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Constitutional authorities in India

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Appointment to various Constitutional Posts, Powers, Functions and Responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

 

Source: TH

 Context: Two recent comments of the SC will have a direct bearing on the concept of the independence of various constitutional authorities in India.

SC on the working of 2 key constitutional authorities:

  • Role of Governors in State politics: In a hearing of the ‘Sena versus Sena’ case, the Court expressed that Governors becoming part of political processes is disconcerting.
  • Independence of the Election Commission of India: The Court divested the executive of its sole discretion in appointing the CEC and ECs by forming a committee to suggest suitable names to man these constitutional posts.

 

Need for independent institutions:

  • Democracy requires a system of checks and balances to prevent the arbitrary use of power by the elected government.
  • India’s democracy provides for various constitutional authorities such as the Public Service Commission, the CAG, the ECI, the Finance Commission, etc.
  • Such bodies need complete independence –
    • To regulate sectors of national importance without any executive interference.
    • To enable them to function without fear or favour and in the larger interests of the nation.

 

How does the Indian constitution ensure their independence?

  • Empowering the President of India to appoint all constitutional authorities
  • Provides for the appointment/condition of service of individuals heading these institutions

 

Loose ends left by the Constitution:

  • Used simple words such as
    • shall be appointed by the President’ in the appointment of the PM (Article 75), the Attorney-General for India (Article 76), etc.
    • Article 324 provides that the President will appoint the CEC and ECs ‘subject to any law made on that behalf by Parliament’.
  • The President acts on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, with the PM as the head in all matters.

 

Some best practices in the Indian constitution: The Constitution affixes the phrase “by warrant under his hand and seal” only to refer to appointment to positions (SC, HCs Judges; the CAG and the Governors) – distinguishing them from other constitutional positions.

 

Further reforms needed:

  • Set up well-defined criteria and procedures for the appointment of the CAG and the Governor.
  • For example, the process of selecting CAG should begin by appointing a committee → shortlisting names → a panel of three names should be forwarded to the President to make the final selection.

 

Insta Links:

Appointment to various Constitutional Posts, Powers, Functions and Responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

 

Mains Links:

 “Recent amendments to the Right to Information Act will have a profound impact on the autonomy and independence of the Information Commission”. Discuss (UPSC 2020)