1.Is the RPA equipped enough to prohibit criminalisation of politics in India? Critically examine.
The question asks you to ‘critically examine’ the provisions given in RPA to prohibit the criminalization of Indian politics.
The main reason why criminals enter politics is because it is in the interest of the political parties. These criminals have all sort of power, money, resources which are well enough to help the party win over other parties. Vohra Committee Report on Criminalization of Politics which was constituted to identify the extent of the politician-criminal nexus stated that the connection between criminals, politicians and police and bureaucracy is now almost clear in all parts of the country and also said that these political leaders get elected to local bodies by becoming the leaders of gangs/senas. Ironical as it is, a large number of people with criminal background not only contest elections, but also subsequently manage to become the members of the legislature.
The problem which arise out of criminalization is that once a criminal becomes a politician, the police, whose job it is to keep him under check and investigate his crimes, become his protectors. There have been several instances of persons charged with serious and heinous crimes like murder, rape, dacoity, etc. contesting election, pending their trial, and even getting elected in a large number of cases. This leads to a very undesirable and embarrassing situation of law breakers becoming law makers and moving around under police protection. There are many criminal gangs in India which are based on caste-divisions. These groups take advantage of social cleavages and position themselves as leaders or saviors of their caste or community, thus making the whole community loyal towards them and even scared of them. That is why many criminals enjoy fierce local support. With such caste support, strength and money accumulated through crime, they have natural advantages in a local election. In our political system, what matters most is to garner more votes than any of the rival parties. Therefore, the more local support you gather makes often the difference between victory and defeat. That is why politicians choose ‘popular’ criminals masquerading as caste or faction leaders as candidates. That is why sometimes ‘mafia dons’ in jail win elections with ease.
The Representation of the People Act, 1951 was enacted by the Parliament of India “to provide for the conduct of elections of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses, the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with such elections.”
The most heated and controversial section of the Act 1951 is the section 8 which lays down the grounds for disqualification of political criminals on the grounds of conviction. This section is divided into 4 sub-sections wherein the first three sections states that if a person is convicted for more than 2 years for the crimes mentioned in these sections would stand disqualified for the period of six years from the date of conviction to contest elections. Courts also have interpreted and laid down the importance of this section in the case of K. Prabhakaran v.P. Jayarajan. It was stated in the case that the reason why this section has been added into the representation of peoples act is to prevent criminalization and keep persons with criminal background away from law and ensure that those who are always involved in breaking laws must not get the chance to make laws. The court in this judgment also clarified the Section 8(3), that the person getting convicted for period of less than two years several times will also stand disqualified if that time adds up to 2 years.
With the inclusion of this act’s section 8(4) the MPs and MLAs have got a protective shield to continue in their posts, provided they had appealed or filed an application for revision against their conviction in higher courts within three months from the date of conviction. Sub-section 4 of Section 8 of the Act, 1951 is an exception carved out from sub-sections (1), (2) and (3). The provision of this section states that notwithstanding anything in the sub-section (1), (2) and (3) the disqualification would not be taken into consideration in case of a person who on the date of conviction was the member of the Parliament.
Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, on January 11, 2005, in the K. Prabhakaran vs. P. Jayarajan case had stated that these two groups of people (those who are convicted before the poll and those convicted while being MPs and MLAs) are totally different and well defined groups and this division cannot be held as unreasonable. In the K.Prabhakaran case it was held that the main purpose behind creating the section 8(4) is not to provide any immunity to the candidates but to protect the house. If the member of the house is convicted and given imprisonment then he will have to forfeit his membership of the house which will decrease the strength of the party to which it belong and also will make the party unstable.
In Lily Thomas case, the section 8(4) was considered ultra vires.
(Note: The synopsis is written for you understanding of topic. This is not a model answer.)
Best Answer: Ubermensch
Criminalisation of politics refers to a situation when people with criminal backgrounds become elected representatives and politicians. It has acquired deep roots in India leading to poor governance.
Various sections of RPA to keep a check on criminals in politics are :
Disqualification for certain offences is provided for in Section 8.
Section 33A under which each candidate has to file an affidavit furnishing details about cases in which he has been accused of an offence punishable with 2 or more years.
Section 125A provides for punishment of imprisonment for a term upto six months or with fine for declaring wrong information.
Section 123 deals with corrupt practices.
Section 29C mandates parties to furnish reports about their financing to keep a check on illegitimate funding by criminals.
However, above provisions are not well equipped to prevent criminsalisation due to various legal lacunae.
As per Section 8, a person is disqualified from contesting election only on conviction by the Court of Law.
-> Due to huge pendency of cases in courts, persons charged with serious and heinous crimes contest election, pending their trial, and even getting elected in a large number of cases. In power, they tend to distort trials in their favor.
Section 8(3) of RPA allows convicts from disqualification if the sentence is less than 2 years.
Section 125 provides for imprisonment of just 6 months with fine as optional. It will hardly deter.
4. Due to strong nexus between criminals and parties, there transpires a quid pro quo corruption. Criminals finance parties with illegitimate funds and expect protection in return.
Hence, despite being a well framed legislation, RPA can’t tackle criminalisation alone. It needs multiple reforms in tandem – internal democracy, financial transparency, partial state funding, empowered ECI, strong judiciary – to ensure that criminals are not allowed to enter the political arena. Suggestions of ECI, LCI, committees such as NN Vohra need to be taken seriously.
2. What is an office of profit? Why was it in news recently? Discuss.
An office of profit is a term used to refer to executive appointments. Indian constitution bars members of the legislature from accepting an office of profit under the executive. The objective of this is to secure the independence of the legislature and preserve the separation of powers.
In Indian context:
According article 102 (1) (a) and article 191 (1) (e) of the Indian constitution bars members of both houses of Parliament and state assembly/council for holding any office of profit.
According to above articles a person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament/state assembly if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament/respective assemblies by law not to disqualify its holder.
The Parliament (prevention of disqualification) act, 1959 and several assemblies acts exempt holders of various offices from the mischief of the office of profit law.
In 2006 Sonia Gandhi resigned from Lok Sabha after the issue of office of profit was raised. (She was holding chairmanship of National Advisory Council). Later the prevention of disqualification act was amended in 2006 to add the position of NAC chairperson to the list of exempted posts.
Jaya Bachchan was disqualified from the Rajya Sabha, while she was also chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Federation.
Two Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly members (Bajrang Bahadur Singh and Uma Shankar Singh) were disqualified in 2015 due to holding government contracts.
Last year Delhi Government has appointed 21 of its assembly members as parliamentary secretaries to various ministries.
Delhi state does have any specific law that can exempt parliamentary secretaries from the purview of office of profit. It is violation of constitution, hence those 21 MLA’s are facing fear of disqualification.
To rectify this error last year Delhi assembly has passed a bill to exempt parliamentary secretaries from the ambit of office of profit and disqualification retrospectively. The bill was referred to President, to which President refused to give his assent.
Now the issue is in front of Election Commission, it will give its order once its enquiry gets over.
The definition of office of profit is not clear in the India context. According to rulings of court, any executive posts other than those exempted by law are office of profit. Article 164 (1) (A) of India constitution restricts that number of ministers that government can have. According to this provision only 15 % of total strength of LokSabha or state assemblies can be made ministers in the respective governments.
In recent times, there is sharp increase in misuse of executive posts for political reasons. Many times to pacify members of Parliament or Assemblies are appointed to various executive posts. Even laws were amended to suit the political interests of the time. Hence such practice needs to be curbed. There need to maintain constitutional ethos of separation of power.
India should follow the British model, which declares executive post as office of profit or not at the time of establishment of new office only.
The objective behind the office of profit is to maintain purity of separation of power that constitution envisages. Hence political parties in India needs to stop misusing the executive posts and should uphold concept of separation of power in letter as well as spirit. Only in those cases laws should be amended when there is dire need of that.
3.The Constitution of NITI Ayog not only reflects the federal spirit of Indian polity but is also an acknowledgement of the need of decentralised planning. Comment.
This is a straight forward question which has been asked several times by us in different forms.
NITI Aayog is a shift from Centralised Planning Commission, so whenever a question is asked to highlight the usefulness, approach or need of NITI Aayog, there are several Key points that you need to mention. They are:
Cooperative Federalism: More involvement of State Governments in the formulation of plans and strategies.
Chief ministers and Lt Governors are also an integral part of NITI Aayog so they are involved in the planning process right from the inception unlike Planning Commission.
Need Based Planning: We have shifted from ‘One size fir for all’ approach to need based planning. This way plans and targets will be made according to the individual need of the states.
Bottom’s up Approach: Till now Planning Commission adopted a Top to Bottom approach where an expert committee at the very top level used to make a plan and then it was implemented on the field.
With this you need to give certain examples as to why this change was required and your answer will be complete.
Do remember that the examiners always look for certain keywords in your answer. They mathematically give marks once they find them there.
Relations between India and Bangladesh sometimes seem to be sailing through troubled waters. The failure to sign the Teesta River Agreement is apparently the most visible example of the failure of reason in the relations between the two countries.
The two countries share 54 rivers between them but the Teesta – which originates in the Himalayas in Sikkim and runs through the Indian state of West Bengal before reaching downstream Bangladesh where it irrigates about 14% of the country’s farms – is one of the most pivotal.
India has repeatedly failed to reach a solution on Teesta and if Bangladesh does not get its due share of water, there is possibility that it may not be able to battle climate change.
Reaching a solution on Teesta will earn India good will among Bangladeshis and helps to improve ties on other fronts. There are concerns about certain extremist group spreading anti-India ideologies and activities about India’s false promises on Teesta agreement. If extremist terrorist groups grow or rise into power, it is a major issue for Indian security and foreign policy. Teesta water shouldn’t come between major problems of security.
The success of the deal on the Teesta is considered to be a political necessity for both governments. The deal, as anticipated, will help New Delhi get more political leverage, which, it thinks, is necessary to check the rising influence of an extra regional power – China – in the Bay of Bengal region. For Hasina, the deal will support her chances to retain political power in the 2018 general elections in Bangladesh by projecting her as a leader who can secure her country’s interests and not a ‘pawn’ in the hands of India, as she is being often called by opposition groups. Therefore, any delay in reaching a solution on Teesta can be a major irritant in Indo- Bangladesh relations.
5. The flexible identity of Indian migrants and the increasing hostility in the west are issues of serious concern. Comment.
India being a vast country hosts for more than 13 billion people in the country and is second in terms of Population all over the world, next to China.
Unlike the Indian migrants of 1970s and 80s who tried harder to fit into their residing country’s culture and values, today’s migrants or NRI are in a sense ‘transnational’, who doesn’t conform to the norms and values of that society and is very comfortable straddling two nations and two cultures. Main reason for this shift is – modern technologies of Internet and ICT – which have made it simple for a migrant/NRI to stay in constant touch with India. He/she is as much Indian as he/she is American or European or Australian, largely because he/she never loses touch with India.
Sometimes the Indian identity takes over and at other times the identity of his adopted country is in the forefront. In England he will back Virat Kohli’s team but root for Wayne Rooney’s boys in the football World Cup and see no contradiction in his behaviour. Besides, there are many who divide their time between their adopted and home countries.
The real challenge for this new-age NRI will be to find a footing for himself in an increasingly anti-migrant landscape. He may be very comfortable in his multiple loyalties which allow him to straddle two cultures, but many locals in his adopted country may see him as an outsider with divided loyalties.
Provide examples of recent attacks on Indians abroad – Srinivas Kuchibhotla’s murder in Kansas, Indians attacked in Australia, Sikh man was shot at and injured near Seattle while washing his car.
On the one hand these attacks mirror the atmosphere of fear and suspicion in Western society, and on the other, it reflects the increasingly flexible identity of migrants which is bound to clash with growing nativism globally.
These migrants would work, pray and express their political interests in several contexts rather than in a single nation-state.
However, there is no doubt that the Indian migrant will face many tough challenges from now on. The Indian government will have to find ways to help these migrants navigate choppy times.
The authorities will have to find ways of standing up for NRIs without damaging delicate diplomatic ties. And they will succeed if they understand the transnational identity.