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State Structure

 THE INTERNAL POLITY

 

INDIA, a Union of States, is a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic with a parliamentary system of government. The Republic is governed in terms of the Constitution, which was adopted by Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949 and came into force on 26 January 1950.

The Constitution which envisages parliamentary form of government is federal in structure with unitary features. President of India is constitutional head of executive of the Union. Article 74(1) of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as head to aid and advise President who shall in exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice. Real executive power thus vests in Council of Ministers with Prime Minister as head. Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the House of the People (Lok Sabha). Similarly, in states. Governor is head of executive, but it is the Council of Ministers with Chief Minister as head in whom real executive power vests. Council of .Ministers of a state is collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly.

The Constitution distributes legislative power between Parliament and state legislatures and provides for vesting of residual powers in Parliament. Power to amend the Constitution also vests in Parliament. The Constitution has provision for independence of judiciary, Comptroller and Auditor-General, Public Service Commissions and Chief Election Commissioner.

THE UNION AND ITS TERRITORY

India comprises 28 States and seven Union Territories. They are: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Kamataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Three new states—Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal — came into being recently. Union Territories are : Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Delhi, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry.

CITIZENSHIP

The Constitution of India provides for a single and uniform citizenship for the whole of India. Every person who was at the commencement of the Constitution (26 January 1950) domiciled in the territory of India and: (a) who was born in the territory of India or (b) either of whose parents was born in the territory of India or (c) who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement, shall be a citizen of India. The Citizenship Act, 1955 provides for acquisition and termination of citizenship after the commencement of the Constitution.

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

The Constitution offers all citizens, individually and collectively, some basic freedoms. These are guaranteed in the Constitution in the form of six broad categories of Fundamental Rights which are justiciable. Article 12 to 35 contained in Part III of the Constitution deal with Fundamental Rights. These are : (i) right to equality including equality before law, prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth and equality of opportunity in matters of employment; (ii) right to freedom of speech and expression; assembly; association or union; movement; residence; and right to practice any profession or occupation (some of these rights are subject to security of the State, friendly relations with foreign countries, public order, decency or morality); (iii) right against exploitation, prohibiting all forms of forced labour, child labour and traffic in human beings; (iv) right to freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion; (v) right of any section of citizens to conserve their culture, language or script and right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice; and (vi) right to constitutional remedies for enforcement of Fundamental Rights.

FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

By the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution, adopted in 1976, Fundamental Duties of the citizens have also been enumerated. Article 51 'A' contained in Part IV A of the Constitution deals with Fundamental Duties. These enjoin upon a citizen among other things, to abide by the Constitution, to cherish and follow noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom, to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so and to promote harmony and spirit of common brotherhood amongst all people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities.

DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY

The Constitution lays down certain Directive Principles of State Policy which though not justiciable, are 'fundamental in governance of the country' and it is the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws. These lay down that the State shall strive to promote the welfare of people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice—social, economic and political—shall inform all institutions of national life. The State shall direct its policy in such a manner as to secure the right of all men and women to an adequate means of livelihood, equal pay for equal work and within limits of its economic capacity and development, to make effective provision for securing the right to work, education and to public assistance in the event of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement or other cases of undeserved want. The State shall also endeavour to secure to workers a living wage, humane conditions of work, a decent standard of life and full involvement of workers in management of industries.

In the economic sphere, the State is to direct its policy in such a manner as to secure distribution of ownership and control of material resources of community to subserve the common good and to ensure that operation of economic system does not result in concentration of wealth and means of production to common detriment.

Some of the other important directives relate to provision of opportunities and facilities for children to develop in a healthy manner, free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14; promotion of education and economic interests of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other weaker sections; organisation of village panchayats; separation of judiciary from executive, promulgation of a uniform civil code for whole country; protection of national monuments; promotion of justice on a basis of equal opportunity; provision of free legal aid; protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife of the country and promotion of international peace and security, just and honourable relations between nations, respect for international law, treaty obligations and settlement of international disputes by arbitration.

THE UNION

EXECUTIVE

The Union executive consists of the President, the Vice-President and the Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President.

PRESIDENT

The President is elected by members of an electoral college consisting of elected members of both Houses of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of the states in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote. To secure uniformity among state inter se as Well as parity between the states, as a whole, and the Union, suitable weightage is given to each vote. President must be a citizen of India, not less than 35 years of age and qualified for election as member of the Lok Sabha. His term of office is five years and he is eligible for re-election. His removal from office is to be in accordance with procedure prescribed in Article 61 of the Constitution. He may, by writing under his hand addressed to the Vice-President, resign his office.

Executive power of the Union is vested in the President and is exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with the Constitution. Supreme command of defence forces of the Union also vests in him. The President summons, prorogues, addresses, sends messages to Parliament and dissolves the Lok Sabha; promulgates Ordinances at any time, except when both Houses of Parliament are in session; makes recommendations for introducing financial and money bills and gives assent to bills; grants pardons, reprieves, respites or remission of punishment or suspends, remits or commutes sentences in certain cases. When there is a failure of the constitutional machinery in a state, he can assume to himself all or any of the functions of the government of that state. The President can proclaim emergency in the country if he is satisfied that a grave emergency exists whereby security of India or any part of its territory is threatened whether by war or external aggression or armed rebellion.

VICE-PRESIDENT

The Vice-President is elected by members of an electoral college consisting of members of both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote. He must be a citizen of India, not less than 35 years of age and eligible for election as a member of the Rajya Sabha. His term of office is five years and he is eligible for re-election. His removal from office is to be in accordance with procedure prescribed in Article 67 b.

The Vice-President is ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and acts as President when the latter is unable to discharge his functions due to absence, illness or any other cause or till the election of a new President (to be held within six months when a vacancy is caused by death, resignation or removal or otherwise of President). While so acting, he ceases to perform the function of the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

COUNCIL OF MINISTERS

There is a Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister to aid and advise the President in exercise of his functions. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President who also appoints other ministers on the advice of Prime Minister. The Council is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. It is the duty of the Prime Minister to communicate to the President all decisions of Council of Ministers relating to administration of affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation and information relating to them.

The Council of Ministers comprises Ministers who are members of Cabinet, Ministers of State (independent charge), Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers.

LEGISLATURE

Legislature of the Union which is called Parliament, consists of President and two Houses, known as Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and House of the People (Lok Sabha). Each House of Parliament has to meet within six months of its previous sitting. A joint sitting of two Houses can be held in certain cases.

RAJYA SABHA

The Constitution provides that the Rajya Sabha shall consist of 250 members, of which 12 members shall be nominated by the President from amongst persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service; and not more than 238 representatives of the States and of the Union Territories.

Elections to the Rajya Sabha are indirect; members representing states are elected by elected members of legislative assemblies of the states in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote, and those representing union territories are chosen in such manner as Parliament may by law prescribe. The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution; one-third of its members retire every second year.

The Rajya Sabha, at present, has 245 seats. Of these, 233 members represent the States and the Union Territories and 12 members are nominated by the President. The names of members of Rajya Sabha and party affiliation are given in Appendices.

LOK SABHA

The Lok Sabha is composed of representatives of people chosen by direct election on the basis of adult suffrage. The maximum strength of the House envisaged by the Constitution is now 552 (530 members to represent States/20 to represent Union Territories and not more than two members of Anglo-Indian community to be nominated by the President, if, in his opinion, that community is not adequately represented in the House). The total elective membership of the Lok Sabha is distributed among States in such a way that the ratio between the number of seats allotted to each State and population of the State is, as far as practicable, the same for all States. The Lok Sabha at present consists of 545 members. Of these, 530 members are directly elected from the States and 13 from Union Territories while two are nominated by the President to represent the Anglo-Indian community. The allocation of seats in the present Lok Sabha is based on the 1971 census and under the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution (1976) will continue to be so based until figures of the first census taken after 2000 AD become available.

The term of the Lok Sabha, unless dissolved, is five years from the date appointed for its first meeting. However, while a proclamation of emergency is in operation, this period may be extended by Parliament by law for a period not exceeding one year at a time and not extending in any case, beyond a period of six months after the proclamation has ceased to operate. Thirteen Lok Sabhas have been constituted so far.

ADMINISTRATIVE SET-UP

The Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 is made by the President of India under Article 77 of the Constitution for the allocation of business of the Government of India. The Ministries/Departments of the Government of India are created by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister under these Rules. The business of the Government of India are transacted in the ministries/departments, secretariats and offices (referred to as "Department") as per the distribution of subjects specified in these Rules. Each of the Ministry (ies) will be assigned to a Minister by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. Each department will be generally under the charge of a Secretary to assist the Minister on policy matters and general administration.

The Cabinet Secretariat is responsible for secretarial assistance to the Cabinet, its committees and ad hoc Groups of Ministers, and for maintenance of record of their decisions and proceedings. The Secretariat monitors implementation of the decisions/directions of the Cabinet/Cabinet Committees/ groups of ministers. The Secretariat is also responsible for the administration of the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961 and facilitates smooth transaction of business in ministries/departments of the Government by ensuring adherence to these Rules. The Secretariat assists in decision-making in Government by ensuring inter-ministerial co-ordination ironing out differences amongst ministries/departments and evolving consensus through the instrumentality of the standing/ad hoc committees of secretaries. Through this mechanism new policy initiatives are promoted. The Cabinet Secretariat ensures that the President, the Vice-President and ministers are kept informed of the major activities of all ministries/departments by means of monthly summary of their activities. Management of major crisis situations in the country and coordinating activities of various ministries in such a situation is also one of the functions of this Secretariat.

MINISTRIES/DEPARTMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT

The Government consists of a number of ministries/departments, number and character varying from time to time on factors such as volume of work, importance attached to certain items, changes of orientation, political expediency, etc. On 15 August 1947, the number of ministries at the Centre was 18. As on 14 June 2000 the Government consisted of the following ministries/ departments under the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961.

1. Ministry of Agriculture (Krishi Mantralaya)

  • Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (Krishi aur Sahkarita Vibhag)
  • Department of Agricultural Research and Education (Krishi Anusandhan aur Shiksha Vibhag)
  • Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (Pashupalan aur Dairy Yibhag)
  • Department of Food Processing Industries (Khadya Prasanskaran Udyog Vibhag)

2. Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers

(Rasayan aur Urvarak Mantralaya)

  • Department of Chemicals and Petro-Chemicals (Rasayan aur Petro-Rasayan Vibhag)
  • Department of Fertilizers (Urvarak Vibhag)

3. Ministry of Civil Aviation (Nagar Vimanan MantraJaya)

4. Ministry of Coal (KoyaJa Mantralaya)

5. Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Vanijya aur Udyog Mantralaya)

  • Department of Commerce (Vanijya Vibhag)
  • Deparatment of Industrial Policy and Promotion (Audyogik Niti aur Samvardhan Vibhag)
  • Department of Supply (Poorti Vibhag)

6. Ministry of Communications (Sanchar Mantralaya)

  • Department of Telecommunications (Doorsanchar Vibhag)
  • Department of Posts (Dak Vibhag)
  • Department of Telecom Services (Doorsanchar Seva Vibhag)

7. Ministry of Defence (Raksha Mantralaya)

  • Department of Defence (Raksha Vibhag)
  • Department of Defence Production and Supplies (Raksha Utpadan aur Poorti Vibhag)
  • Department of Defence Research and Development (Raksha Anusandhan aur Vikas Vibhag)

8. Ministry of Environment and Forests (Paryavaran aur Van Mantralaya)

9. Ministry of External Affairs (Videsh Mantralaya)

10. Ministry of Finance (Vitta Mantralaya)

  • Department of Economic Affairs (Arthik Karya Vibhag)
  • Department of Expenditure (Vyaya Vibhag)
  • Department of Revenue (Rajaswa Vibhag)

11. Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Pood and Public Distribution

(Upbhokta Mamle, Khadya aur Sarvajanik Vitaran Mantralaya)

  • Department of Consumer Affairs (Upbhokta Mamie Vibhag)
  • Department of Food and Public Distribution (Khadya aur Sarvajanik Vitaran Vibhag)

12. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

(Swasthya aur Parivar Kalyan Mantralaya)

  • Department of Health (Swasthya Vibhag)
  • Department of Family Welfare. (Parivar Kalyan Vibhag)
  • Department of Indian Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy

(Bhartiya Chikitsa Paddhati aur Homoeopathy Vibhag)

13. Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises

(Bhari Udyog aur Lok Udyam Mantralaya)

  • Department of Heavy Industries (Bhari Udyog Vibhag)
  • Department of Public Enterprises (Lok Udyam Vibhag)

14. Ministry of Home Affairs (Grih Mantralaya)

  • Department of Internal Security (Antarik Suraksha Vibhag)
  • Department of States (Rajya Vibhag)
  • Department of Official Language (Raj Bhasha Vibhag)
  • Department of Home (Grih Vibhag)
  • Department of Jammu and Kashmir Affairs (Jammu tatha Kashmir Vibhag)

 

15. Ministry of Human Resource Development

(Manav Sansadhan Vikas Mantralaya)

  • Department of Elementary Education and Literacy (Prarambhik Shiksha awe Saksharta Vibhag)
  • Department of Secondary Education and Higher Education (Madhyamik Shiksha aur Uchchatar Shiksha Vibhag)
  • Department of Women and Child Development (Mahila aur Bal Vikas Vibhag)

 16. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

(Soochna aur Prasaran Mantralaya)

 17. Ministry of Information Technology

(Soochna Praudyogiki Mantralaya)

18. Ministry of Labour (Shram Mantralaya)

19. Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs

(Vidhi, Nyaya aur Kampany Karya Mantralaya)

  • Department of Legal Affairs (Vidhi Karya Vibhag)
  • Legislative Department (Vidhayee Vibhag)
  • Department of Justice (Nyaya Vibhag)
  • Department of Company Affairs (Kampany Karya Vibhag)

20. Ministry of Mines (Khan Mantralaya)

21. Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources

(Aparamparik Oorja Srota Mantralaya)

22. Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (Sansadiya Karya Mantralaya)

23. Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions

(Kannik Lok Shikayat tatha Pension Mantraiaya)

  • Department of Personnel and Training (Kannik aur Prashikshan Vibhag)
  • Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (Prashasanik Sudhar aur Lok Shikayat Vibhag)
  • Department of Pensions and Pensioners' Welfare (Pension aur Pension Bhogi Kalyan Vibhag)

24. Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas

(Petroleum aur Prakritik Gas Mantralaya)

25. Ministry of Planning (Yojana Mantralaya)

26. Ministry of Power (Vidyut Mantralaya)

27. Ministry of Railways (Rail Mantralaya)

28. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (Sarak Parivahan aur Raj Marg Mantralaya)

29. Ministry of Rural Development (Gramin Vikas Mantralaya)

  • Department of Rural Development (Gramin Vikas Vibhag)
  • Department of Land Resources (Bhumi Sansadhan Vibhag)
  • Department of Drinking Water Supply(Peya Jal Poorti Vibhag)

30. Ministry of Science and Technology (Vigyan aur Praudyogiki Mantralaya)

  • Department of Science and Technology (Vigyan aur Praudyogiki Vibhag)
  • Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (Vigyan aur Audyogik Anusandhan Vibhag)
  • Department of Bio-Technology (Biotechnology Vibhag)

 

31. Ministry of Small Scale Industries and Agro and Rural Industries

(Laghu Udyog aur Krishi Evam Gramin Udyog Mantralaya)

32. Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation

(Sankhyiki aur Karyakram Karyanvayan Mantralaya)

33. Ministry of Shipping (Pot Parivahan Mantralaya)

34. Ministry of Steel (Ispat Mantralaya)

35. Ministry of Textiles (Vastra Mantralaya)

36. Ministry of Tourism and Culture (Paryatan aur Sanskriti Mantralaya)

  • Department of Tourism (Paryatan Vibhag)
  • Department of Culture (Sanskriti Vibhag)

 

37. Ministry of Tribal Affairs (Janjati Karya Mantralaya)

38. Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation (Shahari Vikas aur Garibi Upshaman Mantralaya)

  • Department of Urban Development (Shahari Vikas Vibhag)
  • Department of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation (Shaharii Rozgar aur Garibi Upshaman Vibhag

 

39. Ministry of Water Resources (Jal Sansadhan Mantralaya)

40. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment(Samajik Nyaya aur Adhikarita Mantralaya)

41. Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (Vuva Karyakram aur Khel Mantralaya)

42. Department of Atomic Energy (Pannanu Oorja Vibhag)

43. Department of Ocean Development (Mahasagar Vikas Vibhag)

44. Department of Space (Antariksh Vibhag)

45. Cabinet Secretariat (Mantrimandal Sachivalaya)

46. President's Secretariat (Rashtrapati Sachivalaya)

47. Prime Minister's Office (Pradhan Mantri Karyalaya)

48. Planning Commission (Yojana Ayog)

49. Department of Disinvestment (Vinivesh Vibhag)

THE STATES

The system of government in states closely resembles that of the Union.

EXECUTIVE

GOVERNOR

State executive consists of Governor and Council of Ministers with Chief Minister as its head. Governor of a state is appointed by the President for a term of five years and holds office during his pleasure. Only Indian citizens above 35 years of age are eligible for appointment to this office. Executive power of the State is vested in Governor.

Council of Ministers with Chief Minister as head, aids and advises Governor in exercise of his functions except in so far as he is by or under the Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion. In respect of Nagaland, Governor has special responsibility under Article 371 A of the Constitution with respect to law and order and even though it is necessary for him to consult Council of Ministers in matters relating to law and order, he can exercise his individual judgement as to the action to be taken.

Similarly, in respect of Arunachal Pradesh, Governor has special responsibility under Article 371H of the Constitution with respect to law and order and in discharge of his functions in relation thereto. Governor shall, after consulting Council of Ministers, exercise his individual judgement as to the action to be taken. These are, however, temporary provisions if President, on receipt of a report from governor or otherwise is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for Governor to have special responsibility with respect to law and order, he may so direct by an order.

Likewise, in the Sixth Schedule which applies to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram as specified in para 20 of that Schedule, discretionary powers, are given to Governor in matters relating to sharing of royalties between district council and state government. Sixth Schedule vests additional discretionary powers in Governors of Mizoram and Tripura in almost all their functions (except approving regulations for levy of taxes and money lending by non-tribals by district councils) since December 1998. In Sikkim, Governor has been given special responsibility for peace and social and economic advancement of different sections of population.

All Governors while discharging such constitutional functions as appointment of Chief Minister of a state or sending a report to President about failure of constitutional machinery in a state or in respect of matters relating to assent to a Bill passed by legislature, exercise their own judgement.

 COUNCIL OF MINISTERS

The Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor who also appoints other ministers on the advice of the Chief Minister. The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to legislative assembly of the State.

LEGISLATURE

For every state, there is a legislature which consists of Governor and one House or, two Houses as the case may be. In Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Kamataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, there are two Houses known as legislative council and legislative assembly. In the remaining states, there is only one House known as legislative assembly. Parliament may, by law, Provide for abolition of an existing legislative council or for creation of one where it does not exist, if proposal is supported by a resolution of the legislative assembly concerned.

LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad) of a state comprises not more than one-third of total number of members in legislative assembly of the state and in no case less than 40 members (Legislative Council of Jammu and Kashmir has 36 members vide Section 50 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir). About one-third of members of the council are elected by members of legislative assembly from amongst persons who are not its members, one-third by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state, one-twelfth by electorate consisting of persons who have been, for at least three years, engaged in teaching in educational institutions within the state not lower in standard than secondary school and a further one-twelfth by registered graduates of more than three years standing. Remaining members are nominated by Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, cooperative movement and social service. Legislative councils are not subject to dissolution but one-third of their members retire every second year.

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) of a state consists of not more than 500 and not less than 60 members (Legislative Assembly of Sikkim has 32 members vide Article 371F of the Constitution) chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the state. Demarcation of territorial constituencies is to be done in such a manner that the ratio between population of each constituency and number of seats allotted to it, as far as practicable, is the same throughout the state. Term of an assembly is five years unless it is dissolved earlier.

POWERS AND FUNCTIONS

State legislature has exclusive powers over subjects enumerated in List 11 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution and concurrent powers over those enumerated in List III. Financial powers of legislature include authorisation of all expenditure, taxation and borrowing by the state government. Legislative assembly alone has power to originate money bills. Legislative council can make only recommendations in respect of changes it considers necessary within a period of fourteen days of the receipt of money bills from assembly. Assembly can accept or reject these recommendations.

RESERVATION OF BILLS

The Governor of a state may reserve any Bill for the consideration of the President. Bills relating to subject like compulsory acquisition of property, measures affecting powers and position of High Courts and imposition of taxes on storage, distribution and sale of water or electricity in inter-state river or river valley development projects should necessarily be so reserved. No Bills seeking to impose restrictions on inter-state trade can be introduced in a state legislature without previous sanction of the President.

CONTROL OVER EXECUTIVE

State legislatures, apart from exercising the usual power of financial control, use all normal parliamentary devices like questions, discussions, debate, adjournments and no-confidence motions and resolutions to keep a watch over day-to-day work of the executive. They also have their committees on estimates and public accounts to ensure that grants sanctioned by legislature are properly utilised.

UNION TERRITORIES

Union Territories are administrated by the President acting to such extent as he thinks fit, through an Administrator appointed by him. Administrators of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Delhi and Pondicherry are designated as Lieutenant Governors, while Administrator of Chandigarh is designated as Chief Commissioner. However, presently the Governor of Punjab is concurrently the Administrator of Chandigarh. The Administrator of Dadra and Nagar Haveli is concurrently the Administrator of Daman and Diu. Lakshadweep has a separate Administrator.

The National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Pondicherry each has a legislative assembly and council of ministers. Legislative assembly of Union Territory of Pondicherry may make laws with respect to matters enumerated in List II or List III in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution in so far as these matters are applicable in relation to the union territory. The legislative assembly of National Capital Territory of Delhi has also these powers with the exceptions that Entries 1,2 and 18 of the List II are not within the legislative competence of the legislative assembly. Certain categories of Bills, however, require the prior approval of the Central Government for introduction in the legislative assembly. Some Bills, passed by the legislative assembly of the Union Territory of Pondicherry and National Capital Territory of Delhi are required to be reserved for consideration and assent of the President.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

MUNICIPALITIES

Municipal bodies have a long history in India. The first such Municipal Corporation was set up in the former Presidency Town of Madras in 1688; and was followed by similar corporations in Bombay and Calcutta in 1726. The Constitution of India has made detailed provisions for ensuring protection of democracy in Parliament and in the state legislatures. However, Constitution did not make the local self-government in urban areas a clear-cut constitutional obligation. While the Directive Principles of State Policy refer to village, Panchayats, there is no specific reference to Municipalities except the implicity in Entry 5 of the State List, which places the subject of local self governments as a responsibility of the states.

In order to provide for a common framework for urban local bodies and help to strengthen the functioning of the bodies as effective democratic units of self-government, Parliament enacted the Constitution (74th Amendment) Act, 1992 relating to municipalities in 1992. The Act received the assent of the President on 20 April 1993. The Government of India notified 1 June 1993 as the date from which the said Act came into force. A new part IX-A relating to the Municipalities has been incorporated in the Constitution to provide for among other things, constitution of three types of Municipalities, i.e., Nagar Panchayats for areas in transition from a rural area to urban area. Municipal Councils for smaller urban areas and Municipal Corporation for large urban areas, fixed duration of municipalities, appointment of state election commission, appointment of state finance commission and constitution of metropolitan and district planning committees. All States have set up their finance commissions. For conducting elections to urban local bodies, all States/UTs have set up their election commissions.

PANCHAYATS

Article 40 of the Constitution which enshrines one of the Directive Principles of State Policy lays down that the State shall take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such powers and, authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.

In the light of the above a new Part IX relating to the Panchayats has been inserted in the Constitution to provide for among other things. Gram Sabha in a village or group of villages; constitution of Panchayats at village and other level or levels; direct elections to all seats in Panchayats at the village and intermediate level, if any, and to the offices of Chairpersons of Panchayats at such levels; reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in proportion to their population for membership of Panchayats and office of Chairpersons in Panchayats at each level; reservation of not less than one-third of the seats for women; fixing tenure of five years for Panchayats and holding elections within a period of six months in the event of supersession of any Panchayat.

ELECTION COMMISSION

Superintendence, direction and control of preparation of electoral rolls for, and the conduct of elections, to Parliament and state legislatures and elections to the office of President and Vice-President of India are vested in the Election Commission of India. It is an independent constitutional authority set up in pursuance of Article 324(1) of the Constitution of India. Since its inception in 1950 and till October 1989, the Commission functioned as a single member body consisting of the Chief Election Commissioner. On 16 October 1989, the President appointed two more Election Commissioners on the eve of the general election to the House of the People held in November-December 1989. However, the said two Commissioners ceased to hold office on 1 January 1990 when those two posts of Election Commissioners were abolished. Again on 1 October 1993, the President appointed two more Election Commissioners. Simultaneously, law [Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Conditions of Service) Act, 1991] was also amended provide that the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners will enjoy equal powers and will receive equal salary, allowances and other perquisites. The law further provided that in case of difference of opinion amongst the Chief Election Commissioner and/or two other Election Commissioners, the matters will be decided by the Commission by majority. The validity of that law [renamed in 1993 as the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991] was challenged before the Supreme Court. The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court consisting of five judges, however, dismissed the petitions and fully upheld the provisions of the above law by a unanimous judgement on 14 July 1995.

Independence of Election Commission and its insulation from executive interference is ensured by a specific provision in Article 324(5) of the Constitution to the effect that Chief Election Commissioner shall not be removed from his office except in like manner and on like grounds as a judge of the Supreme Court and conditions of his service shall not be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment. The other Election Commissioners cannot be removed from office except on recommendation by the Chief Election Commissioner.

The Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners are entitled to the same salary and other facilities, like rent free accommodation, as are provided to a judge of the Supreme Court. The term of office of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners is six years from the date he assumes office or till the day he attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. Plenary powers and superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls and the conduct of elections vested in the Election Commission under Article 324 of the Constitution are supplemented further by Acts of Parliament, namely. Representation of the People Act, 1950, Representation of the People Act, 1951, Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Acts, 1952, Government of Union Territories Act, 1963, Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 and the Rules and Orders under them.

 

     

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