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Article 315 of the constitution of India, provides for the establishment of the Union Public Service Commission. The Union Public Commission shall be composed of a Chairman and such other members to be fixed by the President of India.

Article 316 requires that at least one – half of the Union Public Service Commission shall be officials and other half may be non – officials. Normally, educationists, men of letters, administrators and representatives of the people are associated with the Union Public Service Commission. The President of India has the power to determine from time to time, the strength of the staff of the UPSC. The Commission is composed of 11 members. Only those who have a minimum of 10 years of experience in government service and who are of impeccable character are normally selected and appointed to the UPSC.

The Constitution provides for a Public Service Commission for the Union and a Public Service Commission for each State. A member holds office for six years or until he attains, in the case of the Union Commission, the age of sixty – five and in the case of a State Commission the age of sixty – two years ( 41st Amendment ) whichever is earlier. A member of a Public Service Commission, on the expiry of his term of office, is not eligible for reappointment to that office. A member of the Union Public Service Commission can be removed from office by order of the President on the grounds of misbehaviour.

Functions of the Public Service Commission

1) The Union and State Public Service Commissions shall conduct examinations for appointment to the Union and State services respectively.General Studies Question Bank CD
2) To assist the States in framing the operating schemes of joint recruitment for any services for which candidates possessing special – qualifications are required if two or more states make such a request to the Union Public Service Commission.

3) To give advice :

  • on any matter referred to them on methods and recruitment to civil service and for civil posts.
  • on the principles to be followed in making, appointments and in making promotions and transfers from one service to another
  • on disciplinary matters including petitions on such matters.
  • on the claim made by any person that the costs of defending legal proceedings against him in respect of acts done or purported to be done in the execution of his duty, should be borne by the Government.
  • on any claim for the award of a pension in respect of injuries sustained by a person while serving under the Government in a civil capacity and any question to the amount of any such award.
  • Any other functions in respect of services referred to or conferred by Parliament in the case of the Union Commission and by the State Legislature in the case of State Commission.

Advocate General

Every State shall have an Advocate General to advise the government on legal matters ( Art. 165 ). His functions and duties can be more or less equated to those of Attorney General of India.

Finance Commission

The Constitution ( Article 280 ) provides for the appointment of a finance Commission consisting of a Chairman and four other members within two years of the inauguration of the Republic, and thereafter at the expiry of every fifth year or earlier. The duties of the Commission ate to recommend to the President the distribution of the taxes which are distributable between the Centre and the States, the principles on which grants should be made out of the Union revenues to the States and any other matter referred to the Commission by the President in the interest of sound finance. The Finance Commission is appointed by the President.General Studies Question Bank CD

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Election Commission

Article 324 deals with the Election Commission and its powers. The Superintendence, direction and control and the preparation of the electoral rolls and the conduct of all elections to Parliament and to the Legislature of every State and of elections to the offices of President and Vice – President held under this Constitution shall be vested with the Election Commission. The Commission shall consist of one Chief Election Commissioner and a number of Election Commissioners appointed by the President.

The Chief Election Commissioner is assured of an independent status. To ensure independence of the Election Commission, the 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 the conditions of service of the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment ( The present Chief Election Commissioner is Mr. Naveen B. Chawla ).

Important Parliamentary Proceedings Sessions

Point of Order : The point of order is raised by the members in the House, when the business of the House is not being transacted in accordance with the prescribed rules or procedure.

The member who raises as to which provision of the rules of procedure is not being followed in the ongoing business of the House. After completion of a business Of the House, the point of order about that business cannot be raised. The Chairman / Speaker of the House has the power to give his final ruling on the point of order raised by a member.

Vote on Account : The Government cannot spend the money out of the Consolidated Fund of India without the formal approval of Parliament, which is given by passing the annual Budget. The Budget is passed in the form of Appropriation Bill and Finance Bill, which takes a long time. To facilitate the Government spending before passing these Bills, Parliament gives advance sanction to Government demands for a fixed period i.e., two months. The power of Parliament to give advance sanction to Government demands is termed as vote on account. The money sanctioned under the vote – on – account is adjusted with the regular Budget passed by Parliament in due course.

Guillotine : On the last of the allotted days at the appointed time, the Speaker puts every question necessary to dispose off all the outstanding matters in connection with the demands for grants. This is known as ‘Guillotine’. The guillotine concludes the discussion on demands for grants.

Quorum : It is the minimum number of members whose presence is essential to transact the business of the House. Article 100 provides that the quorum of either House shall be one – tenth of the total number of members of the House.

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Types of Motions

Adjournment Motion : The objective of an Adjournment Motion is to draw the attention of the House to a matter of urgent public importance. The Adjournment Motion if accepted has the effect of interrupting the normal business of the House and instead discussing the matter of urgent public importance. The consent of 50 members is required for admitting the motion in the House. The Adjournment Motion, when accepted, is put for discussion at 4.00 PM on that day and continues for 24 hours or beyond that if permitted by the Chair. At the end of the discussion, a formal motion is brought and voted upon. The passing of such motion in the House is the indication of the criticism of the Government. That is why the ruling party opposes the Adjournment Motion from being passed in the House.

Calling Attention Motion : This is also an Indian innovation in Parliamentary practice, started in 1954. In fact, the calling attention motion is an easy substitute for adjournment motion. The adjournment motion, being a censure motion against government, is not easily admitted and passed and as a consequence a matter of public importance may not get the chance for discussion. As a remedy, in the calling attention mention neither formal discussion takes place nor voting is carried out. The concerned minister makes a brief statement about the matter and the members are allowed to ask supplementary questions. The calling attention motion is admitted with the Dermission of the House.

A formal notice is given to the Secretary – General mentioning the matter which is to be raised in the calling attention motion. But not more than 2 matters can be taken up in a sitting to call the attention of the Government.

Privilege Motion : It is a motion moved by a member if he feels that a minister has committed a breach of privilege of the House or of anyone or none of its members by withholding facts of a case or by giving a distorted version of acts.General Studies Question Bank CD

Censure Motion : A Censure Motion differs from a No – confidence Motion in that the latter does not specify any ground on which it is based while the former has to mention the charges against the government for which it is being moved. A Censure Motion can be moved against the Council of Ministers or against an individual minister for failing to act or for some policy. Reasons for the censure must be precisely enumerated. The Speaker decides whether or not the motion is in order and no leave of the House is required for moving it. The government may at its discretion, fix a date for the discussion of the motion. If the motion is passed in the Lok Sabha, the Council of Ministers is expected to resign.

No – confidence Motion : According to the Constitution, the Council of Ministers stays in office only so long as it enjoys the Confidence of Lok Sabha. Once the confidence is withdrawn the government is bound to resign. The rules of Parliamentary procedure accordingly provide for moving a motion to ascertain this confidence. The motion is generally known as ‘No – confidence Motion’.

1. Budget Session : From February to May. This is the most important and longest session.

2. Monsoon Session : July – August.

3. Winter Session : November – December. This is the shortest session.

Confidence Motion : The provision of Confidence. Motion is not found under the Rules and Procedures of Parliament but has come in vogue under the Indian Parliamentary practice with the emergence of the Coalition government cut motions. These are a part of budget process which seek to reduce the amount of grants. These are moved in the Loksabha only. Recently ( 22nd July, 2008 ) the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance ( UPA ) Government won by 19 votes in the confidence motion in Lok Sabha.

Sessions of the Parliament

There are 3 types of sessions as per Parliamentary practices.

End of the Session

  • Prorogation : This is done by the President on the advice of the Council of Ministers. This can be done even when the House is adjourned. It brings a session of the house to an end.
  • Adjournment : This is a short recess within a session of the Parliament called by the Presiding Officer of the House. Its duration may be from a few minutes to days together.
  • Another type of adjournment is when the House is adjourned by the Presiding Officer without fixing any date or time of the next meeting. This is called ‘Adjournment9 sine die i.e. without fixing any time or day.

Categories and Passage of the Bills

A Bill is a proposed legislation. It becomes a law when it is assented to by the President. These bills are classified as ordinary, financial, money and Constitutional Amendment bills. The bills are of two types – Government bills and Private Members bills. Money, financial and an ordinary bill under Article 3 are essentially government bills because these can only be introduced on the recommendation of the President. Other bills can be introduced by private members also.General Studies Question Bank CD

Consolidated Fund of India

All revenues received by the Government by way of taxes like Income Tax, Central Excise, Customs and other receipts flowing to the Government in connection with the conduct of Government business i.e. Non – Tax Revenues are credited into the Consolidated Rind constituted under Article 266 ( 1 ) of the Constitution of India. Similarly, all loans raised by the Government by issue of Public notifications, treasury bills ( internal debt ) and loans obtained from foreign governments and international institutions ( external debt ) are credited into this fund. All expenditure of the government is incurred from this fund and no amount can be withdrawn from the Fund without authorization from the Parliament.

Contingency Fund of India

It was created by an act of Parliament in 1950 on the basis of the powers provided under Article 267. This fund is placed at the disposal of the President to meet any unforeseen expenditure where the Parliament’s approval cannot be obtained due to time factor. The amount so expended is again put back into the fund from the Consolidated Fund of India, if the Parliament by law, sanctions the expended amount. For e.g. the President sanctioned Funds, from the Contingency Fund of India to meet the expenditure of the Seventh Lok Sabha elections when the Sixth Lok Sabha was dissolved in 1979. The States have their own Contingency Funds placed at the disposal of the respective Governors.

Motions and Resolutions

It is a procedural device by which functions of the house are sought to be achieved. It proposes a question or suggests a course of action before the house.

Resolution

It is a self – contained motion. If a resolution is passed in the form of a statute, it has a legally binding effect. But, if it is passed as an expression of opinion it has only persuasive effect.

Budget

Budget is the Annual Financial Statement presented to Parliament normally on the last day of February each year in two parts; the Railway Budget and the General Budget.

The Railway Budget was separated from the General Budget in 1924 in view of the commercial nature of the Department of Railway. The Railway Budget exclusively deals with the receipts and expenditure of the Railways and it is separately presented by the Union Railway Minister. The General Budget deals with estimates of the Departments of the Government of India excluding Railways and it is presented by the Union Finance Minister.

We find nowhere in our Constitution, the word, Budget ( Originated from French word ). The Phrase, Annual Financial Statement is used instead of the word Budget.

Panchayat Raj System

Panchayats have been the backbone of the Indian villages since the beginning of recorded history. Gandhiji, the Father of the Nation in 1946 had aptly remarked that India’s Independence-must begin from the bottom and every village ought to be a Republic or Panchayat having powers. Gandhiji’s dream has been translated into reality with the introduction of the three – tier Panchayat Raj System to enlist People’s participation in rural reconstruction.

Background

At the 1909 Session, the Indian National Congress adopted a resolution for the renewal of the Panchayats in India. The Constituent Assembly made a provision for Panchayat Raj System in the Directive Principles by inducting Article 40. In 1952, the Government appointed a high powered committee to consider the feasibility of the Panchayat Raj in rural areas. The committee submitted its report in 1954. In 1956, an official committee under the chairmanship of Balwant Rai Mehta was set up to examine all the problems of Panchayat Raj and suggest mechanism for its introduction. In 1958, the National Development Council accepted the basic recommendations of Balwant Rai Mehta committee.

In 1958, the Government of India recommended that while the broad pattern and the fundamentals of the Panchayat Raj Institution might be uniform there should not be any rigidity in the details of the pattern. Rajasthan was the first State to introduce the Panchayat Raj System. But its working in the State was not much encouraging. The Rajiv Gandhi Government initiated a move for making provisions in the Constitution to provide guidelines for the Legislatures of States to enact detailed laws with regard to Panchayat Raj. The initiative fructified with the passing of the 73rd Amendment Bill 1993. By this, Part IX was inserted in the Constitution. Simultaneously the Parliament also passed the 74th Amendment Bill for the Municipalities, thus inserting Part IX – A in the Constitution.

73rd Amendment Act, 1992.The passage of the Constitution ( 73rd Amendment ) Act, 1992 marks a new era in the federal democratic set up of the country and provides a Constitutional status to the Panchayat Raj institutions. Consequent upon the enactment of the act, almost all the States / UTs except J & K. National Capital Territory ( NCT ) of Delhi and Arunachal Pradesh have enacted their legislation.

Except Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, the National Capital Territories Delhi, Fbndicherry and Goa ( Zilla Rarishad ) all other States / Union Territories have held elections to the Panchayat Raj bodies. As a result, about 2,27,698 panchayats at the village level, 59,096 panchayats at the intermediate level and 474 panchayats at the district level have been constituted in the country.

The three – tier Panchayat Raj System

1. Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat

It exists at the village level. While the former is the general body of local citizens, the latter is the executive committee. The Gram Sabha is expected to meet atleast twice a year and work as a watch-dog of executive arm of the Gram Panchayat. The members of the Gram Pianchayat are called Panchs and its President, the Sarpanch.General Studies Question Bank CD

2. Panchayat Samiti

This body exists at the block level. It is the kingpin of the Panchayat Raj System and is a vital link between the village and district. Its Chairman is called Pradhan or Pramukh.

3. Zilla Parishad

Zilla Rarishad or District Council exists at district level.

Administrative tribunals

The 42nd Constitution Amendment Act of 1976 introduced Article 323 – A enabling the setting up of Central and State Administrative tribunals to adjudicate cases related to recruitment, promotion, transfer and condition of service of persons appointed to the public services of Union and State governments. In pursuit of the provision, the Parliament enacted Administrative Tribunal Act 19S5 to set up Central Administrative Tribunals ( CAT ) with branches in specified cities. Many States are also provided with State Administrative Tribunals.

Lokpal and Lok – ayukta

Lokpal

Lokpal is the counterpart to the North – European institution of Ombudsman, which originated in the early part of last century. Lokpal is meant to bring to book the highest political functionaries of the government, the Members of political executive in the Union Government and Members of Parliament who are charged with corruption. The Act was recommended for its setting up in 1966. The Bill to set up Lokpal was introduced in the Indian Parliament in 1968, 1971, 1977, 1985, 1996 and 1998. The Bill did not become an act as either the relevant Lok Sabha or the ministry did not survive.

Lok – ayukta

The Lok – ayukta currently exists in 11 States including Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. They have not been effective because they are understaffed, under housed. Most of the time the post is not filled up.

They have the power to issue interim orders and so on. The mode of functioning of Lok – ayuktas is not uniform. In some States they are authorised to direct prosecution and in some others, they can only recommend the same to the State government.

Anti – defection Law

The Politics of defection has been one of the conspicuous features of Indian Politics since 1967 ( 4th General elections ). The Parliament in 1985 by the 52nd Constitutional Amendment, sought to check this tendency. The Act is negatively worded and provides for disqualification of a legislator. Following are the grounds for the disqualification of a legislator.

1. If a legislator voluntarily resigns from the political party on whose ticket he / she was elected.

2. If a legislator votes against the whip, issued by the President of the political party.

3. If an independent member joins any political party.

4. If a nominated member of the legislator joins a political party after 6 months of his nomination. This means, if he / she does the same before his specified period, he shall not be disqualified.

5. If in case of a split in the party, the splinter group has members less than one third of that of the parent party.

6. If in case of merger, the same is not endorsed by two – third members of the party which wants to merge itself.

Lok Adalats

Under the Legal Service Authorities Act of 1987, Lok Adalats have been given a Statutory status. The aims of Lok Adalats are

1. Secure justice to the weaker sections

2. Mars disposals of cases to reduce cost and delay.

The Legal Services Authorities Act provides for Lok Adalats to be organized by State or District authorities. The authority of the Lok Adalats is confirmed on them by the State or District bodies. The jurisdiction of the Lok Adalats is confirmed on them by the State or District bodies.

General Studies Question Bank CD

Parliamentary Committees

The parliament is assisted by a number of Committees in the discharge of its duties. The Parliamentary Committees exercise effective control over government activity on a regular and continuing basis.

These committees comprise representative of various groups and parties in the parliament. These groups and parties are given representation in proportion to their respective strengths in the parliament. Committee work in a more intimate and informal atmosphere on non – party lines.

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Parliamentary subjects committee : Parliamentary subjects committees are its standing committees, six committees are constituted by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and 11 by the Speaker of Lok Sabha. Some of these committees are joint committees. Each standing committee comprises 45 members ( 30 from Lok Sabha and 15 from Rajya Sabha ). These committees work during the recess of the Parliament and discuss individual demands for grants for each ministry ( or ) department and submit their report to the Parliament.

Official Language

Article 343 declares that official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script but English shall continue to be used for all the official purposes of the Union for a period of fifteen years from the commencement of the Constitution. The official Language Act 1967, provides that English shall be used for communication between the Union and the States which do not have Hindi as official language.

Legislative and Constitutional Terms

  • Adjournment : When a sitting Assembly is discontinued to be resumed later, it is said that the Assembly is adjourned without prescribing date for re – assemblage; it is said that the Assembly has been adjourned sine die. A sitting can be adjourned by the speaker on a resolution being passed by the Assembly.
  • Bicameral States : Those States which have two Houses of Legislature. Unicameral States have only one House.
  • By – Elections : Election held to fill a vacancy during the running term of an elected person. The vacancy may be caused, either due to death or resignation or due to disqualification.
  • Caucus : A meeting of a group of politically interested people to work out a common action.
  • Climbing on the Bandwagon : Endorsing support to a person who is likely to be elected.
  • Crossing the Floor : When a legislator changes his party label, he is said to have crossed the floor.
  • Cross Voting : The voting by members breaking the barriers of the party.
  • Dissolution : Disbanding of the Assembly to hold fresh elections.
  • Filibuster : Indulgence in long-winded, unnecessary speeches to obstruct or delay the enactment of a measure under consideration.
  • Gallup Poll : Conduct of test poll to ascertain public opinion on topical subjects. It has been named after Dr.Gallup of U.S.A who introduced this poll.
  • Inner Cabinet : The most influential coterie surrounding the Prime Minister. Most important decisions are taken by this coterie. The full cabinet comes into the picture later.
  • Lame Duck Session : The last session of the old members of the Legislature before the completion of its term, though the new legislature has been elected.
  • Lobbying : To frequent the lobby of the legislature hall to influence the members on certain action.
  • Mid – Term Poll : Election held out of schedule as a result of dissolution of the legislature before it completes its normal term.
  • People Sniffer : Indictment of Government through unofficial media.
  • Prorogation : The discontinued sitting of the sitting of the Assembly is to be reassembled later. It is done by the Governor or the President on the advice of the Chief Minister or the Prime Minister respectively. Adjournment can be overruled by prorogation.
  • Question Hour: The Question Hour is of 60 minute duration. It is fixed every day from 11 AM to 12 AM to allow the Members of Parliament to ask questions from the Government. Sometimes questions may be directed to the private members with respect to the Bills or motions for which the concerned member is responsible.
  • Shadow Cabinet : The persons who have been elected by the opposition party to assume portfolios in case the party is able to wrest the power.
  • Snap Vote : Voting unexpectedly recorded without the voters being informed in advance by party whip.
  • Starred Questions : If a member of either House desires an oral answer to his question, such questions are termed as starred questions. The starred questions are distinguished by putting on a star mark along with the question. The starred questions allow a member to ask supplementary questions, if the answer is not found satisfactory.
  • Unstarred Questions : These are questions whose answers are given in writing. These questions do not have star mark and hence called unstarred questions. Their answer is supplied in the written form, which is laid on the floor of the House on the prescribed day. The supplementary questions are not allowed in unstarred questions.
  • Short – Notice Questions : For asking a question in Parliament, a notice has to the given before not less than 10 days. If there is an urgency that a member cannot wait for 10 days, he may resort to short notice question. Thus, a short-notice question is one which relates to a matter of urgent public importance shorter than ten days required in the case of an ordinary question. If the Chair of the House is satisfied that the said question requires an immediate answer, the concerned minister shall be asked whether he is in a position to answer the question or hot. If the minister agrees to answer the question he informs the date on which he is ready with the answer.
  • Zero Hour : The time of one hour from 12 AM to 1 PM immediately after the Question Hour is called Zero – Hour. It is called so because it begins at Zero – Hour i.e., 12 O’clock.

( 1 ) During Zero – Hour those questions deeding to the matters of urgent public importance are asked, which cannot wait for ten days advance notice. ( 2 ) Zero – Hour is the Indian invention in Parliamentary practice. The provisions relating to Zero – Hour are based on convention and do not find mention in the Rules of Procedure of Parliament. ( 3 ) During Zero – Hour, the Chair maintains order and allows members to ask questions one by one.

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