1. Most of India’s rivers are plagued with interstate disputes. These disputes have caused concerns about their potential impact over interstate relations in India, with greater implications to the federal integrity of the nation-state. Comment.
Most of the Indian rivers flow through more than one state and majority of those states are in dispute with one another regarding the share and usage of those rivers. The disputes have reached the Supreme Court of country but with no solution to any of those disputes.
Impact of disputes over interstate relations:
Unity and integrity: Competition is healthy but it has resulted in hatred for people of different states among common people. Ex: Karnataka and Tamil nadu.
Border tensions: Constant escalations in border regions affecting social harmony. Ex: Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Employment issues: Issues with employment of people from neighboring states especially in blue collared jobs. Ex: Kerala and Tamil Nadu, UP and Maharashtra.
Attacks: On people from disputed states and threating them to move out. Ex: Karnataka and Tamil Nadu during recent Cauvery verdict.
Trade and commerce: Trade relations have been severely affected between these states and conducting of trade and commerce has affected. Ex: Yamuna Sutlej Issue between Punjab and Haryana.
Solution for the issue:
Nationalization: Of all interstate rivers and center along with help of other organs of state deciding on sharing issue along with third party like neutral states.
External support: Taking help of international organizations like World Bank who helped solve the Indus Water sharing which till now has been successful.
Desalination of sea water: Majority disputes are with southern states that are bordered by vast coast line. Desalinate and link them with rivers. Ex: Cauvery river with Arabian waters.
The dispute of interstate rivers is present since the day of independence. Ancient times, wars were fought for control over rivers which is lifeline of human race. So, all the stakeholders and all institutes of nation should come together to find a solution for this national level problem.
2. What are the roles and responsibilities of various parliamentary committees? Do you see their importance diminishing day by day? Critically examine.
With limited time available in parliamentary sessions and lack of expertise to scrutinize the government in floor of house, various committees were formed to play a very important role in keeping the government under control.
There are two types of committees:
Ad-hoc: Only for a particular work or issues and dissolved after the job is completed.
Standing committee: Permanent committee which each member getting term of one year.
Roles and responsibilities:
Consideration of Demands for Grants.
Examination of Bills referred to by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha or the Speaker, Lok Sabha as the case may be.
Consideration of Annual Reports.
Consideration of national basic long term policy.
Reason for reducing their importance:
Due to lack of time: No fixed time and targets and more work.
Increasing level of technicalities and non-availability of expertise.
Political members: The MP’s are the members who don’t possess the required knowledge.
Formality: They work is just like post-mortem.
They are still important:
Transparency and accountability: They help in maintaining transparency and accountability of government.
Public exchequer: They keep eye on government expenses and control unwanted and unnecessary expenses.
They are marred by favoritism and typical government set up attitude. They are also filled by same politicians who don’t possess required technical knowledge. There needs to change in the membership composition and include members of think tanks and leading specialist in the field to advice and take forward the required functions of the day.
3. The executive must show self-restraint and should use ordinance making power only as per the spirit of the Constitution and not to evade legislative scrutiny and debates. Substantiate.
Article 123 states that when both Houses of Parliament are not in session, if the President is satisfied that “circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action, he may promulgate such Ordinance as the circumstances appear to him to require”.
The ordinance so made will “cease to operate at the expiration of six weeks from the reassembly of Parliament”, or if Parliament at any time before the conclusion of the period passes resolutions disapproving of the ordinance.
Issues with ordinance making power:
An ordinance can be seen as an undemocratic route to law making as the legislature is not involved.
Re-promulgation of ordinance poses a threat to the sovereignty of Parliament and the state legislatures which have been constituted as primary law giver under the Constitution.
The government the centre has been using ordinance-making power as virtually an alternative tool of legislation bypassing legislative scrutiny and debate.
However, recently Supreme Court has given a landmark judgement. In Krishna Kumar Singh v. State of Bihar, 2017 it ruled following:
The Supreme Court ruled that “re-promulgation of ordinances is a fraud on the Constitution”.
Re-promulgation defeats the constitutional scheme under which a limited power to frame ordinances has been conferred on the President and the Governors.
The apex court also ruled that the “satisfaction of the President under Article 123 and of the Governor under Article 213 is not immune from judicial review” and that the test is whether the “satisfaction” is based on some relevant material.
The ordinance making power should not be seen as a parallel source of legislation. Keeping in mind the verdict in the Krishna Kumar Singh case, the executive must show restraint while promulgating an ordinance, it should be aligned with the spirit of the constitution.
4. There is an immediate need to bring the tribunals together into a single system and formalizing the tribunal structure. Do you agree? Substantiate.
There has been much concern over the validity, character and competence of several of the tribunals in India. The Court in Chandra Kumar (1997) and NCLT (2010) suggested that the tribunals which were replacing the jurisdiction of the Courts should enjoy the same constitutional protections as them. This meant that when the jurisdiction is being transferred from a court to a tribunal, the members of this tribunal should hold a rank, status and capacity which is as close to those of the judges in a court as possible.
A Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy report (2014) has identified about 29 different tribunals set up under various Central legislations, and finds several of them to be inconsistent with the parameters laid down by the Supreme Court.
The recent Supreme Court judgment which struck down the National Tax Tribunals (NTT)and Intellectual property appellate board (IPAB) was struck down by Madras HC also clearly spelt out the parameters to test the constitutionality of tribunals.
The other key issues are as follows:
Though tribunals were originally set up to provide speedy and specialized justice, a huge number of appeals from the tribunals have managed to enter into the High Courts and Supreme Court thus clogging the justice delivery system. This raises a doubt whether the tribunals are really achieving their mandates.
Most tribunals face serious problem of adequate workforce. For example, work in many benches of Arms Force Tribunals is stopped because judicial members have not been appointed. Only 5 out of 17 branches are working.
Over the years, reforms are periodically suggested regarding tribunals, such as changes recommended to the Armed Forces Tribunal Act made by the Standing Committee on Defence in 2012. However, these recommendations rarely see the light of day.
Also, there is a lack of information available on the functioning of tribunals. Websites of most tribunals either don’t exist or are not updated.
The Supreme Court asked the Law Commission to examine various aspects of working of tribunals and what changes are needed in the statutory framework governing them.
Tribunalisation and its associated challenges are by no means unique to India. The United Kingdom, set up the Legatt Committee to study the country’s tribunals, when it acknowledged that the tribunal system needed to be formalized and institutionalized.
Tribunals should be brought together into a single system, administered by a new Tribunals Service.
Administrative and institutional autonomy will also go a long way to enable tribunals in carrying out their statutory mandates.
A re-think is also needed on the location of benches of certain tribunals. This must be driven by empirical studies focusing on working of the tribunals to better understand their problem areas.
There should be a sitting or retired judge of the Supreme Court or a high court on these tribunals, which, ideally should be multi-member bodies that contain domain experts as well.
Setting the pace for these changes is the need of the hour to ensure that tribunals perform their roles in ensuring the speedy and efficient disposal of justice.
5. Certain electoral reforms were introduced by Budget, 2017. Comment on their features, suitability and adequacy in India’s current democratic context.
In Recent Budget, Govt. proposed to reform Political party funding by limiting cash recipient from current Rs. 20000 to 2000 for political party by one source and a concept of electoral bond that can be purchased by the donor from designated bank and can give directly to the party of its choice, having anonymity to others. Though the steps look overwhelming to clear the garbage of political funding but a critical look shows a picture that’s otherwise.
1) The limit of cash recipient doesn’t have any ceiling limit. either for the donor, that can perhaps donate cash multiple times to the party of choice or for the party that can receive infinite money in cash without any proof of donor. That may lead more invisible payments.
2)Electoral bond perhaps give the party an accounted money as donor have to channel it via bank but here nobody,even income tax, except donor and receiving political party,can know the donor and will get full tax exemption which may lead white corruption and unbeatable shadow.
3) the other two proposals like, reliance on digital and cheque payments and tax return in stipulated time is of no use as they are already in place having just enforcement issues.
Govt. still in a process of setting the detailed rules for all this but the critical look of first impression states a misplaced effort.
It will be better if govt. has declared and cleared that political parties have to, comply with RTI,declare its donors names, ceiling limit of cash recipient in number of years like after five years no party can take cash in terms of funding etc. which may serve the purpose at least up to some extent rather the recent proposal that may lead to white corruption and ample invisible funding which are both untraceable and unbeatable.