air their differences in public. If a member of the council of ministers does not agree with its decision, he should tender his resignation. In addition to the collective responsibility, each minister is also individually responsible for his department and can be removed from his office by the President (on the advice of Prime Minister) even if he enjoys the confidence of the Lok Sabha.

Powers The council of ministers enjoys the follow ing powers:

  1. It formulates the policies of the country on the basis of which the administration is carried on.
  2. It introduces all important bills and resolutions in the Parliament and pilots them through.
  3. It presents the budget of the country before the Parliament through the Lok Sabha. Though Parliament can modify the budget, it is generally passed in the form in which it is presented.
  4. It determines the foreign policy of the country and the kind of relations it should have with other powers. All diplomatic appointments are made by the President on the recommendation of the council of ministers. The council also approves the international agreements and treaties.
  5. Cabinet members of the council of ministers render advice to the President regarding the proclamation of emergency on grounds of war. external aggression or armed rebellion.

In the scheme of the parliamentary system of government provided by the constitution, the President is the nominal executive authority (de jure executive) and Prime Minister is the real executive authority (de facto executive). In other words, the president is the head of the State while the Prime Minister is the head of the government.

APPOINTMENT OF THE PRIME MINISTER

The Constitution does not contain any specific procedure for the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister. Article 75 says only that the Prime Minister shall be appointed by the president. However, this does not imply that the president is free to appoint anyone as the Prime Minister. In accordance with the conventions of the parliamentary system of government, the President has to appoint the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister. But, when no party has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, then the President may exercise his personal discretion in the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister. In such a situation, the President usually appoints the leader of the largest party or coalition in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister and asks him to seek a vote of confidence in the House within a month. This discretion was exercised by the President, for the first time in 1979, when Neelam Sanjiva Reddy (the then President) appointed Charan Singh (the coalition leader) as the Prime Minister after the fall of the Janata Party government headed by Morarji Desai.

There is also one more situation when the president may have to exercise his individual judgment in the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister, that is when the Prime Minister in office dies suddenly and there is no obvious successor. This is what happened when Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984. The then President Zail Singh appointed Rajiv Gandhi as the Prime Minister by ignoring the precedent of appointing a caretaker Prime Minister.1 Later on, the Congress parliamentary party unanimously elected him as its leader. However, if, on the death of an incumbent Prime Minister, the ruling party elects a new leader, the President has no choice but to appoint him as Prime Minister.

In 1980, the Delhi High Court held that the Constitution does not require that a person must prove his majority in the Lok Sabha before he is appointed as the Prime Minister. The President May first appoint him the Prime Minister and then ask him to prove his majority in the Lok Sabha within a reasonable period. For example, Charan Singh (1979), VP Singh (1989), Chandrasekhar (1990), PV Narasimha Rao (1991), AB Vajyapee (1996), Deve Gowda (1996), IK Gujral (1997) and again AB Vajpayee (1998) were appointed as Prime Ministers in this way.

In 1997, the Supreme Court held that a person who is not a member of either House of Parliament can be appointed as Prime Minister for six months, within which, he should become a member of either House of Parliament; otherwise, he ceases to be the Prime Minister.

Constitutionally, the Prime Minister may be a member of any of the two Houses of parliament. For example, three Prime Ministers, Indira Gandhi (1966), Deve Gowda (1996) and Manmohan Singh (2004), were members of the Rajya Sabha. In Britain, on the other hand, the Prime Minister should definitely be a member of the Lower House (House of Commons).

OATH, TERM AND SALARY

Before the Prime Minister enters upon his office, the president administers to him the oaths of office and secrecy. In his oath of office, the Prime Minister swears:

  1. to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India,
  2. to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India,
  3. to faithfully and conscientiously discharge the duties of his office, and
  4. to do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.

In his oath of secrecy, the Prime Minister swears that he will not directly or indirectly communicate or reveal to any person(s) any matter that is brought under his consideration or becomes known to him as a Union Minister except as may be required for the due discharge of his duties as such minister.

The term of the Prime Minister is not fixed and he holds office during the pleasure of the president. However, this does not mean that the president can dismiss the Prime Minister at any time. So long as the Prime Minister enjoys the majority support in the Lok Sabha, he cannot be dismissed by the President. However, if he loses the confidence of the Lok Sabha, he must resign or the President can dismiss him.

The salary and allowances of the Prime Minister are determined by the Parliament from time to time. He gets the salary and allowances that are payable to a member of Parliament. Additionally, he gets a sumptuary allowance, free accommodation, traveling allowance, medical facilities, etc. In 2001, the Parliament increased his sumptuary allowance from 1,500 to3,000 per month.

POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF THE PRIME MINISTER

The powers and functions of Prime Minister can be studied under the following heads:

In Relation to Council of Ministers

The Prime Minister enjoys the following powers as head of the Union council of ministers:

  1. He recommends persons who can be appointed as ministers by the president. The President can appoint only those persons as ministers who are recommended by the Prime Minister.
  2. He allocates and reshuffles various portfolios among the ministers.
  3. He can ask a minister to resign or advise the President to dismiss him in case of difference of opinion.
  4. He presides over the meeting of council of ministers and influences its decisions.
  5. He guides, directs, controls, and coordinates the activities of all the ministers.
  6. He can bring about the collapse of the council of ministers by resigning from office.

Since the Prime Minister stands at the head of the council of ministers, the other ministers cannot function when the Prime Minister resigns or dies. In other words, the resignation or death of an incumbent Prime Minister automatically dissolves the council of ministers and thereby generates a vacuum. The resignation or death of any other minister, on the other hand, merely creates a vacancy which the Prime Minister may or may not like to fill.

In Relation to the President

The Prime Minister enjoys the following powers in relation to the President:

  1. He is the principal channel of communication between the President and the council of ministers. It is the duty of the prime minister :
    (a) to communicate to the President all decisions of the council of ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation;
    (b) to furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation as the President may call for; and
    (c) if the President so requires, to submit for the consideration of the council of ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but which has not been considered by the council.
  2. He advises the president with regard to the appointment of important officials like attorney general of India, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, chairman and members of the UPSC, election commissioners, chairman and members of the finance commission and so on.

In Relation to Parliament

The Prime Minister is the leader of the Lower House. In this capacity, he enjoys the following powers:

  1. He advises the President with regard to summoning and proroguing of the sessions of the Parliament.
  2. He can recommend dissolution of the Lok Sabha to President at any time.
  3. He announces government policies on the floor of the House.

Other Powers & Functions

In addition to the above-mentioned three major roles, the Prime Minister has various other roles. These are:

  1. He is the chairman of the Planning Commission, National Development Council, National Integration Council, Inter-State Council and National Water Resources Council.
  2. He plays a significant role in shaping the foreign policy of the country.
  3. He is the chief spokesman of the Union government.
  4. He is the crisis manager-in-chief at the political level during emergencies.
  5. As a leader of the nation, he meets various sections of people in different states and receives memoranda from them regarding their problems, and so on.
  6. He is leader of the party in power.
  7. He is political head of the services.

Thus, the Prime Minister plays a very significant and highly crucial role in the politico-administrative system of the country. Dr. B R Ambedkar stated, ‘If any functionary under our constitution is to be compared with the US president, he is the Prime Minister and not the president of the Union’.

RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PRESIDENT

The following provisions of the Constitution deal with the relationship between the President and the Prime Minister:

  1. Article 74 There shall be a council of ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President who shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice. However, the President may require the council of ministers to reconsider such advice and the President shall act in accordance with the advice tendered after such reconsideration.
  2. Article 75 (a) The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other ministers shall be appointed by the president on the advice of the Prime Minister; (b) The ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the president, and (c) The council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of the People.
  3. Article 78 It shall be the duty of the Prime Minister:
    (a) to communicate to the President all decisions of the council of ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation;
    (b) to furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation as the President may call for; and
    (c) if the President so requires, to submit for the consideration of the council of ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but which has not been considered by the council.

CHIEF MINISTERS WHO BECAME PRIME MINISTERS

Five people—Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, V.P. Singh, P.V. Narasimha Rao, and H.D. Deve Gowda —became Prime Ministers after being Chief Ministers of their respective States. Morarji Desai, Chief Minister of the erstwhile Bombay State during 1952–56, became the first non-Congress Prime Minister in March 1977. Charan Singh, who succeeded him, was the Chief Minister of the undivided Uttar Pradesh in 1967–1968 and again in 1970. V.P. Singh, also from U.P., became Prime Minister in the short-lived National Front government (December 1989-November 1990). P.V. Narasimha Rao, the first Prime Minister from South India, who held the post from 1991–1996, was Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh between 1971–1973. H.D. Deve Gowda was Chief Minister of Karnataka when he was chosen to lead the United Front government in June 1996.

Articles Related to Prime Minister at a Glance

Article No.Subject-matter
Article 74.Council of Ministers to aid and advise President
Article 75.Other provisions as to Ministers
Article 77.Conduct of business of the Government of India
Article 78.Duties of Prime Minister as respects the furnishing of information to the President, etc.

As the Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary system of government modeled on the British pattern, the council of ministers headed by the prime minister is the real executive authority is our politico-administrative system.

The principles of the parliamentary system of government are not detailed in the Constitution, but two Articles (74 and 75) deal with them in a broad, sketchy and general manner. Article 74 deals with the status of the council of ministers while Article 75 deals with the appointment, tenure, responsibility, qualification, oath and salaries and allowances of the ministers.

CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS

Article 74—Council of Ministers to aid and advise President

  1. There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President who shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice. However, the President may require the Council of Ministers to reconsider such advice and the President shall act in accordance with the advice tendered after such reconsideration.
  2. The advice tendered by Ministers to the President shall not be inquired into in any court.

Article 75—Other Provisions as to Ministers

  1. The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other Ministers shall be
    appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
  2. The total number of ministers, including the Prime Minister, in the Council of Ministers shall
    not exceed 15% of the total strength of the Lok Sabha. The provision was added by the 91st
    Amendment Act of 2003.
  3. A member of either house of Parliament belonging to any political party who is disqualified
    on the ground of defection shall also be disqualified to be appointed as a minister. This
    provision was also added by the 91st Amendment Act of 2003.
  4. The ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.
  5. The council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha.
  6. The President shall administer the oaths of office and secrecy to a minister.
  7. A minister who is not a member of the Parliament (either house) for any period of six
    consecutive months shall cease to be a minister.
  8. The salaries and allowances of ministers shall be determined by the Parliament.

Article 77—Conduct of Business of the Government of India

  1. All executive action of the Government of India shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the President.
  2. Orders and other instruments made and executed in the name of the President shall be authenticated in such manner as may be specified in rules to be made by the President. Further, the validity of an order or instrument which is so authenticated shall not be called in question on the ground that it is not an order or instrument made or executed by the President.
  3. The President shall make rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the Government of India, and for the allocation among Ministers of the said business.

Article 78—Duties of Prime Minister

It shall be the duty of the Prime Minister

  1. To communicate to the President all decisions of the Council of Ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation
  2. To furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation as the President may call for
  3. If the President so requires, to submit for the consideration of the Council of Ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a Minister but which has not been considered by the Council

NATURE OF ADVICE BY MINISTERS

Article 74 provides for a council of ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions. The 42nd and 44th Constitutional Amendment Acts have made the advice binding on the President.1 Further, the nature of advice tendered by ministers to the President cannot be enquired by any court. This provision emphasizes the intimate and confidential relationship between the President and the ministers.

In 1971, the Supreme Court held that ‘even after the dissolution of the Lok Sabha, the council of ministers does not cease to hold office. Article 74 is mandatory and, therefore, the president cannot exercise the executive power without the aid and advise of the council of ministers. Any exercise of executive power without the aid and advice will be unconstitutional as being violative of Article 74’. Again in 1974, the court held that ‘wherever the Constitution requires the satisfaction of the President, the satisfaction is not the personal satisfaction of the President but it is the satisfaction of the council of ministers with whose aid and on whose advice the President exercises his powers and functions’.

APPOINTMENT OF MINISTERS

The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, while the other ministers are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. This means that the President can appoint only those persons as ministers who are recommended by the Prime minister.

Usually, the members of Parliament, either Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, are appointed as ministers. A person who is not a member of either House of Parliament can also be appointed as a minister. But, within six months, he must become a member (either by election or by nomination) of either House of Parliament, otherwise, he ceases to be a minister.

A minister who is a member of one House of Parliament has the right to speak and to take part in the proceedings of the other House also, but he can vote only in the House of which he is a member.

Oath and Salary of Ministers

Before a minister enters upon his office, the president administers to him the oaths of office and secrecy. In his oath of office, the minister swears:

  1. to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India,
  2. to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India,
  3. to faithfully and conscientiously discharge the duties of his office, and
  4. to do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.

In his oath of secrecy, the minister swears that he will not directly or indirectly communicate or reveal to any person(s) any matter that is brought under his consideration or becomes known to him as a Union minister except as may be required for the due discharge of his duties as such minister.

In 1990, the oath by Devi Lal as deputy prime minister was challenged as being unconstitutional as the Constitution provides only for the Prime Minister and ministers. The Supreme Court upheld the oath as valid and stated that describing a person as Deputy Prime Minister is descriptive only and such description does not confer on him any powers of Prime Minister. It ruled that the description of a minister as Deputy Prime Minister or any other type of ministers such as minister of state or deputy minister of which there is no mention in the Constitution does not vitiate the oath taken by him so long as the substantive part of the oath is correct.

The salaries and allowances of ministers are determined by Parliament from time to time. A minister gets the salary and allowances that are payable to a member of Parliament. Additionally, he gets a sumptuary allowance (according to his rank), free accommodation, traveling allowance, medical facilities, etc. In 2001, the sumptuary allowance for the prime minister was raised from 1,500 to 3,000 per month, for a cabinet minister from 1,000 to2,000 per month, for a minister of state from 500 to1,000 per month and for a deputy minister from 300 to600 per month.

RESPONSIBILITY OF MINISTERS

Collective Responsibility

The fundamental principle underlying the working of the parliamentary system of government is the principle of collective responsibility. Article 75 clearly states that the council of ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. This means that all the ministers own joint responsibility to the Lok Sabha for all their acts of commission and commission. They work as a team and swim or sink together. When the Lok Sabha passes a no-confidence motion against the council of ministers, all the ministers have to resign including those ministers who are from the Rajya Sabha. Alternatively, the council of ministers can advise the president to dissolve the Lok Sabha on the ground that the House does not represent the views of the electorate faithfully and call for fresh elections. The President may not oblige the council of ministers that has lost the confidence of the Lok Sabha.

The principle of collective responsibility also means that the Cabinet decisions bind all cabinet ministers (and other ministers) even if they differed in the cabinet meeting. It is the duty of every minister to stand by cabinet decisions and support them both within and outside the Parliament. If any minister disagrees with a cabinet decision and is not prepared to defend it, he must resign. Several ministers have resigned in the past owing to their differences with the cabinet. For example, Dr. BR Ambedkar resigned because of his differences with his colleagues on the Hindu Code Bill in 1953. CD Deshmukh resigned due to his differences on the policy of reorganization of states. Arif Mohammed resigned due to his opposition to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986.

Individual Responsibility

Article 75 also contains the principle of individual responsibility. It states that the ministers hold office during the pleasure of the president, which means that the President can remove a minister even at a time when the council of ministers enjoys the confidence of the Lok Sabha. However, the President removes a minister only on the advice of the Prime Minister. In case of a difference of opinion or dissatisfaction with the performance of a minister, the Prime Minister can ask him to resign or advice the President to dismiss him. By exercising this power, the Prime Minister can ensure the realization of the rule of collective responsibility. In this context, Dr. B R Ambedkar observed:

“Collective responsibility can be achieved only through the instrumentality of the Prime Minister. Therefore, unless and until we create that office and endow that office with statutory authority to nominate and dismiss ministers, there can be no collective responsibility.”

No Legal Responsibility

In Britain, every order of the King for any public act is countersigned by a minister. If the order is in violation of any law, the minister would be held responsible and would be liable in the court. The legally accepted phrase in Britain is, “The king can do no wrong.” Hence, he cannot be sued in any court.

In India, on the other hand, there is no provision in the Constitution for the system of legal responsibility of a minister. It is not required that an order of the President for a public action should be countersigned by a minister. Moreover, the courts are barred from inquiring into the nature of advice rendered by the ministers to the president.

COMPOSITION OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS

The council of ministers consists of three categories of ministers, namely, cabinet ministers, ministers of state,5 and deputy ministers. The difference between them lies in their respective ranks, emoluments, and political importance. At the top of all these ministers stands the Prime Minister—the supreme governing authority of the country.

The cabinet ministers head the important ministries of the Central government like home, defence, finance, external affairs and so forth. They are members of the cabinet, attend its meetings and play an important role in deciding policies. Thus, their responsibilities extend over the entire gamut of the Central government.

The ministers of state can either be given independent charge of ministries/departments or can be attached to cabinet ministers. In case of attachment, they may either be given the charge of departments of the ministries headed by the cabinet ministers or allotted specific items of work related to the ministries headed by cabinet ministers. In both cases, they work under the supervision and guidance as well as under the overall charge and responsibility of the cabinet ministers. In case of an independent charge, they perform the same functions and exercise the same powers in relation to their ministries/departments as cabinet ministers do. However, they are not members of the cabinet and do not attend the cabinet meetings unless specially invited when something related to their ministries/departments is considered by the cabinet.

Next, in rank are the deputy ministers. They are not given independent charge of ministries/departments. They are attached to the cabinet ministers or ministers of state and assist them in their administrative, political, and parliamentary duties. They are not members of the cabinet and do not attend cabinet meetings.

It must also be mentioned here that there is one more category of ministers, called parliamentary secretaries. They are the members of the last category of the council of ministers (which is also known as the ‘ministry’). They have no department under their control. They are attached to the senior ministers and assist them in the discharge of their parliamentary duties. However, since 1967, no parliamentary secretaries have been appointed except during the first phase of Rajiv Gandhi Government.

At times, the council of ministers may also include a deputy prime minister. Thus Sardar Patel in Pandit Nehru’s ministry, Morarji Desai in the Indira Gandhi’s Ministry, Charan Singh in the Morarji Desai’s ministry, Jagjivan Ram in the Charan Singh’s ministry, Devi Lal in the VP Singh’s ministry and L.K. Advani in the AB Vajpayee’s ministry served as deputy prime ministers. The deputy prime ministers are appointed mostly for political reasons.

COUNCIL OF MINISTERS VS CABINET

The words ‘council of ministers’ and ‘cabinet’ are often used interchangeably though there is a definite distinction between them. They differ from each other in respects of composition, functions, and role. These differences are shown in Table 20.1.

Distinction Between Council of Ministers and Cabinet

Council of ministersCabinet
1. It is a wider body consisting of 60 to 70 ministers.1. It is a smaller body consisting of 15 to 20 ministers.
2. It includes all the three categories of ministers, that is, cabinet ministers, ministers of state, and deputy ministers.2. It includes the cabinet ministers only. Thus, it is a part of the council of ministers.

3. It does not meet, as a body, to transact government business. It has no collective functions.

3. It meets, as a body, frequently and usually once in a week to deliberate and take decisions regarding the transaction of government business. Thus, it has collective functions.
4. It is vested with all powers but in theory.

4. It exercises, in practice, the powers of the co-uncil of ministers and thus, acts for the latter.
5. Its functions are determined by the cabinet.


5. It directs the council of ministers by taking policy decisions which are binding on all ministers.
6. It implements the decisions taken by the cabinet.6. It supervises the implementation of its decisions by the council of ministers.
7. It is a constitutional body, dealt in detail by the Articles 74 and 75 of the Constitution. Its size and classification are, however, not mentioned in the Constitution. Its size is determined by the prime minister according to the exigencies of the time and requirements of the situation. Its classification into a three-tier body is based on the conventions of parliamentary government as developed in Britain. It has, however, got a legislative sanction. Thus, the Salaries and Allowances Act of 1952 defines a ‘minister’ as a ‘member of the council of ministers, by whatever name called, and includes a deputy minister’.7. It was inserted in Article 352 of the Constitution in 1978 by the 44th Constitutional Amendment Act. Thus, it did not find a place in the original text of the Constitution. Now also, Article 352 only defines the cabinet saying that it is ‘the council consisting of the prime minister and other ministers of cabinet rank appointed under Article 75’ and does not describe its powers and functions. In other words, its role in our politico-administrative system is based on the conventions of parliamentary government
as developed in Britain.


8. It is collectively responsible to the Lower House of the Parliament.

8. It enforces the collective responsibility of the council of ministers to the Lower House of Parliament.

ROLE OF CABINET

  1. It is the highest decision-making authority in our politico-administrative system.
  2. It is the chief policy formulating body of the Central government.
  3. It is the supreme executive authority of the Central government.
  4. It is chief coordinator of Central administration.
  5. It is an advisory body to the president and its advice is binding on him.
  6. It is the chief crisis manager and thus deals with all emergency situations.
  7. It deals with all major legislative and financial matters.
  8. It exercises control over higher appointments like constitutional authorities and senior secretariat administrators.
  9. It deals with all foreign policies and foreign affairs.

KITCHEN CABINET

The cabinet, a small body consisting of the prime minister as its head and some 15 to 20 most important ministers, is the highest decision-making body in the formal sense. However, a still smaller body called the ‘inner Cabinet’ or ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ has become the real center of power. This informal body consists of the Prime Minister and two to four influential colleagues in whom he has faith and with whom he can discuss every problem. It advises the prime minister on important political and administrative issues and assists him in making crucial decisions. It is composed of not only cabinet ministers but also outsiders like friends and family members of the prime minister.

Every prime minister in India has had his ‘Inner Cabinet’—a circle within a circle. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘Inner Cabinet’ consisted of Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, and Kidwai. Lal Bahadur Shastri relied upon YB Chavan, Swaran Singh, and GL Nanda. During the era of Indira Gandhi, the ‘Inner Cabinet’ which came to be called the ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ was particularly powerful and consisted of persons like YB Chavan, Uma Shanker Dixit, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, Dr. Karan Singh, and others. AB Vajpayee’s ‘inner cabinet’ consisted of LK Advani, George Fernandes, MM Joshi, Pramod Mahajan, and so on.

The prime ministers have resorted to the device of ‘inner cabinet’ (extra-constitutional body) due to its merits, namely:

  1. It being a small unit, is much more efficient decision-making body than a large cabinet.
  2. It can meet more often and deal with business much more expeditiously than the large cabinet.
  3. It helps the Prime Minister in maintaining secrecy in making decisions on important political
    issues.

However, it has many demerits also. Thus,

  1. It reduces the authority and status of the cabinet as the highest decision-making body.
  2. It circumvents the legal process by allowing outside persons to play an influential role in the government functioning.

The phenomenon of ‘kitchen cabinet’ (where decisions are cooked and placed before the cabinet for formal approval) is not unique to India. It also exists in USA and Britain and is quite powerful in influencing government decisions there.

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Posted in Polity

The President of India

updated on May 22nd, 2019

Related Articles to President of India

Articles
Article 52The President of
India.
Article 53Executive power
of the Union.
Article 54Election of
President.
Article 55Manner of election
of President.
1Subs.
Article 56Term of office of
President.
Article 57Eligibility for reelection.
Article 58Qualifications for
election as
President.
Article 59Conditions of
President’s office.
Article 60Oath or affirmation
by the President.
Article 61Procedure for
impeachment of
the President.
Article 62Time of holding
election to fill
vacancy in the
office of President
and the term of
office of person
elected to fill
casual vacancy.

https://presidentofindia.nic.in/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/President_of_India

  • India is known as a Republic. Do you know why? It is because our Head of the State, the President of India is elected. It is not so in Great Britain where the Head of State happens to be either the King or the Queen. The office there is hereditary.

How President of India is elected ?

  • The process of Election of the President The President is indirectly elected by an Electoral College which consists of the elected members of both the Houses of Parliament as well as of State Legislative Assemblies.
  • PS : MLC, members of Legislative council do not vote in Election of the president.
  • Moreover, the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry (earlier known as Pondicherry) also participate in this election.
  • The voting is by secret ballot. She/he is elected according to the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.

Who vote in the Presidential election ?

  • Elected members of both house of Parliament
  • Elected members of Legislative assemblies of the state
  • Elected members of legislative assemblies of Delhi and Pondicherry(becuase rest five UTs do not own a legislative Assembly )

Who do not vote in Presidential election ?

  • Me , like rest of Indian
  • Sachin Tendulkar and Rekha , as they are nominated members of rajya Sabha . But they will vote in impeachment of President
  • Nominated members state Assemblies

What is the value of a vote in Presidential Election ?

  • Value of vote of an MLA ; Total population(Census 1971) of the State divided by total number of elected MLAs . Divided by 1000 ( to make a number in range of three digits )
  • Value of Vote of an MP ; Total value of votes of all MLAs divided by number of Elected members of Parliament .
  • So each state has a different value for his MLAs , but All MPS have same value for their votes .

What do they mean by Single transferable vote ?

It means everyone votes votes for everyone , they write 1,2,3,4 etc in front of the candidate . The votes with first preferences are counted . if the Quota (more than 50 % here ) is met result is declared , if not than than second preference votes of the candidate securing least votes is opened and its second preferred vote is added to the tally .This exercise is carried untill the Quota is met .

Who Conducts the election ?

Election Commission of India .

Who decides case related to Presidential Election ?

Supreme Court

The election of the President can not be challenged on grounds of incomplete electorates ( like vacant seats or dissolved assemblies .)

If Supreme Court , declares a election void .The actions taken by the President remain as it is .

Thought behind the fashion of presidential election :

No Direct election Since President is nominal head so a direct election seems unnecessary .

Only MPs could Vote? to maintain the federal structure, equal representation of states was taken in mind. So elected members of state legislatures were included in the electoral body of President

Qualifications for election as President


In order to be qualified for election as President, a person must:
(i) be a citizen of India;
(ii) have completed the age of 35 years;
(iii) be qualified for being elected as a member of the House of the People (Lok Sabha); and
(iv) not hold any office of profit under the government of India, any State government or under any local authority or any other authority of the said government.

(v) the following offices are not considered as offices of profit (a) President and Vice-President (b) the governor of a state: (c) minister of union or state.

The name of a candidate for the post of President must be proposed by 50 electors and seconded by at least 50 electors. He has also to deposit a security of Rs 15.000 for contesting elections.

Can the procedure of election of the President of India modify?

Yes The procedure for the election of the President of India can be modified through an Amendment in the Constitution which must be passed by

  • a. two-thirds majority by both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and be ratified by the Legislatures of at least half of the states

Term of Office of President of India

The President is elected for a term of five years, but even after the expiry of the term, he/she may continue to hold office until his/her successor enters the office. There is a provision for the re-election of a person who is holding or who has held the office as President. A vacancy in the office of the President may be caused in any of the following ways:
(i) in the event of his/her death;
(ii) if he/she resigns;
(iii) if he/she is removed from office by impeachment.

Impeachment(Article 61 )

( a resolution to remove the President for his/her unconstitutional act need) to be adopted by a special majority of votes in both the Houses of Parliament.

  • As provided in the Constitution, in the event of the occurrence of any vacancy in the office of the President, the Vice President acts as President until the date on which a new President is elected and enters upon his/her office.
  • But the Vice-President can act as the President for not more than six months.
  • If Vice President is unavailable, then Chief Justice of Supreme Court takes the office of President.
  • If CJI is not present than the senior most judge takes the chair. So we will always have an acting President
  • The emoluments, allowances and privileges of the President are determined by a law passed by the Parliament. (But, his salary is charged from Consolidated Fund of India and Parliament has no power to vote on that.
  • . The President used to get a monthly pay of Rs. 10,000 as per the Constitution. It was raised to Rs. 50,000 in 1998 and again to Rs. 1,50,000 in 2008. He/She also has other perks and allowances and lives in an official residence popularly known as Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi.
  • The terms of office cannot be downgraded during his tenure. ( another safeguard )

Oath of President of India

Oath Before entering the office, the President has to take an oath or an affirmation in the presence of the Chief Justice of India, or in his absence, the senior most judge of the Supreme Court available. In this oath or affirmation, the President undertakes *to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law and to devote himself to the service and well-being of the people of India.’.

Before entering upon his office, the President has to make and subscribe to an oath or affirmation. In his oath, the President swears:

  1. to faithfully execute the office;
  2. to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law; and
  3. to devote himself to the service and well-being of the people of India.

The oath of office to the President is administered by the Chief Justice of India and in his absence, the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court available.

Any other person acting as President or discharging the functions of the President also undertakes the similar oath or affirmation.

Do You Know

(i) Dr Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first President of India and held the office for two consecutive terms.
(ii) Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil is the first woman to be elected as the President of India. She is the 12th President of India.
(iii) Till date, only two Presidents who died in office were Dr Zakir Hussain and Mr Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed.

(iv)Mr V. V. Giri and Mr B. D. Jatti who also died in office were Acting Presidents.

Do You Know

(i) The first category of emergency was declared in India for the first time in 1962 due to conflict and war between China and India; the second time it was done on account of Indo-Pak War in 1965. The third national emergency was declared in 1971 when India helped Eastern Pakistan to become an independent nation known as Bangladesh and for the 4th time, in 1975 when the Cabinet headed by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi recommended to the President on account of ‘internal disturbances’.
(ii) The imposition of the second category of emergency is considered to have provided extra-ordinary power to the Union government. The first such emergency was proclaimed in 1951 in the State of Punjab, and then in Kerala in 1959. With the passage of time, this power has been used with increasing frequency. It has been alleged that President’s Rule has been used to dislodge the State governments of parties other than the party in power at the Centre. Article 356 deals with this type of emergency, which includes the imposition of President’s Rule over a State of India. When a State is under President’s Rule, the elected State government is suspended, and administration is conducted directly by the Governor of the State. Article 356 is controversial because some people consider it undemocratic, as its provides too much power to the Centre over the State governments. After the landmark case of S. R. Bommai v. Union of India (1994), the misuse of Article 356 was curtailed by the Supreme Court, which established strict guidelines for imposing President’s Rule.


Have you observed that when the functioning of Union government is discussed either in the Parliament or in the newspapers or on television, the roles of the Prime Minister and the Ministers are often discussed? But we have seen earlier that the Constitution vests all executive powers in the President. He/She also has extensive emergency powers. Does this mean that the President is all powerful? No! In reality, the President is a nominal executive or a constitutional Head of the State. No doubt the government is run in his/her name, but according to the Indian Constitution, the President has to exercise his/her powers on the aid and advise of the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. And that is not a simple advice, but is binding. This indicates that the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers are the real rulers in the government. All decisions are taken by the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. The President has the right to be informed of those decisions. Similarly, the emergency provisions also do not grant any real powers to the President.

“Under the Constitution of India the President occupies the same position as the King/Queen under the British Constitution. He is head of the state but not the executive. He represents the nation but does not rule the nation. He is the symbol of the nation. His place in the administration is that of a ceremonial head on whose seal the nation’s decisions are made known.”
D


Dr B. R. Ambedkar (in the Constituent Assembly)

Is President of India a Rubber Stamp ?

In light of the above statement, some constitutional experts believe that the President can be compared with a ‘rubber stamp’. But this conclusion is also not true. The President has been given the task of preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution. He/She is the custodian of the democratic process as enshrined in the Constitution. In uncertain political situations, the President can play a decisive role in the formation of the government. There have been some occasions when the President has asserted his/her position. However, in practice, the President acts as a nominal or constitutional head. It has rightly been stated that in our constitutional system the President enjoys the highest honour, dignity, and prestige but not the real authority.

The President is the executive head of the state. The Constitution vests all the executive powers of the Union The government in him. He exercises these powers either directly himself or through officers subordinate to him.


PRESIDENTS OF INDIA

S.No.NameTenure
1.Dr. Rajendra Prasad26 January,1950-13 May,1962
2.Dr. S. Radhakrishnan13 May, 1962-13 May, 1967
3.Dr. Zakir Husain13 May, 1967-3 May, 1969
4.V.V. Giri

3 May, 1969-20 July, 1969
(Acting)
5.Justice Mohammad
Hidayatullah
20 July, 1969-24 August, 1969
(Acting)
6.V.V. Giri24 August, 1969-24 August, 1974
7.Fakhruddin Ali
Ahmed
24 August, 1974-11
February, 1977
8.B.D. Jatti

11 February,1977-25 July, 1977
(Acting)
9.Neelam Sanjiva Reddy25 July, 1977-25 July, 1982
10.Giani Zail Singh25 July, 1982-25 July, 1987
11.R. Venkataraman25 July, 1987-25 July, 1992
12.Dr. Shanker Dayal
Sharma
25 July, 1992-25 July, 1997

13.K.R. Narayanan25 July, 1997-25 July, 2002
14.Dr. A.P.J. Abdul
Kalam
25 July, 2002-25 July, 2007

15.Pratibha Patil25 July, 2007-24th July, 2012
16.Pranab Mukherjee25th July, 2012-24th July 2017

17. Ramnath Kovind 25 july 2017 – till date

Position of the President

Under the parliamentary system of government adopted in India, the President is expected to act as a constitutional ruler. The Constitution provides a council of ministers with the Prime Minister at its head, to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions. The original Constitution did not specify whether the President was bound by the advice of the council of ministers or not. even though it was implied that as a matter of convention prevailing under the parliamentary system of government in England, the President would act on the advice of the council of ministers. This ambiguity was removed by the 42nd Amendment which clearly stated that the President shall be bound by the advice of the council of ministers. As a result of this change, the President was even denied the role of an advisor or a guide. The position of the President was somewhat retrieved under the 44th Amendment in 1978 which provided that the President can ask the council of ministers to reconsider such advice, either generally or otherwise, and the President shall act in accordance with the advice tendered after such reconsideration. Thus the amendment recognised the limited but essential role of the President under the Constitution. He is still able to exercise a considerable amount of influence on policy. He enjoys (as does the English king or queen—See Bagehot: English Constitution) the right to be consulted, the right to encourage and the right to warn. In a number of cases, the President is still able to make use of his discretionary powers. This includes (i) appointment of a Prime Minister if no single political party enjoys clear-cut majority or does not possess a recognised leader of the party, (ii) dissolution of the Lok Sabha and holding of fresh elections in the event of recommendation of the Council of Ministers after it has been voted out and tendered its resignation; (iii) in the exercise of pocket veto in respect of law passed by the Parliament, (iv) disqualifications of members of the Lok Sabha (v) asking the Council of Ministers to reconsider its decision, (vi) asking the Parliament to reconsider a bill passed by it.

Further, the nomination of a candidate for election to the office of President must be subscribed by at least 50 electors as proposers and 50 electors as seconders. Every candidate has to make a security deposit of Rs 15,000 in the Reserve Bank of India. The security deposit is liable to be forfeited in case the candidate fails to secure one-sixth of the votes polled. Before 1997, the number of proposers and seconders was ten each and the amount of security deposit was Rs 2,500. In 1997, they were increased to discourage non-serious candidates.

Conditions of President’s Office

The Constitution lays down the following conditions of the President’s office:

  1. He should not be a member of either House of Parliament or a House of the state legislature. If any such person is elected as President, he is deemed to have vacated his seat in that House on the date on which he enters upon his office as President.
  2. He should not hold any other office of profit.
  3. He is entitled, without payment of rent, to the use of his official residence (the Rastrapathi Bhavan).
  4. He is entitled to such emoluments, allowances and privileges as may be determined by Parliament.
  5. His emoluments and allowances cannot be diminished during his term of office.

In 2008, the Parliament increased the salary of the President from Rs.50,000 to Rs.1.50 lakh per month and the pension to 50% of his salary per month. In addition, the former Presidents are entitled to furnished residence, phone facilities, car, medical treatment, travel facility, secretarial staff, and office expenses to Rs. 60,000 per annum. The spouse of a deceased President is also entitled to a family pension at the rate of 50% of the pension of a retired President, furnished residence, phone facility, car, medical treatment, travel facility, secretarial staff and office expenses up to Rs.12,000 per annum.

The President is entitled to a number of privileges and immunities. He enjoys personal immunity from legal liability for his official acts. During his term of office, he is immune from any criminal proceedings, even in respect of his personal acts. He cannot be arrested or imprisoned. However, after giving two months’ notice, civil proceedings can be instituted against him during his term of office in respect of his personal acts.

TERM, IMPEACHMENT AND VACANCY

Term of President’s office

The President holds office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office. However, he can resign from his office at any time by addressing the resignation letter to the Vice- President. Further, he can also be removed from the office before completion of his term by the process of impeachment.

The President can hold office beyond his term of five years until his successor assumes charge. He is also eligible for re-election to that office. He may be elected for any number of terms. However, in the USA, a person cannot be elected to the office of the President more than twice.

Impeachment of President

The President can be removed from office by a process of impeachment for ‘violation of the Constitution’. However, the Constitution does not define the meaning of the phrase ‘violation of the Constitution’.

The impeachment charges can be initiated by either House of Parliament. These charges should be signed by one-fourth members of the House (that framed the charges), and a 14 days’ notice should be given to the President. After the impeachment resolution is passed by a majority of two-thirds of the total membership of that House, it is sent to the other House, which should investigate the charges. The President has the right to appear and to be represented at such investigation. If the other House also sustains the charges and passes the impeachment resolution by a majority of two-thirds of the total membership, then the President stands removed from his office from the date on which the bill is so passed.

Thus, an impeachment is a quasi-judicial procedure in the Parliament. In this context, two things should be noted: (a) the nominated members of either House of Parliament can participate in the impeachment of the President though they do not participate in his election; (b) the elected members of the legislative assemblies of states and the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry do not participate in the impeachment of the President though they participate in his election.

No President has so far been impeached.

Vacancy in the President’s Office

A vacancy in the President’s office can occur in any of the following ways:

  1. On the expiry of his tenure of five years.
  2. By his resignation.
  3. On his removal by the process of impeachment.
  4. By his death.
  5. Otherwise, for example, when he becomes disqualified to hold office or when his election is declared void.

When the vacancy is going to be caused by the expiration of the term of the sitting President, an election to fill the vacancy must be held before the expiration of the term. In case of any delay in conducting the election of new President by any reason, the outgoing President continues to hold office (beyond his term of five years) until his successor assumes charge. This is provided by the Constitution in order to prevent an ‘interregnum’. In this situation, the Vice-President does not get the opportunity to act as President or to discharge the functions of the President.

If the office falls vacant by resignation, removal, death or otherwise, the election to fill the vacancy should be held within six months from the date of the occurrence of such a vacancy. The newly elected President remains in office for a full term of five years from the date he assumes charge of his office.

When a vacancy occurs in the office of the President due to his resignation, removal, death or otherwise, the Vice-President acts as the President until a new President is elected. Further, when the sitting President is unable to discharge his functions due to absence, illness or any other cause, the Vice-President discharges his functions until the President resumes his office.

In case the office of Vice-President is vacant, the Chief Justice of India (or if his office is also vacant, the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court available) acts as the President or discharges the functions of the President.

When any person, ie, Vice-President, chief justice of India, or the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court is acting as the President or discharging the functions of the President, he enjoys all the powers and immunities of the President and is entitled to such emoluments, allowances and privileges as are determined by the Parliament.

POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF THE PRESIDENT

The powers enjoyed and the functions performed by the President can be studied under the following heads.

  1. Executive powers
  2. Legislative powers
  3. Financial powers
  4. Judicial powers
  5. Diplomatic powers
  6. Military powers
  7. Emergency powers

Executive Powers

The executive powers and functions of the President are:

(a) All executive actions of the Government of India are formally taken in his name.
(b) He can make rules specifying the manner in which the orders and other instruments made and executed in his name shall be authenticated.
(c) He can make rules for the more convenient transaction of business of the Union government, and for allocation of the said business among the ministers.
(d) He appoints the prime minister and the other ministers. They hold office during his pleasure.
(e) He appoints the attorney general of India and determines his remuneration. The attorney general holds office during the pleasure of the President.
(f) He appoints the comptroller and auditor general of India, the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners, the chairman and members of the Union Public Service Commission, the governors of states, the chairman and members of finance commission, and so on.
(g) He can seek any information relating to the administration of affairs of the Union, and proposals for legislation from the prime minister.
(h) He can require the Prime Minister to submit, for consideration of the council of ministers, any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but, which has not been considered by the council.
(i) He can appoint a commission to investigate the conditions of SCs, STs and other backward classes.
(j) He can appoint an inter-state council to promote Centre-state and inter-state cooperation.
(k) He directly administers the union territories through administrators appointed by him.
(l) He can declare any area as scheduled area and has powers with respect to the administration of scheduled areas and tribal areas.

Legislative Powers

The President is an integral part of the Parliament of India, and enjoys the following legislative powers.

(a) He can summon or prorogue the Parliament and dissolve the Lok Sabha. He can also summon a joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament, which is presided over by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
(b) He can address the Parliament at the commencement of the first session after each general election and the first session of each year.
(c) He can send messages to the Houses of Parliament, whether with respect to a bill pending in the Parliament or otherwise.
(d) He can appoint any member of the Lok Sabha to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker fall vacant. Similarly, he can also appoint any member of the Rajya Sabha to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman fall vacant.
(e) He nominates 12 members of the Rajya Sabha from amongst persons having special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, art and social service.
(f) He can nominate two members to the Lok Sabha from the Anglo-Indian Community.
(g) He decides on questions as to disqualifications of members of the Parliament, in consultation with the Election Commission.
(h) His prior recommendation or permission is needed to introduce certain types of bills in the Parliament. For example, a bill involving expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India, or a bill for the alteration of boundaries of states or creation of a new state.
(i) When a bill is sent to the President after it has been passed by the Parliament, he can:
(i) give his assent to the bill, or
(ii) withhold his assent to the bill, or
(iii) return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration of the Parliament.
However, if the bill is passed again by the Parliament, with or without amendments, the President has to give his assent to the bill.
(j) When a bill passed by a state legislature is reserved by the governor for consideration of the President, the President can:
(i) give his assent to the bill, or
(ii) withhold his assent to the bill, or
(iii) direct the governor to return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration of the state legislature. It should be noted here that it is not obligatory for the President to give his assent even if the bill is again passed by the state legislature and sent again to him for his consideration.
(k) He can promulgate ordinances when the Parliament is not in session. These ordinances must be approved by the Parliament within six weeks from its reassembly. He can also withdraw an ordinance at any time.
(l) He says the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General, Union Public Service Commission, Finance Commission, and others, before the Parliament.
(m) He can make regulations for the peace, progress and good government of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. In the case of Puducherry also, the President can legislate by making regulations but only when the assembly is suspended or dissolved.

Financial Powers

The financial powers and functions of the President are:

(a) Money bills can be introduced in the Parliament only with his prior recommendation.
(b) He causes to be laid before the Parliament the annual financial statement (ie, the Union Budget).
(c) No demand for a grant can be made except on his recommendation.
(d) He can make advances out of the contingency fund of India to meet any unforeseen expenditure.
(e) He constitutes a finance commission every five years to recommend the distribution of revenues between the Centre and the states.

Judicial Powers

The judicial powers and functions of the President are:

(a) He appoints the Chief Justice and the judges of Supreme Court and high courts.
(b) He can seek advice from the Supreme Court on any question of law or fact. However, the advice tendered by the Supreme Court is not binding on the President.
(c) He can grant pardon, reprieve, respite, and remission of punishment, or suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offense
(i) In all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a court martial;
(ii) In all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against a Union law; and
(iii) In all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.

Diplomatic Powers

The international treaties and agreements are negotiated and concluded on behalf of the President. However, they are subject to the approval of the Parliament. He represents India in international forums and affairs and sends and receives diplomats like ambassadors, high commissioners, and so on.

Military Powers

He is the supreme commander of the defence forces of India. In that capacity, he appoints the chiefs of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. He can declare war or conclude peace, subject to the approval of the Parliament.

Emergency Powers

In addition to the normal powers mentioned above, the Constitution confers extraordinary powers on the President to deal with the following three types of emergencies9:
(a) National Emergency (Article 352);
(b) President’s Rule (Article 356 & 365); and
(c) Financial Emergency (Article 360)

We have discussed so far the powers of the President of India that is exercised during a normal period. Over and above these powers, he/she has important powers that are exercised during abnormal situations. These are known as emergency powers. The Constitution has made provisions for these powers to meet three specific extraordinary or abnormal situations arising in the country. These situations may be:

(a) war or external aggression or armed rebellion; (b) failure of the Constitutional machinery in any State; and (c) Deep financial crisis.

(i) War, External Aggression or Armed rebellion: A ‘proclamation of emergency’ is made by the President, if he/she is satisfied that the security of India or any part thereof is threatened by war, external aggression or armed rebellion. However, the President issues such a proclamation, only when a decision of the Union Cabinet, (the Prime Minister and the Ministers of the Cabinet rank,) to that effect is communicated to him/her in writing. Every proclamation is to be laid before two Houses of Parliament and if it is not approved within one month, it automatically ceases to operate. With the proclamation of emergency, the Union government can give directions to the State governments in respect of their executive powers and the Parliament may assume legislative powers of State legislatures. The President may also order the suspension of the enforcement of fundamental rights.

In 1975, an emergency was declared by the President because of the threat to internal security when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister. It has continued to be very controversial, and even now many people consider it as a black period in the history of democratic India. Collect information about the reasons for declaration of that emergency from books or through internet, your teachers and other informed adults.

(a) Based on the collected information, do you think the declaration was justified? Please provide at least two reasons.
(b) Based on your conversation with an adult who has been through this emergency, write at least 2 ways in which the emergency impacted the lives of ordinary citizens.

(ii) The second type of emergency relates to the situation in the State. It may be proclaimed when the constitutional machinery of any State breaks down. If the President is satisfied on the basis of the report of the Governor or otherwise that the State cannot be administered in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, he/she can proclaim an emergency. This is known as the President’s Rule. Such a proclamation must be approved by both the Houses of Parliament within two months. If the Parliament’s approval is not obtained, it ceases to operate at the expiry of two months. After Parliament’s approval it may continue for not more than six months at a time and by no means for more than three years. During this period the concerned State Assembly is either dissolved or remains suspended. The Governor of the State performs all the executive functions in the name of the President. The Parliament assumes legislative powers for that particular State.

(iii) The third type of emergency, which is called ‘financial emergency’ is declared when a situation arises whereby the financial stability or credit of India or of any part of the country is threatened. Like the other two emergencies, this proclamation also must be approved by Parliament within two months. Once it is approved by the Parliament, it may continue indefinitely until it is revoked. In this situation, the President can reduce the salaries of all the government officials including the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts. The financial emergency has not been proclaimed in India so far.

Do You Know

(i) The first category of emergency was declared in India for the first time in 1962 due to conflict and war between China and India; the second time it was done on account of Indo-Pak War in 1965. The third national emergency was declared in 1971 when India helped Eastern Pakistan to become an independent nation known as Bangladesh and for the 4th time, in 1975 when the Cabinet headed by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi recommended to the President on account of ‘internal disturbances’.
(ii) The imposition of the second category of emergency is considered to have provided extra-ordinary power to the Union government. The first such emergency was proclaimed in 1951 in the State of Punjab, and then in Kerala in 1959. With the passage of time, this power has been used with increasing frequency. It has been alleged that President’s Rule has been used to dislodge the State governments of parties other than the party in power at the Centre. Article 356 deals with this type of emergency, which includes the imposition of President’s Rule over a State of India. When a State is under President’s Rule, the elected State government is suspended, and administration is conducted directly by the Governor of the State. Article 356 is controversial because some people consider it undemocratic, as its provides too much power to the Centre over the State governments. After the landmark case of S. R. Bommai v. Union of India (1994), the misuse of Article 356 was curtailed by the Supreme Court, which established strict guidelines for imposing President’s Rule.

VETO POWER OF THE PRESIDENT

A bill passed by the Parliament can become an act only if it receives the assent of the President. When such a bill is presented to the President for his assent, he has three alternatives (under Article 111 of the Constitution):

  1. He may give his assent to the bill, or
  2. He may withhold his assent to the bill, or
  3. He may return the bill (if it is not a Money bill) for reconsideration of the Parliament. However, if the bill is passed again by the Parliament with or without amendments and again presented to the President, the President must give his assent to the bill.

Thus, the President has the veto power over the bills passed by the Parliament10, that is, he can withhold his assent to the bills. The object of conferring this power on the President is two-fold—(a) to prevent hasty and ill-considered legislation by the Parliament; and (b) to prevent a legislation which may be unconstitutional.

The veto power enjoyed by the executive in modern states can be classified into the following four types:

  1. Absolute veto, that is, withholding of assent to the bill passed by the legislature.
  2. Qualified veto, which can be overridden by the legislature with a higher majority.
  3. Suspensive veto, which can be over ridden by the legislature with an ordinary majority.
  4. Pocket veto, that is, taking no action on the bill passed by the legislature.

Of the above four, the President of India is vested with three—absolute veto, suspensive veto and pocket veto. There is no qualified veto in the case of Indian President; it is possessed by the American President. The three vetos of the President of India are explained below:

Absolute Veto

It refers to the power of the President to withhold his assent to a bill passed by the Parliament. The bill then ends and does not become an actor. Usually, this veto is exercised in the following two cases:
(a) With respect to private members’ bills (ie, bills introduced by any member of Parliament who is not a minister); and
(b) With respect to the government bills when the cabinet resigns (after the passage of the bills but before the assent by the President) and the new cabinet advises the President not to give his assent to such bills.

In 1954, President Dr. Rajendra Prasad withheld his assent to the PEPSU Appropriation Bill. The bill was passed by the Parliament when the President’s Rule was in operation in the state of PEPSU. But, when the bill was presented to the President for his assent, the President’s Rule was revoked.
Again in 1991, President R Venkataraman withheld his assent to the Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill. The bill was passed by the Parliament (on the last day before the dissolution of Lok Sabha) without obtaining the previous recommendation of the President.

Suspensive Veto

The President exercises this veto when he returns a bill for reconsideration of the Parliament. However, if the bill is passed again by the Parliament with or without amendments and again presented to the President, it is obligatory for the President to give his assent to the bill. This means that the presidential veto is overridden by a re-passage of the bill by the same ordinary majority (and not a higher majority as required in the USA).

As mentioned earlier, the President does not possess this veto in the case of money bills. The President can either give his assent to a money bill or withhold his assent to a money bill but cannot return it for the reconsideration of the Parliament. Normally, the President gives his assent to money bill as it is introduced in the Parliament with his previous permission.

Pocket Veto

In this case, the President neither ratifies nor rejects nor returns the bill, but simply keeps the bill pending for an indefinite period. This power of the President not to take any action (either positive or negative) on the bill is known as the pocket veto. The President can exercise this veto power as the Constitution does not prescribe any time limit within which he has to take the decision with respect to a bill presented to him for his assent. In the USA, on the other hand, the President has to return the bill for reconsideration within 10 days. Hence, it is remarked that the pocket of the Indian President is bigger than that of the American President.

In 1986, President Zail Singh exercised the pocket veto with respect to the Indian Post Office (Amendment) Bill. The bill, passed by the Rajiv Gandhi Government, imposed restrictions on the freedom of the press and hence, was widely criticized. After three years, in 1989, the next President R Venkataraman sent the bill back for reconsideration, but the new National Front Government decided to drop the bill.

It should be noted here that the President has no veto power in respect of a constitutional amendment bill. The 24th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1971 made it obligatory for the President to give his assent to a constitutional amendment bill.

Presidential Veto over State Legislation

The President has veto power with respect to state legislation also. A bill passed by a state legislature can become an act only if it receives the assent of the governor or the President (in case the bill is reserved for the consideration of the President).

When a bill, passed by a state legislature, is presented to the governor for his assent, he has four alternatives (under Article 200 of the Constitution):

  1. He may give his assent to the bill, or
  2. He may withhold his assent to the bill, or
  3. He may return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration of the state legislature, or
  4. He may reserve the bill for the consideration of the President.

Veto Power of the President At a Glance

Central LegislationState Legislation
With Regard to Ordinary Bills
1. Can be ratified1. Can be ratified
2. Can be rejected2. Can be rejected
3. Can be returned3. Can be returned
With Regard to Money Bills
1. Can be ratified1. Can be ratified
2. Can be rejected (but cannot be returned)2. Can be rejected (but cannot be returned)
With Regard to Constitutional Amendment Bills
Can only be ratified (that is, cannot be rejected or returned)Constitutional amendment bills cannot be introduced in the state legislature.

When a bill is reserved by the governor for the consideration of the President, the President has three alternatives (Under Article 201 of the Constitution):

  1. He may give his assent to the bill, or
  2. He may withhold his assent to the bill, or
  3. He may direct the governor to return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for the reconsideration of the state legislature. If the bill is passed again by the state legislature with or without amendments and presented again to the President for his assent, the President is not bound to give his assent to the bill. This means that the state legislature cannot override the veto power of the President. Further, the Constitution has not prescribed any time limit within which the President has to take the decision with regard to a bill reserved by the governor for his consideration. Hence, the President can exercise the pocket veto in respect of state legislation also.

summarises the discussion on the veto power of the President with regard to Central as well as state legislation.

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The Chief Minister ,Council Of Ministers and State Legislature

updated on April 9th, 2019

Appointment

As we have seen earlier, the Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as its head functions as the real executive. You are also aware how the Chief Minister and other members of the Council of Ministers are appointed by the Governor. Their term of office is for five years, but they remain in office till they enjoy the support of the majority in the Assembly. If a person who is appointed as the Chief Minister or a Minister, is not a member of the State Legislature, he/she has to become member of any of the two houses within six months of his/her appointment. The portfolios or different ministries are allocated to the Ministers by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister.

Functions of the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers

Have you ever given thought to the fact that whenever anything happens in a State, it is the Chief Minister who is said to be responsible for that? If good things happen, he/she is praised, and if bad things occur, he/she is criticized. Why so? In fact, the Chief Minister is the Head of the Government in the State. He/She plays very important roles. He/She:

  • advises the Governor on the appointment of Council of Ministers and allocation of portfolios to them;
  • presides over the meetings of the State Council of Ministers and also coordinates the functioning of different ministers;
  • guides the framing of the policies and programmes for the State and gives approvals of the Bills that are introduced by the Ministers in the State Legislature;
  • is the sole link of communication between the Council of Ministers and the Governor. The Chief Minister communicates the decisions of the Council of Ministers relating to administration as well as proposals for the legislation to the Governor; and
  • submits any matter on which decision has been taken by a Minister for consideration of the Council of Ministers, if the Governor desires him/her to do so.

Position of the Chief Minister

The Chief Minister is the real executive head of the State. It is he/she who formulates the policies and guides the Council of Ministers to implement them. He/She is the most powerful functionary, especially when one political party has an absolute majority in the Legislative Assembly. But if he/she heads a coalition government, his/her role gets restricted by the pulls and pressures of other partners of the coalition. At times, he/she is pressurized by a few independent Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs), if the majority in the House is thin.

State Legislature

Every State has its Legislature. . Let us understand how the State Legislatures are constituted. In some of the States the Legislature is bicameral i.e. has two houses. In most of the States it is unicameral i.e. has only one house. The Governor is an integral part of the State Legislature. The unicameral legislature has the Legislative Assembly and the bicameral has the Legislative Assembly being its Lower House and the Legislative Council the Upper House. At present only Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra Telangana and Uttar Pradesh have bicameral legislatures and the remaining 23 States have unicameral legislatures.

Composition of Legislative Assembly

The Legislative Assembly, i.e. Vidhan Sabha is the real legislature even in those States that have bicameral legislatures. According to the Constitution of India, a State Legislative Assembly shall not have more than 500 members and not less than 60 members. However, very small States like Goa, Sikkim and Mizoram have been allowed to have less than 60 members. Seats are reserved for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly.If the Governor feels that the Anglo-Indian Community is not adequately represented, he/she may nominate one person of that community in the State Legislative Assembly. The Legislative Assembly is an elected body. Its members, M. L. As. are elected by the people based on the principle of universal adult franchise. There are certain qualifications prescribed by the Constitution for being elected as an M. L. A. The candidate must:

  • be a citizen of India;
  • have attained the age of 25 years;
  • have his/her name in the voters’ list;
  • not hold any office of profit; and
  • not be a government servant.

Do You Know

What is Universal Adult Franchise?: All adults men/women who have completed the age of 18 and above have the right to vote and participate in the electoral process, without any discrimination based on race, caste, religion, place of birth or sex.

The tenure of the Vidhan Sabha is of five years. However, the Governor may dissolve the Assembly earlier on the advice of the Chief Minister. Similarly the Assembly may be suspended or dissolved when President’s Rule is imposed in a State. During a national Emergency, the Parliament may extend the term of Legislative Assemblies for a period not exceeding one year at a time.

Composition of the Legislative Council

The upper chamber of the State Legislature i.e. the Legislative Council or Vidhan Parishad shall not have more than one third of the total membership of the State Legislative Assembly but not less than 40. The Legislative Council in Jammu & Kashmir has 36 members as an exception. The members of the Legislative Council are partly elected indirectly and partly nominated.

The composition of the Legislative Council is as follows:

  • One-third members are elected by the members of local bodies i.e. Municipalities, District Boards and others in the State;
  • Another one-third members are elected by the members of the Legislative Assembly;
  • One-twelfth members are elected by the electorate consisting of graduates of the State of not less than three years standing;
  • Another one-twelfth are elected by the electorate consisting of teachers having teaching experience of at least three years in the educational institutions within the State, but these institutions must not be lower in standard than secondary schools; and
  • The remaining one-sixth members are nominated by the Governor of the State.

The Vidhan Parishad is a permanent house, and hence it is not dissolved. Members are elected/nominated for a period of six years. One-third of its members retire after every two years. The retiring members are eligible for re-election. The qualifications for becoming members of the Legislative Council are similar to those for the members of the Legislative Assembly. However, the minimum age in the case of Legislative Assembly is 25 years whereas for the Council it is 30 years.

The State Legislature meets twice a year at least and the interval between two sessions cannot be more than six months. The members of Vidhan Sabha and Vidhan Parishad elect their respective Presiding Officers, as well as Speaker and Deputy Speakers, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman.

The business of the two houses is conducted by their respective Presiding Officers who also maintain discipline and order in the houses.

Functions of the State Legislature

The State Legislature performs the following categories of functions:

(a) Legislative Functions: The Assembly has the sole right to legislate. All the laws must be passed by it. Where there is a bicameral legislature, the ordinary Bills can be introduced in any of the Houses. A Bill passed by the Legislative Assembly is sent to the Legislative Council which has to pass it or to return it with recommendations to the Legislative Assembly.If the Legislative Assembly passes that Bill once again either with recommendations of the Council or without those, it shall be deemed to have been passed by both the Houses. As regards, Money Bills, these can be introduced only in the Legislative Assembly. After the Assembly passes the Money Bill, it goes to the Legislative Council which has to pass it or return the Bill to the Assembly with its recommendations within 14 days of the receipt of the Bill. Even if the Assembly rejects the recommendations of the Council, it will be deemed to have been passed by both the Houses. Once the Bill is passed by the Legislature, it is sent to the Governor for his/her assent. He/She cannot withhold the assent on the Money Bill but can send back an ordinary bill for reconsideration or can reserve any of the bills for consideration by the President.

(b) Control over the Executive: The State Legislature keeps control over the executive. The Council of Ministers is responsible to Vidhan Sabha collectively. It remains in office so long as it enjoys the confidence of the House. The Council of Ministers is removed if the Vidhan Sabha adopts a motion of no-confidence against it. Moreover, The State Legislature keeps checks on the government by asking questions and supplementary questions, moving adjournment motions and calling attention notices.

(c) Electoral Functions: The elected members of the Legislative Assembly are members of the Electoral College for the election of the President of India. The members of the Vidhan Sabha also elect the members of the Rajya Sabha from their respective States. Moreover, they elect one-third members of the Legislative Council of their own State.

(d) Functions related to Constitutional Amendments: There are important functions of the State Legislature related to the amendment of the Constitution. A constitutional amendment requires the support of a special majority of each House of the Parliament as well as ratification by not less than half of the States where the State Legislatures ratify the amendments.

In the scheme of the parliamentary system of government provided by the Constitution, the governor is the nominal executive authority (de jure executive) and the Chief Minister is the real executive authority (de facto executive). In other words, the governor is the head of the state while the Chief Minister is the head of the government. Thus the position of the Chief Minister at the state level is analogous to the position of prime minister at the Centre.

APPOINTMENT OF CHIEF MINISTER

The Constitution does not contain any specific procedure for the selection and appointment of the Chief Minister. Article 164 only says that the Chief Minister shall be appointed by the governor. However, this does not imply that the governor is free to appoint anyone as the Chief Minister. In accordance with the conventions of the parliamentary system of government, the governor has to appoint the leader of the majority party in the state legislative assembly as the Chief Minister. But, when no party has a clear majority in the assembly, then the governor may exercise his personal discretion in the selection and appointment of the Chief Minister. In such a situation, the governor usually appoints the leader of the largest party or coalition in the assembly as the Chief Minister and ask him to seek a vote of confidence in the House within a month.

The governor may have to exercise his individual judgment in the selection and appointed of the Chief Minister when the Chief Minister in office dies suddenly and there is no obvious successor. However, on the death of a Chief Minister, the ruling party usually elects a new leader and the governor has no choice but to appoint him as Chief Minister.

The Constitution does not require that a person must prove his majority in the legislative assembly before he is appointed as the Chief Minister. The governor may first appoint him as the Chief Minister and then ask him to prove his majority in the legislative assembly within a reasonable period. This is what has been done in a number of cases.

A person who is not a member of the state legislature can be appointed as Chief Minister for six months, within which time, he should be elected to the state legislature, failing which he ceases to be the Chief Minister.

According to the Constitution, the Chief Minister may be a member of any of the two Houses of a state legislature. Usually, Chief Ministers have been selected from the Lower House (legislative assembly), but, on a number of occasions, a member of the Upper House (legislative council) has also been appointed as Chief Minister.

OATH, TERM AND SALARY

Before the Chief Minister enters his office, the governor administers to him the oaths of office and secrecy. In his oath of office, the Chief Minister swears:

  1. to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India,
  2. to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India,
  3. to faithfully and conscientiously discharge the duties of his office, and
  4. to do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.

In his oath of secrecy, the Chief Minister swears that he will not directly or indirectly communicate or reveal to any person(s) any matter that is brought under his consideration or becomes known to him as a state minister except as may be required for the due discharge of his duties as such minister.

The term of the Chief Minister is not fixed and he holds office during the pleasure of the governor. However, this does not mean that the governor can dismiss him at any time. He cannot be dismissed by the governor as long as he enjoys the majority support in the legislative assembly. But, if he loses the confidence of the assembly, he must resign or the governor can dismiss him.

The salary and allowances of the Chief Minister are determined by the state legislature. In addition to the salary and allowances, which are payable to a member of the state legislature, he gets a sumptuary allowance, free accommodation, traveling allowance, medical facilities, etc.

POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF CHIEF MINISTER

The powers and functions of the Chief Minister can be studied under the following heads:

In Relation to Council of Ministers

The Chief Minister enjoys the following powers as head of the state council of ministers:
(a) The governor appoints only those persons as ministers who are recommended by the Chief Minister.
(b) He allocates and reshuffles the portfolios among ministers.
(c) He can ask a minister to resign or advise the governor to dismiss him in case of difference of opinion.
(d) He presides over the meetings of the council of ministers and influences its decisions.
(e) He guides, directs, controls and coordinates the activities of all the ministers.
(f) He can bring about the collapse of the council of ministers by resigning from office. Since the Chief Minister is the head of the council of ministers, his resignation or death automatically dissolves the council of ministers. The resignation or death of any other minister, on the other hand, merely creates a vacancy, which the Chief Minister may or may not like to fill.

In Relation to the Governor

The Chief Minister enjoys the following powers in relation to the governor:
(a) He is the principal channel of communication between the governor and the council of ministers. It is the duty of the Chief Minister:
(i) to communicate to the Governor of the state all decisions of the council of ministers
relating to the administration of the affairs of the state and proposals for legislation;
(ii) to furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the state and proposals for legislation as the governor may call for; and
(iii) if the governor so requires, to submit for the consideration of the council of ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but which has not been considered by the council.
(b) He advises the governor with regard to the appointment of important officials like advocate general, chairman and members of the state public service commission, state election commissioner, and so on.

In Relation to State Legislature

The Chief Minister enjoys the following powers as the leader of the house:
(a) He advises the governor with regard to the summoning and proroguing of the sessions of the state legislature.
(b) He can recommend the dissolution of the legislative assembly to the governor at any time.
(c) He announces the government policies on the floor of the house.

Other Powers and Functions

In addition, the Chief Minister also performs the following functions:
(a) He is the chairman of the State Planning Board.
(b) He acts as a vice-chairman of the concerned zonal council by rotation, holding office for a period of one year at a time.
(c) He is a member of the Inter-State Council and the National Development Council, both headed by the prime minister.
(d) He is the chief spokesman of the state government.
(e) He is the crisis manager-in-chief at the political level during emergencies.
(f) As a leader of the state, he meets various sections of the people and receives memoranda from them regarding their problems, and so on.
(g) He is the political head of the services.

Thus, he plays a very significant and highly crucial role in the state administration. However, the discretionary powers enjoyed by the governor reduces to some extent the power, authority, influence, prestige and role of the Chief Minister in the state administration.

RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GOVERNOR

The following provisions of the Constitution deal with the relationship between the governor and the Chief Minister:

  1. Article 163: There shall be a council of ministers with the Chief Minister as the head to aid and advise the governor on the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion.
  2. Article 164:
    (a) 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;
    (b) The ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the governor; and
    (c) The council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the legislative assembly of the state.
  3. Article 167: It shall be the duty of the Chief Minister:
    (a) to communicate to the governor of the state all decisions of the council of ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the state and proposals for legislation;
    (b) to furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the state and proposals for legislation as the governor may call for ; and
    (c) if the governor so requires, to submit for the consideration of the council of ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but which has not been considered by the council.

Articles Related to Chief Minister at a Glance

Article No.Subject-matter
Article 163.Council of Ministers to aid and advise Governor
Article 164.Other provisions as to Ministers
Article 166.Conduct of business of the Government of a State
Article 167.Duties of Chief Minister as respects the furnishing of information to Governor, etc.

State Council Of Minister

As the Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary system of government in the states on the Union pattern, the council of ministers headed by the chief minister is the real executive authority in the politico-administrative system of a state. The council of ministers in the states is constituted and function in the same way as the council of ministers at the Centre.

The principles of the parliamentary system of government are not detailed in the Constitution; but two Articles (163 and 164) deal with them in a broad, sketchy and general manner. Article 163 deals with the status of the council of ministers while Article 164 deals with the appointment, tenure, responsibility, qualifications, oath and salaries and allowances of the ministers.

CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS

Article 163—Council of Ministers to aid and advise Governor

  1. There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is required to exercise his functions in his discretion.
  2. If any question arises whether a matter falls within the Governor’s discretion or not, decision of the Governor shall be final, and the validity of anything done by the Governor shall not be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion.
  3. The advice tendered by Ministers to the Governor shall not be inquired into in any court.

Article 164—Other Provisions as to Ministers

  1. The Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister. However, in the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha, there shall be a Minister in charge of tribal welfare who may, in addition, be in charge of the welfare of the scheduled castes and backward classes or any other work. The state of Bihar was excluded from this provision by the 94th Amendment Act of 2006.
  2. The total number of ministers, including the chief minister, in the council of ministers in a state, shall not exceed 15 percent of the total strength of the legislative assembly of that state. But, the number of ministers, including the chief minister, in a state shall not be less than 12. This provision was added by the 91st Amendment Act of 2003.
  3. A member of either House of state legislature belonging to any political party who is disqualified on the ground of defection shall also be disqualified to be appointed as a minister. The provision was also added by the 91st Amendment Act of 2003.
  4. The ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor.
  5. The council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the state Legislative Assembly.
  6. The Governor shall administer the oaths of office and secrecy to a minister.
  7. A minister who is not a member of the state legislature for any period of six consecutive months shall cease to be a minister.
  8. The salaries and allowances of ministers shall be determined by the state legislature.

Article 166—Conduct of Business of the Government of a State

  1. All executive action of the Government of a State shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the Governor.
  2. Orders and other instruments made and executed in the name of the Governor shall be authenticated in such manner as may be specified in rules to be made by the Governor. Further, the validity of an order or instrument which is so authenticated shall not be called in question on the ground that it is not an order or instrument made or executed by the Governor.
  3. The Governor shall make rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the government of the state, and for the allocation among ministers of the said business in so far as it is not business with respect to which the Governor is required to act in his discretion.

Article 167—Duties of Chief Minister

It shall be the duty of the Chief Minister of each state

  1. To communicate to the governor of the state all decisions of the council of ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the state and proposals for legislation
  2. To furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the state and proposals for legislation as the governor may call for
  3. If the governor so requires, to submit for the consideration of the council of ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but which has not been considered by the council

NATURE OF ADVICE BY MINISTERS

Article 163 provides for a council of ministers with the chief minister at the head to aid and advise the governor in the exercise of his functions except for the discretionary ones. 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. Further, the nature of advice tendered by ministers to the governor cannot be enquired by any court. This provision emphasizes the intimate and confidential relationship between the governor and the ministers.

In 1971, the Supreme Court ruled that a council of ministers must always exist to advise the governor, even after the dissolution of the state legislative assembly or resignation of a council of ministers. Hence, the existing ministry may continue in the office until its successor assumes charge. Again in 1974, the Court clarified that except in spheres where the governor is to act in his discretion, the governor has to act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers in the exercise of his powers and functions. He is not required to act personally without the aid and advice of the council of ministers or against the aid and advice of the council of ministers. Wherever the Constitution requires the satisfaction of the governor, the satisfaction is not the personal satisfaction of the governor but it is the satisfaction of the council of ministers.

APPOINTMENT OF MINISTERS

The chief minister is appointed by the governor. The other ministers are appointed by the governor on the advice of the chief minister. This means that the governor can appoint only those persons as ministers who are recommended by the chief minister.

But, there should be a tribal welfare minister in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha1. Originally, this provision was applicable to Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha. The 94th Amendment Act of 2006 freed Bihar from the obligation of having a tribal welfare minister as there are no Scheduled Areas in Bihar now and the fraction of population of the Scheduled Tribes is very small. The same Amendment also extended the above provision to the newly formed states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

Usually, the members of the state legislature, either the legislative assembly or the legislative council, are appointed as ministers. A person who is not a member of either House of the state legislature can also be appointed as a minister. But, within six months, he must become a member (either by election or by nomination) of either House of the state legislature, otherwise, he ceases to be a minister.

A minister who is a member of one House of the state legislature has the right to speak and to take part in the proceedings of the other House. But, he can vote only in the House of which he is a member.

OATH AND SALARY OF MINISTERS

Before a minister enters upon his office, the governor administers to him the oaths of office and secrecy. In his oath of office, the minister swears:

  1. to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India,
  2. to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India,
  3. to faithfully and conscientiously discharge the duties of his office, and
  4. to do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.

In his oath of secrecy, the minister swears that he will not directly or indirectly communicate or reveal to any person(s) any matter that is brought under his consideration or becomes known to him as a state minister except as may be required for the due discharge of his duties as such minister.

The salaries and allowances of ministers are determined by the state legislature from time to time. A minister gets the salary and allowances which are payable to a member of the state legislature. Additionally, he gets a sumptuary allowance (according to his rank), free accommodation, travelling allowance, medical facilities, etc.

RESPONSIBILITY OF MINISTERS

Collective Responsibility

The fundamental principle underlying the working of the parliamentary system of government is the principle of collective responsibility. Article 164 clearly states that the council of ministers is collectively responsible to the legislative assembly of the state. This means that all the ministers own joint responsibility to the legislative assembly for all their acts of omission and commission. They work as a team and swim or sink together. When the legislative assembly passes a no-confidence motion against the council of ministers, all the ministers have to resign including those ministers who are from the legislative council2. Alternatively, the council of ministers can advise the governor to dissolve the legislative assembly on the ground that the House does not represent the views of the electorate faithfully and call for fresh elections. The governor may not oblige the council of ministers which has lost the confidence of the legislative assembly.

The principle of collective responsibility also means that the cabinet decisions bind all cabinet ministers (and other ministers) even if they deferred in the cabinet meeting. It is the duty of every minister to stand by the cabinet decisions and support them both within and outside the state legislature. If any minister disagrees with a cabinet decision and is not prepared to defend it, he must resign. Several ministers have resigned in the past owing to their differences with the cabinet.

Individual Responsibility

Article 164 also contains the principle of individual responsibility. It states that the ministers hold office during the pleasure of the governor. This means that the governor can remove a minister at a time when the council of ministers enjoys the confidence of the legislative assembly. But, the governor can remove a minister only on the advice of the chief minister. In case of difference of opinion or dissatisfaction with the performance of a minister, the chief minister can ask him to resign or advice the governor to dismiss him. By exercising this power, the chief minister can ensure the realization of the rule of collective responsibility.

No Legal Responsibility

As at the Centre, there is no provision in the Constitution for the system of legal responsibility of the minister in the states. It is not required that an order of the governor for a public action should be countersigned by a minister. Moreover, the courts are barred from inquiring into the nature of advice rendered by the ministers to the governor.

COMPOSITION OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS

The Constitution does not specify the size of the state council of ministers or the ranking of ministers. They are determined by the chief minister according to the exigencies of the time and requirements of the situation.

Like at the Centre, in the states too, the council of ministers consists of three categories of ministers, namely, cabinet ministers, ministers of state, and deputy ministers. The difference between them lies in their respective ranks, emoluments, and political importance. At the top of all these ministers stands the chief minister—supreme governing authority in the state.

The cabinet ministers head the important departments of the state government like home, education, finance, agriculture and so forth3. They are members of the cabinet, attend its meetings and play an important role in deciding policies. Thus, their responsibilities extend over the entire gamut of state government.

The ministers of state can either be given independent charge of departments or can be attached to cabinet ministers. However, they are not members of the cabinet and do not attend the cabinet meetings unless specially invited when something related to their departments is considered by the cabinet.

Next, in rank are the deputy ministers. They are not given independent charge of departments. They are attached to the cabinet ministers and assist them in their administrative, political and parliamentary duties. They are not members of the cabinet and do not attend cabinet meetings.

At times, the council of ministers may also include a deputy chief minister. Thus, Andhra Pradesh had the office of deputy chief minister till 1956. This post was created in West Bengal in 1967. More recently, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka have created this office. The deputy chief ministers are appointed mostly for local political reasons.

CABINET

A smaller body called cabinet is the nucleus of the council of ministers. It consists of only the cabinet ministers. It is the real centre of authority in the state government. It performs the following role:

  1. It is the highest decisionmaking authority in the politico-administrative system of a state.
  2. It is the chief policy formulating body of the state government.
  3. It is the supreme executive authority of the state government.
  4. It is the chief coordinator of state administration.
  5. It is an advisory body to the governor.
  6. It is the chief crisis manager and thus deals with all emergency situations.
  7. It deals with all major legislative and financial matters.
  8. It exercises control over higher appointments like constitutional authorities and senior secretariat administrators.

Cabinet Committees

The cabinet works through various committees called cabinet committees. They are of two types—standing and ad hoc. The former are of a permanent nature while the latter are of a temporary nature. They are set up by the chief minister according to the exigencies of the time and requirements of the situation. Hence, their number, nomenclature and comp-osition varies from time to time. They not only sort out issues and formulate proposals for the consideration of the cabinet but also take decisions. However, the cabinet can review their decisions.

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Governor

updated on April 9th, 2019

At the state level, there is a Governor in whom the executive power of the State is vested by the Constitution. But the Governor acts as a nominal head, and the real executive powers are exercised by the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister.

Appointment

The Governor of a State is appointed by the President of India. In order to become a Governor, a person must have the following qualifications. He/She:

(a) must be a citizen of India,
(b) must be at least 35 years old, and
(c) should not hold any office of profit during his/her tenure.

If a person is a member of either House of the Parliament or the Legislature of a State, or a member of the Council of Ministers at the national or the state level and is appointed as Governor, he/she resigns that post. The Governor is appointed for a term of five years but normally holds office during the pleasure of the President. The pleasure of the President means that the Governor may be removed by the President even before the expiry of his/her term. He/She may also resign earlier. However, in reality, while appointing or removing the Governor, the President goes by the advice of the Prime Minister.

Powers of Governor

With every job there are powers attached. The powers of the Governor are conferred by the Constitution to enable him/her to perform his/her functions effectively as a Head of the State.

The powers of the Governor can be categorized as (i) executive powers, (ii) legislative powers, (iii) financial powers, (iv) judicial powers, and (v) discretionary powers.

(a) Executive Powers: The Constitution of India vests the entire executive powers of the State in the Governor who performs these functions according to the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as its head. He/She appoints the Chief Minister and other members of the Council of Ministers. He/She also appoints persons on important posts such as the Chairpersons and Members of the State Public Service Commission, State Election Commission, State Finance Commission and the Advocate General, Judges of the courts, other than the High Court. He/She is consulted when the Judges of the State High Court are appointed by the President. But in practice the Governor’s powers are only formal. He appoints only that person as Chief Minister who is the Leader of the majority in the Legislative Assembly. He/She appoints Members of the Council of Ministers only on the advice of the Chief Minister. All other appointments are made and executive functions are performed by him/her exactly as per the advice of Council of Ministers.

(b) Legislative Powers: The Governor is an inseparable part of the State Legislature and as such he/she has been given certain legislative powers. He/She has the right to summon and prorogue the State Legislature and can dissolve the State Legislative Assembly. He/She addresses the State Legislative Assembly or the joint sessions of the two houses of the legislature. He/She may nominate one person of Anglo-Indian Community as a member of Legislative Assembly in case the community is not represented. He/She also nominates one-sixth of the members to the Legislative Council, if the State has a bi-cameral legislature. Once again, in real practice the Governor does all this on the recommendations of the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister. A bill passed by the State Legislature becomes a law or Act only when the Governor gives assent to it.

(c) Financial Powers: You must have read in the newspapers that every year the budget is presented by the government in the Legislature for its approval. In fact, the budget i.e. ‘the Annual Financial Statement’ of the State is prepared and presented by the State Finance Minister before the State Legislature, on behalf of the Governor. Moreover, no money bill can be introduced in the State Legislature without the recommendations of the Governor. He/She also has control over the State Contingency Fund.

(d) Discretionary Powers: As we have seen earlier, the Governor acts on the advice of the State Council of Ministers. This means that in reality, the Governor has no powers. But according to the Constitution, under special circumstances, he/she may act without the advice of the Council of Ministers. Such powers, which are exercised by the Governor on his own, are called discretionary powers. Firstly, if no political party or coalition of parties wins a clear majority in the Legislative Assembly, he/she can exercise his/her discretion in inviting a person to be the Chief Minister. Secondly, the Governor acts as a link between the Centre and the State. He/She can reserve any bill passed by the State Legislature for the consideration of the President of India. Thirdly, if he/she thinks that the government of the State is not functioning according to the Constitution, he/she can report to the President. In that case under Article 356, the President’s Rule is imposed, the State Council of Ministers is removed and the State Legislature is dissolved or put under suspension. During such emergency, the Governor rules on behalf of the President.

Relationship between the Governor and the Council of Ministers

As we have seen above, the State executive consists of the Governor, the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers. Normally, the Governor exercises all his/her powers on the advice of the Council of Ministers. We know that when the Chief Minister is sworn in, the Governor simply performs a formal duty. He/She invites the leader of the majority in the State Legislative Assembly to be sworn in as the Chief Minister. The members of the Council of Ministers are also appointed by the Governor on the recommendations of the Chief Minister. The majority can consist of members of Legislative Assembly belonging to one party or a group of parties and independents. However, when there is no clear majority in the House electing one candidate as its leader, the Governor can exercise his/her discretionary power. Similarly, although theoretically the Ministers hold their offices during the pleasure of the Governor, in practice the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers remain in office till they enjoy the support of the majority in the Legislative Assembly. The Governor can dismiss them only when the President’s Rule is imposed.

The Chief Minister is required to communicate to the Governor all the decisions of the Council of Ministers. He/She may call for necessary information related to the state administration. If a Minister individually takes a decision, the Governor may ask the Chief Minister to place such a matter for consideration of the Council of Ministers. It is true that the Governor is a nominal head and the real powers are exercised by the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister. But it will not be correct to say that the Governor is just a constitutional or ceremonial head. He/She can exercise his/her powers effectively under certain circumstances, especially when there is political instability in the State. Since he/she is a link between the Centre and the State, he/she becomes very effective, if the central government sends directions to the State government. The discretionary powers also make the Governor to act as a real executive in particular circumtances.

The governor is the nominal executive head of the state. All the executive authority of the state is vested in him and is exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him.

The governor is appointed by the President and holds office during his pleasure. As a matter of convention, the President sounds the chief minister of the concerned state while appointing the governor.

Before entering upon his office, the governor is to take an oath or affirmation before the Chief Justice of the High Court of that state. In case the Chief Justice of the High The court is not available, the oath is to be conducted by the senior most judge of the court available.

To be eligible for appointment as governor, a person

  1. must be a citizen of India;
  2. must have completed 35 years of age;
  3. should not be a member of either House of Parliament or the state legislature;
  4. must possess the qualifications prescribed for membership of the state legislature;
  5. must not hold any office of profit.

Why An Appointed Governor? The question is often raised as to why the Constituent Assembly of India preferred an appointed Governor over an elected Governor. In the main, four considerations were taken into account for this decision. Firstly, the election would have been an expensive proposition. Secondly, the election would have been fought on personal issues. Thirdly, an elected Governor would have considered himself superior to the Chief Minister. This would have given rise to mutual bickering. Fourthly, an appointed Governor could more effectively check separatist tendencies and provide stability.

Term and Salary The governor is appointed for a term of five years. However, he can relinquish his office earlier by tendering his resignation to the President. The President can also remove him from office before the expiry of his term. The term of the Governor gets automatically extended if his successor does not assume office on the expiry of his term. The governor drew’s a monthly salary of Rs 1,10,000. In addition, he is entitled to free residence, medical facilities, and certain other allowances. The salary and allowances of the governor are charged to the Consolidated Fund of the state and are not subject to the vote of the state legislature.

Powers of the Governor

The Constitution vests quite extensive powers in the governor. though lie is expected to exercise his powers on the advice of the council of ministers. In addition, he also enjoys certain discretionary powers that he exercises on his own. He enjoys the follow ing powers:

1. Executive Powers The governor is the executive head of the state and all executive actions of the state are taken in his name. He also appoints all important officials of the state including the chief minister, ministers, advocate general, chairman and members of the state public service commission and so forth. The governor also reserves the right to recommend to the President that the government of the state is not being carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and Presidential rule be imposed in the state. When the state is placed under President s rule, the governor acts as the representative of the President in the state and assumes extensive powers.

2. Legislative Powers These powers include the right to
(a) summon or prorogue either house of the state legislature and dissolve the state legislative assembly;
(b) address the first session of the state legislature after the general elections;
(c) send messages to the state legislature on bills pending before it;
(d) appoint one-sixth members of the legislative council:
(e) nominates one member of the Anglo-Indian community to the legislative assembly if it does not get representation otherwise;
(f) give assent to the bills passed by the state legislature;
(g) reserve certain types of bills passed by the legislature for the assent of the President;
(h) make laws through ordinances during the recess of the state legislature.

3. Financial Powers He ensures that the budget of the state is laid before the state legislature every year. All money bills can be introduced in the state legislature only on the recommendation of the governor. The governor administers the contingency fund of the state and can advance money out of it to meet unforeseen expenditure. However, the money must be recouped with the authority of the state legislature.

4. Judicial Powers The governor is consulted by the President while appointing the Chief Justice and judges of the state High Court. He appoints judges of courts below the High Court. He can grant pardon, reprieve, respite or remission of punishments to persons convicted of an offence against state laws.

5. Other Powers
(a ) He receives the report of the state auditor general pertaining to the accounts of the state and places it before the state legislature.
(b) He places the report of the state public service commission along with the observations of the council of ministers before the state legislature.
(c) As chancellor of various universities within the jurisdiction of the state, he appoints vice-chancellors of these universities.

6. Discretionary Powers The governor also enjoys the following discretionary powers:
(a) He can appoint any member as chief minister if no political party has a clear cut majority in the assembly, or if the majority party has no acknowledged leader.
(b) He can seek information from the chief minister on legislative and administrative matters.
(c) He can refuse to sign an ordinary bill passed by the state legislature.
(d) He can dismiss a ministry if he is convinced that it has lost majority support.
(e) He can reserve a bill passed by the state legislature for the assent of the President.
(f) He can recommend to the President the failure of constitutional machinery in the state.
(g) He can dissolve the legislative assembly if the chief minister advises him to do so following a vote of no-confidence. It is for the governor to decide whether a particular matter falls within his discretion or not.

Position Though the governor has been accorded a constitutional status like the President of India, his position differs from that of the President insofar as he is permitted by the Constitution to act without the advice of his council of ministers and can use his discretion in certain matters. The Constitution specifically provides that if any question arises whether a particular matter is or is not one which the governor, as under the Constitution, can act in his discretion, the decision of the governor shall be final, and the validity of anything done by the governor shall not be called in question.

The working of the office of the governor since the inauguration of the Constitution shows that generally the governors have tended to act as agents of the ruling party at the Centre and failed to play their role as constitutional rulers. In view of the controversial role played by some of the governors, a demand was raised in certain quarters that the office of the governor should be done away with. This question was examined in detail by the Surakarta Commission, which favored the retention of the office of
governor. However, the commission suggested that while appointing the governor the Centre must consult the chief minister of the state: that only persons of unquestionable integrity and honesty be appointed as governors; active politicians should not be appointed as governors as far as possible and removal of governors should be made difficult so that the governors can act in an uninhibited and fair manner. In short, it can be said that there is no need to do away with the office of the governor, but certain norms must be observed about the appointment of governors so that the office may be able to command the necessary respect.

COMPARISON BETWEEN GOVERNOR AND PRESIDENT

  1. Both the Governor and the President occupy constitutional position.
  2. While the President is the Executive Head of the Indian Union, the Governor is a constitutional head of a single or more states.
  3. All the executive decisions of the Union and state are taken in the name of President/Governor, but actually all the powers are exercised by the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister.
  4. All the bills passed by the Parliament or State Legislature must receive the ascent of President/ Governor before they become an Act.
  5. The Governor can keep a bill passed by the state legislature for the approval of the President (Article 200). However, the President does not enjoy any such power.
  6. In certain matter the Constitution permits the Governor to act without the advice of the Council of Ministers but no such power is vested in the President. The President can either give ascent to a bill referred to him or refer back the same for reconsideration to the Parliament.
  7. The President can grant pardon to a person awarded death sentence. The Governor does not enjoy any such power.
  8. Both the President and the Governor can issue Ordinances during the recess of the Parliament/State Legislature.
  9. The President can nominate two Anglo-Indian members to the Lok Sabha in case the community does not get adequate representation. Governor can, however, nominate only one member of the Anglo-Indian Community to the state legislature.
  10. Both President and Governor enjoy important financial powers. Money bills can be introduced in the Parliament/State Legislature with the prior approval of the President/Governor.
  11. The President can declare war or conclude peace. No such power is available to the Governor.
  12. President can grant pardon to a person punished under martial law, but no such power is available to the governors

The governor is assisted in the discharge of his functions by a council of ministers headed by the chief minister. The chief minister is appointed by the gov ernor. Generally, the leader of the ma jority party in the state assembly is appointed chief minister, who holds position identical to that of the prime minister at the Centre. He enjoys a term that rims parallel to that of the state legislature-five years. However, if the term of the state legislature is extended, the tenure of the Chief Minister is also extended.

The chief minister recommends to the governor the names of persons to be appointed as members of the council of ministers and allocates portfolios among them. He can ask any minister to resign from the council or drop him from the council by reshuffling it. He coordinates the working of various ministries and ensures that the council works as a team.

The chief minister is the chief link between the governor and the council of ministers and keeps the former informed of all decisions of the council The chief minister takes an active part in the deliberations of the state legislature. He makes all important policy announcements on the floor of the legislature and defends the policies of his government in the house. He can recommend dissolution of the legislative assembly to the governor even before the expiry of its term. Generally, this advise is accepted by the governor.

Thus, the chief minister of a state occupies a prominent position in the state machinery’. However, the position of the chief minister depends on his personality, the position of his party in the state legislature, and whether his party controls the government at the Centre or not.

The Constitution of India envisages the same pattern of government in the states as that for the Centre, that is, a parliamentary system. Part VI of the Constitution, which deals with the government in the states, is not applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which enjoys a special status and has a separate Constitution of its own.

Articles 153 to 167 in Part VI of the Constitution deal with the state executive. The state executive consists of the governor, the chief minister, the council of ministers and the advocate general of the state. Thus, there is no office of vice-governor (in the state) like that of Vice-President at the Centre.

The governor is the chief executive head of the state. But, like the president, he is a nominal executive head (titular or constitutional head). The governor also acts as an agent of the central government. Therefore, the office of governor has a dual role.

Usually, there is a governor for each state, but the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1956 facilitated the appointment of the same person as a governor for two or more states.

APPOINTMENT OF GOVERNOR

The governor is neither directly elected by the people or indirectly elected by a specially constituted electoral college as is the case with the president. He is appointed by the president by warrant under his hand and seal. In a way, he is a nominee of the Central government. But, as held by the Supreme Court in 1979, the office of governor of a state is not an employee under the Central government. It is an independent constitutional office and is not under the control of or subordinate to the Central government.

The Draft Constitution provided for the direct election of the governor on the basis of universal adult suffrage. But the Constituent Assembly opted for the present system of appointment of governor by the president because of the following reasons1:

  1. The direct election of the governor is incompatible with the parliamentary system established in the states.
  2. The mode of direct election is more likely to create conflicts between the governor and the chief minister.
  3. The governor being only a constitutional (nominal) head, there is no point in making elaborate arrangements for his election and spending huge amount of money.
  4. The election of a governor would be entirely on personal issues. Hence, it is not in the national interest to involve a large number of voters in such an election.
  5. An elected governor would naturally belong to a party and would not be a neutral person and an impartial head.
  6. The election of governor would create separatist tendencies and thus affect the political stability and unity of the country.
  7. The system of presidential nomination enables the Centre to maintain its control over the states.
  8. The direct election of the governor creates a serious problem of leadership at the time of a general election in the state.
  9. The chief minister would like his nominee to contest for governorship. Hence, a second rate man of the ruling party is elected as governor.

Therefore, the American model, where the Governor of a state is directly elected, was drop-ped and the Canadian model, where the governor of a province (state) is appointed by the Governor-General (Centre), was accepted in the Constituent Assembly.

The Constitution lays down only two qualifications for the appointment of a person as a governor. These are:

  1. He should be a citizen of India.
  2. He should have completed the age of 35 years.

Additionally, two conventions have also developed in this regard over the years. First, he should be an outsider, that is, he should not belong to the state where he is appointed so that he is free from the local politics. Second, while appointing the governor, the president is required to consult the chief minister of the state concerned, so that the smooth functioning of the constitutional machinery in the state is ensured. However, both the conventions have been violated in some of the cases.

CONDITIONS OF GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

The Constitution lays down the following conditions for the the governor’s office:

  1. He should not be a member of either House of Parliament or a House of the state legislature. If any such person is app-ointed as governor, he is deemed to have vacated his seat in that House on the date on which he enters upon his office as the governor.
  2. He should not hold any other office of profit.
  3. He is entitled without payment of rent to the use of his official residence (the Raj Bhavan).
  4. He is entitled to such emoluments, allowances and privileges as may be determined by Parliament.
  5. When the same person is appointed as the governor of two or more states, the emoluments and allowances payable to him are shared by the states in such proportion as determined by the president.
  6. His emoluments and allowances cannot be diminished during his term of office.

In 2008, the Parliament has increased the salary of the governor from 36,000 to1.10 lakh per month. Like the President, the governor is also entitled to a number of privileges and immunities. He enjoys personal immunity from legal liability for his official acts. During his term of office, he is immune from any criminal proceedings, even in respect of his personal acts. He cannot be arrested or imprisoned. However, after giving two months’ notice, civil proceedings can be instituted against him during his term of office in respect of his personal acts.

Before entering upon his office, the governor has to make and subscribe to an oath or affirmation. In his oath, the governor swears:
(a) to faithfully execute the office;
(b) to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law; and
(c) to devote himself to the service and well-being of the people of the state.

The oath of office to the governor is administered by the chief justice of the concerned state high court and in his absence, the senior-most judge of that court available.

Every person discharging the functions of the governor also undertakes a similar oath or affirmation.

TERM OF GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

A governor holds office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office. However, this term of five years is subject to the pleasure of the President. Further, he can resign at any time by addressing a resignation letter to the President.

The Supreme Court held that the pleasure of the President is not justifiable. The governor has no security of tenure and no fixed term of office. He may be removed by the President at any time.

The Constitution does not lay down any grounds upon which a governor may be removed by the President. Hence, the National Front Government headed by V P Singh (1989) asked all the governors to resign as they were appointed by the Congress government. Eventually, some of the governors were replaced and some were allowed to continue. The same thing was repeated in 1991, when the Congress Government headed by P V Narasimha Rao changed fourteen governors appointed by the V P Singh and Chandra Sekhar governments.

The President may transfer a Governor appointed to one state to another state for the rest of the term. Further, a Governor whose term has expired may be reappointed in the same state or any other state.

A governor can hold office beyond his term of five years until his successor assumes charge. The underlying idea is that there must be a governor in the state and there cannot be an interregnum.

The President can make such provision as he thinks fit for the discharge of the functions of the governor in any contingency not provided for in the Constitution, for example, the death of a sitting governor. Thus, the chief justice of the concerned state high court may be appointed temporarily to discharge the functions of the governor of that state.

POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF GOVERNOR

A governor possesses executive, legislative, financial and judicial powers more or less analogous to the President of India. However, he has no diplomatic, military or emergency powers like the president.

The powers and functions of the governor can be studied under the following heads:

  1. Executive powers.
  2. Legislative powers.
  3. Financial powers.
  4. Judicial powers.

Executive Powers

The executive powers and functions of the Governor are:

  1. All executive actions of the government of a state are formally taken in his name.
  2. He can make rules specifying the manner in which the Orders and other instruments made and executed in his name shall be authenticated.
  3. He can make rules for more convenient transaction of the business of a state government and for the allocation among the ministers of the said business.
  4. He appoints the chief minister and other ministers. They also hold office during his pleasure. There should be a Tribal Welfare minister in the states of Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha appointed by him.
  5. He appoints the advocate general of a state and determines his remuneration. The advocate general holds office during the pleasure of the governor.
  6. He appoints the state election commissioner and determines his conditions of service and tenure of office. However, the state election commissioner can be removed only in like manner and on the like grounds as a judge of a high court.
  7. He appoints the chairman and members of the state public service commission. However, they can be removed only by the president and not by a governor.
  8. He can seek any information relating to the administration of the affairs of the state and proposals for legislation from the chief minister.
  9. He can require the chief minister to submit for the consideration of the council of ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but which has not been considered by the council.
  10. He can recommend the imposition of constitutional emergency in a state to the president. During the period of President’s rule in a state, the governor enjoys extensive executive powers as an agent of the President.
  11. He acts as the chancellor of universities in the state. He also appoints the vice-chancellors of universities in the state.

Legislative Powers

A governor is an integral part of the state legislature. In that capacity, he has the following legislative powers and functions:

  1. He can summon or prorogue the state legislature and dissolve the state legislative assembly.
  2. He can address the state legislature at the commencement of the first session after each general election and the first session of each year.
  3. He can send messages to the house or houses of the state legislature, with respect to a bill pending in the legislature or otherwise.
  4. He can appoint any member of the State legislative assembly to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker fall vacant. Similarly, he can appoint any member of the state legislative council to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both Chairman and Deputy Chairman fall vacant.
  5. He nominates one-sixth of the members of the state legislative council from amongst persons having special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, art, cooperative movement, and social service.
  6. He can nominate one member to the state legislative assembly from the Anglo-Indian Community.
  7. He decides on the question of disqualification of members of the state legislature in consultation with the Election Commission.
  8. When a bill is sent to the governor after it is passed by state legislature, he can:
    (a) Give his assent to the bill, or
    (b) Withhold his assent to the bill, or
    (c) Return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration of the state legislature.
    However, if the bill is passed again by the state legislature with or without amendments, the governor has to give his assent to the bill, or
    (d) Reserve the bill for the consideration of the president. In one case such reservation is obligatory, that is, where the bill passed by the state legislature endangers the position of the state high court. In addition, the governor can also reserve the bill if it is of the following nature:
    (i) Ultra-vires, that is, against the provisions of the Constitution.
    (ii) Opposed to the Directive Principles of State Policy.
    (iii) Against the larger interest of the country.
    (iv) Of grave national importance.
    (v) Dealing with compulsory acquisition of property under Article 31A of the
    Constitution.
  9. He can promulgate ordinances when the state legislature is not in session. These ordinances must be approved by the state legislature within six weeks from its reassembly. He can also withdraw an ordinance anytime. This is the most important legislative power of the governor.
  10. He says the reports of the State Finance Commission, the State Public Service Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor-General relating to the accounts of the state, before the state legislature.

Financial Powers

The financial powers and functions of the governor are:

  1. He sees that the Annual Financial Statement (state budget) is laid before the state legislature.
  2. Money bills can be introduced in the state legislature only with his prior recommendation.
  3. No demand for a grant can be made except on his recommendation.
  4. He can make advances out of the Contingency Fund of the state to meet any unforeseen expenditure.
  5. He constitutes a finance commission after every five years to review the financial position of the panchayats and the municipalities.

Judicial Powers

The judicial powers and functions of the governor are:

  1. He can grant pardons, reprieves, respites and remissions of punishment or suspend, remit and commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offense against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the state extends.
  2. He is consulted by the president while appointing the judges of the concerned state high court.
  3. He makes appointments, postings and promotions of the district judges in consultation with the state high court.
  4. He also appoints persons to the judicial service of the state (other than district judges) in consultation with the state high court and the State Public Service Commission.

Now, we will study in detail the three important powers of the governor (veto power, ordinance making power and pardoning power) by comparing them with that of the President.

PresidentGovernor
With Regard to Ordinary BillsWith Regard to Ordinary Bills
Every ordinary bill, after it is passed by both the Houses of the Parliament either singly or at a joint sitting, is presented to the President for his assent. He has three alternatives:
1. He may give his assent to the bill, the bill then becomes an act.
2. He may withhold his assent to the bill, the bill then ends and does not become an act.
3. He may return the bill for reconsideration of the Houses. If the bill is passed by both the Houses again with or without amendments and presented to the President for his assent, the president must give his assent to the bill. Thus the president enjoys only a ‘suspensive veto’.






Every ordinary bill, after it is passed by the legislative assembly in case of a unicameral legislature or by both the Houses in case of a bicameral legislature either in the first instance or in the second instance, is presented to the governor for his assent. He has four
alternatives:
1. He may give his assent to the bill, the bill then becomes an act.
2. He may withhold his assent to the bill, the bill then ends and does not become an act.
3. He may return the bill for reconsideration of the House or Houses. If the bill is passed by the House or Houses again with or without amendments and presented to the governor for his assent, the governor must give his assent to the bill. Thus, the governor enjoys only a ‘suspensive veto’.
4. He may reserve the bill for the consideration of the President
When a state bill is reserved by the governor for the consideration of the President, the President has three alternatives:
(a) He may give his assent to the bill, the bill then becomes an act.
(b) He may withhold his assent to the bill, the bill then ends and does not become an Act.
(c) He may return the bill for reconsideration of the House or Houses of the state legislature. When a bill is so returned, the House or Houses have to reconsider it within six months. If the bill is passed by the House or Houses again with or without amendments and presented to the president for his assent, the president is not bound to give his assent to the bill. He may give his assent to such a bill or withhold his assent.
When the governor reserves a bill for the consideration of the President, he will not have any further role in the enactment of the bill. If the bill is returned by the President for the reconsideration of the House or Houses and is passed again, the bill must be presented again for the presidential assent only. If the President gives his assent to the bill, it becomes an act. This means that the assent of the Governor is no longer required.







With Regard to Money Bills
Every money bill after it is passed by the Parliament is presented to the President for his assent. He has two alternatives:
1. He may give his assent to the bill, the bill then becomes an act.
2. He may withhold his assent to the bill, the bill then ends and does not become an actor.


Every money bill, after it is passed by the state legislature (unicameral or bicameral), is presented to the governor for his assent. He has three alternatives:
1. He may give his assent to the bill, the bill then becomes an act.
2. He may withhold his assent to the bill, the bill then ends and does not become an actor.
3. He may reserve the bill for the consideration of the president.
Thus, the President cannot return a money bill for the reconsideration of the Parliament. Normally, the president gives his assent to a money bill as it is introduced in the Parliament with
his previous permission. When a Money Bill is reserved by the Governor for the consideration of the President, the President has two alternatives:
(a) He may give his assent to the bill, the bill then becomes an Act.
(b) He may withhold his assent to the bill, the bill then ends and does not become an act.
Thus, the President cannot return a money bill for the reconsideration of the state legislature(as in the case of the Parliament).
Thus, the governor cannot return a money bill for the reconsideration of the state legislature. Normally, the governor gives his assent to a money bill as it is introduced in the state legislature with his previous permission.
When the governor reserves a money bill for the consideration of the President, he will not have any further role in the enactment of the bill. If the President gives his assent to the bill, it becomes an Act. This means that the assent of the governor is no longer required.




Comparing Ordinance-Making Power of President and Governor

PresidentGovernor
1. He can promulgate an ordinance only when both the Houses of Parliament are not in session or when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session. The second provision implies that an ordinance can also be promulgated by the president when only one House is in session because a law can be passed by both the Houses and not by one House alone.1. He can promulgate an ordinance only when the legislative assembly (in case of a unicameral legislature) is not in session or (in case of a bicameral legislature) when both the Houses of the state legislature are not in session or when eit-her of the two Houses of the state legislature is not in session. The last provision implies that an ordinance can be promulgated by the governor when only one House (in case of a bicameral legislature) is in session because a law can be passed by both the Houses and not by
one House alone.
2. He can promulgate an ordinance only when he is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action.2. He can promulgate an ordinance only when he is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action.
3. His ordinance-making power is co-extensive with the legislative power of the Parliament. This means that he can issue ordinances only on those subjects on which the Parliament can make laws.3. His ordinance-making power is co-extensive with the legislative power of the state legislature. This means that he can issue ordinances only on those subjects on which the state legislature can make laws.
4. An ordinance issued by him has the same force and effect as an act of the Parliament.4. An ordinance issued by him has the same force and effect as an act of the state legislature.
5. An ordinance issued by him is subject to the
same limitations as an act of Parliament. This
means that an ordinance issued by him will be
invalid to the extent it makes any provision which the Parliament cannot make.
5. An ordinance issued by him is subject to the same limitations as an act of the state legislature. This means that an ordinance issued by him will be invalid to the extent it makes any provision which the state legislature cannot make.
6. He can withdraw an ordinance at any time.6. He can withdraw an ordinance at any time.
7. His ordinance-making power is not a discretionary power. This means that he can promulgate or withdraw an ordinance only on the advice of the council of ministers headed by the prime minister.7. His ordinance-making power is not a discretionary power. This means that he can promulgate or withdraw an ordinance only on the advice of the council of ministers headed by the chief minister.
8. An ordinance issued by him should be laid before both the Houses of Parliament when it reassembles.8. An ordinance issued by him should be laid before the legislative assembly or both the Houses of the state legislature (in case of a bicameral legislature) when it reassembles.
9. An ordinance issued by him ceases to operate on the expiry of six weeks from the reassembly of Parliament. It may cease to operate even earlier than the prescribed six weeks, if both the Houses of Parliament passes resolutions disapproving it.9. An ordinance issued by him ceases to operate on the expiry of six weeks from the reassembly of the state legislature. It may cease to operate even earlier than the prescribed six weeks, if a resolution disapproving it is passed by the legislative assembly and is agreed to by the legisla-tive council (in case of a bicameral legislature).
10. He needs no instruction for making an ordinance.10. He cannot make an ordinance without the instructions from the President in three cases:
(a) If a bill containing the same provisions would have required the previous sanction of the President for its introduction into the state legislature.
(b) If he would have deemed it necessary to re-serve a bill containing the same provisions for the consideration of the President.
(c) If an act of the state legislature containing the same provisions would have been invalid without receiving the President’s assent.

Comparing Pardoning Powers of President and Governor

PresidentGovernor
1. He can pardon, reprive, respite, remit, suspend or commute the punishment or sentence of any person convicted of any offence against a
Central law.
1. He can pardon, reprieve, respite, remit, suspend or commute the punishment or sentence of any person convicted of any offence against a state law.
2. He can pardon, reprieve, respite, remit, suspend or commute a death sentence. He is the only authority to pardon a death sentence.


2. He cannot pardon a death sentence. Even if a state law prescribes for death sentence, the power to grant pardon lies with the President and not the governor. But, the governor can suspend, remit or commute a death sentence.
3. He can grant pardon, reprieve, respite,
suspension, remission or commutation in respect to punishment or sentence by a court-martial (military court).
3. He does not possess any such power.



CONSTITUTIONAL POSITION OF GOVERNOR

The Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary form of government in the states as in the Centre. Consequently, the governor has been made only a nominal executive, the real executive constitutes the council of ministers headed by the chief minister. In other words, the governor has to exercise his powers and functions with the aid and advise of the council of ministers headed by the chief minister, except in matters in which he is required to act in his discretion (i.e., without the advice of ministers).

In estimating the constitutional position of the governor, particular reference has to be made to the provisions of Articles 154, 163 and 164. These are:
(a) The executive power of the state shall be vested in the governor and shall be exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with this Constitution (Article 154).
(b) There shall be a council of ministers with the chief minister as the head to aid and advise the governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is required to exercise his functions in his discretion (Article 163).
(c) The council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the legislative assembly of the state (Article 164). This provision is the foundation of the parliamentary system of government in the state.

From the above, it is clear that the constitutional position of the governor differs from that of the president in the following two respects:

  1. While the Constitution envisages the possibility of the governor acting at times in his discretion, no such possibility has been envisaged for the President.
  2. After the 42nd Constitutional Amendment (1976), ministerial advice has been made binding on the President, but no such provision has been made with respect to 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. The governor has constitutional discretion in the following cases:

  1. Reservation of a bill for the consideration of the President.
  2. Recommendation for the imposition of the President’s Rule in the state.
  3. While exercising his functions as the administrator of an adjoining union territory (in case of additional charge).
  4. 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.
  5. Seeking information from the chief minister with regard to the administrative and legislative matters of the state.

In addition to the above constitutional discretion (i.e., the express discretion mentioned in the Constitution), the governor, like the president, also has situational discretion (i.e., the hidden discretion derived from the exigencies of a prevailing political situation) in the following cases:

  1. 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.
  2. Dismissal of the council of ministers when it cannot prove the confidence of the state legislative assembly.
  3. Dissolution of the state legislative assembly if the council of ministers has lost its majority.

Moreover, the governor has certain special responsibilities to discharge according to the directions issued by the President. In this regard, the governor, though has to consult the council of ministers led by the chief minister, acts finally on his discretion. They are as follows:

  1. Maharashtra—Establishment of separate development boards for Vidarbha and Marathwada.
  2. Gujarat—Establishment of separate development boards for Saurashtra and Kutch.
  3. Nagaland—With respect to law and order in the state for so long as the internal disturbance in the Naga Hills–Tuensang Area continues.
  4. Assam—With respect to the administration of tribal areas.
  5. Manipur—Regarding the administration of the hill areas in the state.
  6. Sikkim—For peace and for ensuring social and economic advancement of the different sections of the population.
  7. Arunachal Pradesh—With respect to law and order in the state.
  8. Karnataka – Establishment of a separate development board for Hyderabad-Karnataka region.

Thus, the Constitution has assigned a dual role to the office of a governor in the Indian federal system. He is the constitutional head of the state as well as the representative of the Centre (i.e., President).

Articles Related to Governor at a Glance

Article No.Subject-matter
Article 153. Governors of states
Article 154.Executive power of state
Article 155.Appointment of Governor
Article 156.Term of office of Governor
Article 157.Qualifications for appointment as Governor
Article 158.Conditions of Governor’s office
Article 159.Oath or affirmation by the Governor
Article 160.Discharge of the functions of the Governor in certain contingencies
Article 161.Power of the Governor to grant pardons and others
Article 162.Extent of executive power of state
Article 163.Council of ministers to aid and advise the Governor
Article 164.Other provisions as to ministers like appointments, term, salaries, and others
Article 165.Advocate-General for the state
Article 166.Conduct of business of the government of a state
Article 167.Duties of the Chief Minister regarding furnishing of information to the Governor, and so on
Article 174.Sessions of the state legislature, prorogation and dissolution
Article 175.Right of the Governor to address and send messages to the house or houses of state legislature
Article 176.Special address by the Governor
Article 200.Assent to bills (i.e. assent of the Governor to the bills passed by the state legislature)
Article 201.Bills reserved by the Governor for consideration of the President
Article 213.Power of Governor to promulgate ordinances
Article 217.Governor being consulted by the President in the matter of the appointments of the judges of the High Courts
Article 233.Appointment of district judges by the Governor
Article 234.Appointments of persons (other than district judges) to the judicial service of the state by the Governor.
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District Administration

updated on April 17th, 2019

In every district there are Sub-Divisions and Blocks or Talukas and the officials posted there assist the district administration. He asked Vijay, if he was aware of the key Officials of his district. Finding him fumbling, the teacher explained various aspects of the district administration. The key officials at the district level are: District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police, District Education Officer, District Agriculture Officer, District Forest Officer etc. All these officers are the heads of their departments in the district.

District Magistrate

However, it is the District Magistrate who is in-charge of the whole district administration. This post is also named as Deputy Commissioner, District Collector or Upayukta. He/She belongs to the Indian Adminstrative Service (IAS). District administration is responsible to implement the policies and programmes of the State and Central governments. Especially after independence, the district administration is responsible not only for collection of revenue or taxes and maintenance of law and order, but is also for various activities related to welfare and socio-economic development of the district.

District had been an important unit of administration since long. During the British colonial period, it was mainly responsible for maintaining law and order and collection of revenues. But at present, state administration has been decentralized and the district administration is playing multi-faceted role. The District Magistrate, therefore, has been assigned various important powers and functions to perform on behalf of the State government. The main functions of District Magistrate are as follows:

1. maintaining law and order and ensuring peace in the district;

2. implementing various policies and programmes of the State government and the Central government;

3. acting as the main link between State government and district level institutions and offices;

4. co-ordinating the activities of different departments such as education, health, welfare, land management, police, jail and culture;

5. taking adequate and appropriate measures during emergencies and disasters and conducting relief work;

6. ensuring the conduct of free and fair elections for various representative bodies, such as Lok Sabha,Vidhan Sabha, Block Samities, Zila Parishad, Municipalities, etc.;

7. managing collection of the revenue and other taxes;

8. performing judicial functions and deciding various disputes and even imposing penalties and fines;

9. listening to the grievances of the people and redressing them.

Sub Divisional Officer

For better administration, each district is divided into smaller units called Sub Divisions. Although the subdivisions of the district are under the District Magistrate, an officer called the Sub Divisional Officer (SDO) is made in-charge of this unit. The SDO is there to assist the District Magistrate in the field of administration and also works as his/her representative. The SDO belongs to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) or to the cadre of State Civil Service. He/She keeps the land records and collects land revenue. He/She has the power to issue licenses for armed weapons like guns and pistols, and is also authorized for the issuance of Driving License, Certificates regarding the domicile, Schedule Castes/Schedule Tribes and other Backward Classes.

The Block Development Officer

The Block is the unit of administration at the lowest level. The officer-in-charge of the Block is called Block Development Officer (BDO). He/She belongs to State Civil Service cadre and looks after various activities of the Block. The BDO is linked with the middle tier of Panchayati Raj as he/she is the ex-officio Secretary of the Panchayat Samiti and keeps the record of the meetings, prepare the budget and coordinates various developmental activities.

Position

A District Collector is also called a Deputy Commissioner in Karnataka, Assam, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir and Haryana, and District Magistrate in West Bangal and Uttar Pradesh. The office of a District Collector is called as the Collectorate.

A District Collector is the head of district administration and the official agent of the state government in the district. The office of a District Collector is a unique as it has no parallels in the administrative systems of other countries except the office of Prefect in France. In France, the Prefect is the head of the department (i.e. the largest territorial unit of administration in France) and an official agent of the Central Government. The office of Prefect is called as the Prefectorate. Hence the French Prefect is considered as the nearest analog of the District Collector in India.

The Revenue and General Administration Department and the Registration Department of the district administration are directly under the charge of District Collector. But his control, supervision, and influence extend to all the other departments of district administration. He is a multi-purpose functionary around whom revolves the entire administration of the district.

The District Collector belongs to the General Administration Department of the state government (i.e. the State Secretariat) which is headed politically by the Chief Minister and administratively by the Chief Secretary. The collector is controlled and supervised by Divisional Commissioner. The place of Collector in the administrative system of a state can be illustrated by the following diagram.

State Government         ↔          Chief Minister

                ↓                                                           ↓

State Secretariat            ↔          Chief Secretary

                ↓                                                           ↓

         Division                 ↔          Divisional Commissioner

                ↓                                                           ↓

          District                  ↔          District Collector

Evolution

District is the basic geographical (i.e. territorial) unit of administration in India. The term ‘District’ is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a territory marked off for special administrative purposes.”

Originally, the Constitution of India made no mention of the term ‘district’ except in Article 233, which mentioned the term ‘district judges.’ But the 73rd and 74th Amendment Acts of 1992 included the term district in the constitution at many places under Part IX and IXA which dealt with Panchayats and municipalities respectively.

“District Administration,” in the words of S.S. Khera, “is the total management of public affairs within this unit…. District Administration is that portion of public administration which functions within the territorial limits of a district.”

The district as a territorial unit of administration in India has a long history beginning with the Mauryan Era. During the Mughal rule, a district was called Sarkar and it was headed by Karori-Faujdar, a military officer who functioned under the direct control of a Subedar.

The present-day district administration and the office of District Collector came into existence in India under the British East India Company. This office was created in 1772 by Warren Hastings, the then Governor-General of India. In 1787, the Collector was made responsible for civil justice and magistracy in addition to revenue collection. He was a very powerful functionary and was described as a ‘Little Napoleon’.

The Indian Statutory Commission (the Simon Commission–1930) remarked that the district collector “is in the eyes of most of its inhabitants, the government” while Ramsay MacDonald compared the District Collector to a tortoise on whose back stood the elephant of the Government of India. Lord Wavel said that the English would be remembered not by this institution or that, but by the ideals left behind in the form of the office of the District Collector.

After Independence, the office of District Collector suffered in terms of status and authority due to the following factors.

(i) Expansion in the sphere of governmental activities and functions due to the replacement of ‘police state’ by ‘welfare state’.
(ii) Change in the form of government, that is, adoption of parliamentary government both at the Centre and in states.
(iii) Change in the ends and objectives of the government, that is, welfare-orientation replaced colonial exploitation.
(iv) The emergence of Panchayati Raj as a unit of local administration.
(v) Separation of judiciary from the executive.
(vi) Increasing political consciousness among people.
(vii) The emergence and growth of a large number of departments in the district.
(viii) Replacement of ICS by IAS.
(ix) Role and influence of pressure groups and political parties.
(x) Rise of Commissionerate system of law and order administration in big cities.

Role and Functions

The role played and the functions performed by the District Collector in district administration can be studied under the following heads.

Revenue Administration Historically, collection of revenue has been the first charge (function) of the District Collector as the very title Collector signifies. He is still the head of revenue administration in the district. He is responsible for the collection of revenue to the state government through the Board of Revenue or Revenue Tribunal in Maharashtra and Gujarat or Financial Commissioner in Punjab, Haryana and Jammu & Kashmir. As the head of revenue administration in district, the Collector is responsible for the following functions.

(i) To collect land revenue.
(ii) To collect other government dues.
(iii) To distribute and recover taccavi loans.
(iv) To maintain land records.
(v) To collect rural statistics.
(vi) To exercise the power of land acquisition officer, that is, acquiring land for the purpose of colonization, industry, slum clearance, capital construction and so on.
(vii) To implement land reforms.
(viii) To look after the welfare of the agriculturists.
(ix) To make an assessment of losses of crops and recommend relief during natural calamities like fire, drought, and flood.
(x) To supervise treasury and sub-treasury.
(xi) To enforce the Stamp Act.
(xii) To pay rehabilitation grant.
(xiii) To manage government estates.
(xiv) To hear revenue appeals against the orders of lower authorities.
(xv) To pay Zamindari abolition compensation.

Law and Order Administration The maintenance of law and order in the district is the principal duty of the District Collector. Before Independence, the District Collector acted as both, the Executive Magistrate and the Judicial Magistrate. As an Executive Magistrate, he was responsible for the maintenance of law and order and as a Judicial Magistrate, he was responsible for the trial of criminal and civil cases by interpreting the laws. After Independence, the judiciary has been separated from the executive in accordance with Article 50 of the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Indian Constitution. As a consequence, the role of Collector as a judicial magistrate came to an end. This function has been handed over to a new functionary called the district judge who works under the direct control of the State High Court.

The District Collector in his capacity as the district magistrate (i.e. executive magistrate) is ultimately responsible for the maintenance of law and order in the district. For this purpose, the district police force headed by the District Superintendent of Police is kept under the control, supervision, and direction of the district magistrate. The Indian Police Act of 1861 vests the police adminstration of the district in the District Superintendent of Police under the control of the district magistrate. Thus there is a system of dual control of law and order administration in the district, that is, control by the district magistrate and control by the departmental line headed by the Director-General of Police.

The District Collector in his capacity as the district magistrate performs the following functions.

(i) To control and supervise the subordinate magistracy.
(ii) To issue orders when there is a threat to public peace and order under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
(iii) To dispose of all the petitions received from the government and others.
(iv) To release prisoners on parole.
(v) To inspect the jails.
(vi) To submit an annual criminal report to the government.
(vii) To grant, suspend or cancel many kinds of licenses like arms, hotel, explosives, petroleum, and others.
(viii) To grant superior classes to prisoners.
(ix) To supervise and control local bodies.
(x) To control and direct the action of district police.
(xi) To enforce the Entertainment Tax Act and Press Act.
(xii) To call the armed forces to aid and assist the civil administration to deal with any abnormal situation in the district.
(xiii) To prosecute offenders under the Factories Act and Trademark Act.
(xiv) To order disposal of unclaimed property.
(xv) To recommend schemes for the development of forests.

Development Administration Before Independence, the developmental role of a Collector was, not that important as British India was a ‘police state’ concerned mainly with the regulatory administration. After Independence and with the initiation of development planning strategy, the developmental role of a Collector became significant. He has become a pivotal figure in the implementation of development programmes. However, the position in this regard is not the same in all the states. Broadly, there have emerged two distinct patterns of development administration in the district. One is the Tamilnadu, Rajasthan and other states’ pattern and the other is the Maharashtra and Gujarat Pattern.

In the first pattern, the Collector is made responsible both for regulatory and development administration. As such, he looks after revenue, magisterial and developmental activities in these states. All the district level officers engaged in the implementation of development programmes function under the supervision, guidance, and leadership of the Collector. Even though, in technical matters, they function under the control and supervision of their respective departments, in the actual implementation of the development programmes they are placed under the administrative control of the District Collector. In many states, the Collector is also designated as the District Development Officer and is authorized to write the Annual Confidential Report of the District level officers engaged in the development administration.

In the second pattern found in Maharashtra and Gujarat, the Collector is made responsible only for regulatory administration. The development administration in these states is made the responsibility of the Zila Parishad. All the District level officers engaged in the implementation of development programmes function under the administrative control and supervision of the Zila Parishad. For this purpose, the Zila Parishad has appointed the District Development Officer (or chief executive officer) who also belongs to the IAS. By this arrangement, the Collector is relieved of his responsibility in the developmental field.

An important dimension of the role of the Collector in the developmental field is his association with the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA). It should be noted here that the chief role of a Collector the field of development administration is that of coordination–coordinating the activities of district-level officers engaged in the implementation of development programmes.

However, the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992 and the consequent Panchayati Raj Acts of 1993 and 1994 of various states have reduced the role of Collector in development administration.

Other Powers and Functions In addition to the above, the Collector also performs the following functions.

(i) He acts as the Returning Officer for elections to parliamentary and state assembly constituencies. Hence, he coordinates the election work at the district level.
(ii) He acts as the District Census officer. Hence, he conducts the census operations once in ten years.
(iii) He acts as the Chief Protocol Officer in a district.
(iv) He presides over the District Plan Implementation Committee.
(v) He acts as the official representative of the state government during ceremonial functions in the district.
(vi) He acts as a kind of buffer between citizens and administration in the district.
(vii) He supervises the municipal administration in the district.
(viii) He acts as the Public Relations Officer of the government.
(ix) He acts as the crisis administrator-in-chief during natural calamities and other emergencies.
(x) As a head of district administration, he deals with personnel matters of the district staff.
(xi) He is responsible for civil supplies–food and other essential commodities.
(xii) He handles work pertaining to civil defense.
(xiii) He maintains liaison with military authorities and looks after the welfare of both serving and retired members of the armed forces.

The Collectorate

A Collectorate is the office of District Collector located in the headquarter of the district. It is divided into various sections. Each section helps the Collector in the performance of his functions and fulfillment of his administrative responsibilities. The following are some of the sections of a typical Collectorate.

  • Accounts Section
  • Civil Supplies Section
  • Development Section
  • Election Section
  • Establishment Section
  • General Section
  • Housing Section
  • Intelligence Section
  • Judicial Section
  • Land Acquisition Section
  • Land Record Section
  • Land Reforms Section
  • Panchayat Section
  • Protocol Section
  • Public Relations Section
  • Revenue Section
  • Rehabilitation Section
  • Registration Section
  • Statistical Section
  • Transport Section

DEPARTMENTAL DISTRICT OFFICIALS

Majority of the state departments are represented at the district level. Each district department has its own head. The heads of these district departments are the technical personnel, that is, specialist civil servants. They are borne on the cadres of specialised state services created on departmental lines. They work under the control and supervision of their respective heads of state department (i.e. Director or Commissioner who head the Directorate). However, the District Collector, as a head of district administration, supervises and coordinates their work. Unlike the other district officials, the collector is a generalist civil servant, usually a member of IAS. The following table shows the departments and their heads in the district.

District Departments and their Heads

Sl. No.Name of DepartmentDesignation of the District Head
1.Revenue and General
Administration Department
District Collector/Deputy Commissioner/District Magistrate
2.Registration Department— do —
3.PoliceSuperintendent of Police
4.ExciseSuperintendent of Excise/District Excise Officer
5.MedicalCivil Surgeon/District Medical Officer
6.Public HealthDistrict Health Officer
7.ForestDistrict Forest Officer
8.EducationInspector of Schools/District Education Officer
9.CooperationAssistant Registrar of Cooperative Societies
10.AgricultureAssistant Director of Agriculture/ District Agricultural
Officer
11.IndustriesAssistant Director of Industries/District Industries Officer
12.JudicialDistrict Judge/District and Sessions Judge
13.Social WelfareSocial Welfare Officer/Backward Classes Welfare Officer
14.JailsSuperintendent of Jails
15.LabourAssistant Commissioner of Labour/District Labour Officer
16.Public WorksExecutive Engineer
17.Civil Supplies/RationingDistrict Food and Civil Supply Officer
18.VeterinaryDistrict Veterinary Officer/Assistant Director of Veterinary
Services
19.Information/PublicityDistrict Information Officer/Assistant Director of Publicity
20.StatisticsDistrict Statistics Officer
21.EmploymentDistrict Employment Officer
22.PanchayatsDistrict Panchayats Officer
23.Treasury and AccountsDistrict Treasury Officer/District Accounts Officer
24.PlanningDistrict Planning Officer
25.Sales TaxDistrict Sales Tax Officer

ADMINISTRATION BELOW THE DISTRICT LEVEL

The District Collector is the head of administration in the district. In the performance of his multifarious tasks, he is assisted by the following hierarchy of functionaries.

        District                          ↔                   Collector

                ↓                                                           ↓

Sub-Division                       ↔          Sub-Divisional Officer

                ↓                                                          ↓

Tehsil (Taluka)                   ↔                   Tehsildar

                ↓                                                           ↓

Circle (Pargana)                ↔          Revenue Inspector (Quanungo)

                ↓                                                           ↓

         Village                          ↔                    Patwari

Sub-Division Under the provisions of the Land Revenue Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, a district is territorially divided into a number of units for the purpose of revenue and criminal administration. The names of these units and their heads (i.e. officials-in-charge of them) differ from state to state as mentioned below in Table

Names of Sub-divisions and their Heads

StatesUnitsHeads
(i)Uttar PradeshSub-DivisionSub-Divisional Officer/Sub-Divisional Magistrate
(ii)Tamil NaduRevenue DivisionRevenue Divisional Officer/Sub-Collector
(iii)MaharashtraPrantPrant Officer/Deputy Collector/Assistant
Collector

The Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) is either a member of IAS or State Civil (executive or administrative) Service and is appointed and controlled by the state government. As the District Collector, he is a territorial officer, generalist administrator and a multipurpose functionary. He is vested with revenue, magisterial and executive powers. As the chief executive officer and the official representative of the state government, he has to keep in touch with the activities of all departments of the government in the sub-division. He acts, on the one hand, as a link between the District Collector and the tehsildar in revenue matters and, on the other hand, between the district magistrate and the station police officer in matters pertaining to law and order. Thus he is the principal assistant and valuable field aide to the District Collector and is responsible to him for all aspects of administration in the sub-division.

The sub-divisions are of two types—the office type and the touring type. In the first type, which is prevalent in most states, the SDO has a permanent office located within the subdivision itself. In the second type, which is prevalent in few states like UP, the SDO does not maintain an office and performs his functions as a touring officer. He resides at the district headquarters.

Tehsil Each sub-division is further territorially divided into a number of administrative units. The nomenclatures for these units and their officials-in-charge differ from state to state as mentioned below in Table

Names of Tehsils and their Heads

StatesUnitsHeads
(i)Uttar PradeshParganaKanungo
(ii)Tamil NaduFirkaRevenue Inspector
(iii)MaharashtraCircleCircle Inspector

The komungo/circle inspector is regarded as the first-line supervisor in the chain of revenue administration. He supervises revenue administration and land records of all the villages under his charge. He is generally appointed by the District Collector.

Village A village is the lowest and the ultimate unit for all administrative and fiscal purposes in all the states. In Tamil Nadu, the most important functionary in a village is called the village headman. He performs revenue, police, and general adminitrative duties and acts as the representative of the government in the village area. The functionary equal to him in Maharashtra is called as patel. In UP, there is no corresponding functionary. The patwari in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh maintains the village revenue accounts and land records. He is thus the village accountant. He is called by various other names in other states, for instance, lekhpal in UP, Karnam (or kanak pillai) in Tamil Nadu and talati in Maharashtra. He is called as “the kingpin of revenue adminstration in the district” by S.S. Khera.

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Posted in Polity

Urban Local Government

updated on April 10th, 2019

There are three types of urban local bodies – (a) Municipal Corporations for the big cities, (b) Municipal Councils for all other cities with smaller population and (c) Nagar Panchayats for transitional areas (semi urban areas). But a significant difference between Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and the urban local bodies is that while the PRIs are closely linked with one another, the urban local bodies are independent. In one State there may be all the three types of urban local bodies: in one big city a Municipal Corporation, in another small city a Municipal Council and in yet another small town a Nagar Panchayat. But they are not linked with one another.

It was during the British colonial rule that the first urban local government came into existence in 1688 when a Municipal Corporation was formed in the city of Madras (now known as Chennai). Later on, similar bodies were formed for the administration at Calcutta (Kolkata) and Bombay (Mumbai). At that time these municipalities were formed to help in the matter of sanitation and prevent epidemics. These Local bodies also had a few civic functions like managing water supply and drainage. But theses bodies were not given the required powers, finance and authority. Initially most of the members were nominated. Our national leaders also had felt the importance and need of such an organization for the local administration and linked these bodies to the planned development of the country. But nothing fruitful could be achieved without finance and the finance was missing. But even then this system proved to be an effective tool of administration. During the British rule many changes were made in urban local bodies. Gradually certain structural changes were made, powers of the local bodies were enhanced and some funds were also provided.

After independence four types of urban local bodies were functioning: (i) Municipal Corporations, (ii) Municipalities, (iii) Town Area Committees and (iv) Notified Area Committees. But the 74th Constitutional Amendment 1992 brought about major changes in the system of urban local government. Now three types of urban local governments are functioning: (a) Municipal Corporations for the big cities, (b) Municipal Councils for smaller cities and (c) Nagar Panchayats for those areas that are in transition from rural areas to urban areas.

The 74th Constituional Amendment 1992

As stated above, the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act 1992 brought about significant changes in the structure and functioning of urban local government. The following points are noteworthy:

  • constitution of urban local bodies (namely, Municipal Corporation, Municipal Council, and Nagar Panchayat) in every Indian State;
  • constitution of Wards Committees within the territorial area of a municipality, to ensure people’s participation in civic affairs at the grass-root level;
  • regular and fair conduct of municipal elections by State Election Commissions;
  • provision for supersession of municipal governments for not more than 6 months;
  • adequate representation of weaker sections (i.e., Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes) of the society and women in municipal governments through reservation of seats;
  • specification by law, through the State Legislatures, of the powers (including financial) and functional responsibilities to be entrusted to municipalities and wards committees;
  • constitution of State Finance Commissions, once in every 5 years, to review the financial position of municipalities and to make recommendations on the measures needed to improve their financial position; and
  • constitution of a District Planning Committee at the district level and a
    Metropolitan Planning Committee in metropolitan areas of every State, for the preparation and consolidation of development plans.

Municipal Corporations

Municipal Corporations

A. Composition

Municipal Corporations are established in big cities according to the provisions made in the Acts enacted by the State Legislatures. The Councillors of Municipal Corporations are elected for 5 years. The elected Councillors elect one of them as Mayor annually. The Mayor is known as the first citizen of the city. The 74th Constitutional Amendment has provided for reservation of not less than 1/3rd of the total seats for women. There is also a provision of reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections in proportion to their population. Out of these reserved seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, one-third would be reserved for women belonging to these communities. In the event of dissolution of Municipal Corporation, the elections will be held within six months. There is an official post of Municipal Commissioner, who is the Chief Executive Officer and is appointed by the State government. In the case of Union Territories like Delhi is done by the Central government.

B. Functions of the Municipal Corporations

The main functions of the Municipal Corporation are as follows:

1. Health and Sanitation: Responsible for cleanliness of the city, disposal of garbage; maintenance of hospitals and dispensaries; promoting and conducting vaccination drives; checking of adulteration etc.

2. Electricity and Water Supply: Provision and maintenance of street lights, supply of electricity, supply of safe drinking water; construction of infrastructure and providing facilities for water supply, maintenance of water tankers etc.

3. Educational: Establishment of primary schools, provision of mid-day meals and other facilities for the children.

4. Public works: Construction, maintenance, and naming of roads; framing rules for the constructions of houses, markets, restaurants, and hotels; removing of encroachments and demolition of dangerous buildings.

5. Miscellaneous functions: Maintaining the record of Births & Deaths; provision and maintenance of cremation grounds/burial grounds, night shelters; making arrangements of scooter & taxi stands and public facilities.

6. Discretionary functions:
(a) Entertainment: Provision of parks, auditoriums etc.;
(b) Cultural: Organizing music, dramas, painting and other art shows; and
activities like maintaince of libraries and museums;
(c) Sports Activities: Provision of play grounds for various games and also arranging sports competitions & tournaments;
(d) Welfare Services: Setting up and maintaining Community halls; running publicdistribution system; implementing family welfare schemes and also schemes for the welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes & backward classes.

C. Main Functions of Mayor

Mayor is the elected as the head of the Municipal Corporation and performs the following important functions:

  • presides over the meetings of the Corporation and maintains decorum and discipline in the meetings;
  • acts as a link between Councillors and the State government;
  • receives foreign dignitaries visiting the city.

D. Sources of Income of Municipal Corporation

Like Panchayati Raj System, Muncipal System also requires funds for the development and welfare activities in its area. Provision is made in the Municipal Act for generating the required funds. Some of the sources of income are as follows:

  • Income from taxes: Municipal Corporation imposes taxes on various items such as – house tax, entertainment tax, tax on hoardings and advertisements, registration fees, tax on building plans etc.
  • Other fees and charges: These include water supply charges, electricity charges, sewer charges, license fee from shop keepers, and toll tax and octoroi duty.
  • Grants-in-Aid: State government and Union government provide grants-in-aid for various projects and programmes related to development.
  • Income from Rents: Corporations rent out the properties and get rent for various shops, kiosks, community centres, Barat Ghars and various sites for fairs, marriages or other exhibitions.

Municipal Councils

Municipal Councils

A. Composition

Cities which do not have very large population have Municipalities known as Municipal Councils to look after the local cities, their problems and developmental work. After the 74th Amendment, the constitution of Municipalities is obligatory for every concerned city. Every Municipal Council has Councillors who are elected by the adult voters of the city for 5 years. Only those persons can be elected as Councillorswho fulfill the conditions laid down by the State Election Commission. If in any case, the Municipal Council gets dissolved before completing the full term of 5 years, the elections for a new Municipal Council will have to be held within six months. Chairperson or President of the Municipal Council is elected by the Councillors from among the elected members. Chairperson holds the office till he/she enjoys the confidence of the majority of the elected members. Every Municipal Council has an Executive Officer who is appointed by the State government. He/She looks after the day-to-day work and also the administration. The Health Officer, Tax Superintendent, Civil Engineer are the other important officers.

B. Functions of the Municipal Council

Functions of the Municipal Council are as follows:

1. Health and Sanitation – Managing cleanliness of the town, disposal of garbage, prevention of sale of unhygienic and adulterated food items, and maintenance of dispensaries or hospitals;

2. Electricity and Water Supply – Ensuring supply of electricity and safe drinking water, maintaining water tanks and also water tankers;

3. Education – Maintaining and running of primary schools and literacy centres.

4. Birth and Death Records – Keeping the records regarding registration of birth and deaths in the city/town and also issuing the certificates for the same;

5. Public Works – Paving of streets, repairing and maintenance of municipal roads, construction and maintenance of Barat Ghars, Community Halls, Markets, Public facilities etc.

C. Sources of Income

No work can be done without money. Municipal Councils have got different sources of income. These sources can be grouped as under:

  • Taxes: Taxes on properties, vehicles, entertainment and advertisement;
  • Rents and fees/charges: Charges for water supply, sewer system; Licenses fees, Rents of the community Halls, Barat Ghars and Shops etc.;
  • Grants from the State government;
  • Fines: Fines from the tax offenders, law breakers, on encroachments etc.

Nagar Panchayats

Nagar Panchayats
An urban center with more than 30,000 and less than 100,000 inhabitants has a Nagar Panchayat. However, there are some exceptions. All the previous Town Area Committees (urban centers with a total population of more than 5,000 and less than 20,000) are designated as Nagar Panchayats. It is composed of a Chairperson and Ward Members. It may have a minimum of ten elected Ward Members and three nominated Members. Like other municipal bodies, Nagar Panchayat is responsible for (a) Cleanliness and disposal of garbage; (b) Supply of drinking water; (c) Maintenance of public amenities like street lights, parking space and public conveniences; (d) Setting up and maintaining fire services; and (e) Registration of deaths and births. Its sources of income are: Taxes such as house tax, water tax, toll tax; License fees and fee for approving building plans; Rents collected by renting Barat Ghars and other properties; and Grant-in-Aid from the State government.

Municipalties

The term ‘Urban Local Government’ in India signifies the governance of an urban area by the people through their elected representatives. The jurisdiction of an urban local government is limited to a specific urban area which is demarcated for this purpose by the state government.

There are eight types of urban local governments in India—municipal corporation, municipality, notified area committee, town area committee, cantonment board, township, port trust and special purpose agency.

The system of urban government was constitutionalized through the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992. At the Central level, the subject of ‘urban local government’ is dealt with by the following three ministries:
(i) Ministry of Urban Development created as a separate ministry in 1985
(ii) Ministry of Defence in the case of cantonment boards
(iii) Ministry of Home Affairs in the case of Union Territories

EVOLUTION OF URBAN BODIES

Historical Perspective

The institutions of urban local government originated and developed in modern India during the period of British rule. The major events in this context are as follows:
(i) In 1687-88, the first municipal corporation in India was set up at Madras.
(ii) In 1726, the municipal corporations were set up in Bombay and Calcutta.
(iii) Lord Mayo’s Resolution of 1870 on financial decentralization visualized the development of local self-government institutions.
(iv) Lord Ripon’s Resolution of 1882 has been hailed as the ‘Magna Carta’ of local self-government. He is called as the father of local-self government in India.
(v) The Royal Commission on decentralisation was appointed in 1907 and it submitted its report in 1909. Its chairman was Hobhouse.
(vi) Under the dyarchical scheme introduced in Provinces by the Government of India Act of 1919, local self-government became a transferred subject under the charge of a responsible Indian minister.
(vii) In 1924, the Cantonments Act was passed by the Central legislature.
(viii)Under the provincial autonomy scheme introduced by the Government of India Act of 1935, local self-government was declared a provincial subject.

Committees and Commissions

The committees and commissions appointed by the Central Government to improve the functioning of urban local governments are mentioned below in Table 35.1.

Committees and Commissions on Urban Local Governments

Sl. No.YearName of the Committee / CommissionChairman
1.1949–51Local Finance Enquiry CommitteeP.K. Wattal
2.1953–54Taxation Enquiry CommissionJohn Matthai
3.1963–65Committee on the Training of Municipal EmployeesNur-Ud-din Ahmed
4.1963–66Rural-Urban Relationship CommitteeA.P. Jain
5.1963Committee of Ministers on Augmentation of Financial Resources of Urban Local BodiesRafiq Zakaria
6.1965–68Committee on Service Conditions of Municipal Employees__
7.1974Committee on Budgetary Reform in Municipal AdministrationGirijapati Mukharji
8.1982Study Group on Constitution, Powers and Laws of Urban Local Bodies and Municipal
Corporations
K.N. Sahaya
9.1985–88National Commission on UrbanisationC.M. Correa

In August 1989, the Rajiv Gandhi government introduced the 65th Constitutional Amendment Bill (i.e., Nagarpalika Bill) in the Lok Sabha. The bill aimed at strengthening and revamping the municipal bodies by conferring constitutional status on them. Although the bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, it was defeated in the Rajya Sabha in October 1989 and hence, lapsed.

The National Front Government under V P Singh introduced the revised Nagarpalika Bill in the Lok Sabha again in September 1990. However, the bill was not passed and finally lapsed due to the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.

P V Narasimha Rao’s Government also introduced the modified Municipalities Bill in the Lok Sabha in September 1991. It finally emerged as the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992 and came into force on 1 June 1993.

74TH AMENDMENT ACT OF 1992

This Act has added a new Part IX-A to the Constitution of India. It is entitled ‘The Municipalities’ and consists of provisions from Articles 243-P to 243-ZG. In addition, the act has also added a new Twelfth Schedule to the Constitution. This schedule contains eighteen functional items of municipalities. It deals with Article 243-W.

The act gave constitutional status to the municipalities. It has brought them under the purview of justiciable part of the Constitution. In other words, state governments are under constitutional obligation to adopt the new system of municipalities in accordance with the provisions of the act.

The act aims at revitalizing and strengthening the urban governments so that they function effectively as units of local government.

Salient Features

The salient features of the act are:

Three Types of Municipalities The act provides for the constitution of the following three types of municipalities in every state.

  1. A nagar panchayat (by whatever name called) for a transitional area, that is, an area in transition from a rural area to an urban area.
  2. A municipal council for a smaller urban area.
  3. A municipal corporation for a larger urban area.

Composition All the members of a municipality shall be elected directly by the people of the municipal area. For this purpose, each municipal area shall be divided into territorial constituencies to be known as wards. The state legislature may provide the manner of election of the chairperson of a municipality. It may also provide for the representation of the following persons in a municipality.

  1. Persons having special knowledge or experience in municipal administration without the right to vote in the meetings of the municipality.
  2. The members of the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assembly representing constituencies that comprise wholly or partly the municipal area.
  3. The members of the Rajya Sabha and the state legislative council registered as electors within the municipal area.
  4. The chairpersons of committees (other than wards committees).

Wards Committees There shall be constituted awards committee, consisting of one or more wards, within the territorial area of a municipality having a population of three lakh or more. The state legislature may make provision with respect to the composition and the territorial area of the awards committee and the manner in which the seats in awards committee shall be filled. It may also make any provision for the constitution of committees in addition to the wards committees.

Reservation of Seats The act provides for the reservation of seats for the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes in every municipality in the proportion of their population to the total population in the municipal area. Further, it provides for the reservation of not less than one-third of the total number of seats for women (including the number of seats reserved for a woman belonging to the SCs and the STs).

The state legislature may provide for the manner of reservation of offices of Chairpersons in the municipalities for SCs, STs, and women. It may also make any provision for the reservation of seats in any municipality or offices of chairpersons in municipalities in favour of backward classes.

Duration of Municipalities The act provides for a five-year term of office for every municipality. However, it can be dissolved before the completion of its term. Further, the fresh elections to constitute a municipality shall be completed (a) before the expiry of its duration of five years; or (b)in case of dissolution, before the expiry of a period of six months from the date of its dissolution.

Disqualifications A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as or for being a member of a municipality if he is so disqualified (a) under any law for the time being in force for the purposes of elections to the legislature of the state concerned; or (b) under any law made by the state legislature. However, no person shall be disqualified on the ground that he is less than 25 years of age if he has attained the age of 21 years. Further, all questions of disqualifications shall be referred to such authority as the state legislature determines.

State Election Commission The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls and the conduct of all elections to the municipalities shall be vested in the state election commission.

The state legislature may make provision with respect to all matters relating to elections to the municipalities.

Powers and Functions The state legislature may endow the municipalities with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government. Such a scheme may contain provisions for the devolution of powers and responsibilities upon municipalities at the appropriate level with respect to (a) the preparation of plans for economic development and social justice; (b) the implementation of schemes for economic development and social justice as may be entrusted to them, including those in relation to the eighteen matters listed in the Twelfth Schedule.

Finances The state legislature may (a) authorize a municipality to levy, collect and appropriate taxes, duties, tolls, and fees; (b) assign to a municipality taxes, duties, tolls and fees levied and collected by state government; (c) provide for making grants-in-aid to the municipalities from the consolidated fund of the state; and (d) provide for constitution of funds for crediting all moneys of the municipalities.

Finance Commission The finance commission (which is constituted for the panchayats) shall also, for every five years, review the financial position of municipalities and make the recommendation to the governor as to:

  1. The principles that should govern:
    (a) The distribution between the state and the municipalities, the net proceeds of the taxes, duties, tolls and fees levied by the state.
    (b) The determination of the taxes, duties, tolls and fees that may be assigned to the municipalities.
    (c) The grants-in-aid to the municipalities from the consolidated fund of the state.
  2. The measures needed to improve the financial position of the municipalities.
  3. Any other matter referred to it by the governor in the interests of sound finance of
    municipalities.

The governor shall place the recommendations of the commission along with the action taken report before the state legislature.

The central finance commission shall also suggest the measures needed to augment the consolidated fund of a state to supplement the resources of the municipalities in the state (on the basis of the recommendations made by the finance committee of the state).

Audit of Accounts The state legislature may make provisions with respect to the maintenance of accounts by municipalities and the auditing of such accounts.

Application to Union Territories The president of India may direct that the provisions of this act shall apply to any union territory subject to such exceptions and modifications as he may specify.

Exempted Areas The act does not apply to the scheduled areas and tribal areas in the states. It shall also not affect the functions and powers of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council of the West Bengal.

District Planning Committee Every state shall constitute at the district level, a district planning committee to consolidate the plans prepared by panchayats and municipalities in the district, and to prepare a draft development plan for the district as a whole. The state legislature may make provisions with respect to the following:

  1. The composition of such committees;
  2. The manner of election of members of such committees;
  3. The functions of such committees in relation to district planning; and
  4. The manner of the election of the chairpersons of such committees.

The act lays down that four-fifths of the members of a district planning committee should be elected by the elected members of the district panchayat and municipalities in the district from amongst themselves. The representation of these members in the committee should be in proportion to the ratio between the rural and urban populations in the district.

The chairperson of such committee shall forward the development plan to the state government.

In preparing the draft development plan, a district planning committee shall

(a) Have regard to—
(i) matters of common interest between the Panchayats and the Municipalities including
spatial planning, sharing of water and other physical and natural resources, the integrated development of infrastructure and environmental conservation;
(ii) the extent and type of available resources whether financial or otherwise; and
(b) Consult such institutions and organizations the Governor may specify.

Metropolitan Planning Committee Every metropolitan area shall have a metropolitan planning committee to prepare a draft development plan5. The state legislature may make provisions with respect to the following:

  1. The composition of such committees;
  2. The manner of election of members of such committees;
  3. The representation in such committes of the Central government, state government and other organisations;
  4. The functions of such committees in relation to planning and coordination for the metropolitan area; and
  5. The manner of election of chairpersons of such committees.

The act lays down that two-thirds of the members of a metropolitan planning committee should be elected by the elected members of the municipalities and chairpersons of the panchayats in the metropolitan area from amongst themselves. The representation of these members in the committee should be in proportion to the ratio between the population of the municipalities and the panchayats in that metropolitan area.

The chairpersons of such committees shall forward the development plan to the state government.

In preparing the draft development plan, a metropolitan planning committee shall

(a) Have regard to—
(i) the plans prepared by the Municipalities and the Panchayats in the Metropolitan area;
(ii) matters of common interest between the Municipalities and the Panchayats, including coordinated spatial planning of the area, sharing of water and other physical and natural resources, the integrated development of infrastructure and environmental conservation;
(iii) the overall objectives and priorities set by the Government of India and the government of the state;
(iv) the extent and nature of investments likely to be made in the Metropolitan area by
agencies of the Government of India and of the Government of the State and other
available resources whether financial or otherwise; and
(b) consult such institutions and or organizations the Governor may specify.

Continuance of Existing Laws and Municipalities All the state laws relating to municipalities shall continue to be in force until the expiry of one year from the commencement of this act. In other words, the states have to adopt the new system of municipalities based on this act within the maximum period of one year from 1 June 1993, which is the date of commencement of this act. However, all municipalities existing immediately before the commencement of this act shall continue till the expiry of their term, unless dissolved by the state legislature sooner.

Bar to Interference by Courts in Electoral Matters The act bars the interference by courts in the electoral matters of municipalities. It declares that the validity of any law relating to the delimitation of constituencies or the allotment of seats to such constituencies cannot be questioned in any court. It further lays down that no election to any municipality is to be questioned except by an election petition presented to such authority and in such manner as provided by the state legislature.

Twelfth Schedule It contains the following 18 functional items placed within the purview of municipalities:

  1. Urban planning including town planning;
  2. Regulation of land use and construction of buildings;
  3. Planning for economic and social development;
  4. Roads and bridges;
  5. Water supply for domestic, industrial and commercial purposes;
  6. Public health, sanitation, conservancy and solid waste management;
  7. Fire services;
  8. Urban forestry, protection of the environment and promotion of ecological aspects;
  9. Safeguarding the interests of weaker sections of society, including the handicapped and mentally retarded;
  10. Slum improvement and upgradation;
  11. Urban poverty alleviation;
  12. Provision of urban amenities and facilities such as parks, gardens, playgrounds;
  13. Promotion of cultural, educational and aesthetic aspects;
  14. Burials and burial grounds, cremations and cremation grounds and electric crematoriums;
  15. Cattle ponds, prevention of cruelty to animals;
  16. Vital statistics including registration of births and deaths;
  17. Public amenities including street lighting, parking lots, bus stops and public conveniences; and
  18. Regulation of slaughter houses and tanneries.

TYPES OF URBAN GOVERNMENTS

The following eight types of urban local bodies are created in India for the administration of urban areas:

  • Municipal Corporation
  • Municipality
  • Notified Area Committee
  • Town Area Committee
  • Cantonment Board
  • Township
  • Port Trust
  • Special Purpose Agency

1. Municipal Corporation

Municipal corporations are created for the administration of big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and others. They are established in the states by the acts of the concerned state legislatures, and in the union territories by the acts of the Parliament of India. There may be one common act for all the municipal corporations in a state or a separate act for each municipal corporation.

A municipal corporation has three authorities, namely, the council, the standing committees and the commissioner.

The Council is the deliberative and legislative wing of the corporation. It consists of the Councillors directly elected by the people, as well as a few nominated persons having knowledge or experience of municipal administration. In brief, the composition of the Council including the reservation of seats for SCs, STs, and women is governed by the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act.

The Council is headed by a Mayor. He is assisted by a Deputy Mayor. He is elected in a majority of the states for a one-year renewable term. He is basically an ornamental figure and a formal head of the corporation. His main function is to preside over the meetings of the Council.

The standing committees are created to facilitate the working of the council, which is too large in size. They deal with public works, education, health, taxation, finance and so on. They take decisions in their fields.

The municipal commissioner is responsible for the implementation of the decisions taken by the council and its standing committees. Thus, he is the chief executive authority of the corporation. He is appointed by the state government and is generally a member of the IAS.

Municipality

The municipalities are established for the administration of towns and smaller cities. Like the corporations, they are also set up in the states by the acts of the concerned state legislatures and in the union territory by the acts of the Parliament of India. They are also known by various other names like the municipal council, municipal committee, municipal board, borough municipality, city municipality, and others.

Like a municipal corporation, a municipality also has three authorities, namely, the council, the standing committees and the chief executive officer.

The council is the deliberative and legislative wing of the municipality. It consists of the councilors directly elected by the people.

The council is headed by a president/chairman. He is assisted by a vice-president/vice-chairman. He presides over the meetings of the council.

Unlike the Mayor of a municipal corporation, he plays a significant role and is the pivot of the municipal administration. Apart from presiding over the meetings of the Council, he enjoys executive powers.

The standing committees are created to facilitate the working of the council. They deal with public works, taxation, health, finance and so on.

The chief executive officer/chief municipal officer is responsible for day-to-day general administration of the municipality. He is appointed by the state government.

3. Notified Area Committee

A notified area committee is created for the administration of two types of areas—a fast developing town due to industrialization, and a town which does not yet fulfill all the conditions necessary for the constitution of a municipality, but which otherwise is considered important by the state government. Since it is established by notification in the government gazette, it is called a notified area committee. Though it functions within the framework of the State Municipal Act, only those provisions of the act apply to it which are notified in the government gazette by which it is created. It may also be entrusted to exercise powers under any other act. Its powers are almost equivalent to those of a municipality. But unlike the municipality, it is an entirely nominated body, that is, all the members of a notified area committee including the chairman are nominated by the state government. Thus, it is neither an elected body nor a statutory body.

Town Area Committee

A town area committee is set up for the administration of a small town. It is a semi-municipal authority and is entrusted with a limited number of civic functions like drainage, roads, street lighting, and conservancy. It is created by a separate act of a state legislature. Its composition, functions and other matters are governed by the act. It may be wholly elected or wholly nominated by the state government or partly elected and partly nominated.

Cantonment Board

A cantonment board is established for municipal administration for the civilian population in the cantonment area. It is set up under the provisions of the Cantonments Act of 2006—legislation enacted by the Central government. It works under the administrative control of the defense ministry of the Central government. Thus, unlike the above four types of urban local bodies, which are created and administered by the state government, a cantonment board is created as well as administered by the Central government.

The Cantonments Act of 2006 was enacted to consolidate and amend the law relating to the administration of cantonments with a view to impart greater democratization, improvement of their financial base to make provisions for developmental activities and for matters connected with them. This Act has repealed the Cantonments Act of 1924.

At present (2013), there are 62 cantonment boards in the country. They are grouped into four categories on the basis of the civil population. This is shown below in Table 35.2.

Classification of Cantonment Boards

CategoryCivil Population
Iabove 50,000
II10,000 to 50,000
III2,500 to 10,000
IVBelow 2,500

A cantonment board consists of partly elected and partly nominated members. The elected members hold office for a term of five years while the nominated members (i.e., ex-officio members) continue so long as they hold the office in that station. The military officer commanding the station is the exofficio president of the board and presides over its meetings. The vice-president of the board is elected by the elected members from amongst themselves for a term of five years.

The Category I cantonment board consists of the following members:
(i) A military officer commanding the station
(ii) An executive engineer in the cantonment
(iii) A health officer in the cantonment
(iv) A first class magistrate nominated by the district magistrate
(v) Three military officers nominated by the officer commanding the station
(vi) Eight members elected by the people of the cantonment area
(vii) Chief Executive Officer of the cantonment board

The functions performed by a cantonment board are similar to those of a municipality. These are statutorily categorized into obligatory functions and discretionary functions. The sources of income include both, tax revenue and non-tax revenue.

The executive officer of the cantonment board is appointed by the president of India. He implements all the resolutions and decisions of the board and its committees. He belongs to the central cadre established for the purpose.

Township

This type of urban government is established by the large public enterprises to provide civic amenities to its staff and workers who live in the housing colonies built near the plant. The enterprise appoints a town administrator to look after the administration of the township. He is assisted by some engineers and other technical and non-technical staff. Thus, the township form of urban government has no elected members. In fact, it is an extension of the bureaucratic structure of the enterprises.

Port Trust

The port trusts are established in the port areas like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and so on for two purposes: (a) to manage and protect the ports; and (b) to provide civic amenities. A port trust is created by an Act of Parliament. It consists of both elected and nominated members. Its chairman is an official. Its civic functions are more or less similar to those of a municipality.

Special Purpose Agency

In addition to these seven area-based urban bodies (or multipurpose agencies), the states have set up certain agencies to undertake designated activities or specific functions that ‘legitimately’ belong to the domain of municipal corporations or municipalities or other local urban governments. In other words, these are function-based and not area-based. They are known as ‘single purpose’, ‘unipurpose’ or ‘special purpose’ agencies or ‘functional local bodies’. Some such bodies are:

  1. Town improvement trusts.
  2. Urban development authorities.
  3. Water supply and sewerage boards.
  4. Housing boards.
  5. Pollution control boards.
  6. Electricity supply boards.
  7. City transport boards.

These functional local bodies are established as statutory bodies by an act of state legislature or as departments by an executive resolution. They function as autonomous bodies and deal with the functions allotted to them independently of the local urban governments, that is, municipal corporations or municipalities and so forth. Thus, they are not subordinate agencies of the local municipal bodies.

MUNICIPAL PERSONNEL

There are three types of municipal personnel systems in India. The personnel working in the urban governments may belong to any one or all the three types. These are

  1. Separate Personnel System: Under this system, each local body appoints, administers, and controls its own personnel. They are not transferable to other local bodies. It is the most widely prevalent system. This system upholds the principle of local autonomy and promotes undivided loyalty.
  2. Unified Personnel System: In this system, the state government appoints, administers, and controls the municipal personnel. In other words, state-wide services (cadres) are created for all the urban bodies in the state. They are transferable between the local bodies in the state. This system is prevalent in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and so on.
  3. Integrated Personnel System: Under this system, the personnel of the state government and those of the local bodies form part of the same service. In other words, the municipal personnel is the members of the state services. They are transferable not only between the local bodies in the state but also between local bodies and departments of state government. Thus, there is no distinction between local civil service and state civil service. This system is prevalent in Odisha, Bihar, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana and others.

The various national level institutions providing training to the municipal personnel are

  1. All-India Institute of Local Self-Government (Mumbai) constituted in 1927; it is a private registered society
  2. Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies (New Delhi) set up in 1967 on the
    recommendation of Nur-Ud-din Ahmed Committee on Training of Municipal Employees (1963-1965)
  3. Regional Centres for Urban and Environmental Studies (Kolkata, Lucknow, Hyderabad, and Mumbai) set up in 1968 on the recommendation of Nur-ud-din Ahmed Committee on Training of Municipal Employees (1963-1965)
  4. National Institute of Urban Affairs, established in 1976
  5. Human Settlement Management Institute, established in 1985

CENTRAL COUNCIL OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The Central Council of Local Government was set up in 1954. It was constituted under Article 263 of the Constitution of India by an order of the President of India. Originally, it was known as the Central Council of Local Self-Government. However, the term ‘self-government’ was found to be superfluous and hence was replaced by the term ‘government’ in the 1980s. Till 1958, it dealt with both urban as well as rural local governments, but after 1958 it has been dealing with matters of urban local government only.

The Council is an advisory body. It consists of the Minister for Urban Development in the Government of India and the ministers for local self-government in states. The Union minister acts as the Chairman of the Council.

The Council performs the following functions with regard to local government:
(i) Considering and recommending the policy matters
(ii) Making proposals for legislation
(iii) Examining the possibility of cooperation between the Centre and the states
(iv) Drawing up a common programme of action
(v) Recommending Central financial assistance
(vi) Reviewing the work done by the local bodies with the Central financial assistance

Articles Related to Municipalities at a Glance

Article No.Subject-matter
Article 243P.Definitions
Article 243Q.Constitution of municipalities
Article 243R.Composition of municipalities
Article 243S.Constitution and composition of wards committees, and so on
Article 243T.Reservation of seats
Article 243U.Duration of municipalities, and so on
Article 243V.Disqualifications for membership
Article 243W.Powers, authority and responsibilities of municipalities, and so on
Article 243X.Powers to impose taxes by, and funds of, the municipalities
Article 243Y.Finance commission
Article 243Z.Audit of accounts of municipalities
Article 243ZA.Elections to the municipalities
Article 243ZB.Application to union territories
Article 243ZC.Part not to apply to certain areas
Article 243ZD.Committee for district planning
Article 243ZE.Committee for metropolitan planning
Article 243ZF.Continuance of existing laws and municipalities
Article 243ZG.Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters
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Panchayati Raj System

updated on April 10th, 2019

The Constitution makers also considered this system to be very important and made provisions for it in the Directive Principles of State Policy. The Constitution states that the State shall take steps to organize Village Panchayats and empower them with such powers and authorities as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of local self-government.

As a follow-up, the present day Panchayats began functioning under the Community Development Programme introduced during the first Five year Plan. To make the system more effective a Committee was formed under the Chairmanship of Balwant Rai Mehta that went into its details. The Balwant Rai Mehta Committee in its report submitted in 1957 recommended the establishment of a three-tier Panchayati Raj System: Gram Panchayats at the village level, the Panchayat Samitis at the block level or intermediate level and the Zila Parishad at the district level. In 1958, the National Development Council also recommended a similar structure of local government where the village was at the bottom of the system and district at the top. However, it is the 73rd Constitutional Amendment 1992 that provided the present shape to the Panchayati Raj System. Now the Panchayati Raj Institutions in most of the States have been set up at three levels, village, intermediate and district levels. But in smaller States having a population of less than 20 lakh, there are only two tiers, the village level, and the district level.

The 73rd Constitutional Amendment 1992

The passage of the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 marks a new era in the federal democratic set up of the country and provides constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). The main features of the Act are:

(i) establishment of a three-tier structure: Village Panchayat (Gram Panchayat); intermediate panchayat (Panchayat Samiti; and the district panchayat (Zila Parishad);
(ii) regular elections, every five years;
(iii) reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in proportion to their population;
(iv) not less than one-third reservation of seats for women at three different levels of PRIs;
(v) establishment of State Finance Commissions to recommend measures to improve the finances of panchayats;

(vi) establishment of State Election Commissions to conduct election to the PRIs;
(vii) establishment of District Planning Committees to prepare development plans for the districts;
(viii) preparation of plans for economic development and social justice and their execution concerning 29 subjects listed in the 11th Schedule of the Constitution;
(ix) establishment of Grama Sabha (village assemblies) and their empowerment as a decision making body at the village level; and
(x) rotation in accordance with the reservation of seats for women and the
Scheduled Castes in the PRIs.

By the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, the Panchayati Raj Institutions have been given such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function. It contains provisions for the devolution of powers and responsibilities related to (a) the preparation of plans for economic development and social justice; and (b) the implementation of such schemes for economic development and social justice as may be entrusted to them.

Do You know

Consequent upon the enactment of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, almost all the States/UTs, except J&K, NCT Delhi, and Uttaranchal have enacted their legislation. Moreover, almost all the States/UTs have held local body elections. As a result, 2,32,278 Panchayats at village level; 6,022 Panchayats at the intermediate level and 535 Panchayats at the district level have been constituted in the country. These Panchayats are being manned by about 29.2 lakh elected representatives of Panchayats at all levels. This is the broadest representative base that exists in any country in the world.

Panchayati Raj is an important feature of the Indian Political The system which ensures direct participation of people at the grassroots level. Though panchayats have been in existence in India since ancient times, they suffered a setback during British rule. After independence, the framers of the Constitution decided to give them the importance and directed the states to “organize village panchayats as units of self-government ” (Article 40). Following this directive, the various state governments took steps to organize village panchayats as units of rural self-government. Greater importance was attached to the panchavat system after the adoption of the five year plan and launching of the Community Development Programme.

In 1956. the National Development Council appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Balwantrai G. Mehta to suggest measures for the better working of the Community Development Programme and the National Extension Sen ice. The committee submitted its report in 1957 in which it recommended:

  1. a three-tier structure consisting of the village at the bottom, district at the top and an intermediary structure in between;
  2. genuine transfer of power and responsibility to these institution;
  3. adequate resources to all bodies to enable them to discharge their responsibilities;
  4. that all social and economic development programmes be channelised through these agencies;
  5. that a system be evolved to effect further dissolution and dispersal of pow er.

The recommendations of the Committee were approved by the National Development Council in January. 1958. This set the stage for the launching of Panchayati Raj institutions throughout the country. Although the broad fundamentals were to be identical, it did not insist on rigidity regarding the form and pattern. The states were free to evolve their own patterns suitable to local conditions.

The three-tier system of Panchayati Raj was first adopted by Rajasthan on October 2.1959. This was followed by Andhra Pradesh, Bihar. Gujarat. Himachal Pradesh. Maharashtra, Punjab. Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal Gradually, the Panchayati Raj system was adopted by most states even though the system differed in matters of detail.

Three-tier System

The three-tier system of local self-government envisages panchayat at the village level Panchayat Samitis at the block level and Zilla Parishad at the district level. Each tier is organically linked to the next tier through the system of indirect elections. However, elections to panchayats at the village level are direct. The organization and functions of various Panchayati Raj institutions are as follows:

1. Village Panchayat This is the lowest rung of the three-tier system and consists of the elected representatives of the people. Membership usually varies from 5 to 31. In addition to elected members, scats arc also reserved for Scheduled Castes. Scheduled Tribes, women, etc. The chairman of the panchayat is known as the sarpanch. who is elected by members of the panchayat from among themselves? Some panchayats also have an up-sarpanch. The panchayat is accountable for all its actions to theGram Sakha. the general body of villagers.

Panchayats are responsible for the formulation and implementation of developmental programmes at the village level. They also perform certain administrative functions such as taking care of village sanitation, public health, street lighting, the construction and maintenance of bridges, wells and ponds, village roads, village schools, etc. They also try to promote agriculture, animal husbandry, rural and cottage industries, cooperative societies, etc. The panchayats also maintain village statistics, etc.

The Gram Sabha is the general body of the village. It consists of all the adults residing within the jurisdiction of the panchayat. It exercises general supervision over the working of the panchayat and lays down necessary guidelines for its working. It controls the finances of the panchayat, imposes various taxes, and examines its accounts. The Gram Sabha usually meets twice a year and examines and approves the various development schemes of the panchayat.

2. Block and Panchayat Samiti The block is the intermediary unit of the three-tier structure. It is administered through a Panchayat Samiti consisting of indirectly elected members of village panchayats under the block, comprising 20 to 60 villages. The Panchayat Samiti is known by different names in different states such as Janpad Panchayat, Taluka Panchayat, Ancha! Panchayat, etc. Generally, the Panchayat Samiti consists of the sarpanches of village panchayats under the block. Besides, it also contains certain members who represent Scheduled Castes. Scheduled Tribes, women, representatives of cooperatives, representatives of small municipalities within the jurisdiction of the block, etc. The Panchayat Samiti elect its own chairman from amongst its members who are known as the Pradhan.

The main function of the Panchayat Samiti is to coordinate the working of the various panchayats under its jurisdiction. It performs important developmental functions such as preparation of plans for the development of the area under its control and implementation of these plans after they have been approved by the state government. It is responsible for the implementation of Community Development Programmes within its jurisdiction.

The chief sources of income of the Panchayat Samiti arc grants and loans provided by the state gov comment/Zilia Parishad. for the implementation of various schemes. In addition, it gets a share of the cess of land revenue from the Gram Panchayat and Zilla Parishad The Panchayat Samiti is responsible for its working to Gram Panchayats as well as Gram Sabhas.

3. Zilla Parishad The Zilla Parishad is the top level of the three-tier structure and is also known as the District Panchayat, District Development Council, etc. The composition of the Zilla Parishad also differs from state to state. Generally, the Zilla Parishad consists of representatives of the Panchayat Samiti under its jurisdiction, local members of the state legislature, members of Parliament representing a part or whole of the district, co-opted members representing Scheduled Castes. Scheduled Tribes, women, etc., representatives of cooperative bodies, district level officers of the medical, public health, public works, engineering, agriculture, education, veterinary and other development departments. The Zilla Parishad elects its own chairman from amongst its members who is known as tare Pradhan.

The Zilla Parishad performs mainly coordinating and supervisory functions. It coordinates the work of the Panchayat Samitis under its jurisdiction and ensures the implementation of the various developmental schemes within its jurisdiction. It also examines and approves the budget of Panchayat Samitis under it. The Zilla Parishad also performs important administrative functions which include the establishment and maintenance of primary and secondary schools, hospitals and dispensaries, irrigation works, execution and maintenance of roads, etc. The Zilla Parishad does not possess any independent sources of income and is entirely dependent on the state government for grants. Its other sources include a share in cesses on land revenue, stamp duties, etc.

Strengthening The PRIs

The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments marked a watershed in the history of decentralised governance, planning, and development in India as these made panchayat bodies the third tier of government with reasonable power and authority in addition to creating space for women and marginalised groups in the federal set-up. Decentralised democracy was also extended to Fifth Schedule areas through the provisions of another Panchayat (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 known as the Extension Act which not only made the gram sabha a strong body, but also put ‘jal, jungle, and jamin’ (water, forest, and land) under its control.

These central acts, however, instead of clearly specifying the powers and functions of panchayats and municipalities, have left it to the discretion of state governments. Articles 243 G and 243 W of these acts decree that the legislature of a state may, by law, endow the panchayats/municipalities with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government. Such law may also contain provisions for the devolution of powers and responsibilities upon panchayats/municipalities, subject to such conditions as may be specified therein, with respect to the preparation of plans and implementation of such schemes for economic development and social justice as may be entrusted to them. These may include inter alia schemes and plans in relation to socio-economic development and providing basic services as listed in the Eleventh and Twelfth Schedules of the Constitution.

Article 243 ZD of the 74th Amendment Act providing for constitution of district planning committees (DPC) by the state government in every district is a milestone in decentralised planning with people’s participation. These committees are expected to consolidate the plans prepared by the panchayats and municipalities in the district and prepare a draft development plan for the district as a whole. DPCs have been set up in most of the states. Much of the implementation of these panchayat acts, i.e., power-sharing with panchayat bodies are left to the states. Over the years, the panchayat bodies have not been strengthened in terms of functions, finances and functionaries (triple Fs) with regard to the preparation of plans and the listed subjects. The Economic Survey 2014–15 suggests the following steps towards strengthening the PRIs:

(i) The panchayat bodies have the potential to become true vehicles for carrying out the government’s slogan of “less government–more governance” if states show consensus.
(ii) In order to convert outlays of the local-centric programmes into outcomes, these institutions need greater awareness, responsibility, and accountability, which will also enable better connect of these programmes with the common man.
(iii) Greater devolution of powers to the panchayats and municipalities is the need of the hour, in respect of the ‘triple Fs’ in a phased manner.
(iv) Majority of panchayat/municipalitycentric programmes do have earmarked funds for awareness generation and capacity building. These funds across ministries need to be pooled together under the Panchayati Raj Ministry and Ministry of Urban Development to make infrastructure and capacity building of panchayats and municipalities a continuous and regular process.

These steps will create the following possibilities in the local bodies:

(a) Enable them to understand not only their role and rights but also their responsibilities and will make them accountable, bringing about qualitative improvement in governance at decentralised level.
(b) Transform them into vibrant institutions and enable them to perform their envisaged role in participatory planning, implementation, execution, monitoring, and supervision and also carry out social audit of all panchayat/ municipality-centric programmes.

Government has given high priority to ‘inclusion’ factor—through the ideas of “inclusive growth” (as outlined by the 11th Plan, 2007-12) and the “third generation of economic reforms” (launched 2002, on the margins of the 10th Plan, 2002-07)—it is officially decided to use the PRIs as the main tool. In this way, it is essential for the governments (centre and states, both) to use the untapped potential of the PRIs as the vehicle of decentralising the fruits of growth and development to the ‘grass-root’ level. For this the PRIs need strengthening—newly created ‘think tank’, the NITI can play as an instrumental role in it (through its platform, the ‘Governing Council’)—in reaching a broad consensus among the governments regarding it.

Panchayati Raj

The term Panchayati Raj in India signifies the system of rural local self-government. It has been established in all the states of India by the Acts of the state legislatures to build democracy at the grass root level1. It is entrusted with rural development. It was institutionalized through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992.

EVOLUTION OF PANCHAYATI RAJ

Balwant Rai Mehta Committee

In January 1957, the Government of India appointed a committee to examine the working of the Community Development Programme (1952) and the National Extension Service (1953) and to suggest measures for their better working. The chairman of this committee was Balwant Rai G Mehta. The committee submitted its report in November 1957 and recommended the establishment of the scheme of ‘democratic decentralization’, which ultimately came to be known as Panchayati Raj. The specific recommendations made by it are:

  1. Establishment of a three-tier Panchayati Raj system—gram panchayat at the village level, panchayat samiti at the block level and Zila Parishad at the district level. These tiers should be organically linked through a device of indirect elections.
  2. The village panchayat should be constituted with directly elected representatives, whereas the Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishad should be constituted with indirectly elected members.
  3. All planning and development activities should be entrusted to these bodies.
  4. The panchayat samiti should be the executive body while the Zila Parishad should be the advisory, coordinating and supervisory body.
  5. The district collector should be the chairman of the zila parishad.
  6. There should be a genuine transfer of power and responsibility to these democratice bodies.
  7. Adequate resources should be transferred to these bodies to enable them to discharge their functions and fulfil their responsibilities.
  8. A system should be evolved to effect further devolution of authority in future.

These recommendations of the committee were accepted by the National Development Council in January 1958. The council did not insist on a single rigid pattern and left it to the states to evolve their own patterns suitable to local conditions. But the basic principles and broad fundamentals should be identical throughout the country.

Rajasthan was the first state to establish Panchayati Raj. The scheme was inaugurated by the prime minister on October 2, 1959, in Nagaur district. Rajasthan was followed by Andhra Pradesh, which also adopted the system in 1959. Thereafter, most of the states adopted the system.

Though most of the states created Panchayati Raj institutions by mid-1960s, there were differences from one state to another with regard to the number of tiers, the relative position of Samiti and Parishad, their tenure, composition, functions, finances and so on. For example, Rajasthan adopted the three-tier system while Tamil Nadu adopted the two-tier system. West Bengal, on the other hand, adopted the four-tier system. Further, in the Rajasthan–Andhra Pradesh pattern, panchayat Samiti was powerful as the block was the unit of planning and development, while in Maharashtra–Gujarat pattern, Zila Parishad was powerful as the district was the unit of planning and development. Some states also established Nyaya panchayats, that is, judicial panchayats to try petty civil and criminal cases.

Study Teams and Committees

Since 1960, many study teams, committees, and working groups have been appointed to examine the various aspects of the functioning of the Panchayati Raj system. They are mentioned below in Table 34.1.

Study Teams and Committees on Panchayati Raj

Sl. No.

Year

Name of the study Team / CommitteeChairman

1.


1960


Committee on Rationalisation of Panchayat StatisticsV.R. Rao


2.


1961


Working Group on Panchayats and CooperativesS.D. Mishra


3.


1961


Study Team on Panchayati Raj AdministrationV. Iswaran


4.

1962

Study Team on Nyaya PanchayatsG.R. Rajgopal

5.



1963



Study Team on the Position of Gram Sabha in Panchayati Raj MovementR.R. Diwakar



6.



1963



Study Group on Budgeting and Accounting Procedure of Panchayati Raj InstitutionsM. Rama Krishnayya



7.

1963

Study Team on Panchayati Raj FinancesK. Santhanam

8.

1965

Committee on Panchayati Raj ElectionsK. Santhanam

9.


1965


Study Team on the Audit and Accounts of Panchayati Raj BodiesR.K. Khanna


10.


1966


Committee on Panchayati Raj Training CentresG. Ramachandran


11.






1969






Study Team on Involvement of Community Development Agency and Panchayati Raj Institutions in the Implementation of Basic Land Reform MeasuresV. Ramanathan






12.




1972




Working Group for Formulation of Fifth Five Year Plan on Community Development and Panchayati RajN. Ramakrishnayya




13.


1976


Committee on Community Development and Panchayati Raj1961Smt. Daya Choubey


Ashok Mehta Committee

In December 1977, the Janata Government appointed a committee on panchayati raj institutions under the chairmanship of Ashok Mehta. It submitted its report in August 1978 and made 132 recommendations to revive and strengthen the declining panchayati raj system in the country. Its main recommendations were:

  1. The three-tier system of panchayati raj should be replaced by the two-tier system, that is, zila parishad at the district level, and below it, the mandal panchayat consisting of a group of villages with a total population of 15,000 to 20,000.
  2. A district should be the first point for decentralisation under popular supervision below the state level.
  3. Zila parishad should be the executive body and made responsible for planning at the district level.
  4. There should be an official participation of political parties at all levels of panchayat elections.
  5. The panchayati raj institutions should have compulsory powers of taxation to mobilise their own financial resourses.
  6. There should be a regular social audit by a district level agency and by a committee of legislators to check whether the funds allotted for the vulnerable social and economic groups are actually spent on them.
  7. The state government should not supersede the panchayati raj institutions. In case of an imperative supersession, elections should be held within six months from the date of supersession.
  8. The nyaya panchayats should be kept as separate bodies from that of development panchayats. They should be presided over by a qualified judge.
  9. The chief electoral officer of a state in consultation with the chief election commissioner should organise and conduct the panchayati raj elections.
  10. Development functions should be transferred to the zila parishad and all development staff should work under its control and supervision.
  11. The voluntary agencies should play an important role in mobilising the support of the people for panchayati raj.
  12. A minister for panchayati raj should be appointed in the state council of ministers to look after the affairs of the panchayati raj institutions.
  13. Seats for SCs and STs should be reserved on the basis of their population.
  14. A constitutional recognition should be accorded to the Panchayati Raj institutions. This would give them the requisite status (sanctity and stature) and an assurance of continuous functioning.

Due to the collapse of the Janata Government before the completion of its term, no action could be taken on the recommendations of the Ashok Mehta Committee at the central level. However, the three states of Karnataka, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh took steps to revitalize the Panchayati Raj, keeping in view some of the recommendations of the Ashok Mehta Committee.

G V K Rao Committee

The Committee on Administrative Arrangement for Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation Programmes under the chairmanship of G.V.K. Rao was appointed by the Planning Commission in The Committee came to the conclusion that the developmental process was gradually bureaucratized and divorced from the Panchayati Raj. This phenomenon of bureaucratization of development administration as against the democratization weakened the Panchayati Raj institutions resulting in what is aptly called ‘grass without roots’. Hence, the Committee made the following recommendations to strengthen and revitalize the Panchayati Raj system:

(i) The district level body, that is, the Zila Parishad should be of pivotal importance in the scheme of democratic decentralization. It stated that “the district is the proper unit for planning and development and the Zila Parishad should become the principal body for management of all development programmes which can be handled at that level.”
(ii) The Panchayati Raj institutions at the district and lower levels should be assigned an important role with respect to planning, implementation and monitoring of rural development programmes.
(iii) Some of the planning functions at the state level should be transferred to the district level planning units for effective decentralized district planning.
(iv) A post of District Development Commissioner should be created. He should act as the chief executive officer of the Zila Parishad and should be in charge of all the development departments at the district level.
(v) Elections to the Panchayati Raj institutions should be held regularly. It found that elections became overdue for one or more tiers in 11 states.

Thus the committee, in its scheme of the decentralized system of field administration, assigned a leading role to the Panchayati Raj in local planning and development. It is in this respect that the recommendation of the G.V.K. Rao Committee Report (1986) differed from those of the Dantwala Committee Report on Block-Level Planning (1978) and the Hanumantha Rao Committee Report on District Planning (1984). Both the committees have suggested that the basic decentralized planning function should be done at the district level. The Hanumantha Rao Committee advocated separate district planning bodies under either the District Collector or a minister. In both the models, the Collector should play a significant role in the decentralized planning through the Committee stated that Panchayati Raj institutions would also be associated with this process (of decentralized planning). The committee recommended that the Collector should be the coordinator, at the district level, of all developmental and planning activities. Thus the Hanumantha Rao Committee differed in this respect from those of Balwantray Mehta Committee, the Administrative Reforms Commission of India, the Ashok Mehta Committee and finally the G.V.K. Rao Committee which recommended the reduction in the developmental role of the District Collector and which assigned a major role to the Panchayati Raj in development administration.

L M Singhvi Committee

In 1986, Rajiv Gandhi government appointed a committee on ‘Revitalisation of Panchayati Raj Institutions for Democracy and Development’ under the chairmanship of L M Singhvi. It made the following recommendations.
(i) The Panchayati Raj institutions should be constitutionally recognized, protected and preserved. For this purpose, a new chapter should be added in the Constitution of India. This will make their identity and integrity reasonably and substantially inviolate. It also suggested constitutional provisions to ensure regular, free and fair elections to the Panchayati Raj bodies.
(ii) Nyaya Panchayats should be established for a cluster of villages.
(iii) The villages should be reorganized to make Gram Panchayats more viable. It also emphasized the importance of the Gram Sabha and called it as the embodiment of direct democracy.
(iv) The Village Panchayats should have more financial resources.
(v) The judicial tribunals should be established in each state to adjudicate controversies about the election to the Panchayati Raj institutions, their dissolution and other matters related to their functioning.

Constitutionalisation

Rajiv Gandhi Government The Rajiv Gandhi Government introduced the 64th Constitutional Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha in July 1989 to constitutionalize Panchayati Raj institutions and make them more powerful and broad-based. Although the Lok Sabha passed the bill in August 1989, it was not approved by the Rajya Sabha. The bill was vehemently opposed by the Opposition on the ground that it sought to strengthen centralization in the federal system.

V P Singh Government The National Front Government, soon after assuming office in November 1989 under the Prime Ministership of V P Singh, announced that it would take steps to strengthen the Panchayati Raj institutions. In June 1990, a two-day conference of the state chief ministers under the chairmanship of V P Singh was held to discuss the issues relating to the strengthening of the panchayati raj bodies. The conference approved the proposals for the introduction of a fresh constitutional amendment bill. Consequently, a constitutional amendment bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in September 1990. However, the fall of the government resulted in the lapse of the bill.

Narasimha Rao Government The Congress Government under the prime ministership of P V Narasimha Rao once again considered the matter of the constitutionalization of Panchayati Raj bodies. It drastically modified the proposals in this regard to deleting the controversial aspects and introduced a constitutional amendment bill in the Lok Sabha in September 1991. This bill finally emerged as the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 and came into force on 24 April 1993.

73RD AMENDMENT ACT OF 1992

Significance of the Act

This act has added a new Part-IX to the Constitution of India. It is entitled as ‘The Panchayats’ and consists of provisions from Articles 243 to 243 O. In addition, the act has also added a new Eleventh Schedule to the Constitution. This schedule contains 29 functional items of the panchayats. It deals with Article 243-G.

The act has given a practical shape to Article 40 of the Constitution which says that “The State shall take steps to organize village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.” This article forms a part of the Directive Principles of State Policy.

The act gives constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj institutions. It has brought them under the purview of the justiciable part of the Constitution. In other words, the state governments are under constitutional obligation to adopt the new Panchayati Raj system in accordance with the provisions of the act. Consequently, neither the formation of panchayats nor the holding of elections at regular intervals depends on the will of the state government anymore.

The provisions of the act can be grouped into two categories—compulsory and voluntary. The compulsory (mandatory or obligatory) provisions of the act have to be included in the state laws creating the new Panchayati Raj system. The voluntary provisions, on the other hand, may be included at the discretion of the states. Thus the voluntary provisions of the act ensure the right of the states to take local factors like geographical, politico-administrative and others, into consideration while adopting the new Panchayati Raj system.

The act is a significant landmark in the evolution of grassroots democratic institutions in the country. It transfers the representative democracy into participatory democracy. It is a revolutionary concept to build democracy at the grassroot level in the country.

Salient Features

The salient features of the act are:

Gram Sabha The act provides for a Gram Sabha as the foundation of the Panchayati Raj system. It is a body consisting of persons registered in the electoral rolls of a village comprised within the area of Panchayat at the village level. Thus, it is a village assembly consisting of all the registered voters in the area of a panchayat. It may exercise such powers and perform such functions at the village level as the legislature of a state determines.

Three-Tier System The act provides for a three-tier system of Panchayati Raj in every state, that is Panchayats at the village, intermediate, and district levels. Thus, the act brings about uniformity in the structure of Panchayati raj throughout the country. However, a state having a population not exceeding 20 lakh may not constitute panchayats at the intermediate level.

Election of Members and Chairpersons All the members of panchayats at the village, intermediate and district levels shall be elected directly by the people. Further, the chairperson of panchayats at the intermediate and district levels shall be elected indirectly—by and from amongst the elected members thereof. However, the chairperson of a panchayat at the village level shall be elected in such manner as the state legislature determines.

Reservation of Seats The act provides for the reservation of seats for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in every panchayat (i.e., at all the three levels) in the proportion of their population to the total population in the panchayat area. Further, the state legislature shall provide for the reservation of offices of the chairperson in the panchayat at the village or any other level for the SCs and STs.

The act provides for the reservation of not less than one-third of the total number of seats for women (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging the SCs and STs). Further, not less than one-third of the total number of offices of Chairpersons in the Panchayats at each level shall be reserved for women.

The act also authorizes the legislature of a state to make any provision for reservation of seats in any Panchayat or offices of the chairperson in the panchayat at any level in favour of backward classes.

Duration of Panchayats The act provides for a five-year term of office to the panchayat at every level. However, it can be dissolved before the completion of its term. Further, fresh elections to constitute a Panchayat shall be completed (a) before the expiry of its duration of five years; or (b) in the case of dissolution, before the expiry of a period of six months from the date of its dissolution.

Disqualifications A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as or for being a member of panchayat if he is so disqualified, (a) under any law for the time being in force for the purpose of elections to the legislature of the state concerned, or (b) under any law made by the state legislature. However, no person shall be disqualified on the ground that he is less than 25 years of age if he has attained the age of 21 years. Further, all questions of disqualifications shall be referred to such authority as the state legislature determines.

State Election Commission The superintendence, direction, and control of the preparation of electoral rolls and the conduct of all elections to the Panchayats shall be vested in the state election commission. It consists of a state election commissioner to be appointed by the governor. His conditions of service and tenure of office shall also be determined by the governor. He shall not be removed from the office except in the manner and on the grounds prescribed for the removal of a judge of the state high court. His conditions of service shall not be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.

The state legislature may make provision with respect to all matters relating to elections to the panchayats.

Powers and Functions The state legislature may endow the Panchayats with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government. Such a scheme may contain provisions for the devolution of powers and responsibilities upon Panchayats at the appropriate level with respect to (a) the preparation of plans for economic development and social justice; (b) the implementation of schemes for economic development and social justice as may be entrusted to them, including those in relation to the 29 matters listed in the Eleventh Schedule.

Finances The state legislature may (a) authorize a panchayat to levy, collect and appropriate taxes, duties, tolls, and fees; (b) assign to a panchayat taxes, duties, tolls and fees levied and collected by the state government; (c) provide for making grants-in-aid to the panchayats from the consolidated fund of the state; and (d) provide for constitution of funds for crediting all money of the panchayats.

Finance Commission The governor of a state shall, after every five years, constitute a finance committee to review the financial position of the panchayats. It shall make the following recommendations to the Governor:

  1. The principles that should govern:
    (a) The distribution between the state and the panchayats of the net proceeds of the taxes, duties, tolls, and fees levied by the state.
    (b) The determination of taxes, duties, tolls, and fees that may be assigned to the panchayats.
    (c) The grants-in-aid to the panchayats from the consolidated fund of the state.
  2. The measures needed to improve the financial position of the panchayats.
  3. Any other matter referred to it by the governor in the interests of sound finance of the panchayats.

The state legislature may provide for the composition of the commission, the required qualifications of its members and the manner of their selection.

The governor shall place the recommendations of the commission along with the action taken report before the state legislature.

The Central Finance Commission shall also suggest the measures needed to augment the consolidated fund of a state to supplement the resources of the panchayats in the states (on the basis of the recommendations made by the finance committee of the state).

Audit of Accounts The state legislature may make provisions with respect to the maintenance of accounts by the panchayats and the auditing of such accounts.

Application to Union Territories The president of India may direct that the provisions of this act shall apply to any union territory subject to such exceptions and modifications as he may specify.

Exempted States and Areas The act does not apply to the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram and certain other areas. These areas include, (a) the scheduled areas and the tribal areas in the states5; (b) the hill area of Manipur for which a district council exists; and (c) Darjeeling district of West Bengal for which Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council exists.

However, the Parliament may extend the provisions of this Part to the scheduled areas subject to such exceptions and modifications as it may specify. Under this provision, the Parliament has enacted the ‘Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act’, 1996 (PESA).

Continuance of Existing Laws and Panchayats All the state laws relating to panchayats shall continue to be in force until the expiry of one year from the commencement of this act. In other words, the states have to adopt the new Panchayati Raj system based on this act within the maximum period of one year from 24 April 1993, which was the date of the commencement of this act. However, all the Panchayats existing immediately before the commencement of the action shall continue till the expiry of their term, unless dissolved by the state legislature sooner.

Consequently, the majority of states passed the Panchayati Raj acts in 1993 and 1994 to adopt the new system in accordance with the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992.

Bar to Interference by Courts in Electoral Matters The act bars the interference by courts in the electoral matters of panchayats. It declares that the validity of any law relating to the delimitation of constituencies or the allotment of seats to such constituencies cannot be questioned in any court. It further lays down that no election to any panchayat is to be questioned except by an election petition presented to such authority and in such manner as provided by the state legislature.

Eleventh Schedule It contains the following 29 functional items placed within the purview of panchayats:

  1. Agriculture, including agricultural extension
  2. Land improvement, implementation of land reforms, land consolidation and soil conservation
  3. Minor irrigation, water management and watershed development
  4. Animal husbandry, dairying and poultry
  5. Fisheries
  6. Social forestry and farm forestry
  7. Minor forest produce
  8. Small-scale industries, including food processing industries
  9. Khadi, village and cottage industries
  10. Rural housing
  11. Drinking water
  12. Fuel and fodder
  13. Roads, culverts, bridges, ferries, waterways and other means of communication
  14. Rural electrification, including distribution of electricity
  15. Non-conventional energy sources
  16. Poverty alleviation programme
  17. Education, including primary and secondary schools
  18. Technical training and vocational education
  19. Adult and non-formal education
  20. Libraries
  21. Cultural activities
  22. Markets and fairs
  23. Health and sanitation including hospitals, primary health centres and dispensaries
  24. Family welfare
  25. Women and child development
  26. Social welfare, including welfare of the handicapped and mentally retarded
  27. Welfare of the weaker sections, and in particular, of the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes
  28. Public distribution system
  29. Maintenance of community assets.

COMPULSORY AND VOLUNTARY PROVISIONS

Now, we will identify separately the compulsory (obligatory or mandatory) and voluntary (discretionary or optional) provisions (features) of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act (1992) or the Part IX of the Constitution:

A. Compulsory Provisions

  1. Organisation of Gram Sabha in a village or group of villages.
  2. Establishment of panchayats at the village, intermediate and district levels.
  3. Direct elections to all seats in panchayats at the village, intermediate and district levels.
  4. Indirect elections to the post of chairperson of panchayats at the intermediate and district levels.
  5. 21 years to be the minimum age for contesting elections to panchayats.
  6. Reservation of seats (both members and chairpersons) for SCs and STs in panchayats at all the three levels.
  7. Reservation of one-third seats (both members and chairpersons) for women in panchayats at all the three levels.
  8. Fixing tenure of five years for panchayats at all levels and holding fresh elections within six months in the event of supersession of any panchayat.
  9. Establishment of a State Election Commission for conducting elections to the panchayats.
  10. Constitution of a State Finance Commission after every five years to review the financial position of the panchayats.

B. Voluntary Provisions

  1. Giving representation to members of the Parliament (both the Houses) and the state legislature (both the Houses) in the panchayats at different levels falling within their constituencies.
  2. Providing reservation of seats (both members and chairpersons) for backward classes in panchayats at any level.
  3. Granting powers and authority to the panchayats to enable them to function as institutions of self-government (in brief, making them autonomous bodies).
  4. Devolution of powers and responsibilities upon panchayats to prepare plans for economic development and social justice; and to perform some or all of the 29 functions listed in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution.
  5. Granting financial powers to the pachayats, that is, authorizing them to levy, collect and appropriate taxes, duties, tolls and fees.

Articles Related to Panchayats at a Glance

Article No.Subject-matter
Article 243Definitions
Article 243A.Gram Sabha
Article 243B.Constitution of panchayats
Article 243C.Composition of panchayats
Article 243D.Reservation of seats
Article 243E.Duration of panchayats, and so on
Article 243F.Disqualifications for membership
Article 243G.

Powers, authority and responsibilities of panchayats
Article 243H.

Powers to impose taxes by, and funds of, the panchayats
Article 243I.

Constitution of finance commission to review financial position
Article 243J.Audit of accounts of panchayats
Article 243K.Elections to the panchayats
Article 243L.Application to union territories
Article 243M.Part not to apply to certain areas
Article 243N.Continuance of existing laws and panchayats
Article 243O.

Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters

Milestones in the Evolution of Panchayati Raj

I. Towards First Generation Panchayats
1948-49

Constituent Assembly debates on the role of Panchayati Raj in Indian polity
1950



The Constitution of India comes into force on 26 January; Directive Principles of State Policy mention village panchayats as ‘units of self-government’ (Art 40)
1952

Community Development Programme starts on 2nd October
1957

Balvantrai Mehta Committee, appointed in January, submits its report on 24 November
1958-60

Several state governments enact new Panchayat Acts bringing in three-tier panchayat system
1959




Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurates the first generation panchayat at Nagaur in Rajasthan on 2nd October Kerala District Council Bill is introduced in Kerala Assembly; lapses after Assembly is dissolved
1964-77

Decline of first generation Panchayati Raj Institutions
II. Growth and Decline of Second Generation Panchayats
1978






Panchayat elections are held in West Bengal on party basis on 4th June—marking the beginning of second generation of
Panchayati Raj.
Ashok Mehta Committee on working of panchayats, appointed on 12 December 1977, submits its report on 21 August
1983Karnataka government enacts new PR Act
1984


Hanumantha Rao Committee on district level planning, appointed by Planning Commission in September 1982, submits its report in May
1985

Karnataka PR Act receives President’s assent in July; comes into force on 14th August
1985



G.V.K. Rao Committee on administrative aspects of rural development, appointed by Planning Commission on 25 March, submits its report in December
1986

Andhra Pradesh follows West Bengal and Karnataka Panchayati Raj Model
1987

Karnataka holds panchayat elections in January
1990-92

Panchayats are dissolved and brought under administrators in Karnataka
III. Constitutionalisation of Panchayati Raj
1986


L.M. Singhvi Committee submits its report on 27 November; recommends constitutional status for panchayats
1988



Consultative Committee of Parliament appoints a sub-committee under chairpersonship of P.K. Thungon to consider Constitutional Amendment
1989


64th Constitutional Amendment Bill is introduced in Parliament on 15 May; is defeated in Rajya Sabha on 15 October
1990


74th Constitutional Amendment Bill is introduced in Parliament on 7 September; lapses on dissolution of Lok Sabha
1991



72nd (Panchayats) and 73rd (Municipalities) Amendment Bills are introduced in Parliament; referred to the Parliament’s Joint Select Committee in September
1992

Lok Sabha passes both the Bills on 22 December; Rajya Sabha passes them on 23 December
1993



73rd Amendment Act, 1992 comes into force on 24 April
74th Amendment Act, 1992 comes into force on 1 June
1993-94

All state governments pass Conformity Acts between 30 May, 1993 and 23 April, 1994
1994


Madhya Pradesh holds panchayat elections under the 73rd Amendment dispensation on 30 May
1996





Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, extending 73rd Amendment Act to Scheduled Areas, comes into force on 24 December.
Kerala launches People’s Plan Campaign on 16 August
2001

Bihar holds panchayat elections after 23 years (11-30 April)
2001





83rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2000 amends Art. 243-M to dispense with reservations for Scheduled Castes in Arunachal Pradesh—paving way for panchayat elections in the only state yet to hold them under the new dispensation

PS : How to prepare Indian Economy for UPSC ?

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India As A Welfare State

updated on March 19th, 2019

Under this system, the welfare of its citizens is the responsibility of the state. India was not a welfare state before independence. The British rule was not very interested in protecting and promoting the welfare of the people. Whatever it did was in keeping with the interests of the British colonial government and not in the interests of the people of India.

When India attained independence, it had innumerable problems and challenges. The social and economic inequality was all pervasive. Economically, India’s situation was miserable. Socially also India was having a number of problems. There were social inequalities and all the vulnerable sections of the society such as women, Dalits, children were deprived of basic means of living. The Constitution makers were very much aware of the problems. That is why they decided that India would be a welfare state. As you must have seen, India is described as a “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic” in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution. Accordingly, the Constitution has extensive provisions to ensure the social and economic welfare of the people of India. In this regard two specific provisions have been made, one in the form of Fundamental Rights and the other as Directive Principles of State Policy.

The Fundamental Rights embodied in Part III of the Indian Constitution act as a guarantee that all Indian citizens can and will enjoy civil liberties and basic rights. These civil liberties take precedence over any other law of the land. They are individual rights commonly included in the Constitutions of liberal democracies. Some of these important rights are: equality before the law, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, freedom of religion, and the right to constitutional remedies for the protection of civil rights. But this was not enough. Indian citizens also needed opportunities for economic and social development. That is why Part IV on Directive Principles of State Policy was included in the Indian Constitution.

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Fundamental Duties

updated on April 6th, 2019

Fundamental Duties
After going through the Fundamental Rights, you must have observed and realized that in return for every right, the society expects the citizens to do certain things which are collectively known as duties. Some such important duties have been incorporated in the Indian Constitution also. The original Constitution enforced on 26th January, 1950 did not mention anything about the duties of the citizen. It was expected that the citizens of free India would perform their duties willingly. But things did not go as expected. Therefore, ten Fundamental Duties were added in Part-IV of the Constitution under Article 51-A in the year 1976 through the 42nd Constitutional Amendment. However, whereas Fundamental Rights are justiciable, the Fundamental Duties are non-justiciable. It means that the violation of fundamental duties, i.e. the non-performance of these duties by citizens is not punishable. The following ten duties have been listed in the Constitution of India:

1. to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag, National Anthem;

2. to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;

3. to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;

4. to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do;

5. to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;

6. to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;

7. to protect and improve the natural environments including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife;

8. to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;

9. to safeguard public property and not to use violence; and

10. to serve towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity.

Besides, a new duty has been added after the passage of Right to Education Act,“A parent or guardian has to provide opportunities for the education of his child/ward between the age of six and fourteen years.

Nature of Fundamental Duties

These duties are in the nature of a code of conduct. Since they are unjustifiable, there is no legal sanction behind them. As you will find, a few of these duties are vague. For example, a common citizen may not understand what is meant by ‘composite culture’, ‘rich heritage’ ‘humanism’, or ‘excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activities’. They will realize the importance of these duties only when these terms are simplified A demand has been made from time to time to revise the present list, simplify their language and make them more realistic and meaningful and add some urgently required more realistic duties. As far as possible, they should be made justiciable.

Do You Know

1. Proper upbringing of the children and maintenance of the parents in their old age were included in the list of Fundamental Duties in the Soviet Constitution of 1977.

2. To educate the children, not to interfere with public welfare, to pay the taxes and the right to work has been included in the Constitution of Japan.

Though the rights and duties of the citizens are correlative and inseparable, the original constitution contained only the fundamental rights and not the fundamental duties. In other words, the framers of the Constitution did not feel it necessary to incorporate the fundamental duties of the citizens in the Constitution. However, they incorporated the duties of the State in the Constitution in the form of Directive Principles of State Polity. Later in 1976, the fundamental duties of citizens were added in the Constitution. In 2002, one more Fundamental Duty was added.

The Fundamental Duties in the Indian Constitution are inspired by the Constitution of erstwhile USSR. Notably, none of the Constitutions of major democratic countries like USA, Canada, France, Germany, Australia and so on specifically contain a list of duties of citizens. Japanese Constitution is, perhaps, the only democratic Constitution in the world which contains a list of duties of citizens. The socialist countries, on the contrary, gave equal importance to the fundamental rights and duties of their citizens. Hence, the Constitution of erstwhile USSR declared that the citizen’s exercise of their rights and freedoms was inseparable from the performance of their duties and obligations.

SWARAN SINGH COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS

In 1976, the Congress Party set up the Sardar Swaran Singh Committee to make recommendations about fundamental duties, the need, and necessity of which was felt during the operation of the internal emergency (1975–1977). The committee recommended the inclusion of a separate chapter on fundamental duties in the Constitution. It stressed that the citizens should become conscious that in addition to the enjoyment of rights, they also have certain duties to perform as well. The Congress Government at Centre accepted these recommendations and enacted the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act in 1976. This amendment added a new part, namely, Part IVA to the Constitution. This new part consists of only one Article, that is, Article 51A which for the first time specified a code often fundamental duties of the citizens. The ruling Congress party declared the non-inclusion of fundamental duties in the Constitution as a historical mistake and claimed that what the framers of the Constitution failed to do was being done now.

Though the Swaran Singh Committee suggested the incorporation of eight Fundamental Duties in the Constitution, the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act (1976) included ten Fundamental Duties.

Interestingly, certain recommendations of the Committee were not accepted by the Congress Party and hence, not incorporated in the Constitution. These include:

  1. The Parliament may provide for the imposition of such penalty or punishment as may be considered appropriate for any non-compliance with or refusal to observe any of the duties.
  2. No law imposing such penalty or punishment shall be called in question in any court on the ground of infringement of any of Fundamental Rights or on the ground of repugnancy to any other provision of the Constitution.
  3. Duty to pay taxes should also be a Fundamental Duty of the citizens.

LIST OF FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

According to Article 51 A, it shall be the duty of every citizen of India:

(a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;
(b) to cherish and follow the noble ideals that inspired the national struggle for freedom;
(c) to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
(d) to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
(f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of the country’s composite culture;
(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures;
(h) to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
(i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
(j) to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement; and
(k) to provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of six and fourteen years. This duty was added by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002.

FEATURES OF THE FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

Following points can be noted with regard to the characteristics of the Fundamental Duties:

  1. Some of them are moral duties while others are civic duties. For instance, cherishing noble ideals of freedom struggle is a moral precept and respecting the Constitution, National Flag and National Anthem is a civic duty.
  2. They refer to such values which have been a part of the Indian tradition, mythology, religions and practices. In other words, they essentially contain just a codification of tasks integral to the Indian way of life.
  3. Unlike some of the Fundamental Rights which extend to all persons whether citizens or foreigners1, the Fundamental Duties are confined to citizens only and do not extend to foreigners.
  4. Like the Directive Principles, the fundamental duties are also non-justiciable. The Constitution does not provide for their direct enforcement by the courts. Moreover, there is not legal sanction against their violation. However, the Parliament is free to enforce them by suitable legislation.

CRITICISM OF FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

The Fundamental Duties mentioned in Part VIA of the Constitution have been criticised on the following grounds:

  1. The list of duties is not exhaustive as it does not cover other important duties like casting vote, paying taxes, family planning and so on. In fact, duty to pay taxes was recommended by the Swaran Singh Committee.
  2. Some of the duties are vague, ambiguous and difficult to be understood by the common man. For example, different interpretations can be given to the phrases like ‘noble ideals’, ‘composite culture’, ‘scientific temper’ and so on.
  3. They have been described by the critics as a code of moral precepts due to their nonjusticiable character. Interestingly, the Swaran Singh Committee had suggested for penalty or punishment for the non-performance of Fundamental Duties.
  4. Their inclusion in the Constitution was described by the critics as superfluous. This is because the duties included in the Constitution as fundamental would be performed by the people even though they were not incorporated in the Constitution.
  5. The critics said that the inclusion of fundamental duties as an appendage to Part IV of the Constitution has reduced their value and significance. They should have been added after Part III so as to keep them on par with Fundamental Rights.

SIGNIFICANCE OF FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

In spite of criticisms and opposition, the fundamental duties are considered significant from the following viewpoints:

  1. They serve as a reminder to the citizens that while enjoying their rights, they should also be conscious of duties they owe to their country, their society and to their fellow citizens.
  2. They serve as a warning against the anti-national and antisocial activities like burning the national flag, destroying public property and so on.
  3. They serve as a source of inspiration for the citizens and promote a sense of discipline and commitment among them. They create a feeling that the citizens are not mere spectators but active participants in the realization of national goals.
  4. They help the courts in examining and determining the constitutional validity of a law. In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that in determining the constitutionality of any law, if a court finds that the law in question seeks to give effect to a fundamental duty, it may consider such law to be ‘reasonable’ in relation to Article 14 (equality before law) or Article 19 (six freedoms) and thus save such law from unconstitutionality.
  5. They are enforceable by law. Hence, the Parliament can provide for the imposition of appropriate penalty or punishment for failure to fulfil any of them.

H R Gokhale, the then Law Minister, gave the following reason for incorporating the fundamental duties in the Constitution after twenty- six years of its inauguration: ‘In post-independent India, particularly on the eve of emergency in June 1975, a section of the people showed no anxiety to fulfil their fundamental obligations of respecting the established legal order ….. the provisions of chapter on fundamental duties would have a sobering effect on these restless spirits who have had a host of anti-national subversive and unconstitutional agitations in the past’.

Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, justified the inclusion of fundamental duties in the Constitution and argued that their inclusion would help to strengthen democracy. She said, ‘the moral value of fundamental duties would be not to smoother rights but to establish a democratic balance by making the people conscious of their duties equally as they are conscious of their rights’.

The Opposition in the Parliament strongly opposed the inclusion of fundamental duties in the Constitution by the Congress government. However, the new Janata Government headed by Morarji Desai in the post-emergency period did not annul the Fundamental Duties. Notably, the new government sought to undo many changes introduced in the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment Act (1976) through the 43rd Amendment Act (1977) and the 44th Amendment Act (1978). This shows that there was an eventual consensus on the necessity and desirability of including the Fundamental Duties in the Constitution. This is more clear with the addition of one more Fundamental Duty in 2002 by the 86th Amendment Act.

VERMA COMMITTEE OBSERVATIONS

The Verma Committee on Fundamental Duties of the Citizens (1999) identified the existence of legal provisions for the implementation of some of the Fundamental Duties. They are mentioned below:

  1. The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act (1971) prevents disrespect to the
    Constitution of India, the National Flag and the National Anthem.
  2. The various criminal laws in force provide for punishments for encouraging enmity between different sections of people on grounds of language, race, place of birth, religion and so on.
  3. The Protection of Civil Rights Act4 (1955) provides for punishments for offences related to caste and religion.
  4. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) declares the imputations and assertions prejudicial to national integration as punishable offences.
  5. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 provides for the declaration of a communal organisation as an unlawful association.
  6. The Representation of People Act (1951) provides for the disqualification of members of the Parliament or a state legislature for indulging in corrupt practice, that is, soliciting votes on the ground of religion or promoting enmity between different sections of people on grounds of caste, race, language, religion and so on.
  7. The Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 prohibits trade in rare and endangered species.
  8. The Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 checks indiscriminate deforestation and diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes.
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