1. What are the functions and responsibilities of UPSC? Does it play any role in checking corruption? Examine.
The Union Public Service Commission is the central recruitment agency in India. It is an independent constitutional body being directly created by the Constitution of India under Article 315 under part XIV of the COI. The UPSC consists of a Chairman and other members appointed by the President of India. The President is empowered by the Constitution to determine the condition of service of the Chairman and other members of the commission.
FUNCTIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF UPSC:
Conducts exams and merit based appointments for the All-India Services Central Services and Public Services of the centrally and Ministered Territories as per Article 320.
Assists the States in framing and operating schemes of joint recruitment for any services requiring special qualifications and also autonomous bodies like DMC, EPFO, and ESIC etc.
Serves the interests of the State on the request of the State Governor and with the approval of the President of India.
Consulted on matters, some of which may be identified as:
Claim for reimbursement of legal express incurred by a civil servant in defending proceeding instituted against him.
Matters of temporary appointments for period exceeding one year and on regularization of appointments.
Matters related to personnel management etc.
Promotions, transfers of the AIS and suitability of the candidates for such.
ROLE IN CHECKING CORRUPTION:
Though control or checking of corruption is not an explicit mandate of UPSC its track record in recruitment by ensuring transparency and time bound process has ensured that it remains “The watchdog of meritocracy “in India and a role model for other recruitment agencies which are embroiled in various issues of not following norms or allegations of corruption.
It is also required to be consulted by the Government in matters relating to the appointment, transfer, promotion and disciplinary matters. The commission reports directly to the President and can advice the Government through him. Although, such advice is not binding on the Government. UPSC is amongst the few institutions which function with both autonomy and freedom.
As per 323, it shall be the duty of the Union Commission to annually present a report to the President of the work done by the Commission. On receipt of such report, the President shall present a copy before each House of Parliament; together with a memorandum, if any, explaining the reasons where the advice of the Commission was not accepted by him.
Under Art.320 (3) it handles various disciplinary cases referred to it by ministries and DoPT.(Department of personnel)
Though many feel the role of UPSC has been usurped by creation of CVC (Central Vigilance commission) UPSC by virtue of its autonomy and on basis of Article 321 it can exercise additional functions if delegated so by the president. Though questions are raised time and again over its functioning It must ensure transparency, adopt RTI , respect the mandate of Supreme court and remain a beacon of accountability.
2. Assess the role of CVC in checking corruption. Do you think the office of CVC requires more powers and personnel to tackle the cases of corruption in the government set up? Discuss.
The CVC was set up by the Government in February, 1964 on the recommendations of K. Santhanam committee, to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the field of vigilance and was given statutory powers in 2003.
Role of CVC in checking corruption:
CBI: exercises superintendence over function of CBI in corruption cases.
Investigation: Of complaints received over corruption on central government employees.
Sanctions: Review of progress and sanctioning of prosecution under prevention of corruption act, 1988.
Advice: tender advice on matters referred to it.
Civil court: has power of civil court while conducting enquiry.
Consultation: advices government on rules and regulations regarding vigilance matters.
Reforms needed in CVC:
Independent identity: Relieve its powers of superintendence on CBI and give separate officials.
Powers: Independent powers to prosecute than being just recommendation body.
Binding: Powers to pronounce verdict, binding and non-interference from judiciary.
Constitutional status: On par with election commission with security of tenure.
All levels: Power to enquiry into officials up to Cabinet secretary level than just joint secretary.
With constitutional status it will get independence, non-interference from executive. It should also be given fixed function and no overlap with other institutions like ED, CBI etc. Recently RBI has given power to cover under its ambit private bank also.
The Commission shall consist of:
A Central Vigilance Commissioner – Chairperson;
Not more than two Vigilance Commissioners – Members;
·Has its own secretariat, consisting of a Secretary of the rank of Additional Secretary to the GOI, four officer of the rank of Joint Secretary to the GOI, thirty officers of the rank of Director/Deputy Secretary (including two OSDs), four Under Secretaries and office staff
3. The Inter State Council remains a highly underutilized forum. Do you agree? What role was envisaged for the Inter State Council? What role can it play in the current federal polity? Critically evaluate.
The Inter-State Council was created on the recommendation of Sarkaria commission on Centre-State relations in 1990 under Article 263 of our constitution.
Role envisaged for the council:
The forum was envisaged to promote coordination and cooperation between the states and the centre leading to evolution of new policies and smooth functioning and strengthening of federal structure.
The council meeting has taken only 11 times since its creation in 1990.
Restricting matters to discussion and no follow up being taken. No tangible outcome has emerged out of the meetings held till now.
Less interest from centre and state in utilizing this forum. Absenteeism is an issue.
What role can ISC play in current federal polity:
Strengthening federal polity, Platform for solving contentious matters.
It can be a forum to discuss and adopt role model of best practices in each states leading to balanced regional development.
ISC provides a platform for discussion for the legislation related to subjects like health, education etc. mentioned in concurrent list so that State doesn’t feel left out in the process.
Adventurism of governors of which we have many examples is an issue which can be discussed at this platform.
It can create a pressure on centre as well as build consensus among the states so as to ensure implementation of Sarkaria and Punchhi commissions reports.
The ISC can thus provide a platform for periodic consultation and assessment. The challenge of maintaining a federation could be met through healthy debate and discussion on this platform. However, to increase its effectiveness the recommendations of Punchhi commission regarding ISC- involving experts from various domains in the meetings, three meeting a year etc.- must be implemented at the earliest.
4. What are quasi judicial bodies? What are their special functions? Do they enjoy adequate powers to perform their mandate effectively? Discuss by taking at least two examples.
Quasi-judicial bodies are such institutions which have power of enforcement of law but are not courts. These bodies can inquire, investigate, summon & award legal penalties to any administrative agency. Generally these bodies have limited judiciary power in specialized areas such as
NHRC/SHRC in human rights violation
CVC in corruption cases
CIC/SIC related to RTI act
NGT in environment cases
Income tax tribunals
They lessen the burden of already encumbered Judiciary system.
Since these bodies deal with specific jurisdiction, experts in the particular field work for dispute resolution. Thus expertise is a major advantage.
Quasi judicial bodies are more accessible to the common men and are also cheaper and faster than court process.
Such bodies usually have powers of adjudication in such matters as:
Their powers are usually limited to a very specific area of expertise and authority, such as land use and zoning, financial markets, employment law, public standards, and/or a specific set of regulations of an agency.
Write two examples from the following,
1.National Human Rights Commission
2.State Human Rights Commission (established at each state)
3.Central Information Commission
4.State Information Commission (established at each state)
5.National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
6.StateConsumer Disputes Redressal Commission (established at each state)
7.Competition Commission of India
8.Appellate Tribunal for Electricity
9.Railway Claims Tribunal
10.Income Tax Appellate Tribunal
11.Intellectual Property Appellate Tribunal
12.Central Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal
14.Income tax Ombudsman
A person can again appeal in the court against the decision of the Quasi Judicial body. This fades away the advantage of cost and time provided by the Quasi Judicial body.
Most of these bodies are recommendatory in nature, like NHRC and CIC. They can’t even award compensation or relief to the victims directly, but can only recommend it.
Many Quasi Judicial bodies are suffering with lack of strength. Proper and quick investigation is not being done.
These are not as independent as the Judiciary. Frequent interference from the executive is evident.
5. Keeping in mind the increasing instances of violence and atrocities against Dalits, do you think giving more powers and teeth to the National Commission for Schedule Castes will address the issue? Examine.
About National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC):
NCSC is a Constitutional Body whose functions, duties and power of the Commission have been laid down in the Article 338 of the Constitution.
To investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes under this Constitution or under any other law for the time being in force.
To inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Castes;
To participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State;
to present to the President, annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards.
It is the duty of The Union and every State Government to consult the Commission on all major policy matters affecting Scheduled Castes
The NCSC has classified the constitutional safeguards it seeks to monitor and evaluate in five broad categories: (a) social safeguards (e.g., untouchability and child labour); (b) economic safeguards; (c) educational and cultural safeguards (such as reservations in technical and professional courses); (d) political safeguards (reserved seats in legislatures); and (e) service safeguards (relating chiefly to reservations in recruitment to public employment). The remedial action that the Commission suggests is purely recommendatory in character. It also plays an advisory role vis-à-vis the union and state governments who are obliged to consult it on all major policy matters affecting the Scheduled Castes.
Evaluation of the functioning:
The Commission’s competence in settling service-related grievances may be contrasted with its inability to reduce the incidence of atrocities and violence against dalits, or to effectively fight the persistent scourge of untouchability. The Commission has been active in suggesting ways of streamlining procedures or ensuring fairness in the implementation of reservations and development schemes. It is, however, less active in making a stronger case for fundamental change, or even a frank and sharp analysis of the social realities of discrimination.
By choosing to interpret its constitutional mandate narrowly, the Commission has laid itself open to the charge of elite bias. i.e., the complaints that are revieved are by those who are educated and can articulate. Vast majority of the Scheduled castes have no education and as such no avenue to approach the commission.
A particular Commission seems to be only as good as its members, and especially its Chairperson, are. The lack of institutionalisation in the procedures of appointment to the Commission has meant that competent and committed members are less likely to be appointed.
The most significant handicap of the Commission is the fact that its decisions are not binding, but recommendatory. Though this is not explicitly stated in the Constitution (as amended), Article 338, with all its sub-clauses, is deeply ambiguous on this issue. It gives the Commission quasi-judicial powers of investigation, but does not mention the form in which the Commission’s judgement of a particular issue would be delivered and implemented. It makes it incumbent upon the Central and state governments to consult the Commission, but does not state that its advice would be binding.
The Commission is supposed to prepare an Annual Report for presentation to Parliament. Reports are often tabled two or more years after they have been submitted to the President. Such delays are usually on account of the requirement that the Action Taken Report be submitted along with the main report. This means that the President circulates the Report to all the Ministries and Departments which are mentioned in it, and it is only when they have all explained their actions, or justified their inaction, that the Report can be presented in Parliament. The Constitution does not fix any period within which the Report must be discussed in Parliament.
What powers should be given to the commission:
The commission should be given powers to act as criminal court that can conduct a trial and announce punishment, current system is highly ineffective, time consuming and costly
The commission’s report should be tabled in the parliament within 6 months from the date of submission along with the Action taken report from the concerned ministries, this will make the implementations faster and effective
The constitution of the members should be changed to include more pro-active members with impeccable integrity. This will not only improve the moral stature of the commission but will also make it look more impartial.
The Suo-moto powers must be used more often where the people are either unable to reach NCSC or are being prevented form approaching. This will give more credibility to the commission and help in getting justice to the oppressed people.