Tag Archives: Indian Polity

42nd Constitution Amendment 1976 – what was it, and what remains of it?

The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act 1976 was enacted during the National Emergency 1975-77, and is the most controversial constitution amendment in the history of India. It brought so widespread changes in the Constitution of India, that scholars often call it a mini constitution. Most of the provisions of this amendment were later reversed and negated, parly by the 43rd and 44th Constitution amendment acts enacted by the new parliament, and partly by the judgements of the Supreme Court of India.

Let us see the most prominent changes brought by the 42nd amendment.

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UPSC – Union Public Service Commission

UPSC is a constitutional authority under Article 315 of the constitution, that serves as the central recruiting agency for All India services, and group A & B posts of the Central services.
Jurisdiction of UPSC can be extended by the Parliament. The President can exclude posts, services and matters from the purview of the UPSC.

Limitations:

UPSC advises the government on recruitment related matters, but the advice is not binding on the government. It is also not consulted for highest diplomatic posts. UPSC is not concerned with the classification of services, pay and service conditions, cadre management, training, etc. These matters are handled by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT). UPSC is just a central recruiting agency, DoPT is the central personnel agency.

Composition, appointment and removal of members:

UPSC consists of a chairman and other members appointed by the president of India. 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 under the government. Members can be removed by an order of the President, without requiring any sanction/resolution by the parliament. A Supreme Court inquiry is required when the removal is being made on grounds of misbehaviour.

Federal Public Service Commission, under Government of India Act 1935, was the predecessor organisation of UPSC.

Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) – Evolution, 73rd Amendment, Salient Features, Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA Act 1996)

Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) are institutions of local self governance existing since centuries in the rural India. In 1959, Rajasthan became the first state of India to give legal recognition and empowerment to the village panchayats. Other states too created their own models and followed the league. However, it was only with the 73rd Constitution (Amendment) Act 1992 that the Panchayati Raj Institutions got the recognition in the Constitution of India. The amendment added Part IX (Article 243 A-O) titled Panchayats to the Constitution. It also added the 11th Schedule listing 29 subjects that may be devolved to the PRIs by the state legislatures.

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Prior Sanction – how are public officials protected from police action and court proceedings?

Concept of Prior Sanction

Public officials need to be protected from frivolous legal harassment for actions done in their official capacity. For this, police authorities and courts are mandated to get prior approval/sanction from the government before investigation or prosecution, as the case may be, in cases involving public officials.

Sanction before prosecution in criminal cases

The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) provides for prior sanction by the state or central government before prosecution of a public official in any court. It, however, allows for investigation of crimes done by a judge, magistrate, public servant in the course of official duties without requirement of a prior sanction.

Note that the investigation involves only the fact finding exercise by police, while the prosecution involves legal proceedings in a court of law.

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Internal Security Challenges, Organised Crime and Terrorism – laws and agencies to tackle them

Internal Security Challenges refer to the challenges that originate within the country and pose a threat to the integrity and democratic functioning of the government in any part of the country. Besides the traditional internal security challenges such as Left Wing Extremism, Insurgency and conflicts in Jammu Kashmir and Northeast India, new security challenges such as the issue of cyber security, polarisation and rising extremism in society too are becoming important and demand attention. Here, we will see briefly the Maoist insurgency, Jammu and Kashmir, and Northeast issues, while also putting a light on the salient features of the laws that the government has enacted to deal with these challenges.

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Simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies

The idea of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and to the state Legislative Assemblies across the country is gaining support, even though the Election Commission of India and many states and political parties see it as impractical and even a threat to Indian federalism. Currently, elections to the Lok Sabha are held in phases spanning around 40 days, and elections to the state legislatures are held in groups such that states having legislators’ tenure expiring at around the same time go to elections at the same time.

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12 Schedules in the Constitution of India – brief info

What are Schedules in the Constitution?

Schedules are certain lists associated with various articles of the constitution of India. For example, Article 1 of the Constitution says that the States and the territories of India shall be as specified in the First Schedule; thus the first schedule is the list of states and territories of India.

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