Panchayati Raj Institutions
Limitations of Panchayati Raj Institutions
• Illiteracy and ignorance of Local people
• Less functional autonomy due to rigid 3 tier structure
• Less financial autonomy
• Conflict with bureaucracy like BDO
• Condition of women
• Politicization and vitiation of elections- Bengal Panchayat elections. 17000 seats uncontested
• Corruption in functioning
Direct mayor in UK, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, MP, UP, etc. The bill will make mayor the executive head of municipality and also make him directly elected.
• Directly elected better because he represents the people.
• Normally, mayor is a ceremonial post with actual executive power in hands of standing committees and municipal commissioners. Power must be exercised by those who have the mandate of the people.
• It will ensure accountability, transparency as well as better use of financial resources.
Tamil Nadu has a different experience. TN has amended municipal corporation act to scrap direct mayor because experience shows mayor doesnt get the support of his councilors. Plus, state governments are not ready to devolve that much power as they want to control corporations.
Special provisions for Delhi – Article 239 AA
By the 69th amendment 1991, Delhi legislative assembly was setup and the areas around Delhi were given status of National Capital Territory. Delhi is a union territory that is directly administered through the Lt governor appointed by the president. Thus, Delhi government has no say in what the Lt Governor has to do. The Delhi government has the right to legislate on state list except police, land and public order. In other cases too, Parliament’s laws of state list prevail because Delhi is a UT. In case of laws passed by Delhi government, LG can reject it, send it for assent of president or keep it with him. Thus, the powers of Delhi government are severely curtailed.
SC judgment on status of LG-Delhi Govt relations-
• LG concurrence not required, only to be informed
• LG had no independent executive power
• No to separate statehood to Delhi
• Center to continue control over land, public order and police
• A reference to president only as a last resort by LG
Issue of Official Language-
• Constitution envisages Hindi and English as official language. The reason for Hindi to grow is the fact that most leaders of freedom movement were drawn from Hindi heartland. Leaders like Gandhi, Patel, Nehru, Munshi, etc thus supported Hindi.
• Munshi-Ayyangar formula came up that said Hindi and English should continue as national language for 15 years till 1965.
• First official language commission was established in 1955 and examined by a committee consisting of members drawn from both houses. The commission basically laid down guidelines to promote usage of Hindi and the validity of English as an official language.
• The Official Language Act 1963 was passed that said that English can be used as a language of communication for indefinite time.
• Besides, any language mentioned in the 8th schedule can be used for transacting business in union and state legislatures and for litigations. Two or more states can also adopt a common language for their intercommunication.
• Yet, these provisions could not satisfy southern states who had already witnessed agitations.
• The Three Language Formula now came to be adopted as a compromise to preserve and promote regional languages.
Bodies in India
National Human Rights Commission
• NHRC under Human Rights Act 1993
• It is tasked with investigating human right violations and give advice to central government for prosecution and relief
The shortcomings include-
• NHRC investigates matters related to human right violations and then recommends remedial measures. However, its recommendations are not binding
• Paucity of resources – human, financial and material that results in inefficient and ineffective functioning.
• NHRC cannot investigate a case if complaint was made more than one year after the incident.
• The act does not extend to the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Hence NHRC cannot investigate incidents of human rights violation there.
• NHRC powers with respect to investigating cases of human rights violation by armed forces are limited.
• Most posts are filled up by retired bureaucrats and not by domain experts.
Protection of Human Rights Amendment bill 2018
• It proposes to include “National Commission for Protection of Child Rights” as deemed Member of the Commission;
• It proposes to add a woman Member in the composition of the Commission;
• It proposes to enlarge the scope of eligibility and scope of selection of
Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission as well as the State Human Rights Commission; and
• It proposes to incorporate a mechanism to look after the cases of human rights violation in the Union Territories.
• It proposes to amend the term of office of Chairperson and Members of National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights Commission to make it in consonance with the terms of Chairperson and Members of other Commissions.
Central Vigilance Commission
• The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is the main agency for preventing corruption in the Central government.
It was established in 1964 by an executive resolution of the Central Government on the recommendation of Santhanam Committee. It was granted statutory status through the CVC Act, 2003.
• The CVC is conceived to be the apex vigilance institution, free of control from any executive authority, monitoring all vigilance activity under the Central Government.
• It is not an investigating agency but can inquire or cause an inquiry on a reference made by centre.
• Also, it supervises the functioning of CBI in cases of corruption under the PCA, 1988.
• Its members are appointed by President on the recommendation by a selection panel consisting of PM, Leader of Opposition in LS and Minister of Home Affairs.
• President can remove chief Vigilance commissioner and other commissioners as per the provisions made in the CVC Act only.
• Salaries, allowances and pensions of its members are charged on the consolidated fund of India and are not subject to vote of Parliament.
• It is vested with the power to regulate its own procedure. It has all the powers of a civil court and it may call for information or report from the Central government or its authorities.
• The CVC has to present annually to the President a report on its performance. The President places this report before each House of Parliament.
• The Selection panel has to make appointments from amongst the list of candidates presented to it by the search panel constituted by government. This reduces its effectiveness and has led to controversial appointments in recent times.
• In 2011, the SC quashed the appointment of a CVC doubting his integrity and laid that the persons appointed to such post should have impeccable integrity without doubt. However, things haven’t changed much as the integrity of latest appointee to the post of CVC has been doubted and his appointment challenged in court
CBI is under administrative control of Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), meaning that, the powers to appoint, transfer, suspend CBI officers lie with DoPT. This, reduces the control of CVC over CBI
• CVC is only an advisory body.
• The selection panel be allowed to consider any candidate outside the list provided by the government
• The role and powers of CVC vis-à-vis CBI should be clearly laid down with disciplinary powers to CVC in case CBI is to be kept under CVC in matters of corruption.
• Strengthening of the Whistle Blower Protection Act by doing away the provision of mandatory disclosure of identity.
Central Information Commission
The Central Information Commission was established under the provisions of the Right to Information Act (2005). The Central Information Commission is a highpowered independent body. It entertains complaints and appeals pertaining to offices, financial institutions, public sector undertakings, etc., under the Central Government and the Union Territories. The Commission consists of a Chief Information Commissioner and not more than ten Information Commissioners. It is not only an advisory but an action body as well.
• The members are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the PM, Leader of Opposition, LS and a Cabinet Minister nominated by the PM.
• The Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner have a fixed tenure and are not eligible for reappointment.
• The President can remove them under the circumstances mentioned in the Act only.
• The salary, allowances and other service conditions of the members cannot be varied to their disadvantage during service.
• Commission has suo-moto power to order an inquiry for violation of RTI Act.
• While inquiring the Commission has the power of a civil court.
The Commission has the power to secure compliance from the public authority and power to impose penalty.
• The appointment of Chief Information Commissioner and three other commissioners has been made after a gap of ten months. This inexplicable delay has been perceived as an attempt by the executive to weaken the Act.
• Thousands of cases are pending. The State Information Commission is worse off than CIC
• The decree of the commission that six political parties also come under the ambit of RTI has been out rightly rejected by the political class hampering the efforts to bring in financial and operational transparency
Chief Information Commissioner recently said that there is no need to amend the Right to Information Act as the law is perfect. He appealed to public authorities to set their internal machineries right
Central Bureau of Investigation
• The CBI is the main investigating agency of the Central Government. It plays an important role in the prevention of corruption and maintaining integrity in administration, provides assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission, is involved in major criminal probes, and is the Interpol agency in India.
• The Central Bureau of Investigation traces its origins to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) established in 1941 by the government. The functions of the SPE were to investigate bribery and corruption in the War and Supply Department of India during 2nd world war.
• CBI was set up in 1963 by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Later, it was transferred to the Ministry of Personnel and now it enjoys the status of an attached office. SPE was also merged with the CBI.
• Hence it is neither a constitutional nor statutory body.
• The establishment of the CBI was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962 -1964).
Drawbacks of CBI and recommendations of 2nd ARC
Legislative- DPSE act is poor and CBI remains dependent on general consent of states
Administrative- CBI doesn’t have its own cadre and lacks staff along with internal conflict
• Overlapping jurisdictions with state police
• Political Pressure
• Lack of transparency- CBI is outside RTI act 2005
• 2nd ARC recommended a new law for CBI which would make its functioning independent, no state consent, dedicated cadre
• Vineet Narain vs Union of India case 1997 laid out measures
• Article 262- parliament can make laws and outside jurisdiction of courts • Based on this, parliament passed the inter-states water disputes act, 1956.
Amendment to inter-state water disputes Act
• Single Permanent Tribunal- Bill proposes a Single Standing Tribunal (with multiple benches) instead of existing multiple tribunals
• Dispute Resolution Committee -Proposes to introduce mechanism to resolve the dispute amicably by negotiations, through a Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) to be established by the Central Government consisting of relevant experts, before such dispute is referred to the tribunal • Timeline: The tribunal should settle a dispute in four-and-a-half years.
• The decision of the Tribunal shall be final and binding.
• Special staff for data collection and technical support.
• It would reduce staff strength to half and save money
Concerns- credibilty of DRC to prevent escalation to legal disputes, data collection can suffer due to center-state and inter-state tensions, who will look in implementation of award when states are chowing to defy it, dragging of legal cases via special leave of SC