India's Polity

The Union And Its Territory

India comprises 29 States and six Union Territories.

States

Union Territories

Citizenship

The Constitution of India provides for a single citizenship for the whole of India. Every person who was at the commencement of the Constitution (26 January 1950) domiciled in the territory of India, and (a) who was born in India, or (b) either of whose parents was born in India, or (c) who has been ordinarily resident in India for not less than five years, became a citizen of India. The Citizenship Act, 1955 deals with matters relating to acquisition, determination and termination of Indian citizenship after the commencement of the Constitution.

Fundamental Rights

The Constitution offers all citizens, individually and collectively, some basic freedoms. These are guaranteed in the Constitution in the form of six broad categories of Fundamental Rights, which are justiciable. Article 12 to 35 contained in Part III of the Constitution deal with Fundamental Rights. These are:

right to equality, including equality before law, prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, and equality of opportunity in matters of employment;

right to freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association or union, movement, residence, and right to practice any profession or occupation (some of these rights are subject to security of the State, friendly relations with foreign countries, public order, decency or morality);

right against exploitation, prohibiting all forms of forced labour, child labour and traffic in human beings;

right to freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion;

right of any section of citizens to conserve their culture, language or script, and right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice; and

right to constitutional remedies for enforcement of Fundamental Rights.

Fundamental Duties

By the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution, adopted in 1976, Fundamental Duties of the citizens have also been enumerated. Article 51 ‘A', contained in Part IV A of the Constitution deals with Fundamental Duties. These enjoin upon a citizen among other things, to abide by the Constitution, to cherish and follow noble ideals, which inspired India's struggle for freedom, to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so, and to promote harmony and spirit of common brotherhood transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities.

Directive Principles Of State Policy

The Constitution lays down certain Directive Principles of State Policy, which though not justiciable, are ‘fundamental in governance of the country', and it is the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws. These lay down that the State shall strive to promote the welfare of people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may, a social order, in which justice—social, economic and political—shall form in all institutions of national life. The State shall direct its policy in such a manner as to secure the right of all men and women to an adequate means of livelihood, equal pay for equal work and within limits of its economic capacity and development, to make effective provision for securing the right to work, education and to public assistance in the event of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement or other cases of undeserved want. The State shall also endeavour to secure to workers a living wage, humane conditions of work, a decent standard of life, and full involvement of workers in management of industries.

In the economic sphere, the State is to direct its policy in such a manner as to secure distribution of ownership and control of material resources of community to subserve the common good, and to ensure that operation of economic system does not result in concentration of wealth and means of production to common detriment.

Some of the other important directives relate to provision of opportunities and facilities for children to develop in a healthy manner; free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14; promotion of education and economic interests of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other weaker sections; organisation of village panchayats ; separation of judiciary from executive; promulgation of a uniform civil code for whole country; protection of national monuments; promotion of justice on a basis of equal opportunity; provision of free legal aid; protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife of the country; promotion of international peace and security; just and honourable relations between nations; respect for international law; treaty obligations; and settlement of international disputes by arbitration.

The Union
Executive

The Union executive consists of the President, the Vice-President, and the Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as the head to aid and advise the President.

President

The President is elected by members of an electoral college consisting of elected members of both Houses of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of the states in accordance with the system of proportional representation, by means of single transferable vote. To secure uniformity among state inter se, as well as parity between the states as a whole, and the Union, suitable weightage is given to each vote. The President must be a citizen of India, not less than 35 years of age, and qualified for election as member of the Lok Sabha. His term of office is five years, and he is eligible for re-election. His removal from office is to be in accordance with procedure prescribed in Article 61 of the Constitution. He may, by writing under his hand addressed to the Vice-President, resign his office.

Executive power of the Union is vested in the President, and is exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with the Constitution. Supreme command of defence forces of the Union also vests in him. The President summons, prorogues, addresses, sends messages to Parliament and dissolves the Lok Sabha, promulgates Ordinances at any time, except when both Houses of Parliament are in session, makes recommendations for introducing financial and money bills and gives assent to bills, grants pardons, reprieves, respites or remission of punishment or suspends, and remits or commutes sentences in certain cases. When there is a failure of the constitutional machinery in a state, he can assume to himself all, or any of the functions of the government of that state. The President can proclaim emergency in the country if he is satisfied that a grave emergency exists, whereby security of India or any part of its territory is threatened, whether by war or external aggression or armed rebellion.

Vice-President

The Vice-President is elected by members of an electoral college consisting of members of both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote. He must be a citizen of India, not less than 35 years of age, and eligible for election as a member of the Rajya Sabha. His term of office is five years, and he is eligible for re-election. His removal from office is to be in accordance with procedure prescribed in Article 67 b.

The Vice-President is ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and acts as President when the latter is unable to discharge his functions due to absence, illness or any other cause, or till the election of a new President (to be held within six months when a vacancy is caused by death, resignation or removal or otherwise of President). While so acting, he ceases to perform the function of the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Council Of Mininsters

There is a Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister to aid and advise the President in exercise of his functions. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, who also appoints other ministers on the advice of Prime Minister. The Council is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. It is the duty of the Prime Minister to communicate to the President all decisions of Council of Ministers relating to administration of affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation and information relating to them. The Council of Ministers comprises Ministers who are members of Cabinet, Ministers of State (independent charge), Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers.

Legislature

Legislature of the Union, which is called Parliament, consists of the President and two Houses, known as Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and House of the People (Lok Sabha). Each House has to meet within six months of its previous sitting. A joint sitting of two Houses can be held in certain cases.

Rajya Sabha

The Constitution provides that the Rajya Sabha shall consist of 250 members, of which 12 members shall be nominated by the President from amongst persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service; and not more than 238 representatives of the States and of the Union Territories.

Elections to the Rajya Sabha are indirect; members representing States are elected by elected members of legislative assemblies of the States in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote, and those representing Union Territories are chosen in such manner as Parliament may by law prescribe. The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution; one-third of its members retire every second year. Rajya Sabha, at present, has 245 seats. Of these, 233 members represent the States and the Union Territories, and 12 members are nominated by the President.

Lok Sabha

The Lok Sabha is composed of representatives of people chosen by direct election on the basis of adult suffrage. The maximum strength of the House envisaged by the Constitution is now 552 (530 members to represent States, 20 to represent Union Territories, and not more than two members of the Anglo-Indian community to be nominated by the President, if, in his opinion, that community is not adequately represented in the House). The total elective membership of the Lok Sabha is distributed among States in such a way that the ratio between the number of seats allotted to each State and population of the State is, as far as practicable, the same for all States. The Lok Sabha at present consists of 545 members. Of these, 530 members are directly elected from the States and 13 from Union Territories, while two are nominated by the President to represent the Anglo-Indian community. Following the Constitution 84th Amendment Act, the total number of existing seats as allocated to various States in the Lok Sabha on the basis of the 971 census, shall remain unaltered till the first census to be taken after the year 2026.

The term of the Lok Sabha, unless dissolved earlier, is five years from the date appointed for its first meeting. However, while a proclamation of emergency is in operation, this period may be extended by Parliament by law for a period not exceeding one year at a time, and not extending in any case, beyond a period of six months after the proclamation has ceased to operate. Fourteen Lok Sabhas have been constituted so far.

Parliamentary Committees

The functions of Parliament are not only varied in nature, but considerable in volume. The time at its disposal is limited. It cannot make very detailed scrutiny of all legislative and other matters that come up before it. A good deal of its business is, therefore, transacted in committees.

Both Houses of Parliament have a similar committee structure, with a few exceptions. Their appointment, terms of office, functions and procedure of conducting business are also more or less similar, and are regulated under rules made by the two Houses under Article 118(1) of the Constitution. Broadly, parliamentary committees are of two kinds—standing committees and ad hoc committees. The former are elected or appointed every year or periodically and their work goes on, more or less, on a continuous basis. The latter are appointed on an ad hoc basis as need arises, and they cease to exist as soon as they complete the task assigned to them.

Administrative Set-up

The Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 are made by the President of India under Article 77 of the Constitution for the allocation of business of the Government of India. The Ministries/Departments of the Government are created by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister under these Rules. The business of the Government are transacted in the Ministries/Departments, Secretariats and offices (referred to as ‘Department') as per the distribution of subjects specified in these Rules. Each of the Ministries is assigned to a Minister by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. Each department is generally under the charge of a Secretary to assist the Minister on policy matters and general administration.

Cabinet Secretariat

The Cabinet Secretariat is under the direct charge of the Prime Minister. The administrative head of the Secretariat is the Cabinet Secretary, who is also the ex-officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board. In the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 ‘Cabinet

Secretariat' finds a place in the First Schedule to the Rules. The subjects allotted to this Secretariat are: (i) Secretarial assistance to Cabinet and Cabinet Committees; and (ii) Rules of Business.

The Cabinet Secretariat is responsible for the administration of the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961 and the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961, facilitating smooth transaction of business in Ministries/Departments of the Government by ensuring adherence to these rules. The Secretariat assists in decision-making in Government by ensuring Inter-Ministerial coordination, ironing out differences amongst Ministries/Departments and evolving consensus through the instrumentality of the standing and ad hoc Committees of Secretaries. Through this mechanism, new policy initiatives are also promoted.

The Cabinet Secretariat ensures that the President, the Vice-President and Ministers are kept informed of the major activities of all Ministries/Departments by means of monthly summary of their activities. Management of major crisis situations in the country and coordinating activities of various Ministries in such a situation is also one of the functions of the Cabinet Secretariat.

Public Services
All India Services

Prior to Independence, the Indian Civil Service (ICS) was the senior most amongst the Services of the Crown in India. Besides the ICS, there was also the Indian Police Service. After Independence, it was felt that though the ICS was a legacy of the imperial period, there was need for the All India Services for maintaining the unity, integrity and stability of the nation. Accordingly, a provision was made in Article 312 of the Constitution for creation of one or more All India Services common to the Union and State. The Indian Administrative Service and The Indian Police Service are deemed to be constituted by the Parliament in terms of Article 312 of the Constitution. After the promulgation of the Constitution, a new All India Service, namely, The Indian Forest Service, was created in 1966. A common unique feature of the All India Services is that the members of these services are recruited by the Centre, but their services are placed under various State cadres, and they have the liability to serve both under the State and under the Centre. This aspect of the All India Services strengthens the unitary character of the Indian federation.

Of the three All India Services, namely, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Police Service (IPS), and the Indian Forest Service (IFS), the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions is the cadre controlling authority for the IAS. The recruitment to all the three services is made by the UPSC. These officers are recruited and trained by the Central Government, and then allotted to different State cadres. There are now 24 State cadres including three Joint cadres, namely, (i) Assam and Meghalaya,(ii) Manipur and Tripura, and (iii) Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and the Union Territories (AGMUT).

Central Secretariat Services

The Central Secretariat has three services, namely, (i) Central Secretariat Services (CSS), (ii) Central Secretariat Stenographers' Services (CSSS) and (iii) the Central Secretariat Clerical Service (CSCS). The Section Officers' Grade and Assistants' Grade of CSS, Steno Grade ‘D' , ‘C', ‘A' , and ‘B' (merged) of CSSS and LDC and UDC are decentralised. The grades of Principal Private Secretary and Senior Principal Private Secretary of CSSS and selection grade, and Grade I of CSS are centralised. Appointments and promotions in the Centralised Grades are made on all secretariat basis. In respect of the decentralised grades, Department of Personnel and Training monitors and assesses the overall requirements of different cadres for fixing zones of promotion against the vacancies in seniority quota and arranges centralised recruitment against direct recruitment and departmental examination quota vacancies through open competitive and departmental examination.

Pursuant to the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, the Government set-up a committee on the Cadre Restructuring of CSS in February 2001. The committee submitted its Report in February 2002, making several recommended actions. The Government, after careful considerations has taken several decisions in October 2003 for improving the career prospects of the CSS personnel.

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)

The Constitution provides for an independent body known as Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for recruitment to Group ‘A' and Group ‘B' Gazetted posts under Central Government, and for advice in various service matters. The Chairman and members of the Commission are appointed by the President for tenure of six years, or till they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. To ensure independence, members who were at the service of Government at the time of appointment are deemed to have retired from Government service on their appointment in the Commission. The Chairman and members are also not eligible for further employment under the Government. They cannot be removed except for the reasons and in the manner provided for in the Constitution.

Staff Selection Commission (SSC)

Staff Selection Commission, initially known as Subordinate Services Commission, was set up on 1 July 1976. It has been entrusted with the work of making recruitment to

All non-gazetted Group 'B' posts in the various Ministries/Departments of the Government and their Attached and Subordinate Offices, which are in the pay scales of Rs 6,500-10,500, and

All non-technical Group 'C' posts in the various Ministries/Departments of the Government and their Attached and Subordinate Offices, except those posts which are specifically exempted from the purview of the Staff Selection Commission. The Commission is an attached office of the Department of Personnel and Training, and comprises of a Chairman, two Members and Secretary-cum-Controller of Examinations. The tenure of Chairman/Members is for five years or till they attain the age of 62 years, whichever is earlier. The Commission's headquarters and the office of its Northern Region are in New Delhi. The offices of Central, Western, Eastern, North-Eastern, Southern, and Karnataka-Kerala region are at Allahabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Chennai, and Bangalore respectively. Its sub-regional offices of Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh region and North-Western region are at Raipur and Chandigarh respectively.

Official Language—Constitutional//Statutory Provisions

Article 343 (1) of the Constitution provides that Hindi in Devanagari script shall be the Official Language of the Union. Article-343(2) also provided for continuing the use of English in official work of the Union for a period of 15 years (i.e., up to 25 January 1965) from the date of commencement of the Constitution. Article 343(3) empowered the parliament to provide by law for continued use of English for official purposes even after 25 January 1965. Accordingly, section 3(2) of the Official Languages Act, 1963 (amended in 1967) provides for continuing the use of English in official work even after 25 January 1965. The Act also lays down that both Hindi and English shall compulsorily be used for certain specified purposes such as Resolutions, General Orders, Rules, Notifications, Administrative and other Reports, Press Communiqués; Administrative and other Reports and Official Papers to be laid before a House or the Houses of Parliament; Contracts, Agreements, Licences, Permits, Tender Notices and Forms of Tender, etc.

In 1976, Official Language Rules were framed under the provisions of section 8(1) of the Official Languages Act, 1963. Its salient features are as under:

They apply to all Central Government Offices, including any office of a Commission, Committee or Tribunal appointed by the Central Government and Corporation or Company owned or controlled by it;

Communications from a Central Government Office to State/Union Territories or to any person in Region "A" comprising the States of Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Haryana and UTs of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Delhi, shall be in Hindi;

Communications from a Central Government Office to States/UTs in Region "B" comprising the States of Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territory of Chandigarh, shall ordinarily be in Hindi. However, communication to any person in Region "B" may be either in English or Hindi;

Communications from a Central Government Office to a State Government Office in region 'C' comprising all other States and UTs not included in region 'A' & 'B' or to any office (note being a Central Government Office) or person shall be in English;

Communications between Central Government Offices and from Central Government Offices to the Offices of the State Governments/Union Territories and individuals, etc., will be in Hindi in such proportions as may be determined from time to time;

All Manuals, Codes and other Procedural literature relating to Central Government Offices are required to be prepared both in Hindi and English. All Forms, Headings of Registers, Name Plates, Notice Boards and various items of stationery, etc., are also required to be in Hindi and English;

It shall be the responsibility of the officer signing the documents specified in section 3(3) of the Act to ensure that these are issued both in Hindi and English.

Comptroller & Auditor General

Comptroller and Auditor-General is appointed by the President. Procedure and grounds for his removal from office are the same as for a Supreme Court Judge. He is not eligible for further office under the Union or a State Government after he ceases to hold his office. The President on advice of Comptroller and Auditor-General prescribes the form in which accounts of the Union and states are to be kept. His reports on accounts of the Union and states are submitted to the President and respective governors which are placed before Parliament and state legislatures.

Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances

The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions is the nodal agency of the Government for Administrative reforms as well as redressal of public grievances relating to the Central Government organisations in particular and State governments and UT administrations in general. The Department provides management consultancy services to Central Government Ministries/Departments. The Department disseminates information on important activities of the Government relating to administrative reforms and public grievances redressal through various publications.

The Department coordinates the efforts to formulate and operationalise Citizen's Charters by the Central Government Ministries/Departments, etc., and their PSUs/autonomous/statutory bodies in various States/UTs in areas in which they provide services to the members of the public. These Charters publicise the commitment of the organisation, the expected standards of service delivery, time frame, grievance redress mechanism, laying their performance open to public scrutiny and ensure accountability. A Core Group has been set-up under the Chairmanship of Secretary (Personnel) to review the formulation and implementation of Citizen's Charters by various Central agencies. The State governments have also been advised to constitute similar Core Groups for formulation of Citizen's Charters.

The States

The system of government in states closely resembles that of the Union.

Executive
Governor

State executive consists of Governor and Council of Ministers with Chief Minister as its head. The Governor of a State is appointed by the President for a term of five years, and holds office during his pleasure. Only Indian citizens above 35 years of age are eligible for appointment to this office. Executive power of the State is vested in Governor.

Council Of Ministers

The Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor who also appoints other ministers on the advice of the Chief Minister. The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to legislative assembly of the State.

Legislature

For every state, there is a legislature, which consists of Governor and one House or, two Houses as the case may be. In Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, there are two Houses known as legislative council and legislative assembly. In the remaining states, there is only one House known as legislative assembly. Parliament may, by law, provide for abolition of an existing legislative council or for creation of one where it does not exist, if proposal is supported by a resolution of the legislative assembly concerned.

Legislative Council

Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad) of a state comprises not more than one-third of total number of members in legislative assembly of the state and in no case less than 40 members (Legislative Council of Jammu and Kashmir has 36 members vide Section 50 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir). About one-third of members of the council are elected by members of legislative assembly from amongst persons who are not its members, one-third by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state, one-twelfth by electorate consisting of persons who have been, for at least three years, engaged in teaching in educational institutions within the state not lower in standard than secondary school and a further one-twelfth by registered graduates of more than three years standing. Remaining members are nominated by Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, cooperative movement and social service. Legislative councils are not subject to dissolution but one-third of their members retire every second year.

Legislative Assembly

Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) of a state consists of not more than 500 and not less than 60 members (Legislative Assembly of Sikkim has 32 members vide Article 371F of the Constitution) chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the state. Demarcation of territorial constituencies is to be done in such a manner that the ratio between population of each constituency and number of seats allotted to it, as far as practicable, is the same throughout the state. Term of an assembly is five years unless it is dissolved earlier.

Union Territories

Union Territories are administrated by the President acting to such extent, as he thinks fit, through an Administrator appointed by him. Administrators of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Delhi and Pondicherry are designated as Lieutenant Governors. The Governor of Punjab is concurrently the Administrator of Chandigarh. The Administrator of Dadra and Nagar Haveli is concurrently the Administrator of Daman and Diu. Lakshadweep has a separate Administrator.

Municiplities

Municipal bodies have a long history in India. The first such Municipal Corporation was set-up in the former Presidency Town of Madras in 1688; and was followed by similar corporations in the then Bombay and Calcutta in 1726. The Constitution of India has made detailed provisions for ensuring protection of democracy in Parliament and in the state legislatures. However, Constitution did not make the local self-government in urban areas a clear-cut constitutional obligation. While the Directive Principles of State Policy refer to village Panchayats, there is no specific reference to Municipalities except the implicity in Entry 5 of the State List, which places the subject of local self-governments as a responsibility of the states.

In order to provide for a common framework for urban local bodies and help to strengthen the functioning of the bodies as effective democratic units of self-government, Parliament enacted the Constitution (74th Amendment) Act, 1992 relating to municipalities in 1992. The Act received the assent of the President on 20 April 1993. The Government of India notified 1 June 1993 as the date from which the said Act came into force. A new part IX-A relating to the Municipalities has been incorporated in the Constitution to provide for among other things, constitution of three types of Municipalities , i.e., Nagar Panchayats for areas in transition from a rural area to urban area, Municipal Councils for smaller urban areas and Municipal Corporation for large urban areas, fixed duration of municipalities, appointment of state election commission, appointment of state finance commission and constitution of metropolitan and district planning committees. State/UTs have set-up their election Commissions. Elections to municipal bodies have been completed in all States/UTs except Jharkhand and Pondicherry.

Panchayats

Article 40 of the Constitution, which enshrines one of the Directive Principles of State Policy, lays down that the State shall take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such powers and, authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government. In the light of the above, a new Part IX relating to the Panchayats has been inserted in the Constitution to provide for among other things, Gram Sabha in a village or group of villages; constitution of Panchayats at village and other level or levels; direct elections to all seats in Panchayats at the village and intermediate level, if any, and to the offices of Chairpersons of Panchayats at such levels; reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in proportion to their population for membership of Panchayats and office of Chairpersons in Panchayats at each level; reservation of not less than one-third of the seats for women; fixing tenure of five years for Panchayats and holding elections within a period of six months in the event of supersession of any Panchayat.