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Working of the Institutions Class 9 Chapter Notes
How Decisions are Taken and Communicated in Democracy?
In a democratic set up the government or governing authorities take decision by following official procedures. The decisions are communicated through office memorandums. The decisions may create debate among people and sometimes such disputes are uproarious creating divisions in society like the ‘Mandal Commission’. We shall also study how such debates and disputes are resolved through the working institutions of democracy.
The Government Issues an Order
- The Government of India released an Order known as an Office Memorandum on 13 August 1990.
- This order aimed at creating a reservation for a new category SEBC (Socially and Educationally Backward Classes).
- According to the order, in addition to SC and ST, the new third group called Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) would receive a 27 per cent work reservation benefit.
- Only people from low-income families would be eligible for this quota
- This reservation generated a huge level of debate all over the nation.
- The President is India’s highest formal authority and serves as the head of state.
- The Prime Minister is the real head of the government and takes most decisions in the Cabinet.
- The President and the two Houses, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha make up the Parliament. To pass a memorandum, the Prime Minister needs the approval of a majority of Lok Sabha members.
- The communication issued by an appropriate authority announcing a government policy or decision is referred to as the ‘Office Memorandum’.
- The Second Backward Classes Commission was established by the Indian government in 1979.
- This was done to decide the criteria for identifying India’s socially and educationally backward classes and to recommend measures for their advancement.
- As B P Mandal was in charge, the Commission came to be known as the Mandal Commission.
- It was proposed that the Socially and Economically Backward Class (SEBC) be given 27% of government employment.
How disputes are resolved in a democratic system
- As the Office Memorandum was passed, the Mandal Commission’s recommendations became contentious in India.
- Some persons and associations opposed the order as they saw them as unjust because they denied equal opportunities to those who did not come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- They appealed to the courts to declare the order invalid and stop its implementation.
- The Supreme Court bunched all these cases together. This case was known as ‘Indira Sawhney and others vs Union of India case’.
- Eleven judges of the Supreme Court heard arguments of both sides.
- By a majority, the Supreme Court judges in 1992 declared that this order of the Government of India was valid and correct as per the constitution.
- At the same time Supreme Court asked the government to modify its original order.
- It said that well-to-do persons among the backward classes should be excluded from getting benefit of reservations.
- The Department of Personnel and Training issued another Office Memorandum on September 8, 1993.
- The dispute came to an end and this policy has been followed since then.
Need for Political Institutions
We can understand the importance of institutions by knowing the important roles they play and the functions they perform.
Government performs important functions
(a) The government is responsible for ensuring security to the citizens and providing facilities like education and health to all.
(b) It collects taxes and spends money on administration, defence and development program.
(c) It formulates and implements several welfare schemes for the citizens.
Importance of institutions in democracy:
- Some persons have to take decision how to go about government activities.
- Others have to implement the government decisions.
- There must be institution to solve disputes arising out of the decisions.
- In all modern democracies, many arrangements are made to attend to all these activities, and these arrangements are referred to as institutions.
- Any country’s constitution establishes basic rules for each institution’s powers and functions.
- The Prime Minister and the Cabinet are the decision-making bodies for all major policy decisions.
- The Civil Servants, working together, are in charge of putting the ministers’ decisions into action.
- The Supreme Court resolves conflicts between people and the government.
Working with institutions – Advantages & Disadvantages
Working with institutions can sometimes get difficult because they are governed by laws and regulations.
(i) Institutions involves meetings, committees and routines, this often leads to delays and complications.
(ii) Dealing with institutions can be frustrating.
(iii) One might feel it would have been better to have one person taking all the decisions without rules, procedures and meeting.
(i) Some delays and complications introduced are very useful.
(ii) Delays provide an opportunity for a wider set of people to be consulted in any decision.
(iii) Institutions make it difficult to have a good decision taken very quickly.
(iv) Institutions make it difficult to rush through bad decisions.
Parliament of India
Why do we need Parliament?
The Parliament is a democratically elected body that serves as the people’s supreme legislative authority. This is recognised as the State Legislature or State Legislative Assembly at the state level. In many areas, the Parliament exercises political power on behalf of the people. We can understand the importance of Parliament by knowing its role and functions.
Functions of the Indian Parliament
The powers and functions of the Indian Parliament may be discussed under the following categories:
(i) Legislative Powers:
Parliament is the final authority for making laws in any country. Parliament can make new laws, change or abolish existing laws.
(ii) Control over the Executive:
Parliaments all over the world exercise some control over those who run the government. They can take decisions only as long as they enjoy the support of the Parliament.
(iii) Financial Powers:
Parliaments control all the money that governments have. Any public money can be spent by the government only when the Parliament sanctions it.
(iv) Highest Forum of discussion and debate:
Parliament is the highest forum for discussion and debate on public issues and national security in any country. Parliament can seek information on any matter
Two Houses of Parliament
Parliament comprises two Houses ‘Lok Sabha’ and ‘Rajya Sabha’ and the office of President. Parliamentary procedures are ways in which the Parliament and state legislatures function. President summons each house of the Parliament for sessions, or meetings, at least twice in a year. Even though the President is not a member of either house, he or she is still a member of Parliament. All laws passed by the Houses become effective only after the President signs them.
The Rajya Sabha (Council of States):
It is the ‘Upper House’ of the Parliament of India. It consists of 250 members of which 12 are nominated by the President of India. The remainder of the Rajya Sabha is elected by state and territorial legislatures. The term of office is 6 years, and 1/3rd of members retire every two years. The Vice President is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha
The Lok Sabha (House of the People):
It is the ‘Lower House’ which is directly elected by the people of India. The Lok Sabha can have a maximum of 552 members, including 20 members from the Union Territories and 2 from the Anglo-Indian Community. The Speaker presides over the sessions.
Lok Sabha is more powerful
Rajya Sabha is the Upper House but Lok Sabha is a legislative body directly elected by the people and therefore exercises real influence on behalf of the people through directly elected MPs. Being a directly represented body of people. Lok Sabha has more powers than the Rajya Sabha. Lok Sabha is more powerful is shown through the below three examples.
(i) Financial Matters: The Lok Sabha has more powers in money matters. Money Bills can only originate in the Lok Sabha. Rajya Sabha can consider the bill for only a period of 14 days from the date of received of the bill. However, if Rajya Sabha proposes amendments, the bill goes back to the Lok Sabha where it is considered and voted by simple majority and sent to President for his assent. But if the Rajya Sabha does not return the bill within a period of 14 days’ time, it is deemed to be passed by both houses of Parliament.
(ii) Numerical strength: The Lok Sabha is in a favourable position because of its numerical strength. In case of an ordinary bill, a bill can be initiated in either of the two houses. But if both houses differ and a deadlock takes place, the President calls for a Joint session of the two houses. This session is presided over by the Speaker and decided by simple majority. .
(iii) Vote of No-Confidence: In respect to control over Executive, the Rajya Sabha is powerless. Though the Rajya Sabha members can ask questions to the Executive, move adjournment motion but a vote of no-confidence against the government can only be passed in the Lok Sabha.
Political and Permanent Executives
The executive branch of a democratic government is divided into two types. Political Executives and the Permanent Executives. The political executives have more power than the non-political executives because, in a democracy, the will of the people is supreme.
The Political Executives
- The political executive comprises those political leaders who are chosen by the people for a particular period.
- Political Executives make major decisions.
- Since ministers are elected representatives, the people have given them the authority to carry out the people’s will on their behalf.
- In all technical matters, the minister seeks the advice of experts, who may have differing viewpoints. The minister determines the ultimate goal.
- They are appointed on a long-term basis.
- Persons working as civil services are called as civil servants.
- They remain in office even when the ruling party changes.
- These officers work under political executive and assist them in carrying out the day today administration.
- The leader of the majority party or the coalition of parties that commands a majority in the Lok Sabha, is appointed as the Prime Minister by the President.
- In the event that no single party or alliance obtains a majority, the President appoints the person most likely to obtain majority support.
Council of Ministers
- The Council of Minister is a larger body consisting of 50-60 members while cabinet is a smaller body consisting of 15-20 members.
- (Before the 91st Amendment Act (2003), the size of the Council of Ministers was determined according to the need of the time and situation. This led to large size of Council of Ministers. This amendment stated that the size of the Council of Ministers shall not exceed 15% of total number of members of the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha.
- The Prime Minister is in charge of the Council of Ministers and misters are normally from the party or the coalition with a majority in the Lok Sabha.
- A person who is not a Member of Parliament can sometimes become a minister. However, within six months after being appointed a minister, such a person must be elected to one of the Houses of Parliament.
Category of Ministers
Cabinet Ministers: The Cabinet is the real policy-making body. The decisions of the Cabinet are taken as decisions of the entire council. The Council of Ministers does not regularly meet as a body to transact government business, while the cabinet meets periodically once in a week to decide national policies.
- The inner ring of the Council of Ministers is made up of Cabinet ministers.
- These ministers are the top-ranking members of the ruling parties who are in control of key ministries.
- The Cabinet as a team is assisted by the Cabinet Secretariat which includes many senior civil servants.
Ministers of State with independent charge
- They are in charge of smaller ministries that do not have cabinet ministers.
- They can only attend Cabinet meetings if they have been invited.
Ministers of State: They are attached to the Cabinet Ministers of their ministries and are expected to assist them.
- Since the Cabinet operates as a team, even though ministers have differing opinions and viewpoints, they must take responsibility for every Cabinet decision.
- No minister can publicly criticise the government’s actions, even though they are of another Ministry or Department.
Powers of the Prime Minister
Prime Mister is the real exerciser of powers of governance. In short, we can say that he heads the government, chairs the cabinet meetings and coordinates the various working mysteries and departments.
- The Prime Minister is the head of the government.
- When the Prime Minister resigns, the whole Cabinet resigns.
- Cabinet meetings are presided over by the Prime Minister.
- He coordinates the work of various departments
- He is in charge of overseeing various ministries
- He assigns and reassigns work to ministers
- He has the authority to dismiss ministers
- He makes the final decision in any dispute between Departments
- A coalition government’s Prime Minister, however, cannot make whatever decisions he or she wants.
- The coalition leader must accommodate various parties and factions within his or her own party as well as the coalition government.
The President is the country’s head and the head of the states. He appoints the prime Minister and summons the Parliament sessions. A Bill becomes a law only after his or her signature.
Election of President
- The citizens do not elect the President of India directly.
- He is elected by an electoral college consisting of the elected members of Parliament and the elected members of State Legislative Assemblies (MLAs).
- President must receive a majority of votes from Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of the Legislative Assemblies (MLAs).
Powers and Functions of the President
- All government business is conducted under the President’s name.
- The President of India is the supreme commander of the country’s armed forces.
- In the name of the President, the government issues all laws and major policy decisions.
- All major appointments are made in the President’s name, including the Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court and state High Court judges, state governors, election commissioners, and ambassadors to other countries.
- Both international treaties and agreements are signed in the President’s name.
- Each of these powers is exercised by the President only on the advice of the Council of Ministers.
- No bill can become a law without the signature of the President.
- He nominates 2 Anglo-Indian members to the Lok Sabha and 12 members to the Rajya Sabha.
Discretionary Powers of President
- This power is exercised when no single political party or alliance wins a majority in elections.
- The President appoints a leader who, in her/his judgement, can garner a majority in the Lok Sabha.
- In such a circumstance, the President may request that the newly appointed Prime Minister demonstrate majority support in the Lok Sabha within a certain timeframe.
Limitations on the President’s Powers
- All the powers of the President are exercised only on the advice of the Council of Ministers.
- The President, however, can request that the Council of Ministers reconsider its recommendation. But if the same advice is given again, she/he is obligated to follow it.
- A bill passed by Parliament is sent to the President for signature. The President can postpone this for a while and send the law back to Parliament for reconsideration if she/he so desires. She/he must, however, sign the bill if Parliament passes it again.
The Presidential System in Other Parts
- In certain nations, such as the US, the President serves as both the head of state and the head of government.
- The US President is directly elected by the people, allowing him/her to choose and appoint all Ministers, though the legislature makes the laws.
- The President does not need the approval of a majority of members of the legislature (known in the US as Congress) and is not accountable to them.
- He or she is elected for a four-year term and must complete it even if his or her party does not have a majority in Congress.
- Most Latin American countries and many ex-Soviet Union countries have this type of government, which is known as the Presidential form of government.
- The parliamentary form of government is found in countries that follow the British model of government with the parliament at its core, such as India’s.
All the courts at different levels in a country put together are called judiciary. India has integrated judicial system. Indian judiciary consists of Supreme Court, High Court, District Courts and courts at the local level. The Indian judiciary is independent. Independence of judiciary means that the Courts should be free from Legislative and Executive controls. The Judge should be fair, honest, and impartial and fearlessly give judgement.
- The Supreme Court controls the judicial administration in the country
- Anyone can go to the court if public interest and fundamental rights are affected by the actions of the government. This is called a Public Interest Litigation.
- The courts can ensure that the government and its officials are not misusing the powers.
- The Supreme Court is in charge of the country’s legal system. Its rulings are binding on all other courts in the country.
It resolves conflicts between:
- People of the country
- Two or more state governments
- Citizens and the government
- Union and State governments
Appointment and removal of judges
- The judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister and in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
- In practice, the senior judges of the Supreme Court select the names of the new judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
- The senior-most judge of the Supreme Court is usually appointed the Chief Justice.
- It is practically impossible to remove a Supreme Court or High Court judge once appointed.
- Only an impeachment resolution passed independently by two-thirds of members of the two Houses of Parliament can remove a judge. It has never happened in the history of Indian democracy.
Independence of the judiciary
- The legislature and the executive do not have power over the judiciary.
- The judges do not act on orders from the government or in accordance with the wishes of the ruling party.
- The Indian Constitution guarantees judges’ job security. Their service cannot be terminated by any authority after the President has appointed them.
- The salary and allowances of judges are guaranteed. Their wages cannot be cut.
- The Supreme Court and the High Courts have complete autonomy over their practice and established procedures.
- Judges are not permitted to practise law after retirement to prevent them from influencing court decisions
Powers of the judiciary
- The country’s Constitution can be interpreted by the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
- They have the authority to declare invalid any legislative act or governmental action, whether at the Union or state level, if they believe it violates the constitution.
- The judiciary serves as the protector of human rights.
- The Supreme Court has complete power over the country’s judicial system and is the highest court of appeal.
- If a government’s decision harms public interest, anybody can file a lawsuit to oppose it. It is referred to as Public Interest Litigation.