Important Topics On Governance, Polity & Administration| Study Notes-1
Notes for Higher Education System, Governance, Polity & Administration
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Topics to be covered in this article on Governance, Polity & Administration
Table of Contents
- Evolution of Indian Constitution
- Various sources of our Constitution
- Preamble to the Constitution
- Legislative powers
- Prime Minister
- Central Council of Ministers
- Idea of Indian Constitution
- Important Details of Indian Constitution & Various sources of our Constitution
- Details of President Roles & Responsibility
- Details of Vice-President Roles & Responsibility
- Details of Prime-minister
- Rest of Parliament & other important details to be covered in next section [To be added]
Evolution of Indian Constitution
The idea of a Constituent Assembly to frame the Constitution of India was first mooted by the Communist leader MN Roy. The Indian National Congress (INC) demanded a Constituent Assembly for the first time in 1935. The British Government accepted the demand in its “August Offer” in 1940. The Cripps Mission in 1942 came to India with a draft proposal but the Muslim League didn’t accept it as it wanted the division of India. Finally, the Cabinet Mission came out with a compromise formula which constituted the Constituent Assembly in November, 1946.
The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly was convened on December 9, 1946 with Sachchidanand
Sinha as the Interim President. He was the oldest member of the assembly. On December 11 , 1946, Dr Rajendra Prasad was elected as Permanent President of the Constituion Assembly. The Muslim League boycotted the meeting and insisted on a separate state of Pakistan.
On December 13, 1946, Jawaharlal Nehru moved the historic ‘Objectives Resolution’ in the Assembly. It
pledged to make India an independent sovereign union of states. Sir B.N. Rao was appointed as the Constitutional Advisor to the Assembly.
The Constituent Assembly took 2 years, 11 months and 18 days to frame the Constitution.
Originally, the Constitution had 22 parts, 395 articles and 8 schedules. Presently, it consists of 450 articles (divided into 24 parts) and 12 schedules.
Various sources of our Constitution
- Government of India Act of 1935 – Federal Scheme, Office of Governor, Judiciary, Public Service Commission, Emergency provisions and administrative details.
- British Constitution – Parliamentary System, Rule of law, Lagislative Procedure, Single Citizenship, Cabinet System, Prerogative Writs, Parliamentary Privileges and Bicameralism.
- US Constitution – Fundamental rights, independence of judiciary, judicial review, impeachment of president, removal of Supreme court and high court judges and post of vice president.
- Irish Constitution– Directive Principles of State Policy, nomination of members of Rajya Sabha and method of election of president
- Canadian Constitution– Federation with a strong centre, vesting of residuary power in the centre, appointment of state Governor by the centre and advisory jurisdiction of Supreme Court.
- Australian Constitution– Concurrent list, joint sitting of two houses of Parliament.
- Constitution of Germany– Suspension of fundamental rights during emergency.
- French Constitution– Republic and ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity in the Preamble.
- South African Constitution- Procedure for amendment of the constitution and election of members of Rajya Sabha.
- Japanese Constitution- Procedure established by Law.
- Constitution of former USSR: Procedure of five-year plan, fundamental duties, ideals of justice in Preamble.
Preamble to the Constitution
The Constitution begins with the Preamble. The objective resolution proposed by Pt. Nehru ultimately became the preamble. It contains the summary or essence of the Constitution. It has been amended by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act (1976), which added three new words—
socialist, secular and integrity.
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 the unity and integrity of the Nation; IN OUR
CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of
November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE
TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION
Articles 52 to 153 of the Constitution deal with the Union executive. The Union executive consists of the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, the council of ministers and the attorney general of India. The President is the head of the Indian State. He is the first citizen of India.
Impeachment of President: The President can be removed from office by a process of impeachment for
‘violation of the Constitution’. The impeachment charges can be initiated by either House of Parliament. These charges should be signed by one-fourth members of the House (that framed the charges), and a 14 days’ notice should be given to the President.
The executive powers and functions of the President are:
- All executive actions of the Government of India are formally taken in his name.
- According to article 75 he appoints the Prime Minister of India and according to Article 77 with consent of the Prime Minister he appoints the other ministers. They hold office during his pleasure.
- He appoints the Attorney-General of India, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the Chief
Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners, the chairman and members of the Union Public Service Commission, the governors of states, the chairman and members of Finance Commission, and administrators of UTs and so on.
The President is an integral part of the Parliament of India, and enjoys the following legislative powers.
1. He can summon or prorogue the Parliament and dissolve the Lok Sabha. [Art. 85]
2. He can also summon a joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament, which is presided over by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. [Art. 108]
3. He can address the Parliament at the commencement of the first session after each general election and the first session of each year. [Art. 87]
4. He can send messages to the Houses of Parliament, whether with respect to a bill pending in the Parliament
5. He can appoint any member of the Lok Sabha to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker fall vacant. Similarly, he can also appoint any member of the Rajya Sabha to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman fall vacant.
6. He nominates 12 members of the Rajya Sabha from amongst persons having special knowledge or practical
experience in literature, science, art and social service.
[Art. 80(1)] 7. The President is empowered to nominate not more than two Anglo-Indian members to the Lok Sabha, if that
community is not adequately represented in that House.
[Art. 331] 8. His prior recommendation or permission is needed to introduce certain types of bill in the Parliament. For
example, a bill involving expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India, or a bill for the alteration of
boundaries of states or creation of a new state.
9. When a bill is sent to the President after it has been passed by the Parliament, he can give his assent,
withhold his assent or return the bill for reconsideration of the parliament. However, if the bill is passed again by
the Parliament, with or without amendments, the President has to give his assent to the bill.
10. When a bill passed by a state legislature is reserved by the governor for consideration of the President, the
President can give his assent, withhold it or direct the governor to return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for
reconsideration of the state legislature. It should be noted here that it is not obligatory for the President to give his assent even if the bill is again passed by the state legislature and sent again to him for his consideration.
11. According to Article 123, he can promulgate ordinances when the Parliament is not in session. An ordinance issued under Art. 123 must receive approval of Parliament
(both the houses) within six weeks of reassembly of the parliament.
Veto power of the President: A bill passed by the Parliament can become an act only if it receives the assent of the President. However, the President has the veto power over the bills passed by the Parliament, i.e. he can withhold his assent to the bills.
Absolute Veto: It refers to the power of the President to withhold his assent to a bill passed by the Parliament. The bill then ends and does not become an act. Usually, this veto is exercised in the following two cases:
With respect to private members’ bills; and With respect to the government bills when the cabinet resigns (after the passage of the bills but before the assent by the President) and the new cabinet advises the President not to give his assent to such bills.
Suspensive Veto: The President exercises this veto when he returns a bill for reconsideration of the Parliament. However, if the bill is passed again by the Parliament with or without amendments and again presented to the President, it is obligatory for the President to give his assent to the bill. The President does
not possess this veto in the case of money bills.
The Vice-President occupies the second highest office in the country. He is accorded a rank next to the President in the official warrant of precedence. Election He is elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of the members of both Houses of Parliament.
Thus, this electoral college is different from the electoral college for the election of the President in the following two respects:
- It consists of both elected and nominated members of the Parliament.
- It does not include the members of the state legislative assemblies.
The Vice-President’s election, like that of the President’s election, is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote and the voting is by secret ballot.
To be eligible for election as Vice-President, a person should fulfil the following qualifications:
- He should be a citizen of India.
- He should have completed 35 years of age.
- He should be qualified for election as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
- He should not hold any office of profit under the Union government or any state government or any local
authority or any other public authority.Oath or affirmation
The oath of office to the Vice-President is administered by the President or some person appointed in that behalf by him.
Term of office
The Vice-President holds office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office. However, he can resign from his office at any time by addressing the resignation letter to the President. He can also be removed from the office before completion of his term. A formal impeachment is not required for his removal. He can be removed by a resolution of the Rajya Sabha passed by an absolute majority.
On the vacancy of the post of the Vice-President, whether by death, resignation or otherwise, the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha takes charge until a Vice-President is elected and takes charge.
Powers and functions
The functions of Vice-President are twofold:
1. He acts as the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha. In this capacity, his powers and functions are similar to
those of the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
2. He acts as President when a vacancy occurs in the office of the President due to his resignation, removal, death or otherwise. He can act as President only for a maximum period of six months, within which a new President has to be elected. Further, when the sitting President is unable to discharge his functions due to absence, illness or any other cause, the Vice-President discharges his functions until the President resumes his office.
While acting as President or discharging the functions of President, the Vice-President does not perform the duties of the office of the chairman of Rajya Sabha. During this period, those duties are performed by the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha. If the offices of both the President and the Vice-President fall vacant by reason of death, resignation, removal etc the Chief Justice of India or in his absence the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court acts as President.
For the first time, during the 15-day visit of Dr. Rajendra Prasad to the Soviet Union in June 1960, the then Vice-
President Dr. Radhakrishnan acted as the President. For the first time, in 1969, when the President Dr. Zakir
Hussain died and the Vice-President V.V. Giri resigned, the Chief Justice Md. Hidayatullah acted as President.
In the scheme of parliamentary system of government provided by the Constitution, the President is the nominal
executive authority and Prime Minister is the real executive authority. The President is the head of the State while Prime Minister is the head of the government.
Appointment of the Prime Minister Article 75 says that the Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President. The President appoints the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister. But, when no
party has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, then the President may exercise his personal discretion in the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister.
The term of the Prime Minister is not fixed and he holds office during the pleasure of the President. So long as the Prime Minister enjoys the majority support in the Lok Sabha, he cannot be dismissed by the President. However, if he loses the confidence of the Lok Sabha, he must resign or the President can dismiss him.
Powers and functions of Prime Minister
The powers and functions of Prime Minister can be studied under the following heads:
- He recommends persons who can be appointed as ministers by the President.
- He can recommend dissolution of the Lok Sabha to the President at any time.
- He is the chairman of the Planning Commission, National Development Council, National Integration Council, Inter-State Council and National Water Resources Council.
Central Council of Ministers
As the Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary system of government modelled on the British pattern, the council of ministers headed by the prime minister is the real executive authority is our politico-administrative system.
The principles of parliamentary system of government are not detailed in the Constitution, but two Articles (74 and 75) deal with them in a broad, sketchy and general manner. Article 74 deals with the status of the council of ministers while Article 75 deals with the appointment, tenure, responsibility, qualification, oath and salaries and allowances of the ministers.
There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President, who shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice.
The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the Presidentand the other ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. The total number of ministers, including the Prime
Minister, in the Council of Ministers shall not exceed 15% of the total strength of the Lok Sabha. [91st
Constitutional Amendment Act, 2003] The council of ministers shall be collectively responsible
to the Lok Sabha.
A person who is not a member of either House can also become a minister but he cannot continue as minister for more than six months unless he secures a seat in either House of Parliament (by election/nomination). [Art.
The council of ministers consists of three categories: cabinet ministers, ministers of state, and deputy ministers.
- Cabinet Ministers: The cabinet ministers head the important ministries of the Central government like home,
defence, finance and external affairs.
- Ministers of State: The ministers of state can either be given independent charge of ministries/departments or can be attached to cabinet ministers.
- Deputy Ministers: The deputy ministers are not given independent charge of ministries/departments and always assist the Cabinet or State Minister or both. They are not members of the cabinet and do not attend cabinet meetings. Minster may be taken from members of either House and minister who is member of one House has the right to speak and take part in the proceedings of the other House but cannot vote in the House of which he is not member. [Art. 88]. If the Prime Minister resigns or passes away, the entire ministry goes out automatically.
Topics to be covered in next part :-
In Next part we will cover following topics. please feel free to reach me in case more information is required.
- Parliament /legislative organ of the Union government.
- State Government
- State Legislature
- The Court: Seats and Jurisdiction
- The High Court: Seats and Jurisdiction
- Union Territories
- Center & Inter-State Relations
- Emergency Provisions
- Special Status of Jammu and Kashmir
- Important Government Bodies