ELECTION COMMISSION OF INDIA
• The Election Commission is a permanent and an independent body established by the Constitution of India directly to ensure free and fair elections in the country.
• Article 324 of the Constitution provides that the power of superintendence, direction and control of elections to parliament, state legislatures, the office of president of India and the office of vice-president of India shall be vested in the election commission.
• Thus, the Election Commission is an all-India body in the sense that it is common to both the Central government and the state governments.
• It must be noted here that the election commission is not concerned with the elections to panchayats and municipalities in the states.
o For this, the Constitution of India provides for a separate State Election Commission.
Article 324 of the Constitution has made the following provisions with regard to the composition of election commission:
1. The Election Commission shall consist of the chief election commissioner and such number of other election commissioners, if any, as the president may from time to time fix.
2. The appointment of the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners shall be made by the president.
3. When any other election commissioner is so appointed, the chief election commissioner shall act as the chairman of the election commission.
4. The president may also appoint after consultation with the election commission such regional commissioners as he may consider necessary to assist the election commission.
5. The conditions of service and tenure of office of the election commissioners and the regional commissioners shall be determined by the president.
• Since its inception in 1950 and till 15th October 1989, the election commission functioned as a single member body consisting of the Chief Election Commissioner.
• On 16th October 1989, the president appointed 2 more Election Commissioners to cope up with the increased work of the election commission on account of lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18 years. Thereafter, the Election Commission functioned as a multimember body consisting of three election commissioners.
• However, the two posts of election commissioners were abolished in January 1990 and the Election Commission was reverted to the earlier position.
• Again, in October 1993, the president appointed two more election commissioners. Since then and till today, the Election Commission has been functioning as a multi-member body consisting of three election commissioners.
• The chief election commissioner and the two other election commissioners have equal powers and receive equal salary, allowances and other perquisites, which are similar to those of a judge of the Supreme Court.
• In case of difference of opinion amongst the Chief Election Commissioner and/or two other election commissioners, the matter is decided by the Commission by majority.
• They hold office for a term of six years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
o They can resign at any time or can also be removed before the expiry of their term.
• Article 324 of the Constitution has made the following provisions to safeguard and ensure the independent and impartial functioning of the Election Commission:
1. The chief election commissioner is provided with the security of tenure. He cannot be removed from his office except in same manner and on the same grounds as a judge of the Supreme Court.
o In other words, he can be removed by the president on the basis of a resolution passed to that effect by both the Houses of Parliament with special majority, either on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
o Thus, he does not hold his office till the pleasure of the president, though he is appointed by him.
2. The service conditions of the chief election commissioner cannot be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
3. Any other election commissioner or a regional commissioner cannot be removed from office except on the recommendation of the chief election commissioner.
• Though the constitution has sought to safeguard and ensure the independence and impartiality of the Election Commission, some flaws can be noted, viz.,
1. The Constitution has not prescribed the qualifications (legal, educational, administrative or judicial) of the members of the Election Commission.
2. The Constitution has not specified the term of the members of the Election Commission.
3. The Constitution has not debarred the retiring election commissioners from any further appointment by the government.
Powers and functions
• The powers and functions of the Election Commission with regard to elections to the Parliament, state legislatures and offices of President and Vice-President can be classified into three categories, viz,
• In details, these powers and functions are:
1. To determine the territorial areas of the electoral constituencies throughout the country on the basis of the Delimitation Commission Act of Parliament.
2. To prepare and periodically revise electoral rolls and to register all eligible voters.
3. To notify the dates and schedules of elections and to scrutinise nomination papers.
4. To grant recognition to political parties and allot election symbols to them.
5. To act as a court for settling disputes related to granting of recognition to political parties and allotment of election symbols to them.
6. To appoint officers for inquiring into disputes relating to electoral arrangements.
7. To determine the code of conduct to be observed by the parties and the candidates at the time of elections.
8. To prepare a roster for publicity of the policies of the political parties on radio and TV in times of elections.
9. To advise the president on matters relating to the disqualifications of the members of Parliament.
10. To advise the governor on matters relating to the disqualifications of the members of state legislature.
11. To cancel polls in the event of rigging, booth capturing, violence and other irregularities.
12. To request the president or the governor for requisitioning the staff necessary for conducting elections.
13. To supervise the machinery of elections throughout the country to ensure free and fair elections.
14. To advise the president whether elections can be held in a state under president’s rule in order to extend the period of emergency after one year.
15. To register political parties for the purpose of elections and grant them the status of national or state parties on the basis of their poll performance.
• The Election Commission is assisted by deputy election commissioners. They are drawn from the civil service and appointed by the commission with tenure system.
• They are assisted, in turn, by the secretaries, joint secretaries, deputy secretaries and under-secretaries posted in the secretariat of the commission.
• At the state level, the Election Commission is assisted by the chief electoral officer who is appointed by the chief election commissioner in consultation with the state government.
• Below this, at the district level, the collector acts as the district returning officer.
• He appoints a returning officer for every constituency in the district and presiding officer for every polling booth in the constituency.
UNION PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
• The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is the central recruiting agency in India.
• It is an independent constitutional body in the sense that it has been directly created by the Constitution.
• Articles 315 to 323 in Part XIV of the Constitution contain elaborate provisions regarding the composition, appointment and removal of members along with the independence, powers and functions of the UPSC.
• The UPSC consists of a chairman and other members appointed by the president of India. The Constitution, without specifying the strength of the Commission has left the matter to the discretion of the president, who determines its composition.
• Usually, the Commission consists of nine to eleven members including the chairman. Further, no qualifications are prescribed for the Commission’s membership except that one-half of the members of the Commission should be such persons who have held office for at least ten years either under the Government of India or under the government of a state.
• The Constitution also authorises the president to determine the conditions of service of the chairman and other members of the Commission.
• The chairman and members of the Commission hold office for a term of six years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
o However, they can relinquish their offices at any time by addressing their resignation to the president.
o They can also be removed before the expiry of their term by the president in the manner as provided in the Constitution.
• The President can appoint one of the members of the UPSC as an acting chairman in the following two circumstances:
(a) When the office of the chairman falls vacant; or
(b) When the chairman is unable to perform his functions due to absence or some other reason.
• The acting chairman functions till a person appointed as chairman enters on the duties of the office or till the chairman is able to resume his duties.
• The President can remove the chairman or any other member of UPSC from the office under the following circumstances:
(a) If he is adjudged an insolvent (that is, has gone bankrupt)
(b) If he engages, during his term of office, in any paid employment outside the duties of his office or
(c) If he is, in the opinion of the president, unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body.
• In addition to these, the president can also remove the chairman or any other member of UPSC for misbehaviour.
o However, in this case, the president has to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for an enquiry.
o If the Supreme Court, after the enquiry, upholds the cause of removal and advises so, the president can remove the chairman or a member.
o Under the provisions of the Constitution, the advice tendered by the Supreme Court in this regard is binding on the president.
o During the course of enquiry by the Supreme Court, the president can suspend the chairman or the member of UPSC.
• Defining the term ‘misbehaviour’ in this context, the Constitution states that the chairman or any other member of the UPSC is deemed to be guilty of misbehaviour if he
(a) is concerned or interested in any contract or agreement made by the Government of India or the government of a state, or
(b) participates in any way in the profit of such contract or agreement or in any benefit therefrom otherwise than as a member and in common with other members of an incorporated company.
• The Constitution has made the following provisions to safeguard and ensure the independent and impartial functioning of the UPSC:
(a) The chairman or a member of the UPSC can be removed from office by the president only in the manner and on the grounds mentioned in the Constitution.
o Therefore, they enjoy security of tenure.
(b) The conditions of service of the chairman or a member, though determined by the president, cannot be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
(c) The entire expenses including the salaries, allowances and pensions of the chairman and members of the UPSC are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
o Thus, they are not subject to vote of Parliament.
(d) The chairman of UPSC (on ceasing to hold office) is not eligible for further employment in the Government of India or a state.
(e) A member of UPSC (on ceasing to hold office) is eligible for appointment as the chairman of UPSC or a State Public Service Commission (SPSC), but not for any other employment in the Government of India or a state.
(f) The chairman or a member or UPSC is (after having completed his first term) not eligible for reappointment to that office (i.e., not eligible for second term).
• The UPSC performs the following functions:
(a) It conducts examinations for appointments to the all-India services, Central services and public services of the centrally administered territories.
(b) It assists the states (if requested by two or more states to do so) in framing and operating schemes of joint recruitment for any services for which candidates possessing special qualifications are required.
(c) It serves all or any of the needs of a state on the request of the state governor and with the approval of the president of India.
(d) It is consulted on the following matters related to personnel management:
(i) All matters relating to methods of recruitment to civil services and for civil posts.
(ii) The principles to be followed in making appointments to civil services and posts and in making promotions and transfers from one service to another.
(iii) The suitability of candidates for appointments to civil services and posts; for promotions and transfers from one service to another; and appointments by transfer or deputation. The concerned departments make recommendations for promotions and request the UPSC to ratify them.
(iv) All disciplinary matters affecting a person serving under the Government of India in a civil capacity including memorials or petitions relating to such matters.
— Censure (Severe disapproval)
— Withholding of increments
— Withholding of promotions
— Recovery of pecuniary loss
— Reduction to lower service or rank (Demotion)
— Compulsory retirement
— Removal from service
— Dismissal from service4
(v) Any claim for reimbursement of legal expenses incurred by a civil servant in defending legal proceedings instituted against him in respect of acts done in the execution of his official duties.
(vi) Any claim for the award of a pension in respect of injuries sustained by a person while serving under the Government of India and any question as to the amount of any such award.
(vii) Matters of temporary appointments for period exceeding one year and on regularisation of appointments.
(viii) Matters related to grant of extension of service and re-employment of certain retired civil servants.
(ix) Any other matter related to personnel management.
COMPTROLLER AND AUDITOR GENERAL
• The Constitution of India (Article 148) provides for an independent office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
• He is the head of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department.
• He is the guardian of the public purse and controls the entire financial system of the country at both the levels—the Centre and the state. His duty is to uphold the Constitution of India and laws of Parliament in the field of financial administration.
o This is the reason why Dr. B R Ambedkar said that the CAG shall be the most important Officer under the Constitution of India.
• He is one of the bulwarks of the democratic system of government in India; the others being the Supreme Court, the Election Commission and the Union Public Service Commission.
Appointment and Term
• The CAG is appointed by the president of India by a warrant under his hand and seal.
• The CAG, before taking over his office, makes and subscribes before the president an oath or affirmation:
1. to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India
2. to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India
3. to duly and faithfully and to the best of his ability, knowledge and judgement perform the duties of his office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will and
4. to uphold the Constitution and the laws.
• He holds office for a period of six years or upto the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
• He can resign any time from his office by addressing the resignation letter to the president.
• He can also be removed by the president on same grounds and in the same manner as a judge of the Supreme Court.
o In other words, he can be removed by the president on the basis of a resolution passed to that effect by both the Houses of Parliament with special majority, either on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
1. He is provided with the security of tenure. He can be removed by the president only in accordance with the procedure mentioned in the Constitution.
o Thus, he does not hold his office till the pleasure of the president, though he is appointed by him
2. He is not eligible for further office, either under the Government of India or of any state, after he ceases to hold his office.
3. His salary and other service conditions are determined by the Parliament. His salary is equal to that of a judge of the Supreme Court.
4. Neither his salary nor his rights in respect of leave of absence, pension or age of retirement can be altered to his disadvantage after his appointment.
5. The conditions of service of persons serving in the Indian Audit and Accounts Department and the administrative powers of the CAG are prescribed by the president after consultation with the CAG.
6. The administrative expenses of the office of the CAG, including all salaries, allowances and pensions of persons serving in that office are charged upon the Consolidated Fund of India.
o Thus, they are not subject to the vote of Parliament.
• Further, no minister can represent the CAG in Parliament (both Houses) and no minister can be called upon to take any responsibility for any actions done by him.
Duties and Powers
• The Constitution (Article 149) authorises the Parliament to prescribe the duties and powers of the CAG in relation to the accounts of the Union and of the states and of any other authority or body.
• Accordingly, the Parliament enacted the CAG’s (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service) Act, 1971. This Act was amended in 1976 to separate accounts from audit in the Central government.
The duties and functions of the CAG as laid down by the Parliament and the Constitution are:
1. He audits the accounts related to all expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India, consolidated fund of each state and consolidated fund of each union territory having a Legislative Assembly.
2. He audits all expenditure from the Contingency Fund of India and the Public Account of India as well as the contingency fund of each state and the public account of each state.
3. He audits all trading, manufacturing, profit and loss accounts, balance sheets and other subsidiary accounts kept by any department of the Central Government and state governments.
4. He audits the receipts and expenditure of the Centre and each state to satisfy himself that the rules and procedures in that behalf are designed to secure an effective check on the assessment, collection and proper allocation of revenue.
5. He audits the receipts and expenditure of the following:
(a) All bodies and authorities substantially financed from the Central or state revenues
(b) Government companies and
(c) Other corporations and bodies when so required by related laws
6. He audits all transactions of the Central and state governments related to debt, sinking funds, deposits, advances, suspense accounts and remittance business.
• He also audits receipts, stock accounts and others, with approval of the President, or when required by the President.
7. He audits the accounts of any other authority when requested by the President or Governor. For example, the audit of local bodies.
8. He advises the President with regard to prescription of the form in which the accounts of the Centre and the states shall be kept (Article 150).
9. He submits his audit reports relating to the accounts of the Centre to President, who shall, in turn, place them before both the Houses of Parliament (Article 151).
10. He submits his audit reports relating to the accounts of a state to governor, who shall, in turn, place them before the state legislature (Article 151).
11. He ascertains and certifies the net proceeds of any tax or duty (Article 279). His certificate is final. The ‘net proceeds’ means the proceeds of a tax or a duty minus the cost of collection.
12. He acts as a guide, friend and philosopher of the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament.
13. He compiles and maintains the accounts of state governments.
• In 1976, he was relieved of his responsibilities with regard to the compilation and maintenance of accounts of the Central Government due to the separation of accounts from audit, that is, departmentalisation of accounts.
• The CAG submits three audit reports to the President—audit report on appropriation accounts, audit report on finance accounts, and audit report on public undertakings.
• The President lays these reports before both the Houses of Parliament. After this, the Public Accounts Committee examines them and reports its findings to the Parliament.
• The appropriation accounts compare the actual expenditure with the expenditure sanctioned by the Parliament through the Appropriation Act, while the finance accounts show the annual receipts and disbursements of the Union government.
• The role of CAG is to uphold the Constitution of India and the laws of Parliament in the field of financial administration.
o The accountability of the executive (i.e., council of ministers) to the Parliament in the sphere of financial administation is secured through audit reports of the CAG.
o The CAG is an agent of the Parliament and conducts audit of expenditure on behalf of the Parliament. Therefore, he is responsible only to the Parliament.
• The CAG has more freedom with regard to audit of expenditure than with regard to audit of receipts, stores and stock.
• The CAG has ‘to ascertain whether money shown in the accounts as having been disbursed was legally available for and applicable to the service or the purpose to which they have been applied or charged and whether the expenditure conforms to the authority that governs it.
o In addition to this legal and regulatory audit, the CAG can also conduct proprietary audit, i.e. he can look into the wisdom, faithfulness and economy’ of government expenditure and comment on the wastefulness and extravagance of such expenditure.
o However, unlike the legal and regulatory audit, which is obligatory on the part of the CAG, the propriety audit is discretionary.
• The secret service expenditure is a limitation on the auditing role of the CAG.
o In this regard, the CAG cannot call for particulars of expenditure incurred by the executive agencies, but has to accept a certificate from the competent administrative authority that the expenditure has been so incurred under his authority.
• The Constitution of India visualises the CAG to be Comptroller as well as Auditor General. However, in practice, the CAG is fulfilling the role of an Auditor-General only and not that of a Comptroller.
o In other words, ‘the CAG has no control over the issue of money from the consolidated fund and many departments are authorised to draw money by issuing cheques without specific authority from the CAG, who is concerned only at the audit stage when the expenditure has already taken place’.
o In this respect, the CAG of India differs totally from the CAG of Britain who has powers of both Comptroller as well as Auditor General. In other words, in Britain, the executive can draw money from the public exchequer only with the approval of the CAG.
CAG and Corporations
• The role of CAG in the auditing of public corporations is limited.
• Broadly speaking, his relationship with the public corporations falls into the following three categories:
(i) Some corporations are audited totally and directly by the CAG, for example, Damodar Valley Corporation, Oil and Natural Gas Commission, Air India, Indian Airlines Corporation, and others.
(ii) Some other corporations are audited by private professional auditors who are appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the CAG.
o If necessary, the CAG can conduct supplementary audit.
o The examples are Central Warehousing Corporation, Industrial Finance Corporation, and others.
(iii) Some other corporations are totally subjected to private audit. In other words, their audit is done exclusively by private professional auditors and the CAG does not come into the picture at all.
o They submit their annual reports and accounts directly to the Parliament.
o Examples of such corporations are Life Insurance Corporation of India, Reserve Bank of India, State Bank of India, Food Corporation of India, and others.
• The role of the CAG in the auditing of Government companies is also limited.
o They are audited by private auditors who are appointed by the Government on the advice of the CAG.
o The CAG can also undertake supplementary audit or test audit of such companies.
NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Establishment of the Human Rights Commission
• The National Human Rights Commission is a statutory (and not a constitutional) body.
• It was established in 1993 under a legislation enacted by the Parliament, namely, the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
o This Act was amended in 2006.
• The commission is the watchdog of human rights in the country, that is, the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the international covenants and enforceable by courts in India.
• The specific objectives of the establishment of the commission are:
(a) To strengthen the institutional arrangements through which human rights issues could be addressed in their entirety in a more focussed manner.
(b) To look into allegations of excesses, independently of the government, in a manner that would underline the government’s commitment to protect human rights and
(c) To complement and strengthen the efforts that have already been made in this direction.
Composition of the Commission
• The commission is a multi-member body consisting of a chairman and four members.
o The chairman should be a retired chief justice of India, and members should be serving or retired judges of the Supreme Court, a serving or retired chief justice of a high court and two persons having knowledge or practical experience with respect to human rights.
• In addition to these full-time members, the commission also has four ex-officio members—the chairmen of the National Commission for Minorities, the National Commission for SCs, the National Commission for STs and the National Commission for Women.
• The chairman and members are appointed by the president on the recommendations of a six-member committee consisting of the prime minister as its head, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, leaders of the Opposition in both the Houses of Parliament and the Central home minister.
• The chairman and members hold office for a term of five years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
o After their tenure, the chairman and members are not eligible for further employment under the Central or a state government.
• The president can remove the chairman or any member from the office under the following circumstances:
(a) If he is adjudged an insolvent or
(b) If he engages, during his term of office, in any paid employment outside the duties of his office or
(c) If he is unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body or
(d) If he is of unsound mind and stand so declared by a competent court or
(e) If he is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for an offence
• In addition to these, the president can also remove the chairman or any member on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
o However, in these cases, the president has to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for an inquiry.
o If the Supreme Court, after the inquiry, upholds the cause of removal and advises so, then the president can remove the chairman or a member.
• The salaries, allowances and other conditions of service of the chairman or a member are determined by the Central government. But, they cannot be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
• All the above provisions are aimed at securing autonomy, independence and impartiality in the functioning of the Commission.
Functions of the Commission
The functions of the Commission are:
(a) To inquire into any violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant, either suo motu or on a petition presented to it or on an order of a court.
(b) To intervene in any proceeding involving allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court.
(c) To visit jails and detention places to study the living conditions of inmates and make recommendation thereon.
(d) To review the constitutional and other legal safeguards for the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation.
(e) To review the factors including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend remedial measures.
(f) To study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation.
(g) To undertake and promote research in the field of human rights.
(h) To spread human rights literacy among the people and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights.
(i) To encourage the efforts of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the field of human rights.
(j) To undertake such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of human rights.
Working of the Commission
• The commission’s headquarters is at Delhi and it can also establish offices at other places in India.
• It is vested with the power to regulate its own procedure.
o It has all the powers of a civil court and its proceedings have a judicial character.
o It may call for information or report from the Central and state governments or any other authority subordinate thereto.
o The commission has its own nucleus of investigating staff for investigation into complaints of human rights violations.
• Besides, it is empowered to utilise the services of any officer or investigation agency of the Central government or any state government for the purpose.
o It has also established effective cooperation with the NGOs with first-hand information about human rights violations.
• The commission is not empowered to inquire into any matter after the expiry of one year from the date on which the act constituting violation of human rights is alleged to have been committed. In other words, it can look into a matter within one year of its occurrence.
• The commission may take any of the following steps during or upon the completion of an inquiry:
(a) it may recommend to the concerned government or authority to make payment of compensation or damages to the victim
(b) it may recommend to the concerned government or authority the initiation of proceedings for prosecution or any other action against the guilty public servant
(c) it may recommend to the concerned government or authority for the grant of immediate interim relief to the victim
(d) it may approach the Supreme Court or the high court concerned for the necessary directions, orders or writs.
Role of the Commission
• From the above, it is clear that the functions of the commission are mainly recommendatory in nature. It has no power to punish the violators of human rights, nor to award any relief including monetary relief to the victim.
o Notably, its recommendations are not binding on the concerned government or authority. But, it should be informed about the action taken on its recommendations within one month
• Moreover, the commission has limited role, powers and jurisdiction with respect to the violation of human rights by the members of the armed forces.
o In this sphere, the commission may seek a report from the Central government and make its recommendations.
• The commission submits its annual or special reports to the Central government and to the state government concerned.
o These reports are laid before the respective legislatures, along with a memorandum of action taken on the recommendations of the commission and the reasons for non-acceptance of any of such recommendations.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
• The Central Information Commission was established by the Central Government in 2005.
• It was constituted through an Official Gazette Notification under the provisions of the Right to Information Act (2005).
o Hence, it is not a constitutional body.
• The Central Information Commission is a high-powered independent body which inter alia looks into the complaints made to it and decide the appeals.
• 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.
• They are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister.
• They should be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.
• They should not be a Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislature of any State or Union Territory.
o They should not hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession.
Tenure and Service Conditions
• The Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner hold office for a term of 5 years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
o They are not eligible for reappointment.
• The President can remove the Chief Information Commissioner or any Information Commissioner from the office under the following circumstances:
(a) if he is adjudged an insolvent
(b) if he has been convicted of an offence which (in the opinion of the President) involves a moral turpitude or
(c) if he engages during his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office or
(d) if he is (in the opinion of the President) unfit to continue in office due to infirmity of mind or body or
(e) if he has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his official functions.
• In addition to these, the President can also remove the Chief Information Commissioner or any Information Commissioner on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
• However, in these cases, the President has to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for an enquiry. If the Supreme Court, after the enquiry, upholds the cause of removal and advises so, then the President can remove him
• The salary, allowances and other service conditions of the Chief Information Commissioner are similar to those of the Chief Election Commissioner and that of the Information Commissioner are similar to those of an Election Commissioner.
o But, they cannot be varied to his disadvantage during service.
Powers and Functions
The powers and functions of the Central Information Commission are:
1. It is the duty of the Commission to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person:
(a) who has not been able to submit an information request because of non-appointment of a Public Information Officer
(b) who has been refused information that was requested
(c) who has not received response to his information request within the specified time limits
(d) who thinks the fees charged are unreasonable
(e) who thinks information given is incomplete, misleading or false and
(f) any other matter relating to obtaining information.
2. The Commission can order inquiry into any matter if there are reasonable grounds (suo-moto power).
3. While inquiring, the Commission has the powers of a civil court in respect of the following matters:
(a) summoning and enforcing attendance of persons and compelling them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce documents or things
(b) requiring the discovery and inspection of documents
(c) receiving evidence on affidavit
(d) requisitioning any public record from any court or office
4. During the inquiry of a complaint, the Commission may examine any record which is under the control of the public authority and no such record may be withheld from it on any grounds. In other words, all public records must be given to the Commission during inquiry for examination.
5. The Commission has the power to secure compliance of its decisions from the public authority.
(a) providing access to information in a particular form
(b) directing the public authority to appoint a Public Information Officer where none exists
(c) publishing information or categories of information
(d) making necessary changes to the practices relating to management, maintenance and destruction of records
(e) enhancing training provision for officials on the right to information
(f) seeking an annual report from the public authority on compliance with this Act
(g) requiring the public authority to compensate for any loss or other detriment suffered by the applicant
(h) imposing penalties under this Act and
(i) rejecting the application.
6. The Commission submits an annual report to the Central Government on the implementation of the provisions of this Act. The Central Government places this report before each House of Parliament.
7. When a public authority does not conform to the provisions of this Act, the Commission may recommend (to the authority) steps which ought to be taken for promoting such conformity.
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.
o Its establishment was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962–64).
• Thus, originally the CVC was neither a constitutional body nor a statutory body.
o Recently, in September 2003, the Parliament enacted a law conferring statutory status on the CVC (the CVC Act of 2003).
• In 2004, the Government of India authorised the CVC as the “Designated Agency” to receive written complaints for disclosure on any allegation of corruption or misuse of office and recommend appropriate action.
• 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 and advising various authorities in Central Government organisations in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work.
• The CVC is a multi-member body consisting of a Central Vigilance Commissioner (chairperson) and not more than two vigilance commissioners.
• They are appointed by the president by warrant under his hand and seal on the recommendation of a three-member committee consisting of the prime minister as its head, the Union minister of home affairs and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
• They hold office for a term of four years or until they attain the age of sixty five years, whichever is earlier.
o After their tenure, they are not eligible for further employment under the Central or a state government.
• The president can remove the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any vigilance commissioner from the office under the following circumstances:
(a) If he is adjudged an insolvent or
(b) If he has been convicted of an offence which (in the opinion of the Central government) involves a moral turpitude or
(c) If he engages, during his term of office, in any paid employment outside the duties of his office or
(d) If he is (in the opinion of the president), unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body or
(e) If he has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his official functions.
• In addition to these, the president can also remove the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any vigilance commissioner on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
o However, in these cases, the president has to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for an enquiry.
o If the Supreme Court, after the enquiry, upholds the cause of removal and advises so, then the president can remove him.
• He is deemed to be guilty of misbehaviour, if he
(a) is concerned or interested in any contract or agreement made by the Central government, or
(b) participates in any way in the profit of such contract or agreement or in any benefit or emolument arising therefrom otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company
• The salary, allowances and other conditions of service of the Central Vigilance Commissioner are similar to those of the Chairman of UPSC and that of the vigilance commissioner are similar to those of a member of UPSC.
o But they cannot be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
• The CVC has its own Secretariat, Chief Technical Examiners’ Wing (CTE) and a wing of Commissioners for Departmental Inquiries (CDIs).
o The Secretariat consists of a Secretary, Joint Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries, Under Secretaries and office staff.
Chief Technical Examiners’ Wing:
o The Chief Technical Examiners’ Organisation constitutes the technical wing of the CVC. It consists of Chief Engineers (designated as Chief Technical Examiners) and supporting engineering staff.
The main functions assigned to this organisation are as follows:
(i) Technical audit of construction works of Government organisations from a vigilance angle
(ii) Investigation of specific cases of complaints relating to construction works
(iii) Extension of assistance to CBI in their investigations involving technical matters and for evaluation of properties in Delhi
(iv) Tendering of advice / assistance to the CVC and Chief Vigilance Officers in vigilance cases involving technical matters
Commissioners for Departmental Inquiries:
o The CDIs function as Inquiry Officers to conduct oral inquiries in departmental proceedings initiated against public servants.
The functions of the CVC are:
1. To inquire or cause an inquiry or investigation to be conducted on a reference made by the Central government wherein it is alleged that a public servant being an employee of Central government or its authorities, has committed an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
2. To inquire or cause an inquiry or investigation to be conducted into any complaint against any official belonging to the below mentioned category of officials wherein it is alleged that he has committed an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988:
(a) Members of all-India services serving in the Union and Group ‘A’ officers of the Central government; and
(b) Specified level of officers of the authorities of the Central government.
3. To exercise superintendence over the functioning of Delhi Special Police Establishment (which is a part of Central Bureau of Investigation) in so far as it relates to the investigation of offences alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
o The Delhi Special Police Establishment is required to obtain the prior approval of the Central government before conducting any inquiry or investigation into an offence committed by officers of the rank of joint secretary and above in the Central government and its authorities.
4. To give directions to the Delhi Special Police Establishment for the purpose of discharging the responsibility entrusted to it under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
5. To review the progress of investigations conducted by the Delhi Special Police Establishment into offences alleged to have been committed under the prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
6. To review the progress of applications pending with the competent authorities for sanction of prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
7. To tender advise to the Central government and its authorities on such matters as are referred to it by them
8. To exercise superintendence over the vigilance administration in the ministries of the Central government or its authorities.
9. To undertake or cause an inquiry into complaints received under the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Informers’ Resolution and recommend appropriate action.
10. The Central Government is required to consult the CVC in making rules and regulations governing the vigilance and disciplinary matters relating to the members of Central Services and All-India Services.
The jurisdiction of the CVC extends to the following:
1. Members of All India Services serving in connection with the affairs of the Union and Group A officers of the Central Government.
2. Officers of the rank of Scale V and above in the Public Sector Banks.
3. Officers in Grade D and above in Reserve Bank of India, NABARD and SIDBI.
4. Chief Executives and Executives on the Board and other officers of E-8 and above in Schedule ‘A’ and ‘B’ Public Sector Undertakings.
5. Chief Executives and Executives on the Board and other officers of E-7 and above in Schedule ‘C’ and ‘D’ Public Sector Undertakings.
6. Managers and above in General Insurance Companies.
7. Senior Divisional Managers and above in Life Insurance Corporation.
8. Officers drawing salary of 8700/- p.m. and above on Central Government D.A. pattern, as on the date of the notification and as may be revised from time to time in Societies and other Local Authorities.
o The CVC conducts its proceedings at its headquarters (New Delhi). It is vested with the power to regulate its own procedure. It has all the powers of a civil court and its proceedings have a judicial character.
o It may call for information or report from the Central government or its authorities so as to enable it to exercise general supervision over the vigilance and anti-corruption work in them.
o The CVC, on receipt of the report of the inquiry undertaken by any agency on a reference made by it, advises the Central government or its authorities as to the further course of action.
o The Central government or its authorities shall consider the advice of the CVC and take appropriate action. However, where the Central government or any of its authorities does not agree with the advice of the CVC, it shall communicate the reasons (to be recorded in writing) to the CVC.
o The CVC has to present annually to the President a report on its performance. The President places this report before each House of Parliament.
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIA
• The Constitution (Article 76) has provided for the office of the Attorney General for India.
• He is the highest law officer in the country.
Appointment and Term
• The Attorney General (AG) is appointed by the president. He must be a person who is qualified to be appointed a judge of the Supreme Court.
o In other words, he must be a citizen of India and he must have been a judge of some high court for five years or an advocate of some high court for ten years or an eminent jurist, in the opinion of the president.
• The term of office of the AG is not fixed by the Constitution. Further, the Constitution does not contain the procedure and grounds for his removal. He holds office during the pleasure of the president.
o This means that he may be removed by the president at any time. He may also quit his office by submitting his resignation to the president.
o Conventionally, he resigns when the government (council of ministers) resigns or is replaced, as he is appointed on its advice.
• The remuneration of the AG is not fixed by the Constitution. He receives such remuneration as the president may determine.
Duties and Functions
As the chief law officer of the Government of India, the duties of the AG include the following:
1. To give advice to the Government of India upon such legal matters, which are referred to him by the president.
2. To perform such other duties of a legal character that are assigned to him by the president.
3. To discharge the functions conferred on him by the Constitution or any other law.
The president has assigned the following duties to the AG:
1. To appear on behalf of the government of India in all cases in the Supreme Court in which the Government of India is concerned.
2. To represent the Government of India in any reference made by the president to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution.
3. To appear (when required by the Government of India) in any high court in any case in which the Government of India is concerned.
Rights and Limitations
• In the performance of his official duties, the Attorney General has the right of audience in all courts in the territory of India.
• Further, he has the right to speak and to take part in the proceedings of both the Houses of Parliament or their joint sitting and any committee of the Parliament of which he may be named a member, but without a right to vote.
• He enjoys all the privileges and immunities that are available to a member of Parliament.
Following limitations are placed on the Attorney General in order to avoid any complication and conflict of duty:
1. He should not advise or hold a brief against the Government of India.
2. He should not advise or hold a brief in cases in which he is called upon to advise or appear for the Government of India.
3. He should not defend accused persons in criminal prosecutions without the permission of the Government of India.
4. He should not accept appointment as a director in any company or corporation without the permission of the Government of India.
• However, the Attorney General is not a full-time counsel for the Government. He does not fall in the category of government servants.
• Further, he is not debarred from private legal practice.
Solicitor General of India
• In addition to the AG, there are other law officers of the Government of India.
o They are the solicitor general of India and additional solicitor general of India.
• They assist the AG in the fulfilment of his official responsibilities.
• It should be noted here that only the office of the AG is created by the Constitution.
o In other words, Article 76 does not mention about the solicitor general and additional solicitor general.
o The AG is not a member of the Central cabinet. There is a separate law minister in the Central cabinet to look after legal matters at the government level.
NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR SCHEDULED CASTES
• The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (SCs) is a constitutional body in the sense that it is directly established by Article 338 of the Constitution.
• On the other hand, the other national commissions like the National Commission for Women (1992), the National Commission for Minorities (1993), the National Commission for Backward Classes (1993), the National Human Rights Commission (1993) and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (2007) are statutory bodies in the sense that they are established by acts of the Parliament.
Evolution of the Commission
• Originally, Article 338 of the Constitution provided for the appointment of a Special Officer for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) to investigate all matters relating to the constitutional safeguards for the SCs and STs and to report to the President on their working.
o He was designated as the Commissioner for SCs and STs and assigned the said duty.
• In 1978, the Government (through a Resolution) set up a non-statutory multi-member Commission for SCs and STs; the Office of Commissioner for SCs and STs also continued to exist.
• Later, the 65th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1990 provided for the establishment of a high-level multi-member National Commission for SCs and STs in the place of a single Special Officer for SCs and STs.
o This constitutional body replaced the Commissioner for SCs and STs as well as the Commission set up under the Resolution of 1987.
• Again, the 89th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2003 bifurcated the combined National Commission for SCs and STs into two separate bodies, namely, National Commission for Scheduled Castes (under Article 338) and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (under Article 338-A).
• The separate National Commission for SCs came into existence in 2004.
o It consists of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and three other members. They are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal. Their conditions of service and tenure of office are also determined by the President.
Functions of the Commission
The functions of the Commission are:
(a) To investigate and monitor all matters relating to the constitutional and other legal safeguards for the SCs and to evaluate their working
(b) To inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the SCs
(c) To participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic development of the SCs and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union or a state;
(d) To present to the President, annually and at such other times as it may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards
(e) To make recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the Union or a state for the effective implementation of those safeguards and other measures for the protection, welfare and socio-economic development of the SCs and
(f) To discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the SCs as the president may specify.
Report of the Commission
• The commission presents an annual report to the president. It can also submit a report as and when it thinks necessary.
• The President places all such reports before the Parliament, along with a memorandum explaining the action taken on the recommendations made by the Commission. The memorandum should also contain the reasons for the non-acceptance of any of such recommendations.
• The President also forwards any report of the Commission pertaining to a state government to the state governor.
The governor places it before the state legislature, along with a memorandum explaining the action taken on the recommendations of the Commission.
The memorandum should also contain the reasons for the non-acceptance of any of such recommendations.
Powers of the Commission
• The Commission is vested with the power to regulate its own procedure.
• The Commission, while investigating any matter or inquiring into any complaint, has all the powers of a civil court trying a suit and in particular in respect of the following matters:
(a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath;
(b) requiring the discovery and production of any document;
(c) receiving evidence on affidavits;
(d) requisitioning any public record from any court or office
• The Central government and the state governments are required to consult the Commission on all major policy matters affecting the SCs.
• The Commission is also required to discharge similar functions with regard to the other backward classes (OBCs) and the Anglo-Indian Community as it does with respect to the SCs.
• In other words, the Commission has to investigate all matters relating to the constitutional and other legal safeguards for the OBCs and the Anglo-Indian Community and report to the President upon their working.
• The Planning Commission which has a legacy of 65 years has been replaced by the NITI Aayog. The utility and significance of the Planning Commission had been questioned for long. The replacement seems to be more relevant and responsive to the present economic needs and scenario in the country.
NITI Aayog Evolution
• The NITI Aayog was formed on January 1, 2015.
• In Sanskrit, the word “NITI” means morality, behavior, guidance, etc. But, in the present context, it means policy and the NITI stands for “National Institution for Transforming India”.
• It is the country’s premier policy-making institution which is expected to bolster the economic growth of the country.
• The NITI Aayog’s creation has two hubs called “Team India Hub” and “Knowledge and Innovation Hub”.
o The Team India: It leads the participation of Indian states with the central government.
o The Knowledge and Innovation Hub: it builds institution’s think tank capabilities.
Objectives of NITI Aayog
• The active participation of States in the light of national objectives and to provide a framework ‘national agenda’.
• To promote cooperative federalism through well-ordered support initiatives and mechanisms with the States on an uninterrupted basis.
• To construct methods to formulate a reliable strategy at the village level and aggregate these gradually at higher levels of government.
• Economic policy that incorporates national security interests.
• To pay special consideration to the sections of the society that may be at risk of not profiting satisfactorily from economic progress.
• To propose strategic and long-term policy and programme frameworks and initiatives, and review their progress and their effectiveness.
• To grant advice and encourage partnerships between important stakeholders and national- international Think Tanks, as well as educational and policy research institutions.
• To undertake other necessary activities in order to the implementation of the national development agenda, and the objectives.
NITI Aayog Composition:
The NITI Aayog will comprise the following:
• Prime Minister of India is the Chairperson
• Governing Council consists of the Chief Ministers of all the States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories in India.
• Regional Councils will be created to address particular issues and possibilities affecting more than one state.
o These will be formed for a fixed term. It will be summoned by the Prime Minister. It will consist of the Chief Ministers of States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories. These will be chaired by the Chairperson of the NITI Aayog or his nominee.
• Special invitees: Eminent experts, specialists with relevant domain knowledge, which will be nominated by the Prime Minister.
• The full-time organizational framework will include, in addition to the Prime Minister as the Chairperson:
o Vice-Chairperson (appointed by the Prime Minister)
• Part-time members: Maximum of 2 members from foremost universities, leading research organizations and other innovative organizations in an ex-officio capacity. Part-time members will be on a rotational basis.
o Ex Officio members: Maximum of 4 members of the Council of Ministers which is to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
o Chief Executive Officer: CEO will be appointed by the Prime Minister for a fixed tenure. He will be in the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.