1. In a welfare State driven by directive principles of state policy, the role of pressure groups becomes indispensable. Elucidate
The directive principles enshrined in articles 36-51 in part IV of the constitution is an effort on the part of the constitution makers to make India a welfare state but due to the exigencies of the period and time these were made non justiciable due to lack of resources and which would come into force vide a legislation.
Pressure groups are groups which try to influence public policy in the interest of a particular cause without being part of a political party or process. In a democracy with limited resources allocation towards a particular cause become very important this is where the role of pressure groups becomes indispensable.
DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES AND PRESSURE GROUPS:
Art 38 mentions about a just socio-economic order this is where various trade unions such as CITU, AITUC affiliated to various political parties influence policies like minimum wage(art 43) , workers participation in management(43A) etc.
Organizations such as legal aid, NALSA group offer free legal aid to poor thus fulfilling objectives of article 39.
Environment protection groups like Narmada bachao andolan, green peace, blue cross etc fulfill the objective of a Art 48A.
Organisations such as IDSA, ORF help in track II diplomacy in ensuring a peaceful and cooperative international order (art 51).
Organisations such as FTO(fair trade organization) help in promotion of cottage industries(ART 43).
Organisations like SEWA, Mahila sashaktikaran andolan, etc have helped formulate various legislations like new maternity benefit, criminal law amendment, IPC 498A(domestic violence), similarly bachpan bachao andolan(BBA) have made changes in national child policy, new labour reforms , POSCO etc fulfilling objectives of ART 46
Organisations such as NCLP have formulated new bonded labour rehabilitation bill 2016 thus fulfilling objectives of protection of weaker sections.
Many organizations like akshaya patra, , navjyoti organization ensure nutrition via mid day meal scheme, fight substance abuse etc(ART 47)
Various organizations like bhartiya kisan sangh, RKSS, shetkari sangathan, AOFG help in sustainable organic farming, fight for farmers rights and also in technology dissemination to fulfill objective of scientific farming and animal husbandry (Art 48).
Many organizations liken NFIW, sadbhavana trust have stood against regressive personal laws like triple talaq, polygamy to ensure uniformity in personal laws in order to enforce a uniform civil code which bore fruit when SC ruled triple talaq as unconstitutional (art 44).
However the negative influence of pressure groups can be felt when some vigilante groups like gau rakshana samitis become anonymous empires to prevent cow slaughter as seen in recent lynching cases(art 48), try to influence policy for narrow gains help in concentration of wealth( FICCI, CII) etc.
Thus pressure groups act both as carriers of democracy or influencers o public policy but a lot depends on the influence the group commands and the political institutions determine the role and scope the pressure group can play in a representative multifarious democracy like India.
2. Business groups like FICCI, CII etc and trade unions like AITUC, INTUC etc are pressure groups operating under the same democratic set up. Yet we find a difference in their approach, strategy and successes. Why? Critically analyse.
Pressure groups may be formal or informal, recognized by law or unrecognized who are a group that tries to influence the policy of government through various tactics and strategies. They maybe environmental, business, trade related among many more.
· Professional, Media shy and democratic.
· Back door approach like lobbying.
· Soft power like convincing, positive forecasting.
· Professional but at times take law in hand and Media attention seekers.
· Front door approach like open confrontation.
· Hard power.
· Professional advices and expertise.
· Political funding, meetings, conference, CEO conclaves etc.
· Memorandum, petition types.
· Direct confrontation like strike, picketing.
· Sometimes also violence like riots, bandhs etc.
· Affiliation to political parties
· They hit the bulls’ eye like political funding so they have more success.
· Their success results in dramatic changes in Economy like Budget, employment, FDI etc.
· They follow traditional routes so chances of success are less.
· Their success results in changes to only particular group like employees of that sector etc.
Even after so many differences, they still have certain similarities:
They both have support from political parties, which makes them an influencing group.
They both decide fate of political parties coming to power so both are given attention even if they play different level plays.
Both have some aim and strive for it till it is achieved.
Representative democracy exists to fulfil the needs of the electors. They both play a huge role in growth and development of Economy and Standard of living as a whole. Their success and approaches might be different but they are very important part of our democratic setup.
3. Pressure groups and their roles in a democracy are not always unharmful. Do you agree? What are the fallouts of having notorious pressure groups in a democratic polity? Examine with the help of suitable examples.
Pressure group are the interest groups which work to secure certain interest by influencing the public policy. They are non-aligned with any political party and work as indirect yet powerful group to influence the decision.
Their role in democracy:
Pressure Groups represent various demands and interests (e.g. pro and anti-fox hunting), and are therefore a vital element of a pluralist society. They encourage and enable the people to participate in the political process.
Pressure Groups can also educate and inform the electorate, and thus enhance political education.
Pressure Groups can help to achieve change within society that strengthens democracy.
Decision-makers are made aware of how the public feel about certain issues.
Development of marginalized section- Several Tribal activist groups have spearheading the movements against the exploitation of tribal population and forced Govt. to pass pro-tribal forest policies and Forest Act. Example- The Forest Act, 2006.
Harm created by these groups:
Focus on parochial interest-Pressure groups at times gets influence by their sectional and local interest more as compared to their common interest as seen in Jalllikaatu ban case in Chennai.
Pressure groups in India tries to influence the government mainly through various unconstitutional method as strikes, agitation, demonstration, lockouts etc.
At times hinders development. Eg. In case of protests against Kudankulam nuclear power project, a large no, of protests were organized by mobilizing people on propaganda of safety issues. The NGOs took benefit of the available resources to hinder projects as per the intelligence agencies.
Pressure group involves with protest and certain radicalization of political life results into mass violence. For example, Naxalite movement starting after fourth general election of 1967 in west Bengal.
The tendency of pressure group to resort to coercion to secure the solution of a socio-political problem in streets could be regarded as a serious threat to democratic set up.
Insider Pressure Groups can hold too much influence over government ministers, which can be detrimental to those who wish to reduce the role of the state. Eg. Anti-tobacco lobby has long maintained the pressure regarding the size of warning images over cigarette packs.
Some Pressure Groups could be accused of holding the country to ransom. Many NGOs have been accused of misappropriation of funds. Corrupt or unscrupulous NGOs that receive foreign funds may serve as conduits for money laundering. CBI records filed in the Supreme Court show that only 10% of the total registered NGOs under the Societies Registration Act file annual financial statements.
Despite of all these major criticisms the existence of pressure groups is now indispensable and helpful element of democratic setup. Pressure group promotes national and particular interests and constitutes a link of communication between citizen and the government. Pressure groups are an important dimension of any democracy, yet they can imperil it if sectional groups weaken the public interest or if the methods they use are immoral or threatening. Saying that we need to be aware of the activities of the NGOs as the transparency in their operations is vital for the credibility. So, the NGOs must abide by law of land.
4. The provisions of the Representation of People Act have many loopholes that keep the arena of politics open for criminal elements. Do you agree? What safeguards do you suggest in this regard? Discuss.
Article 327 empowers the parliament to enact laws for the conduct of elections. Following which, parliament came up with RPA 1950 and 1951. 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.
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.
5. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea was in news recently? Why? What is its mandate?
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea:
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea was formed under the The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which came into force in 1994.
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is an independent judicial body established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to adjudicate disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of the Convention. The Tribunal is composed of 21 independent members, elected from among persons enjoying the highest reputation for fairness and integrity and of recognized competence in the field of the law of the sea.
Mandate and Jurisdiction:
The jurisdiction of the Tribunal comprises all disputes and all applications submitted to it in accordance with the Convention. It also includes all matters specifically provided for in any other agreement which confers jurisdiction on the Tribunal (Statute, article 21). The Tribunal has jurisdiction to deal with disputes (contentious jurisdiction) and legal questions (advisory jurisdiction) submitted to it.
The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention, subject to the provisions of article 297 and to the declarations made in accordance with article 298 of the Convention.
Article 297 and declarations made under article 298 of the Convention do not prevent parties from agreeing to submit to the Tribunal a dispute otherwise excluded from the Tribunal’s jurisdiction under these provisions (Convention, article 299).
The Tribunal also has jurisdiction over all disputes and all applications submitted to it pursuant to the provisions of any other agreement conferring jurisdiction on the Tribunal. A number of multilateral agreements conferring jurisdiction on the Tribunal have been concluded to date.
The Seabed Disputes Chamber is competent to give an advisory opinion on legal questions arising within the scope of the activities of the Assembly or Council of the International Seabed Authority (article 191 of the Convention).
The Tribunal may also give an advisory opinion on a legal question if this is provided for by “an international agreement related to the purposes of the Convention” (Rules of the Tribunal, article 138).
Why in news:
Law expert Neeru Chadha has been elected to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Seas (ITLOS). With this election, she has become the first Indian Women to become the judge of the ITLOS.
In 2016, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) had rejected the plea of Italy, that it has the sole jurisdiction to try the marines who had killed two Indian fisherman in the Arabian Sea. This had become a reason for bilateral tussle between India and Italy, who both claimed that the trail was to take place under their respective laws.
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