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GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE & LEGISLATURE
HOW IS A MAJOR POLICY DECISION TAKEN?
(a) The Decision Makers:
Any decision regarding the implementation of various policies in democracy is not only taken by the person who sings it. But any decision in a democracy involves other major functionaries also. Lets take the example of the office Memorandum which announced 27 percent reservations in civil posts and services under the Government of India for the Socially and Economically Backward Classes.
(i) The Government first appointed the second Backward Classes Commission which gave its recommendation in 1980.
(ii) The report was discussed in Parliament and many parties demanded its implementation. When the Janata Dal came into power in 1989, it announced its intention to implement this report through the address of the President to the Parliament.
(iii)ON 6th August 1990, seven days before the Office memorandum was issued, the Union Cabinet and took a formal decision about this.
(iv) The next day Parliament was informed by the Prime Minister about this decision through a statement in both the house.
(v) The decision of the Cabinet was officially recorded and sent to the Department of Personnel and Training for immediate implementation. The minister asked the top officers of the department to make an order to implement the cabinet’s decision.
(vi)The officers drafted the order and took the minister’s approval. After this, the minister sought approval from the Prime Minister’s office and O.M. 36012/31/90 officially came into being.
(vii) A number of cases were filed against this order in the courts. All these cases were bunched together and considered by the Supreme Court. This case was known as the ‘Indira Sawheny and Others vs Union of India and Other’s case. In 1992, the Supreme Court upheld the Government order but asked the government to make certain modifications.
(viii) The ministry issued another office memorandum on September 8th 1993 and the disputers ended amicably.
Thus any major decision in a democracy involves all organs of the government – executive, legislature and the judiciary.
(b) Need for Political institutions:
Governing a country involves various activities. this include ensuring security to the citizens, providing facilities for education and health, to collect taxes and spend money thus raised on administration, defence and development programmes. it formulates and implements several welfare schemes. Some persons have to take decisions on how to go about these activities. Others have to implement these decisions. if disputes arise on these decisions or in there implementation, there should be some one to determine what is wrong and is right. So to attend all this tasks, several arrangements are made in all modern democracies. Such arrangements are called institutions. a democracy works well when these institutions perform functions assigned to them. The Constitution of any country lays down basic rules on the powers and functions of each institution.Working with institutions is not easy. Institutions involve rules and regulations. This can bind the hands of leaders. Institutions involve meetings, committees and routines. This often leads to delays and complications. Therefore dealing with institutions can be frustrating. But that is nit the spirit of democracy. Some of the delays and complications introduced by institutions are very useful. They provide an opportunity for a wide set of people to be consulted in any decisions. Institutions make it difficult to have a good decision taken very quickly. But they also make it equally difficult to rush through a bads decision. That is why democratic governments insist on institutions.
(a) Why do we need a Parliament?
In all democracies, an assembly of elected representatives exercises supreme political authority on behalf of the people. In India such a national assembly of elected representatives is called Parliament. At the state level this is called Legislature or Legislative Assembly.
(i) Parliament is the final authority for making laws in any country. This task of law making or legislation is so crucial that these assemblies are called legislatures. Parliaments all over the world can make new laws, change existing laws and make new ones in their place.
(ii) Parliament all over the world exercise some control over those who run the government. In some countries like India this control is direct and full. Those who run the government can take decisions only so long as they enjoy support of the Parliament.
(iii) Parliament controls all the money that governments have. In most countries the public money can be spent only when the Parliament sanctions it.
(vi) Parliament is the highest forum of discussion and debate on public issues and national policy in any country. Parliament can seek information about any matter.
(b) Two Houses of Parliament:
Lok Sabha (lower house):
Maximum membership 550,530 elected. From states and 20 from union territories. President can nominate two representative of Anglo-Indian community if they haven’t got adequate representation.
Minimum age 25 years
Citizen of India.
The total country is divided into various constituencies, according to the population, Each constituency elect one representative. every person above the age of 18 can vote.
Maximum 5 years, but can be dissolved any time by president. elects the speaker who presides over the session and conducts business in the house. speaker can vote only in the situation of a tie. there is one deputy speaker who assists the speaker.
Rajya Sabha (upper house):
Total membership 250, elected members 238 and 12 nominated by the President.
Qualifications and Term:
Minimum age 30 years, Citizen of India. The members of state legislative assemblies elect the members of upper house i.e. Rajya Sabha. It is a permanent house, every member is elected for 6 years, 1/3 of total members retires every 2nd year.
The vice-president is the ex-officio chairman of Rajya Sabha and to assist him there is a vice chairman.
Lok Sabha is more powerful than Rajya Sabha:
(i) Any ordinary law needs to be passed by both the Houses. but if there is a difference between the two Houses, the final decision is taken in a joint session in which members of both the Houses sit together. Because of the larger number of members, the view of the Lok Sabha is likely to prevail in such a meeting.
(ii) Lok Sabha exercises more powers in money matters. Once the Lok Sabha passes the budget of the government or any other money related law, the Rajya Sabha cannot reject it. The Rajya Sabha can only delay it by 14 days or suggest changes in it. The Lok Sabha may or may not accept these changes.
(iii) Most importantly, the Lok Sabha controls the Council of Ministers. Only a person who enjoys the support of the majority of the members in the Lok Sabha is appointed the Prime Minister. If the majority of the Lok Sabha members say they have ‘no confidence’ in the Council of Ministers, all ministers including the Prime Minister, have to quit. The Rajya Sabha does not have this power.
At different levels of government various functionaries help the elected representative take day-to-day decisions but do not exercise supreme power on behalf of the people. All these functionaries are collectively known as the executive. They are called executive because they are in charge of the ‘execution; of the policies of the government. Thus, when we talk about ‘the govermment’ we usually mean the executive.
(a) Political and Permanent Executive:
(i) People who are appointed on a long term basis are called the permanent executive or civil services, persona working in civil services called civil servants. They remain in office even when ruling party changes. These officers work under political executive and assist them in carrying out the day-to-day administration. The civil servant is usually more educated and has more expert knowledge of the subject.
Political executive are those who are elected by the people for a specific period. Political leaders who take the big decisions falls in this category.
(ii) People who are elected for a specific period are called political executive. Political leaders who take the big decisions fall in this category. In a democracy the will of the people is supreme. The minister is elected by the people and thus empowered to exercise the will of the people for all the consequences of her decision. That is why the minister takes all the final decisions. The minister decides the overall framework and objectives in which decisions on policy should be made. The minister is not, and is not expected to be, an expert in the matters of her ministry. The minister takes the advice of experts on all technical matters. But very often experts hold different opinions or place before more than one option. Depending on what the overall objective is, the minister decides.
(b)Prime-Minister and Council of Ministers:
The President appoints the Prime Minister. But the President cannot appoint anyone he/she likes. The President appoints the leader of the majority or the coalition of parties that commands a majority in the Lok Sabha, as Prime Minister. In case single party or alliance gets a majority, the President appoints the persion most likely to secure a majority support.
Maximum five years, minimum the time he enjoys the majority in the Lok Sabha.
Council of Minister:
Council of Ministers is the official name for the body that includes all the Ministers. it usually has 60 to 80 Ministers of different ranks. The President appoints the Council of Ministers on the advice of the prime minister. The Ministers are usually from the party or the coalition that has the majority in the Lok Sabha, Sometimes, a person who is not a member of Parliament can also become a minister. but such a person has to get elected to one Houses of the Parliament within six months of appointment as minister.
(i) Cabinet minister are usually top-level leaders of the ruling party or parties who are in charge of the major ministries. Usually the Cabinet Ministers meet to take decisions in the name of the Council of Ministers. Cabinet the inner ring of the Council of Ministers. it comprises about 20 ministers.
(ii) Ministers of state with independent charge are usually in-charge of smaller Ministries. They participate in the Cabinet meetings only when specially invited.
(iii) Ministers of State are attached to and required to assist Cabinet Ministers. Since it is not practical for all ministers to meet regular and discuss everything, the decisions are taken in Cabinet meetings. That is way parliamentary democracy in most countries is often known as the Cabinet from of government.
The cabinet works as a team. The ministers may have different views and opinions, but everyone has to own up to every decision of the Cabinet. No minister can openly citicise any decision of the government, even if it is about another Ministry or Department.
(c) Powers of the Prime Minister:
(i) The Prime minister has the right to form his/her Council of ministers and to make distribution of portfolios among them. If any Minister disagrees with the Prime Minster the latter can get him/her removed from the Council of Ministers.
(ii) he/she allocates work to the different members of the Council of ministers. He/she acts as a coordinator among the various Ministers so that the whole work of administration is carried on smoothly.
(iii) The prime minister and his/her Council of Ministers formulate internal as well as the external policies of the Govermment. He/she and his/her council of ministers has te right to get te state of war or peace declared by the President. He/she and his/her council of ministers put their policies before the parliament and get them rectified by it
(iv) The President makes important appointments only on the advice of the Prime Ministers. Appointments of the Govermment, Ambassadors, Judges etc. are made on the Prime Minister’s advice
(v) The President proclaims emergency on the advice of the Prime Minister.
(vi) It is the advice of the Prime Minister that the President summons or prorogues the sessions of both the houses of the Parliament and dissolves the Lok Sabha.
Problems faced by the Prime Minister of a Coalition Government:
In recent years the rise of coalition politics has imposed certain constraints on the power of the ‘prime Minister. The Prime Minister of a coalition government cannot take decisions as he/she likes. He/she has to accommodate different groups and factions in his party as well as among alliance partners. He/she also has to heed to the views and-positions of the coalition partners and other parties, on whose support the survival of the government depends.
(d) The president
(i) Citizen of India
(ii) Minimum age 35 years
(iii) Should not hold any office of profit under the govermment.
(iv) Should have the qualification to become a member of Lok Sabha
President is elected by a special body called electoral college consisting of elected members of Lok Sabha Rajya Sabha and state legislative assemblies.
Term and salary:
(i) Term is of 5 years.
(ii) Salary Rs. 100000/-month, which cannot be reduced during his/her term.
(iii) Can be elected as president twice not more then that.
(i) If it is found that the president is not working according to constitution, the process of his/her removal can be started.
(ii) The process is called impeachment.
(iv) Can be started in any house of Parliament but 1/4 th members of that house has to sign on the proposal.
(iv)14 days notice is sent to the President.
(v) Process is started in the house, is discussed and has to be passed by 2/3 rd majority
(vi) The proposal is sent to other house, it is discussed and has to be passed by 2/3 rd majority
(vii) In between the process President can defend himself/herself through an authorized counsel. If the proposal is passed by both the houses by 2/3rd majority President is removed.
Power of President:
(i) Appoints Prime Minister, Council of ministers, allocates their portfolio, can ask for their resignation.
(ii) Is the supreme commander of defence forces can declare war and conclude treaties.
(iii) All the important appointment of the government are made by President.
(iv) Receives the credentials of the ambassadors of different countries in India.
(i) summons the sessions of Parliament, inaugurates it with his/her address and can dissolve the lok Sabha before its time.
(ii) No bill can become law till it is signed by President. Can reject the bill for once, but second time has to sign it.
(iii) Can issue ordinances.
(iv) Money Bills can be presented in Lok Sabha with the prior permission of President.
(i) Can grant pardon or can reduce the sentence of any convicted person.
(ii) Can take the advice of Supreme Court on any question of law or public importance. But is free to abide by or deny the advice.
Emergency powers of President:
(i) Can be imposed if the security of the country is threatened by external, aggression or internal armed rebellion
(ii) Can be imposed only on the written request of Council of Ministers, has to be passed by parliament within one month.
(iii) Fundamental rights of the citizen’s can be curbed.
(iv) State government are dissolved and union government takes over the subjects given under state list.
(v) Emergency can be imposed for six months, can be extended maximum up to one year with due permission of parliament.
(vi) Such an emergency was declared in India in 1965(indo-Pakistan war), 1975-77 (declared by Indira Gandhi on account of internal disturbance).
(i) Whenever the President feels that the govermment in the state is not working according to constitution, state emergency can be imposed in that state.
(ii) State government is suspended or dissolved and its powers are taken over by the central government.
(iii) Governor administers the state in the name of the President.
(iv) Emergency has to the approved by the parliament within one month.
(v) Can be imposed for 6 months and can be extended up to three years with the approval of parliament.
(vi) On October, 9, 2007, the President rule has been imposed on the south Indian state of Kamataka makin itthe latest state where the emergency has been imposed.
(i)If the President feels that the financial stability or the credit of India is threatened, financial emergency can be imposed.
(ii) Salaries of the government officials can be reduced.
(iii) All finance bill of the states are passed by the central government.
(iv) Central government can ask state government to observe certain principles relating to financial matters.
Financial emergency has never been declared, on a previous occasion, the financial stability of credit of India has been threatened, but a financial emergency was avoided. India experienced a shock on 6 July, 1991, when it had to agree to airlift 47 tonnes of gold from the vaults of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to London-intot he vaults of Bank of England-to act as collateral for borrowing in the international financial market. a little earlier, the government had leased 20 tonnes of gold to the State Bank of India (SBI) for sale in the international bullion market. the funds were urgently needed to ensure that it did not default on its international financial commitments and also to ensure that there was continued supply of petroleum and petroleum products to keep its economy moving. the acute balance of payments crisis was accompanied by a high inflation rate 17 per cent.
India is a federal state which means the centre and the state both their powers. the Supreme Court acts as a guardian of the Constitution. The Supreme Court keeps an eye on the working and powers of both the state and the centre. The Supreme Court has the power to settle disputes between the state and the centre and between two states. the Constitution of India has also given responsibility for the protection of fundamental rights to the Supreme Court. if the govermment passes any law or issues any order which is unconstitutional, the judiciary can declare the law as against the Constitution.
Independence of the Judiciary:
‘Independence of the Judiciary’ means that the judiciary should not be under the influence or control of any individual or authority. If the Legislature of Executive is in a position to influence the judiciary in any way, the judges will not be able to give impartial justice. in India the independence of the judiciary is ensured through:
(i) Appointment of Judges: The judges of the Supreme Court and High Court are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister and in consultation with the Chief justice of the Supreme Court. In practice it means that the seniors judges of the Supreme Court select the new judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
(ii) Security of Tenure: a Judge can remain in office till he/she has attained the age of 65 years (in case of Supreme Court) and 62 (in case of High Court). He/she can be removed by the President on the ground of “proven misbehavior or incapacity. ”But the resolution of his/her impeachment should be passed by both the Houses.
(ii) Salaries etc. are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India: The Salaries are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India and cannot, therefore, be votes upon by the Parliament.
(iv) No discussion with respect to the conduct of any judge: No discussion shall take place in Parliament with respect to the conduct of any judge in the discharge of his/her duties when a motion for his/her removal is under consideration.
Judiciary in India, one of the most powerful in the world:
The Supreme Court and the High Court have the power to interpret the Constitution of the country. They can declare invalid any law of the legislature or the actions of the executive, whether at the Union level or at the State level, if they find such a law or action is against the Constitution. Thus they can determine the validity of any legislation or action of the executive on the country, when it is challenged before them. This is known as the judicial review. The Supreme Court of India has also ruled that the core or basic principles of the Constitution cannot be changed by the Parliament.
Indian Judiciary, the Guardian of the Fundamental Rights:
The powers and the independence of the Indian judiciary allow it to act as the guardian of the Fundamental Rights. The citizens have the right to approach the courts to seek remedy in case of any violation of their rights. Any one can approach the courts if public interest is hurt by the actions of government. This is called public interest litigation. The courts intervene to prevent the misuse of the government’s power to make decisions. They check malpractices on the part of public officials. That is why the judiciary enjoys a high level of confidence among the people.