The Preamble of the Constitution of India prescribes that the people of the country would try to secure (i) social, economic and political justice (ii) liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship (iii) equality of status and of opportunity, and (iv) a sense of fraternity to assure the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation.
The Constitution further guarantees certain ‘Fundamental Rights’ to every citizen. These are: (i) Right to Equality, (ii) Right to Freedom, (iii) Right against exploitation, (iv) Right to Freedom of Religion, (v) Cultural and Educational Rights, (vi) Right to Constitutional Remedies.
We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and unity and integration of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
(Words in Italics added by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment.)
The Preamble of the Indian Constitution reflects the mind and spirit of its framers.
SCHEDULES TO THE CONSTITUTION
There are Twelve Schedules to the Constitution.
First Schedule (under Articles 1 and 4) gives a list of States and Union Territories.
Second Schedule [under Articles 59(3), 65(3), 75(6), 97, 125, 148(3), 158(3)] consists of 5 parts, A to E.
Part A fixes the remuneration and emoluments payable to the President and Governors. Part B has been deleted by the Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act of 1956. Part C contains provisions as to the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the House of the People and the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the Council of States and the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the Legislative Council. Part D contains provisions as to emoluments of the judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts. Part E contains provisions as to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Salary: Rs 9,000 per month. (The salaries have been revised since by Amendments to the Constitution).
Third Schedule (under Arts. 75(4), 99, 124(6), 148(2), 164(3), 188 and 219) contains forms of Oaths and Affirmations.
Fourth Schedule [under Arts. 4(1) and (20)] allocates seats for each State and Union Territory, in the Council of States.
Fifth Schedule [under Art. 244(1)] provides for the administration and control of Scheduled Areas. This Schedule provides for amendment by a simple majority of Parliament and takes it out of the ambit of Art. 368 (Amendment of the Constitution).
Sixth Schedule [under Arts. 214(2) and 275(1)] provides for the administration of Tribal Areas in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram. This is a lengthy Schedule which goes into the details of the administration in the Tribal Areas concerned. This Schedule can also be amended by a simple majority of the Parliament.
Seventh Schedule (under Art. 246) gives three Lists: 1. Union List contains 97 subjects in which the Union government has exclusive authority. 2. State List contains 66 subjects which are under the exclusive authority of State governments. 3. Concurrent List contains 47 subjects, where the Union and States have concurrent powers.
Eighth Schedule [Under Arts. 344(1) and 351(1)] gives a list of 18 languages recognized by the Constitution.
Ninth Schedule [under Art. 31(b)] was added by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act 1951. It contains Acts and orders relating to land tenures, land tax, railways, industries, etc, passed by the State governments, and the Union government which are beyond the jurisdiction of civil courts.
Tenth Schedule (under Articles 101, 102, 191 and 192). It contains the Anti-Defection Act. It also deals with provisions as to disqualification on ground of defection.
Eleventh Schedule (under Article 243 G) mentions functional areas or subjects that are necessary for implementation of schemes for economic development and social justice in each Panchayat. Some of the areas are, agriculture, social forestry, small scale industry, roads, rural housing, PDS, education, health and sanitation, poverty-alleviation, non-conventional energy sources, etc.
Twelfth Schedule mentions three types of municipal committees— nagar panchayats for transitional area municipal council for smaller urban areas and municipal corporation for large urban areas.
A Drafting Committee of the Constitution of India was set up on August 29, 1947. It was headed by Dr B.R. Ambedkar and with N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar, Alladi Krishnaswami Iyer, K.M. Munshi, T.T. Krishnamachari, Mohd Saadullah, N. Madhav Rau and D.P. Khaitan, as members.
Objectives Resolution: The Objectives Resolution, indicating the philosophy of the Constitution of India was moved by the Constituent Assembly by Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru. It was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on January 20, 1947. It inspired the shaping of the Constitution at all its subsequent stages.
The Draft Constitution prepared under the constant guidance of Pt Nehru and Sardar Patel was submitted to the Constituent Assembly on November 5, 1947.
The Constitution was adopted on November 26, 1949. It was authenticated by Dr Rajendra Prasad, President of the Constituent Assembly and it came into force on January 26, 1950.
The Constituent Assembly which framed the Indian Constitution was indirectly elected in 1946, under the Cabinet Mission’s Plan, by members of all the Provincial Assemblies which had been elected on a rather restricted franchise in December 1945. The Constituent Assembly consisted of representatives of all sections of the people, including politicians, lawyers, members of all the minority communities and other interests. The Constituent Assembly sessions concluded on January 24, 1950.
Form and nature of the government of India: The Constitution of India is quasi-federal in nature, designed to work as a Federal government in normal times and as a Unitary government in an emergency.
The government of India is run on the Parliamentary system based on adult franchise. The Constitutional Head is the President. The real executive power is vested in the Council of Ministers or the Union Cabinet which is responsible to Parliament. The Council of Ministers is headed by the Prime Minister.
The idea of Parliamentary system of democracy was borrowed from England. The Constitution of India was influenced most by the Government of India Act, 1935
India as a Secular State: That India is a secular State is evident from the fact that it has no official or State religion. It neither patronises nor discriminates against any religion. The Constitution of India guarantees freedom of religion and worship to all citizens. Elections to legislatures in the country are held on the basis of universal franchise and joint electorates. In the matter of appointment to public services, no citizen can be discriminated against on grounds of religion.
The basic structure theory of the Constitution of India implies that certain features of the Constitution are so essential to it that they cannot be abrogated.
It provides for a Bi-cameral system. Economic justice has been incorporated in the Directive Principles of State Policy. The ideal of ‘Equality before Law’ is achieved by the implementation of the adult franchise in India.
SALIENT FEATURES OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
- Disappearance of the princely States of India.
- Sovereignty of the people.
- Adult Suffrage.
- Joint electorate.
- Substitution of Supreme Court in place of the Privy Council jurisdiction.
- Abolition of untouchability.
- Abolition of titles.
- Civil equality through Fundamental Rights.
- Cabinet system of Government.
- Establishment of Secular State, which is federal as well as unitary in form, and rigid yet flexible in nature.
FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES OF CITIZENS
The 10 Fundamental Duties, enshrined under the Constitutional 42nd Amendment Act, call upon the citizens to:
- Respect the Constitution, the national flag and the national anthem;
- Cherish the noble ideals of the freedom struggle;
- Uphold and project the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
- Defend the country and render national service when called;
- Promote the common brotherhood of all the people of India and renounce any practice derogatory of the dignity of women;
- Preserve the rich heritage of the national composite culture;
- Protect the natural environment and have compassion for living creatures;
- Develop scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry and reform;
- Safeguard public property and abjure violence;
- Strive for excellence in all individual and collective activity.
- Right to equality: guaranteed by Article 14 to 18.
- Right to freedom of speech etc.: guaranteed by Article 19 to 22.
- Right against exploitation: guaranteed by Article 23 and 24.
- Right to freedom of religion: guaranteed by Articles 25-28.
- Cultural and Educational rights of Minorities: guaranteed by Articles 29-30.
- Right to Constitutional remedies: guaranteed by Article 32. This right can, however, be suspended during the operation of a proclamation of emergency by the President.
Property Right: The Right to Property, which used to be one of the Fundamental Rights under Article 31, ceases to be a Fundamental Right and has become only a legal right according to the Constitution 44th Amendment, 1978.
The Fundamental Rights are contained in Part III of the Constitution. For the enforcement of Fundamental Rights, the Court may issue a decree. The custodian of Fundamental Rights is the Supreme Court of India.
The Directive Principles are now enforceable through courts of law vide the 42nd Constitutional Amendment. These principles lay down that the State shall strive “to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting, as effectively as it may, a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of national life”. These principles further seek to ensure (vide Article 39):
- Equitable distribution of wealth or the socialist pattern of society and equal pay for equal work for both men and women.
- Provision of adequate means of livelihood to all its citizens, men and women.
- Provision of employment to all.
- Free and compulsory education for children.
- Living wage for workers.
- Protection of childhood and youth against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.
- Organization of village panchayats as units of self-government (Article 40).
- Prohibition of the consumption except for medical purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs injurious to health.
- Organization of agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines.
- Promotion of international peace and security and maintenance of just and honourable relations between the nations of the world.
The Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution of India have been inspired by the Constitution of Ireland. It contains ideals of a Welfare State. They are contained in Part-IV of the Constitution and are in the nature of directions to the legislature and the executive that they should exercise their authority in such a manner as to ensure due respect for, and observance of, these principles. Although these principles are not justiciable, the courts cannot altogether ignore them.
CHAPTERS IN THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA BORROWED (OR DERIVED) FROM THE CONSTITUTIONS OF OTHER COUNTRIES.
Fundamental Rights — USA
Parliamentary System of Government — United Kingdom
Directive Principles of State Policy — Ireland
Provisions relating to Emergencies — German Reich
India as Union of States with more powers to the Union — Canada
Concurrent List in Union-State relations — Australia
The Indian Constitution provides for a single and uniform citizenship i.e., a person residing in any State in India does not need to acquire a separate citizenship of the Union in addition. A citizen of India cannot acquire citizenship of any foreign country simultaneously and also a person of Indian origin who voluntarily acquires the citizenship of any foreign State is not entitled to Indian citizenship.
A person is entitled to Indian citizenship if (i) he is born within the territory of the Indian Union (ii) he descends from Indian parentage (iii) he is residing in India for a period of 5 years at the commencement of the Constitution. Persons of Indian origin who are residing abroad can also become Indian citizens. Articles 6 and 7 of the Constitution enable displaced migrants from Pakistan to become citizens after fulfilling certain conditions.
The citizenship of India is acquired (i) by birth or (ii) by descent or (iii) by naturalisation.
Persons of Indian Origin: Originally launched in 1999, the Indian PIO Scheme (Person of Indian Origin) is a long term Indian visa service which is available to any person who has at any time held an Indian passport, was born in India or is the grandchild or great grandchild of someone born in India and living outside India as a permanent resident.
The scheme also applies to the spouse of any qualifying applicant as defined above.
The PIO scheme functions as a long-term Indian visa, affording persons of Indian origin who are now citizens of other countries same rights as Indian citizens, with the exception of the right to vote.
Election held to elect members of Parliament is termed as “General Election”. General Elections are normally held every five years in India. But mid-term elections can be held if the circumstances so demand.
General Elections, as also elections to elect State legislatures, are controlled by the Election Commission consisting of one Chief Election Commissioner and a number of Election Commissioners appointed by the President.
The Election Commission also conducts the election of the President and Vice-President of India.
Main Duties of the Election Commission: The main duties of the Election Commission are: (1) to superintend, direct, control and conduct all elections to Parliament and State Legislatures as also to the office of the President and Vice-President of India; (2) to lay down general rules for election; (3) to determine constituencies and to prepare electoral rolls; (4) to give recognition to the political parties; (5) to allot election symbols to different political parties and individual contestants, and (6) to appoint tribunals for the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with election to Parliament and State Legislatures.
Powers of the Election Commission are given in Article 324.
Minimum age prescribed for election is: (i) President of India—35 years (ii) Member of Lok Sabha—25 years (iii) Member of Rajya Sabha—30 years.
Mid-term election: is an election held out of schedule as a result of the dissolution of Parliament or a State legislature before it has been in existence for its normal term of five years.
By-election: is held in respect of a seat rendered vacant during the running term of an elected person, which might occur on resignation, death or due to any other subsequent disqualification of the already elected Member.
Every person who is a citizen of India and who is not less than 18 years of age and who is not otherwise disqualified, is entitled to vote at the elections of the House of the People (and also of the Legislative Assembly of the States).
Parliament or the Central Legislature consists of the President and the two Houses: (i) The Rajya Sabha (Council of State) and (ii) the Lok Sabha (House of the People). The President is an integral part of Parliament and all Bills passed by Parliament must have his assent before they become law. Parliament is to meet at least twice a year and at an interval of not more than six months between one session and another.
The maximum strength of the two Houses is fixed at 545 for the Lok Sabha (not more than 525 from the States and 20 from the Union Territories) and 250 (12 nominated) for the Rajya Sabha.
Qualifications to become a member of Parliament: (1) A person should be a citizen of India. (2) He should not be less than 30 years of age in order to fill a seat in Rajya Sabha and not less than 25 years of age to fill a seat in the Lok Sabha. (3) He should possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed under any law made by Parliament. He is also required to make and subscribe an oath or affirmation to bear the true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India.
A person is disqualified both for being chosen as, and for being, a member of Parliament if he: (i) holds an office of profit under any Government in India, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder, (ii) is of unsound mind, (iii) is an undischarged insolvent, (iv) has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign State, or (v) is disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament.
The question whether a member has become subject to any of the above disqualifications is to be referred to the President for decision, who is required to act according to the opinion of the Election Commission in such cases.
Powers and Functions of Parliament: Parliament has vast legislative powers: (1) It can make laws on the subjects contained in the Union and Concurrent Lists. (2) In certain cases, Parliament can also make laws on the subjects mentioned in the State List. (3) It has vast financial powers. It passes the budget and authorises all the income and expenditure. (4) It exercises control over the executive. (5) The Lok Sabha or the House of the People has also a share in the election of the President and the Vice-President.
Anti-Defection Law: The anti-defection law imposes a ban on legislations or members of Parliament defecting from one party to another. It thus outlaws the evil of political defections after elections. But there are no disqualifications after splits and mergers.
Where a member makes a claim that he and any other members of his legislature party constitute the group representing a faction which has arisen as a result of a split in his original political party and such group consists of not less than one-third of the members of such legislature party—(a) he shall not be disqualified on the ground: (i) that he has voluntarily given up his membership of his original party, or (ii) that he has voted or abstained from voting contrary to any direction issued by the party without obtaining prior permission and such voting or abstention has not been condoned within 15 days, and (b) from the time of split, such faction shall be deemed to be the political party to which he belongs.
A member shall also not be disqualified where his original political party merges with another political party.
A person who has been elected Speaker or Deputy Speaker or Deputy Chairman of the Council of States or Chairman or Deputy Chairman of the Legislative Council of a State or Speaker or Deputy Speaker of a Legislative Assembly, shall not be disqualified under the Bill: (a) If he voluntarily gives up the membership of the political party to which he belonged and does not, so long as he continues to hold such office thereafter, re-joins that political party or becomes a member of another party, or (b) if he, having given up by reason of his election to such office his membership of the political party to which he belonged immediately before such election, re-joins such political party after he ceases to hold such office.
If any question arises as to whether a member of a House has become subject to disqualification, the question shall be referred for the decision of the Chairman or as the case may be, the Speaker of such House and his decision shall be final.
RAJYA SABHA AND LOK SABHA
Rajya Sabha (Council of State): It consists of not more than 250 members of whom 12 are nominated by the President and the rest elected. The elected members are representatives of the States and the nominated members are eminent men in art, literature, science and social services etc.
The Rajya Sabha is a permanent body, i.e., it is not subject to dissolution. One-third of its members retire after every two years. The elections to the Rajya Sabha are indirect. The allotted quota of every State is elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of that State. The election is conducted in accordance with the system of proportional representation by a single transferable vote.
The Vice-President is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
Lok Sabha (House of the People): It consists of not more than 545 members. Out of them, not more than 525 are directly elected by the voters in the States on the basis of adult franchise from the territorial constituencies in the States and not more than 20 members to represent the Union Territories are chosen in such manner as Parliament by law provides. The number of seats to each State is allotted in such a way that the ratio between the number and the population of the State is, as far as practicable, the same for all States. Each member represents not less than 500,000 citizens. The term ordinarily does not exceed 5 years.
Anglo-Indians: The President may, if he is of the opinion that the Anglo-Indian community is not adequately represented in the Lok Sabha, nominate not more than two members of that community to the House of the People (Lok Sabha).
The term of the Lok Sabha can be extended for one year at a time. The Lok Sabha can also be dissolved by the President before the expiry of its normal term of five years.
Privileges of MPs: Under the Constitution, MPs enjoy several privileges and immunities. There is complete freedom of speech in Parliament. No member shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote cast by him in Parliament, or in any committee thereof, and no person shall be so liable in respect of the publication by or under the authority of either House of Parliament of any report, paper, votes or proceedings. In other respects, the powers, privileges and immunities of each House of Parliament, and of the members and the committees of each House, are such as may from time to time be defined by Parliament by law. Until so defined, they shall be those of the British House of Commons and of its members and committees.
Residual matters: Parliament alone can legislate on those residual matters which are not mentioned in Centre/State/Concurrent lists.
MP’s Salaries: The salary of Members of Parliament is decided by the Parliament.
The House of the People elects a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker from among its members. The principal function of the Speaker is to preside over the meetings of the House in addition to other duties in connection with the internal affairs of the House of the People.
Speaker’s Powers: The Speaker of India’s Lok Sabha derives his authority from the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure of the House. Briefly stated, his powers and functions are:
- He presides over the sittings of the Lok Sabha and regulates the conduct of the proceedings. He can also suspend or adjourn its sittings.
- He pronounces on the admissibility of all motions, resolutions and questions sought to be tabled by the Members.
- He can discipline, warn, censure or suspend members for un-parliamentary speech or unruly conduct. He can order that an unruly member be physically removed from the House.
- He decides points of order and his ruling cannot be challenged either in the House or in a court of law.
- He announces the verdict of the House whenever a vote is taken or a division is called. Before a bill can be sent to the President for his assent or to the Upper House for consideration, it must be authenticated by the Speaker’s signatures.
- He is the channel of communication between the two Houses, as also between the Lok Sabha and the President.
- All orders of the House are executed through him and all petitions and appeals to the Lok Sabha are addressed to him.
- He is the supreme head of all Parliamentary Committees set up by him or by the House.
- He holds administrative charge of the Lok Sabha Secretariat and the Parliament building. He regulates entry into the visitors’ and press galleries and also the lobby.
Speaker’s resignation: In case the Speaker intends to resign, his letter of resignation should be addressed to the Deputy Speaker.
The Lok Sabha Secretariat comes under the direct supervision of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. The Secretary General of the Lok Sabha, who is chief of the Secretariat, is appointed by the President of India as per Article 98 of the Constitution.
Rajya Sabha v. Lok Sabha: Of the two Houses, the Lok Sabha is more powerful as it has been given the sole power to approve the expenditure of the Government and the Ministers have been made responsible only to the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha has no power over money bills (or Budget). In case of other bills, the powers of the two are equal, and any difference between them with regard to such bills is to be settled at joint sittings of both the Houses.
Joint Sitting: In case the two Houses, viz., the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha fail to agree over a non-money bill, the President can summon a joint sitting of both the Houses.
Budget: The Budget is normally presented to Parliament each year on the last day of February when the Stock Exchanges have closed for the day.
UNION COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
The President appoints such person as Prime Minister whose leadership in the House (Lok Sabha) is explicitly recognised. The other Ministers are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister and thus the Union Council of Ministers is formed to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions. The Prime Minister is a link between the President and the Cabinet. The term ordinarily is for 5 years.
Can a person who is not a member of Parliament be appointed as a minister?
Yes. But he has to become a member of Parliament within six months of his appointment.
Collective Responsibility of the Cabinet: In terms of Article 75(3) of the Constitution of India, the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the House of the People. This is an important feature of the working of the parliamentary democracies everywhere. It means the cabinet is enjoined upon to function as a team each for all, and all for each. It is of course unrealistic to expect that all members of the Council of Ministers will be always in agreement on all matters. But the observance of the principal of collective responsibility demands that such differences of opinion as may be found to exist among members of the cabinet on a particular issue should be resolved behind the scenes and not aired publicly. Once the government declares a policy, the entire cabinet stands committed. It is all right if one or more of the members of the Council of Ministers differ with that policy as long as they do not express their disagreement in public. All ministers must speak with one voice. If one of them feels that in all conscience, he cannot subscribe to the policies adopted by the Cabinet, the only course for him is to resign. Likewise, the failure of an individual minister is regarded as failure of the whole cabinet.
Union Government’s responsibility to Parliament: In every Parliamentary system, the Government is fully responsible and accountable to the legislature. This, in fact, is the distinguishing feature of a parliamentary system based on the British pattern, as against the presidential form of government on the American model. Ministerial responsibility is the essence of the cabinet system, and collective responsibility is Britain’s principle contribution to modern political practice. Ministers are individually responsible for the functioning of the departments under their charge. They also share collective responsibility with other members of the government on anything of importance done in any branch of public business. The ministry functions as a unit and presents a common front before the legislature. The Indian Constitution provides for the collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers to the Lok Sabha. They remain in office only so long as they retain the confidence of the Lok Sabha. This confidence remains only so long as the Government commands a majority in the Lok Sabha. There is no provision for individual responsibility in the Lok Sabha under the Indian Constitution. The rules of procedure of Parliament also provide for a motion of no-confidence in the Council of Ministers and not in any individual Minister.
INDIAN UNION V. STATES
The relations between the Union and the Indian States are described in Part XI of the Constitution. The power to establish new States or alter the area, boundaries or name of any existing State is vested in the Union Parliament. The Union Parliament can do so by passing an appropriate law (by a simple majority and by the ordinary legislative process) for the purpose on the recommendation of the President. The President, in turn, is required to refer the matter to the legislatures of the States concerned for the expression of their views within a specified period. Any such law is deemed an amendment of the Constitution for the purposes of Article 368.
FORMATION OF NEW STATES
The provisions relating to altering Sate boundaries and formation of new States are contained in Articles 3-4 of the Constitution.
By a simple majority and by the ordinary legislative process, Parliament may alter the boundaries of existing States or form new States. An amendment to the Constitution is to be initiated. More than half the State Legislative Assemblies are required to ratify any law creating a new State in the Indian Union.
Provided that no Bill for the purpose shall be introduced in either House of Parliament except on the recommendation of the President.
Article 4 provides that any such law for making itself effective may amend the First and Fourth Schedules of the Constitution, without going through the special formality of a law for the amendment of the Constitution as prescribed by Article 368.
Subjects with which the Central and State Legislatures Deal
Union List: Defence, Atomic Energy, Preventive Detention, Foreign Affairs, Railways, Banking, Census, All-India Services, Currency and Coinage, Communication (Posts and Telegraphs), Income-tax.
State List: Public order, Police, Prisons, Local Government, Land Revenue, Public health and sanitation, Education etc.
PRESIDENT OF INDIA
President of India is the executive head of the Union of India. Citizens of India take no direct part in election of their President. Instead he is elected by members of the Parliament and the State legislatures, i.e. by representatives of the people. The legislators elect the President by secret ballot.
The name of a candidate for the office of the President of India may be proposed by any one member of the electoral college. The electoral college shall consist of (a) the elected members of both Houses of Parliament, and (b) elected members of the Legislative Assembly of the States.
(Elected members of the Legislative Council, however, do not constitute the electoral college for election of the President of India.
The Chief Minister of a State of India is NOT eligible to vote in the Presidential election if he is a member of Upper House of the State Legislature.)
To ensure uniformity in representation of each State according to its population and the total number of elected MLAs from each, a certain value is attached to the vote of an MLA of each State, and a value is also attached to each MP’s vote.
The value of an MLA’s vote is calculated by dividing the total population of his State by the total seats in the Vidhan Sabha of that State, and then again dividing it by 1,000.
The value of an MP’s vote is worked out by adding the total value of votes assigned to all MLAs of the country, and then dividing it by the number of elected members of Parliament (both Houses).
For the election, members of the Electoral College mark their order of preference for each candidate on the ballot. A candidate in order to be elected must secure his quota of votes (values added up), which is 50 per cent of valid votes plus 1. Second preference is considered when no candidate wins more than half the total votes.
Removal of President: The President can be removed from office if he goes against the Constitution. When he does that, not less than one-fourth of the total membership of both the Houses of Parliament should give 14 days’ notice that they propose bringing a motion of “impeachment” against the President. The motion can be introduced in either House i.e., in the Lok Sabha or in the Rajya Sabha. If a two-thirds majority of the total membership of the Parliament votes that the charges against the President stand proved, the latter is removed forthwith.
President’s resignation: The President of India may resign his office by writing under his hand a letter of resignation addressed to the Vice-President.
Powers of the President with respect to Parliament: The President can summon, prorogue, address and send messages to the two Houses of Parliament. He gives assent to bills passed by the Parliament. He can issue ordinances when Parliament is not in session. He has the power to declare war or make peace. He can declare a state of emergency arising due to war, external aggression, internal disturbances, failure of constitutional machinery in any State or threat to the financial stability or credit of India.
Indian Parliament can invade the State List if (1) a subject in the State List assumes national importance, and (2) a proclamation of emergency has been issued by the President of India.
The President of India can preside in the proceedings of either House of Parliament, without having a right to vote.
Oath of office: The oath of office by the President of India is conducted by the Chief Justice of India.
The President is not a member of Parliament (or any State Legislature). The President holds an office of profit in the Government of India, thus he cannot be a member of Parliament.
Qualifications to become President: A candidate for the office of the President should have the following qualifications: (1) He should be an Indian citizen; (2) He should not be less than 35 years of age; (3) He should have qualifications for election as a member of the House of the People; (4) He should not be holding any office of profit under any government or local body; (5) He should not be a member of Parliament or any State Legislature.
A government servant or a servant of a local authority is, however, ineligible for election as President.
Amendment of election procedure of the President: For this purpose, a Bill is required to be passed in Parliament by the required majority and to be ratified by the legislatures of atleast half of the States.
Term of office: The term of office of the President is five years and he is eligible for re-election. A vacancy in the office of the President of India must be filled up within six months.
Protection: The office of the President carries with it great dignity and legal privileges. The President is not answerable to any court for the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of his office. No criminal proceeding can be instituted against him nor can he be arrested or imprisoned during the tenure of his office. No civil proceedings can be instituted against him during his tenure of office without two months’ notice regarding the relief claimed.
Powers, Duties and Role of the President: The executive head of the Indian Union is called the President of India. He plays a very important role. He enjoys very extensive financial, judicial and emergency powers as enumerated below:
- He is the legal repository of the entire executive authority. All executive actions are taken in his name.
- The Supreme Command of the Defence Forces is formally vested in the President.
- He can summon, prorogue, address and send messages to the two Houses of Parliament and gives assent to bills passed by Parliament.
- He is vested with the powers of appointment and makes certain important appointments such as those of the Prime Minister and other Ministers of the Union Government, Governors, Diplomats, Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, the members of the Union Public Service Commission, the Comptroller and Auditor-General and the Attorney-General etc.
- He can grant pardon and suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases.
- He can issue ordinances during the recess of Parliament.
- He has the power to declare war or make peace.
- He can declare a state of emergency arising due to: (a) war, (b) external aggression (Article 352), (c) internal disturbances, (d) failure of constitutional machinery in any State, (e) threat to financial stability or credit of India (Article 360).
Financial Powers of the President: The President of India has been vested with important financial powers. For example, a money bill can be introduced in Parliament only on the President’s recommendation. He can, as and when he thinks necessary, appoint a Finance Commission to make recommendations regarding the distribution of tax revenues between the Centre and the States. At the beginning of every financial year, he causes to be laid before Parliament the Budget (called the Annual Financial Statement) giving estimates of revenue receipts and expenditure during the coming year.
Legislative Powers of the President: Under Article 123 (1) of the Constitution, the President has certain legislative powers. He can promulgate an Ordinance which shall have the same force and effect as an Act of Parliament. He can do so only when neither of the Houses of Parliament is in session and when he is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action.
In order to be eligible for election as Vice-President of India, a person must be (i) an Indian citizen (ii) not less than 35 years of age, and (iii) qualified to be a Member of the Rajya Sabha. If a person does not fulfil any one or more of these conditions, he becomes ineligible for the office of India’s Vice-President. No person holding an office of profit under the Government of any State or under any local or other authority subject to the control of such governments can likewise aspire to the Vice-President’s office (A person holding the office of President or Vice-President of the Union or the Governor of a State or a minister in the Central or one of the State Governments is not deemed to be holding an office of profit for that purpose).
The Vice-President is elected by the Members of Parliament only by secret ballot in accordance with the system of proportional representation by a single transferable vote. His term of office is five years. He also acts as exofficio Chairman of Rajya Sabha (Council of State). He also acts as President during the temporary absence of the President, or during a casual vacancy in the office of the President.
Qualifications: (i) He must be an Indian citizen; (ii) He must not be less than 35 years of age; (iii) He must be qualified to be a member of the Rajya Sabha (Council of State).
Term: The duration of the Vice-President’s term of office is five years.
Functions: The Vice-President acts as ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. He also acts as President during the temporary absence of the President or during the casual vacancy in the office of the President.
How removed? The Vice-President may be removed from his office by a resolution of the Council of State passed by a majority of all the then members of the Council and agreed to by the House of the People. Fourteen days’ notice is required to be given of the intention to move such a resolution.
The Prime Minister is appointed by the President. It is expected of the President to appoint only that person as Prime Minister whose leadership is explicitly recognised in the House of the People.
- The Prime Minister forms the Central Cabinet. He or she is, in fact, the pivot round which the whole Cabinet revolves. The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Parliament.
- He or she is the Chief confidential adviser to the President and as such his powers increase largely during emergency period.
- He selects other Ministers and exercises a good deal of freedom of choice in this selection. He can also call upon any Minister to resign if he so desires.
- He presides over the Cabinet meetings.
- He is the chief spokesman of the Government in the House.
Term: The term ordinarily does not exceed 5 years but he can be reappointed if his leadership is explicitly recognised in the House of the People.
The Governor is appointed by the President. His term of office is 5 years but he can be removed earlier if the President so desires.
Qualifications: Only an Indian citizen above 35 years of age is eligible for appointment as Governor of a State.
Powers and Functions: He has (i) executive, (ii) legislative, (iii) financial and (iv) judicial powers:
- He appoints the Chief Minister of his State and other Ministers on the advice of the Chief Minister. He also appoints the Advocate General and Chairman and members of the Public Service Commission of the State.
- He has the power to grant pardon, suspend, remit or commute sentences over which the power of the State extends.
- No bill can become a law in his State without his assent.
- The budget of the State is also submitted to the legislature on his behalf.
- He summons and prorogues the Houses of the State Legislature. He can dissolve the Legislative Assembly.
- He can issue ordinances. Under Article 213, if at any time, except when the Legislative Assembly of a State is in session, the Governor is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action, he may promulgate such Ordinance as the circumstances appear to him to require.
The Ordinance shall cease to operate at the expiry of six weeks from the reassembly of the legislature.
The Constitution allows the Governor to act in his discretion in the following type of situations:
- Breakdown of Constitutional machinery: To determine whether the Government of a State can or cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. If he feels that it cannot be so carried on, he can make a report to the President under Article 356. The President’s Rule in a State cannot remain in force for more than six months at a time, unless the life is extended every six months but up to a maximum period of three years.
- Appointment of the Chief Minister: If, after a general election, no single party is able to secure a clear majority or post-election splits reduce the majority to a minority, the Governor can use his own discretion to decide which party has the best chance of forming a stable government.
- Dissolving the Legislature: In case the Governor comes to the conclusion that none of the parties represented in the legislature is in a position to form a stable government, he can in his discretion dissolve the legislature and order fresh elections.
- In giving assent to Bills: The Governor can reserve a bill or bills passed by the State legislature for consideration of the President.
Legislative Powers of a State Governor: The legislative powers of a State Governor in India are:
- When the State Legislature is not in session, he can promulgate ordinances;
- Money bills including the Budget can be introduced in the State legislature only on his recommendation.
- No bill passed by the State legislature can acquire the force of law unless the Governor has given his assent to the measure.
- It is he who summons and prorogues the State legislature. He can dissolve the State Vidhan Sabha.
- He can address either House of the State legislature or both Houses jointly.
- In the case of States having Legislative Councils or Upper Houses, he can nominate some Members to the Upper House. He is also empowered to nominate Anglo-Indians to the State Vidhan Sabha if they are not adequately represented in the legislature.
The Vidhan Sabha or the Legislative Assembly is the lower House (in States with bicameral) or the sole House (in unicameral States). The Vidhan Parishad (or Legislative Council) is the upper House in those States of India that have a bicameral legislature. As of 2011, six (out of twenty-eight) States have a Legislative Council: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh.
Parliament can, by law, provide for the abolition of an existing Legislative Council or for the creation of one where one does not exist if the proposal is supported by a resolution of the Legislative Assembly concerned.
On the other hand, although the Constitution (Seventh) Amendment Act, 1958, provided for the creation of a Legislative Council in Madhya Pradesh, it has not yet been constituted in the State.
A person is disqualified for being chosen as a member of the State Legislative Assembly if he: (i) holds an office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State other than an office declared by the Legislature of the State by law not to disqualify its holder, (ii) is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court, (iii) is an undischarged insolvent, (iv) is not a citizen of India, or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign State, or (v) is so disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament.
Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly): The minimum strength of an Assembly is 60 and the maximum 500. An Assembly is elected directly on the basis of adult franchise with reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes/ Tribes. The legislature must meet at least twice a year. The Assembly elects a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker from among its members.
The qualifications to become a member of the State Legislative Assembly are: (1) one should be an Indian citizen, (2) he should not be less than 25 years of age and (3) possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed by Parliament.
Vidhan Parishad (Legislative Council): The minimum strength of the Legislative Council or Vidhan Parishad of a State is 40 and the maximum is equivalent to one-third the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly or Vidhan Sabha. One-third of the number of Members of a Vidhan Parishad are elected by the State’s Legislative Assembly from outside the Assembly, another one-third are elected by members of local bodies, one-twelfth are elected by graduates of not less than three years’ standing, and another onetwelfth by teachers of at least three years’ standing in higher secondary schools and colleges. The remaining one-sixth are nominated by the State Governor from among people in the State eminent in literature, science, art, social services, co-operative movement etc.
The Vidhan Parishad is a secondary chamber. It has no power over money bills or control over the executive. It has often been criticized as an expensive superfluity.
Vidhan Sabha has a duration of 5 years while the Vidhan Parishad is a permanent body with one-third of the members retiring every second year.
The powers of the Legislative Assembly of a State: The State Legislative Assembly has exclusive powers over subjects enumerated in List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution and concurrent powers over those enumerated in List III. The financial powers of the State Legislature include authorisation of all expenditure, taxation and borrowing by the State Government. The Legislative Assembly has the power to originate Money Bills.
Privileges and immunities of the members of a State legislature: The members of a State legislature enjoy freedom of speech in the Legislative Chamber. None of them is liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in the legislature or a Committee thereof. They receive such salaries and allowances as the legislature of the State determines. The State legislature can also pass laws in respect of other powers, privileges and immunities to be enjoyed by its members.
STATE CHIEF MINISTER
The Governor appoints the Chief Minister and on his advice the other Ministers. The Chief Minister of a State can be removed from office only when he has lost the confidence of a majority in the State legislature. In case he is not a member of the legislature at the time he is inducted into office, he can be removed if he fails to get elected to the legislature within six months of thus entering office.
The Indian Constitution does not empower the President of India to appoint the Chief Ministers of States.
STATE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
For a State in India, the Constitution provides for a Council of Ministers with a Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions (except in the case when the Governor is required by or under the Constitution to exercise his functions in his own discretion). The Governor appoints that person as Chief Minister whose leadership is explicitly recognised in the House. The other Ministers are appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister.
A person who is not a member of the Legislature can be appointed a Minister but in that case he has to get himself elected to the Legislature within six months of thus entering office. In case he fails to get elected within this period, he can be removed from office.
The qualifications required to become a member of the State Legislative Assembly are: (1) a person should be an Indian citizen; (2) he should not be less than 25 years of age and (3) he should possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed by Parliament.
Article 370 of the Indian Constitution confers special rights to Jammu and Kashmir State.
The State of Jammu and Kashmir has its own Constitution (drafted by a separate Constituent Assembly and promulgated on the 26th January 1957).
The State of Jammu and Kashmir thus acquired the distinction of having a separate Constitution for the administration of the State, in place of the provisions of Part-VI of the Constitution of India, which govern the other States of the Union.
PRESIDENT’S RULE UNDER ARTICLE 356
The President’s rule means assumption of all legislative and executive powers of a State by the President of India. Under Article 356 of the Constitution, the President can take over the administration of a State in case its Constitutional machinery breaks down. The President does so either on receipt of a report from the Governor or when he is otherwise satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the Government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
The Constitution, however, provides that a proclamation of President’s rule in a State under Article 356 is to be laid before each House of Parliament for approval within two months of its being enforced. The proclamation ceases to be effective if it is not approved by both Houses of Parliament within a period of two months. Even after it has been approved, it cannot remain in force for more than six months at a time unless its life is extended every six months, but up to a maximum period of three years.
Thus we have constitutional safeguards to ensure that President’s rule in any State does not become permanent. It is not suffered to become anti-democratic because as soon as possible after the proclamation of President’s rule, mid-term polls are held and steps are taken to ensure that the administration of the State reverts to a popular government at the earliest.
ADMINISTRATION OF UNION TERRITORIES
Except as otherwise provided by Parliament by law, every Union Territory is to be administered by the President through an administrator appointed by him.
The President can also appoint the Governor of a State as the administrator of an adjoining Union Territory and when a Governor is so appointed he will exercise his functions as administrator independently of his Council of Ministers.
Parliament was authorised under the Constitution (Fourteenth) Amendment Act, 1962 to create for any of the Union Territories elected or partly elected legislatures and Council of Ministers. In pursuance of it, the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 was enacted under which legislatures and Council of Ministers have been set up in these Union Territories.
An emergency under Article 352 can be proclaimed by the President only to deal with (i) internal armed rebellion or (ii) external aggression according to the Constitution (44th Amendment) Act, 1979.
Another occasion on which the President can by proclamation under Article 356, assume to himself all or any of the functions of the Government of a State is in the event of failure of the State’s Constitutional machinery. The President does so either on receipt of a report from the Governor or when he is otherwise satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the Government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
Proclamation of Emergency on the ground of internal disturbances was made for the first time in 1975.
As per the Constitution (44th Amendment) Act 1978, any poclamation of Emergency need henceforward be issued by the President only after receiving the advice of the Cabinet as a whole in writing.
The proclamation of Emergency under Article 352 must be approved by the Parliament within six months.
Can there be President’s Rule at the Centre? The President is empowered to dissolve the House of the People or the Lok Sabha in terms of Article 85(2)(d). The Rajya Sabha or the Council of State on the other hand is a permanent House and is not subject to dissolution.
According to Article 83(2)(d), the House of the People, unless sooner dissolved, continues for 5 years from the date fixed for its first meeting, and the completion of the said period of 5 years automatically operates as a dissolution of the House.
The Parliament can also be dissolved if the Prime Minister so advises the President but it is up to the President to accept the advice or not. (Making such a recommendation is a political, but not a legal right of the Prime Minister.)
In case a Prime Minister recommends dissolution of Parliament and the President accepts such advice, the latter is supposed to ask the Prime Minister to continue as the Head of a caretaker government till such time as fresh elections have been held and a new government commanding a majority comes into being.
There is no provision for President’s rule at the Centre.
It was introduced in 1959, generally as a three-tier structure of local self-government at the village, block and district levels. These institutions are in existence in almost all States and Union Territories with variations in structural pattern. The first tier at village level is commonly known as Gram Panchayat, second (at block level) as Panchayat Samiti and the third (at district level) as Zila Parishad.
Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh were the first States to implement the Panchayati Raj system. Panchayati Raj is a subject on the State List. The Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 imparted a constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj System.
Village Panchayats: Article 40 of the Constitution lays down that the States shall take steps to organise Village Panchayats.
The Supreme Court in New Delhi is the highest Court of Justice in India. It consists of a Chief Justice of India and not more than 24 other judges.
Functions of the Supreme Court of India: (1) It decides disputes between the Government of India and any State Government or between two or more States involving any question of law or fact. (2) It is competent to order the enforcement of Fundamental Rights. (3) It hears civil and criminal appeals of a certain kind from High Courts. (4) The Supreme Court has also advisory jurisdiction under which the President can refer to it any question of public importance. The Supreme Court, however, tenders advice to the President of India on a matter of law or fact only when such advice is sought. (5) The decision and interpretations given by the Supreme Court are binding on all courts of the country.
When the offices of both the President and the Vice-President are vacant, the Chief Justice of India discharges their functions.
Advisory Function of the Supreme Court: The Supreme Court has also advisory jurisdiction. If at any time a question of public importance arises upon which the President wants to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court, he can refer the question to the said Court for consideration and the Court in turn, after giving due hearings, may report to the President its opinion thereon.
Under this jurisdiction, even those disputes which involve interpretation of treaties, agreements over which the court has no original jurisdiction, can be referred by the President for opinion.
Appointments: All the judges of the Supreme Court of India, including the Chief Justice, are appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
Every judge of the Supreme Court is to hold office until he attains the age of 65 years, unless he resigns or is removed by a special procedure.
A Judge of the Supreme Court can be removed from office by an order of the President. Such an order by the President is to be passed after an address by each House of Parliament, supported by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present on grounds of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
Qualifications: A person for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court must be (i) a citizen of India. (ii) He must have been a judge of a High Court for at least five years or two or more such courts in succession; or for at least ten years an advocate of a High Court or of two or more such courts in succession or, in the opinion of the President of India, a distinguished jurist.
Writs: Article 32 of the Indian Constitution provides that writs can be issued by the Supreme Court.
HIGH COURT JUDGES
The appointment of a High Court judge is governed by Article 217 of India’s Constitution. According to it, every judge of a High Court is appointed by the President after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the State and the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned. A High Court judge must be a citizen of India, should have for at least ten years held a judicial office in India or should have been an advocate of a High Court for at least 10 years.
A High Court judge holds office till he attains the age of sixty-two, or resigns, or is removed from office by the President
He is appointed by the President. He advises the government of India on legal matters. He also performs such other duties of a legal character as may be referred or assigned to him by the President. He holds office at the pleasure of the President. He has the right to audience in all courts of India.
COMPTROLLER AND AUDITOR-GENERAL
The Comptroller and Auditor-General is appointed by the President (under Articles 149-51) to keep watch on the accounts of the Union and the States. He is responsible to see that the expenses voted by the Parliament or the Legislature of a State and laid down in the Appropriation Acts are not exceeded or varied. He submits reports to the President and Governors of the States which are laid before each House of Parliament and Legislatures of the States.
He can be removed from office only by the President on like grounds as a Judge of the Supreme Court.
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONS
- The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
- State Public Service Commissions.
The UPSC consists of a Chairman and eight other members appointed by the President. The chief function of the UPSC and the State Public Service Commissions is to conduct examinations for recruitment to various services in the Union and the States, respectively. Other functions are: (a) to advise the government on methods of recruitment, promotion and control of Public Services, (b) to look after the interests and rights of Services, (c) to hear appeals from civil servants and redress their grievances.
The Chairman and the members of State Public Service Commissions are appointed by the Governor of the State concerned.
Term of Office: The term of office of a Member of the Union Public Service Commission is fixed at six years or until he attains the age of sixty-five. In the case of a Member of a State Public Service Commission, the term of office is six years or until he attains the age of sixty-two.
The President is empowered to establish an Inter-State Council under Article 263 of the Constitution if at any time it appears to him that the public interests would be served thereby.
Such a Council consisting of six Union Cabinet Ministers and the Chief Ministers of all the States was created in April 1990, as per recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission on Inter-State relations.
Functions of Inter-State Council includes: (1) duty of enquiring into and advising upon disputes which may have arisen between States, (2) to investigate and discuss subjects of common interest between the Union and the States or between two or more States in connection with research in agriculture, forestry, public health etc and make recommendation for coordinating of policy and action relating to such subjects.
Contingency Fund is the amount placed at the disposal of the President of India to meet unforeseen expenditure. The amounts spent from this fund can be reimbursed from the Consolidated Fund of India with the sanction of Parliament. The Contingency Fund is established by a law passed by Parliament under Article 267 of the Constitution. This is in the nature of an imprest; into this fund are paid, from time to time, such sums as may be determined by law. No advance can be made out of this fund except for the purpose of meeting unforeseen expenditure pending authorisation by Parliament.
Similarly, the legislature of a State may by law establish a Contingency Fund. The fund is placed at the Governor’s disposal to meet unforeseen expenditure pending authorisation of such expenditure by the State Legislature. The Contingency Fund is to be distinguished from the Discretionary Fund which is at the disposal of Ministers for announcing ad hoc grants for various purposes such as encouragement of art, cultural activities etc.
Under Article 112 of the Constitution a statement of estimated receipts and expenditure of the government of India is placed before Paliament for every financial year (April 1 to March 31). This annual financial statement is known as the Budget. Very often it becomes necessary to ask for additional grants about the middle or towards the end of the financial year for which no provision has been made in the main budget. The necessity arises if (as often happens) (a) the amount authorised by the Appropriation Act (which sanctions the annual budget) for a particular purpose for the current year is found to be insufficient, or (b) if there is any expenditure on a new service which is not provided by the main budget, or (c) if, for any reason, money has been spent on any service during a financial year in excess of the amount granted in the budget.
Similarly, supplementary demands are presented to State Assemblies for the same reasons and for the same objectives; at times the supplementary demands are for fairly large amounts, in case of relief operations for instance.
CONSOLIDATED FUND OF INDIA
All revenues received by the government of India, all loans raised by the government by the issue of treasury bills, loans or ways and mean, advances and all moneys received by that government in repayment of loans form one consolidated fund entitled “the Consolidated Fund of India”.
Budget is the annual financial statement. It is presented to the Lok Sabha on the last working day of February every year. Simultaneously, a copy of it is placed on the table of the Rajya Sabha.
As the State today is the nation’s biggest spender, lender, borrower, property-owner, insurer, businessman, industrialist and banker, it provides increasingly a variety of social services like housing, education, health and employment. All this needs money and the ‘Budget’ is an instrument of the economic and social policies of the Government. The Budget is a programme of action with a financing plan and an expenditure plan. It gives detailed proposals as to how much is to be spent on what and how much of it is to be contributed by whom and from where.
The Parliament is not competent to discuss the provision made in the Budget for the emoluments and allowances of the President. Article 113 of the Constitution enjoins that such sums as are charged on the Consolidated Fund like the salary, allowances etc of the President, the Presiding Officers of the Parliament, Judges of the Supreme Court etc., need not be voted upon.
A Money Bill is not introduced in the Rajya Sabha which has no power over Money Bills. It can originate only in the Lok Sabha. In financial matters, the Lok Sabha is more powerful than the Rajya Sabha.
After a Money Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha, it is to be sent to the Rajya Sabha for its recommendations. The Rajya Sabha cannot reject or amend a Money Bill by virtue of its own powers. It must, within a period of fourteen days from the date of receipt of the Bill, return it to Lok Sabha, which may either accept or reject all or any of the recommendations of the Rajya Sabha.
If the Rajya Sabha does not return the Bill within fourteen days, it shall be deemed to have been passed by both Houses.
If any question arises whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not, the decision of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha shall be final and shall not be open to question either in a Court of Law or in either House or even by the President.
SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR MINORITIES IN INDIA
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have reserved seats in the State Legislatures and Union Parliament. The President can nominate not more than two members from among the Anglo-Indian community if he finds that the community is not adequately represented in the Lok Sabha. The rule also applies for the Governors and they can nominate representatives of the Anglo-Indian community in the State Legislature if the community is not adequately represented.
Initially, the provision for reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was for ten years only (from the commencement of the Constitution) but every ten years since then the Constitution has been amended to extend the reservations.
AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION
The Constitution of India can be amended under the provisions of Article 368. The amendment may be initiated only by the introduction of a Bill for the purpose in either House of Parliament. The Bill is required to be passed in each House by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the House present and voting. It is then presented to the President for his assent. After the President has given his assent to the Bill, the Constitution stands amended in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
In certain cases, however, e.g., in case any changes are sought to be made in the provisions relating to the election of the President, the extent of executive power of the Union and/or States, the constitution of High Courts for Union Territories, the representation of States in the Parliament etc., the amendment is also required to be ratified by the Legislatures of not less than half of the number of States.
If there is a final disagreement as to the amendments to be made in a Bill by the two Houses of Parliament, the President may then summon a joint sitting to resolve the deadlock—Article 108(1) b.
IMPORTANT AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
The first Amendment Act to the Indian Constitution was made in the year 1951. According to it, Articles 15, 19, 85, 87, 174, 176, 341, 342, 376 were amended and Articles 31A and 31B inserted and Ninth Schedule was added.
The Constitution (24th Amendment) Act, 1971: It affirmed the power of the Parliament to amend any part of the Constitution. After this amendment, the President is bound to assent to Constitution Amendment Bill.
The Constitution (31st Amendment) Act, 1973: increased the elective strength of the Lok Sabha from 525 to 545. Under the Act, the upper limit of representatives of the States went up from 500 to 525 and that of the Union Territories decreased from 25 to 20.
The Constitution (36th Amendment) Act, 1975: By this Act, Sikkim became the 22nd State of the Indian Union.
The Constitution (39th Amendment) Act, 1975: The Act places beyond challenge in courts the election to Parliament of a person holding the office of Prime Minister or Speaker and the election of President and Vice-President.
The Constitution (40th Amendment) Act, 1976: This Amendment has a three-fold objective: (1) It places beyond challenge in courts some major Central laws; (2) It gives similar protection to several State enactments, mostly relating to land legislation, by including them in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution; and (3) It provided that the limits of the territorial waters, the Continental Shelf, the Exclusive Economic Zone and the maritime zones of India shall be specified from time to time by law made by Parliament.
The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976: It was enacted during the period of internal emergency. The major changes under the Act prescribed the framework for the future within which the three organs of Government— the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary—were to function henceforth. The Amendment established beyond doubt the supremacy of Parliament over the other wings of government; gave the Directive Principles precedence over the Fundamental Rights; enumerated for the first time a set of ten Fundamental Duties of citizens which included defence of the country and national service and under which the citizens were directed not to indulge in anti-national activities. It further imposed limits on the power and jurisdiction of the judiciary; raised the term of the Lok Sabha and the Vidhan Sabha from five to six years; authorised the use of Central armed forces in any State to deal with law and order problems, made the President bound by the advice of the Council of Ministers and envisaged the establishment of administrative tribunals for service matters of government employees and also other tribunals for economic offences. The Act also clearly laid down that no Constitutional Amendment could be questioned in any court of law.
The Constitution (43rd Amendment) Act, 1978: This Act repealed the obnoxious provisions of the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act passed during the Emergency. It restored civil liberties by deleting Article 31D which gave powers to Parliament to curtail even legitimate trade union activity under the guise of legislation for the prevention of anti-national activities.
The Constitution (44th Amendment) Act, 1978: The Act removed major distortions in the Constitution introduced during the Emergency. The duration of the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies was reduced from six to five years—the normal term which was extended during the Emergency under the 42nd Amendment to achieve some political purposes.
The Right to Property ceased to be a Fundamental Right and became only a legal right.
The Act also extended, for the first time since independence, constitutional protection for publication of the proceedings of Parliament and State Legislatures, except in cases where it is proved to be “malicious”.
Another important feature of the Act was that any proclamation of Emergency need henceforward be issued by the President only after receiving the advice of the Cabinet as a whole in writing. The President will not be called upon to act on the basis of advice by the Prime Minister on his own without consulting his Cabinet.
The 44th Amendment also provides safeguards against future subversion of the Constitution for establishing an authoritarian regime. It contains provisions which are designed to make it impossible to impose the kind of emergency the country had experienced for 19 months.
The Constitution (52nd Amendment) Act, 1985: The Act made defection to another party, after elections, illegal.
The Constitution (53rd Amendment) Act, 1986: It conferred Statehood on Mizoram and ensures against unnecessary interference by the Central government with the laws relating to spheres of social relationship and community conduct applicable to Mizoram.
The Constitution (55th Amendment) Act, 1987: It granted Statehood to Arunachal Pradesh which consequently became the 24th State of the Indian Union.
The Constitution (56th Amendment) Act, 1987: It conferred Statehood on Goa and forms a new Union Territory of Daman and Diu. Goa thus became the 25th State of the Indian Republic.
The Constitution (57th Amendment) Act, 1987: It made a special provision for the setting up of the new State of Goa. Consequently, Daman and Diu were separated from the former to form a Union Territory.
The Constitution (61st Amendment) Act, 1989: It lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
The Constitution (66th Amendment) Act, 1990: Brought land reforms within the purview of 9th Schedule of the Constitution.
The Constitution (69th Amendment) Act, 1991: Delhi made National Capital Region. The Act also made provision for legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers for Delhi.
The Constitution (71st Amendment) Act, 1992: The act amended the 8th Schedule to the Constitution to include Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali Languages in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.
The Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992: To ensure direct election to all seats in Panchayats; to reserve seats for SCs and STs in proportion to their population; and for reservation of not less than one third of the seats in Panchayats for women.
The Constitution (74th Amendment) Act, 1992: was made to ensure direct election to all seats in Nagarpalikas and Municipalities.
The Constitution (76th Amendment) Act, 1994: It related to the Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutes and of appointments or posts in the Services under a State, for Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The Supreme Court had ruled on November 16, 1992, that the total reservations under Article 16(40) of the Constitution should not exceed 50 per cent.
The Constitution (77th Amendment) Act, 1995: Provided for continuing the policy of reservation in promotion for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The Constitution (78th Amendment) Act, 1995: It included land reform laws in the Ninth Schedule so that they cannot be challenged before the courts.
The Constitution (79th Amendment) Act, 1999: It extended the reservation of seats for SC, ST and Anglo-Indians in the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies for next 10 years.
The Constitution (81st Amendment) Act, 2000: It provided that the unfilled vacancies of a year reserved for SC/ST kept for being filled up in a year as per Article 16, shall be considered separately for filling vacancies in the succeeding year and the previous list will not be considered for filling the 50% quota of the respective year.
The Constitution (82nd Amendment) Act, 2000: It provided that nothing in the Article 355 shall prevent the State from making any provisions in favour of the members of SC/ST for relaxation in qualifying marks with respect to examination/job/promotion.
The Constitution (83rd Amendment) Act, 2000: The Act amended Article 243 M to provide that no reservation in Panchayats be made in favour of SC/ST in Arunachal Pradesh where the whole population is tribal.
The Constitution (84th Amendment Act), 2002: The Act amended Articles 82 and 170(3) to extend the freeze on undertaking fresh delimitation up to the year 2026 as a motivational measure to enable the State government to pursue the agenda for population stabilisation.
The Constitution (86th Amendment Act), 2002: The Act amended Article 21A pertaining to Right to Education, to read “The State shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.”
The Constitution (88th Amendment Act), 2003: The Act inserted Article 268A pertaining to Service Tax allowing the tax to be levied by Union and collected and appropriated by the Union and the States. The Act also amended the Seventh Schedule to add entry “92C. Taxes on Services” in List I—Union List.
The Constitution (89th Amendment Act), 2003: The Act provided for amendment of Article 338 for setting up of a separate National Commission for Scheduled Castes and adding of Article 338A for setting up a National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
The Constitution (91st Amendment Act), 2003: The Act provided that the size of the Council of Ministers should not be more than 10% of the strength of House or Houses concerned whether Unicameral or Bicameral. However, in case of smaller States like Sikkim, Mizoram and Goa having 32, 40 and 40 Members in the Legislative Assemblies, respectively, a minimum strength of seven Ministers is provided. The Act also provides that: “a member of either House of Parliament belonging to any political party who is disqualified for being a member of that House under paragraph 2 of the Tenth Schedule shall also be disqualified to be appointed as a Minister under clause (1) for duration of the period commencing from the date of his disqualification till the date on which the term of his office as such member would expire or where he contests any election to either House of Parliament before the expiry of such period, till the date on which he is declared elected, whichever is earlier.”
The Constitution (92nd Amendment Act), 2003: The Act amended Eighth Schedule to the Constitution, and added Bodo, Maithili, Santhali and Dogri to the list of official languages recognized by the Indian Constitution.
The Constitution (94th Amendment Act), 2006: The Act amended Article 164 to substitute word “Bihar” with words “Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand”.
The Constitution (95th Amendment Act), 2009: The Act extended the reservation of seats for SCs and STs in the Lok Sabha and States’ Assemblies from Sixty years to Seventy years.
The Constitution (96th Amendment Act), 2011: The Act substituted the word “Odia” for the word “Oriya” in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution, in entry 15.
The Constitution (97th Amendment Act), 2011: The Act added the words “or co-operative societies” after the word “or unions” in Article 19(l) (c) and insertion of article 43B i.e., Promotion of Co-operative Societies and added Part-IXB i.e., The Co-operative Societies. The amendment’s objective is to encourage economic activities of cooperatives which in turn help progress of rural India. It is expected to not only ensure autonomous and democratic functioning of cooperatives, but also the accountability of the management to the members and other stakeholders.
The Constitutional (100th Amendment) Act 2015: It ratified the land boundary agreement between the India and Bangladesh. The Act envisaged a notional transfer of 111 Indian enclaves to Bangladesh in return of 51 enclaves to India. It also helped the Stateless citizens get citizenship from their respective countries.
The Constitutional (101st Amendment) Act 2016: It officially introduced the national Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India from 1 July 2017. GST is a comprehensive indirect tax levy on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods as well as services at the national level. It replaced all indirect taxes levied on goods and services by the Indian Central and State governments. The Act was passed in accordance with the provisions of Article 368 of the Constitution, and came into being after ratification by more than half of the State Legislatures, as required under Clause (2) of the said article.
COMMITTEES OF PARLIAMENT
Estimates Committee: It consists of 30 members elected every year by the Lok Sabha from among its members. A Minister is not eligible. Its life is one year only. Its function is to examine the estimates of various Ministries, Departments and Government Projects and to suggest economy measures, improvement and efficiency or administrative reforms which can be effected.
Public Accounts Committee: It is one of two financial committees of Parliament. It has 22 members, fifteen from the Lok Sabha and seven from the Rajya Sabha. None of its members is a minister. It scrutinizes government accounts after the expenditure has been incurred. It sees whether such expenditure has been incurred for legitimate purposes and within the limits sanctioned in the budget. It also looks into instances of official negligence, waste and extravagance, maladministration of government funds and corruption.
Committee on Privileges (Lok Sabha): This Committee is nominated by the Speaker and consists of not more than 15 members. Its function is to examine every question involving breach of privilege of the House or of the members of any of its Committees referred to it by the House or by the Speaker. It determines whether a breach of privilege is involved or not.
Select (or Joint) Committees: These are ad hoc Committees created with the specific purposes of scrutinising in detail legislative measures brought before the House and referred to them. A Select Committee can be appointed by either of the two Houses separately or by both jointly. The number of members varies between 20 and 35.
Article 280 of the Constitution provides for the quadrennial appointment of Finance Commission. Its function is to recommend to the President certain measures relating to the distribution of financial resources between the Union and the States.