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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Polity notes-1

Ashoka Chakra - The Tale Of Twenty Four Spokes

The Ashoka Chakra means the 'wheel of the law'. It is derived from the Sanskrit word Dharma Chakra, which means wheel. It has 24 spokes.

The most prominent Indian Mauryan emperor, called Ashoka the Great, built the Ashoka Chakra during the 3rd century BC. The Ashoka Chakra is inscribed widely among the Lion Capital of Sarnath and the Ashoka Pillar. The Ashoka Chakra is placed in the center of the National Flag of the Republic of India. It was adopted on 22 July, 1947. It is rendered in a navy blue colour on a white background. In order to add historical 'depth' and separate the National Flag from that of the Indian National Congress (INC) Gandhian spinning wheel is replaced with the Spokes of Ashoka Chakra in the center of the Flag.


Ashoka Chakra can also be seen on the base of Lion Capital of Ashoka which has been adopted as the National Emblem of India. The Chakra signifies that there is a life in 'Movement' and 'Death' in stagnation. The process of the wheel stands for cycle or the self repeating process with the changing of time in our life. The Horse on the Right hand symbolizing accuracy and speed. The Bull on the Left hand stands for hard work.

Wonderful Qualities of Twenty Four Spokes:
1. Love
2.Courage
3.Patience
4.Peacefulness
5.Magnanimity
6.Goodness
7.Faithfulness
8.Gentleness
9.Selflessness
10.Self-control
11.Self sacrifice
12.Truthfulness
13.Righteousness
14.Justice
15.Mercy
16.Gracefulness
17.Humility
18.Empathy
19.Sympathy
20.Spiritual knowledge
21.Moral Values
22.Spiritual Wisdom
23.The fear of God
24.Faith or Believe or Hope

Ashoka Chakra represent the 24 Hours of the nation. Thus it governs all.
 
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Basic Structure of the constitution & Important Court Cases related to it

Basic Structure of the Indian Constitution

With the backdrop of a long and painful colonial dominance, Indian Constitution laid major emphasis on granting "absolute" freedom to the nation's peoples. In this regard,
Fundamental rights were held by our constitution makers as the cornerstone on which our Constitution was to be based.

Article 13(2) ruled that any law of the legislature or action of the executive that violated these rights were to be declared ultra vires (invalid). At the same time, the idea was to create a flexible and non-rigid constitutional framework and hence the constitution also granted the Parliament to amend the constitution via the procedures mentioned in Article 368. This article has been a bone of contention between the judiciary and the legislature ever since.

Post-Independence scenario
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Immediately after independence, the government set forth with its socialist agenda of equanimity of wealth. At that point of time, zamindars and other British loyalists owned huge amounts of land. The government sought to redistribute this land to the common masses is sync with the construction of socialist democracy as envisaged by The directive principles of state Policy. These land reforms were met with several petitions from the zamindars alleging that these were against the Article 21 which granted them the fundamental right to own property. To get around this, the government placed these reforms under the Ninth schedule granting it judicial immunity . In the Sajjan Singh case (1955) the Supreme Court upheld the power of the Parliament to make laws in such cases.

However, the Supreme Court did a U turn on its prior decision in the 1967 Golaknath Case where a 11 member bench decided with a 6:5 majority that the Article 368 itself only mentioned the procedures relating to amendment of constitution but did not confer on the Parliament the right to actually amend it!! It further ruled that Parliament laws under art. 368 were of the status of ordinary laws (Art. 245 etc) and hence could fall under the ambit of Article 13(2) and hence be declared null and void.

The government suffered heavy losses in the elections after this declaration and attention was diverted from this issue. However, this was revisited during the Nationalisation of Banks and Abolition of privy purses policy of the government. Through this policy the government sought to abolish the privy purses given to all kings in lieu of joining the Indian Union at the time of independence.

So once again, the directive principles of state policy and fundamental rights were at loggerheads with each other. In the monumental Kesavananda Case (1973) that followed, the Supreme Court once again changed its previous stand via a 7:6 majority which ruled that the Parliament had the right to amend any part of the constitution including the Fundamental rights provided that it did not violate the basic structure of the constitution and thus was born the theory of basic structure. What the basic structure constituted differed in the view of the judges themselves. Six judges believed that FR belonged to the basic structure while the other seven did not believe the same. Hence, though this case reaffirmed the power in the parliament to amend the Constitution, it enhanced the scope of judicial review.

In the Minnerva Mills case (1980) the theory of basic structure came to the fore once again and the Supreme court held that Article 31(C) which gave Directive Principles an upper hand over the fundamental rights was subject to judicial review to as it violated the basic structure of the constitution.
 
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Cabinet secratariat of India?

A brief writeup on the Cabinet secratariat in India is provided below as available in the official website of the cabinet secratariat.

ORIGIN


Before the adoption of the portfolio system in the Government of India, all governmental business was disposed of by the Governor-General-in Council, the Council functioning as a joint consultative board. As the amount and complexity of business of the Government increased, the work of the various departments was distributed amongst the members of the Council only the more important cases being dealt with by the Governor-General or the Council collectively.

This procedure was legalised by the Councils Act of 1861 during the time of Lord Canning, leading to the introduction of the portfolio system and the inception of the Executive Council of the Governor-General. The Secretariat of the Executive Council was headed by the Private Secretary to the Viceroy, but he did not attend the Council meetings. Lord Willingdon first started the practice of having his Private Secretary by his side at these meetings. Later, this practice continued and in November, 1935, the Viceroy's Private Secretary was given the additional designation of Secretary to the Executive Council.

The constitution of the Interim Government in September 1946 brought a change in the name, though little in functions, of this Office. The Executive Council's Secretariat was then designated as Cabinet Secretariat. It seems, however, at least in retrospect, that Independence brought a sort of change in the functions of the Cabinet Secretariat. It no longer remained concerned with only the passive work of circulating papers to Ministers and Ministries but developed into an organisation for effecting coordination between the Ministries.

FUNCTIONS



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:-
  1. Secretarial assistance to Cabinet and Cabinet Committees.
  2. 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.
  3. 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/adhoc Committees of Secretaries. Through this mechanism new policy initiatives are also promoted.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

SUPPORT TO CABINET COMMITTEES


The secretarial assistance provided by Cabinet Secretariat to the Cabinet and Cabinet committees, includes
  1. Convening of the meetings of the Cabinet on the orders of the Prime Minister.
  2. Preparation and circulation of the agenda.
  3. Circulating papers related to the cases on the agenda.
  4. Preparing a record of discussions taken.
  5. Circulation of the record after obtaining the approval of the Prime Minister.
  6. Watching implementation of the decisions taken by the Cabinet.
  7. The Cabinet Secretariat is the custodian of the papers of the Cabinet meetings.
  8. PROMOTION OF INTER-MINISTERIAL COORDINATION. Among the inter-Ministerial matters, the coordination is required for:
    1. removing difficulties;
    2. removing differences;
    3. overcoming delays;
    4. coordination in administrative action
    5. coordination of policies.
  9. While each Ministry is responsible for acting on its own for expeditious implementation of Government policies, plans and programmes, where inter-Ministerial cooperation is involved, they often seek the assistance of the Cabinet Secretariat.
  10. The inter-Ministerial problems are dealt with in the meetings of the Committees of Secretaries (COS). Committees are constituted for discussing specific matters and proposals emanating from various Secretaries to the Government and meetings are held under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary. These committees have been able to break bottlenecks or secure mutually supporting inter-Ministerial action.
  11. The discussions of the COS takes place on the basis of a paper formulated by the principal Department concerned and the Department with a different point of view, if any, providing a supplementary note. The decisions or recommendations of the COS are unanimous. These proceedings are also circulated to and are followed up by the departments. There are other important functions which it discharges, viz.,
    1. Monitoring
    2. Coordination
    3. Promoting new policy initiatives
The Cabinet Secretariat is seen as a useful mechanism by the departments for promoting inter-Ministerial coordination since the Cabinet Secretary is also the head of the civil services.

The Secretaries felt it necessary to keep the Cabinet Secretary informed of developments from time to time. The Transaction of Business Rules also require them to keep the Cabinet Secretary informed of developments from time to time, specially if there are any departures from these rules.

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