Working of Institutions
A Government Order
An order announces a major policy decision taken by the government for immediate implementation.
The Decision Makers
1. President is the head of the stateand is the highest formal authorityin the country.
2. Prime Minister is the head of thegovernmentand actually exercisesall governmental powers. He takesmost of the decisions in theCabinet meetings.
3. Parliament consists of two Houses,LokSabha and RajyaSabha. The parliament makes important laws to be followed by everyone.
A long chain of events before the passing of Government Order for OBC reservation.
1. The Government of India hadappointed the Second BackwardClasses Commission in 1979. It washeaded by B.P. Mandal. Hence it waspopularly called the MandalCommission.
2. The Commission gaveits Report in 1980 and made manyrecommendations. One of these wasthat 27 per cent of government jobsbe reserved for the socially andeconomically backward classes.
3. For several years, manyparliamentarians and parties keptdemanding the implementation of theCommission’s recommendations.
4. Then came the LokSabha electionof 1989. In its election manifesto, theJanata Dal promised that if voted topower, it would implement theMandal Commission report.
5. TheJanata Dal did form the governmentafter this election. Its leader V. P.Singh became the Prime Ministerand he implemented it.
Involvement of several political institutions in implementing OBC reservation (Mondal Commission recommendations):
1. The President of India in hisaddress to the Parliamentannounced the intention of thegovernment to implement therecommendations of the MandalCommission.
2. On 6 August 1990, the UnionCabinet took a formal decision toimplement the recommendations.
3. Next day Prime Minister V.P. Singhinformed the Parliament aboutthis decision through a statementin both the Houses of Parliament.
4. The decision of the Cabinet wassent to the Department of Personneland Training. The senior officers ofthe Department drafted an order inline with the Cabinet decision andtook the minister’s approval.
5. Anofficer signed the order on behalf ofthe Union Government. This washow OBC reservation bill wasborn on August 13, 1990. Many approached the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court judgesin 1992 declared that this order of the Government of India was valid.
What are political Institutions? Need for Political Institutions in India
Several arrangements to provide social security, education, health and basic needs are made inall modern democracies. Sucharrangements are called institutions.A democracy works well whenthese institutions perform functionsassigned to them.
1. The Parliament makes important laws foe the entire nation.
2. The Prime Minister and theCabinet are institutions that takeall important policy decisions.
3. The Civil Servants, workingtogether, are responsible for takingsteps to implement the ministers’decisions.
4. Supreme Court is an institutionwhere disputes between citizensand the government are finallysettled.
What is Parliament?Why do we need a Parliament?
An assembly ofelected representatives which exercisessupreme political authority onbehalf of the people. In India such anational assembly of electedrepresentatives is called Parliament.
1. Parliament is the final authority formaking laws in any country.Parliamentsall over the world can make newlaws, change existing laws, orabolish existing laws and makenew ones in their place.
2. Parliaments all over the worldexercise some control over thosewho run the government. In somecountries like India this control isdirect and full.
3. Parliaments control all the moneythat governments have. In mostcountries the public moneycan be spent only when theParliament sanctions it.
4. Parliament is the highest forum ofdiscussion and debate on publicissues and national policy in anycountry. Parliament can seekinformation about any matter.
Two Houses of Parliament
1. In our country, the Parliamentconsists of two Houses. The twoHouses are known as the Council ofStates (RajyaSabha) and the Houseof the People (LokSabha).
2. The total number of elected members of LokSabha is 543+2 Anglo Indian nominated members.The total number of members of RajyaSabha is 238+12 nominated members.
3. Members of LokSabha are electedby the people. Members of RajyaSabha are elected by the MLAs and MPs.
4. The length of the term of LokSabha members is 5 years.The length of the term of RajyaSabha members is 6 years
5. LokSabha can be dissolved but Raya Sabha is permanent and only the members retire.
How does LokSabha exercise supreme power than RajyaSabha?
1. Any ordinary law needs to bepassed by both the Houses. But ifthere is a difference between thetwo Houses, the final decision istaken in a joint session in whichthe view ofthe LokSabha is likely to prevail.
2. LokSabha exercises more powersin money matters. Once the LokSabha passes the budget of thegovernment or any other moneyrelated law, the RajyaSabhacannot reject but can only delay it by 14 days.
3. Most importantly, the LokSabha controls the Council of Ministers. Only a person who enjoys the support of the majority of the members in the LokSabha is appointed the Prime Minister.
4. If the majority of the LokSabha members say they have ‘no confidence’ in the Council of Ministers, all ministers including the Prime Minister, have to quit. theRajyaSabha does nothave this power.
At different levels of anygovernment we find functionarieswho take day-to-day decisions and implement those decisions onbehalf of the people. All thosefunctionaries are collectively knownas the executive.
Political and PermanentExecutive
1. Politician who is elected by the people for a specific period is called thepolitical executive. Political leaderswho take the big decisions fall in thiscategory.
2. Officers who are appointed on a long-term basis based on their qualification and experience. They are called the permanentexecutive or civil servants. They remain in officeeven when the ruling party changes.
Why does the political executive have more power than the non-political executive? OR
Why is the minister more powerful than the civil servant?
1. 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 on their behalf.
2. The Minister is finallyanswerable to the people for all theconsequences of her decision. Thatis why the minister takes all the finaldecisions.
3. The minister decides theoverall framework and objectives inwhich decisions on policy should bemade.
4. The minister is notexpected to be an expert in thematters of her ministry. The ministertakes the advice of experts on alltechnical matters.
5. The experts can tell the route, but the minister with a larger view decidesthe destination.
Council of Ministers and Types of ministers:
Council of Ministers is the officialname for the body that includes allthe Ministers. It usually has 60 to80 Ministers of different ranks.
1. Cabinet Ministers are usually top-level leaders of the ruling party or parties who are in charge of themajor ministries. Usually theCabinet Ministers meet to takedecisions in the name of theCouncil of Ministers.
2. Ministers of State with independentcharge are usually in-chargeof smaller Ministries. Theyparticipate in the Cabinet meetingsonly when specially invited.
3. Ministers of State or Deputy ministersare attachedto and required to assist CabinetMinisters in their work.
Prime Minister and Powers of the Prime Minister
Prime Minister is the most importantpolitical institutionin the country.ThePresident appoints the leader of themajority party or the coalition ofparties that commands a majorityin the LokSabha, as Prime Minister.
1. Ashead of the government, the PrimeMinister has wide ranging powers.
2. He chairs Cabinet meetings. He coordinates the work of differentDepartments. His decisions are finalin case disagreements arise betweenDepartments.
3. He exercises generalsupervision of different ministries.All ministers work under hisleadership.
4. The Prime Ministerdistributes and redistributes workto the ministers. He also has thepower to dismiss ministers.
5. Whenthe Prime Minister quits, the entireministry quits.The Cabinet is the most powerful institution in India and withinthe Cabinet the Prime Ministerwho is the most powerful.
Prime Ministerial form of government.
Thepowers of the Prime Minister in allparliamentary democracies of theworld have increased so much inrecent decades that parliamentarydemocracies are seen asPrime Ministerial form ofgovernment.
The President and Powers of the President:
The President isthe head of the State. The Presidentof India is like the Queen of Britainwhose functions are to a large extentceremonial. The President is elected by all the Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of State Legislative Assemblies (MLAs).
1. The President supervisesthe overall functioning of all thepolitical institutions in the country sothat they operate in harmony toachieve the objectives of the state.
2. All governmental activities takeplace in the name of the President.All laws and major policy decisionsof the government are issued in hername.
3. All major appointments aremade in the name of the President.These include the appointment ofthe Chief Justice of India, theJudges of the Supreme Court andthe High Courts, theGovernors, the ElectionCommissioners, ambassadors to other countries, etc.
4. All internationaltreaties and agreements are made inthe name of the President.
5. ThePresident is the supreme commanderof the defence forces of India.President exercises all these powersonly on the advice of the Council ofMinisters.
What is Judiciary?
All thecourts at different levels in a countryput together are called the judiciary.The Indian judiciary consists of aSupreme Court for the entire nation,High Courts in the states, DistrictCourts and the courts at local level.
Types of cases or disputes handled by the courts:
1. Cases Between citizens of the country.
2. Cases between citizens and government.
3. Cases between two or more stategovernments; and
4. Cases between governments at the unionand state level.
Powers of the Supreme Court and High Court
1. Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal incivil and criminal cases. It can hearappeals against the decisions of theHigh Courts.
2. The Supreme Court and the HighCourts have the power to interpretthe Constitution of the country. Theycan declare invalid any law of thelegislature if they find sucha law or action is against theConstitution.
3. The Supreme Court candetermine the Constitutional validityof any legislation or action of theexecutive in the country, when it ischallenged before them. This isknown as the judicial review.
4. The powers and the independence of the Indian judiciary allow it to act as the guardian of the Fundamental Rights. We shall see in the next chapter that the citizens have a right to approach the courts to seek remedy in case of any violation of their rights
5. Courts have given severaljudgments and directives to protectpublic interest and human rights.Anyone can approach the courts ifpublic interest is hurt by the actionsof government. This is called publicinterest litigation.
Independence of the judiciary
1. Independence of the judiciarymeans that it is not under thecontrol of the legislature or theexecutive. The judges do not act onthe direction of the government oraccording to the wishes of the partyin power.
2. The judges of the SupremeCourt and the High Courts areappointed by the President on theadvice of the Prime Minister and inconsultation with the Chief Justiceof the Supreme Court. Once aperson is appointed as judge of theSupreme Court or the High Court itis nearly impossible to remove himor her from that position.
3. A judge can be removedonly by an impeachment motionpassed separately by two-thirdsmembers of the two Houses of theParliament.