Polity And Constitution (Part -1) - Current Affairs, July 2017 UPSC Notes | EduRev

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Current Affairs : Polity And Constitution (Part -1) - Current Affairs, July 2017 UPSC Notes | EduRev

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Chapter 1 (Part 1)

 1. POLITY AND CONSTITUTION

1.1. NEED FOR SOCIAL AUDIT

Why in News?

Increasingly there is a demand for more transparency and accountability of government in regards to the various policies launched which calls for strengthening social auditing mechanism.

What is Social Audit?

  • Social audits refer to a legally mandated process where potential and existing beneficiaries evaluate the implementation of a programme by comparing official records with ground realities.
  • The beneficiaries, implementing agency and the oversight mechanism come together and discuss at length about the implementation and progress of a particular programme.

CAG and Social Audit

  • CAG’s audit is an external audit on behalf of the tax payers. The Union and State Legislatures discuss the matters brought out in CAG’s audit reports and make recommendations to the executive for appropriate management action. In a broad theoretical sense, therefore, CAG’s audit itself is a social audit.
  • Yet, CAG audit remains a Government process. However, Social audit seeks to make the audit process more transparent and seeks to take audit findings to a wider public domain of stakeholders, i.e. users of the Government schemes, services and utilities.
  • The primary focus of the CAG’s performance audits remains, in most cases, processes within Governmental agencies, with the actual verification of outputs and outcomes being only of secondary focus which are primary agendas of social audits.
Audit of local self - government institutions is a States subject and the primary (external) audit of PRIs and ULBs is with the State Local Funds Audit Department (LFAD), or with the designated auditors as specified in the State laws.

Importance of SA

  • Following the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission in regards to expansion in the role of PRIs, ULBs and other agencies, social audit becomes crucial as the CAG’s audit jurisdiction over such entities is nebulous.
  • The mechanism is well established providing direct evidence for inputs, processes, financial and physical reporting, compliance, physical verification, assurance against misuse, fraud and misappropriation, and utilisation of resources and assets.
  • Strengthening the democratic process – People directly observe the implementation of Government programmes in their region making the process participatory. This, in the long run, empowers the people and makes the process of development more inclusive.
  • It involves scrutiny of both financial and non-financial used by public agencies for development initiatives.

Limitations of Social Audit

  • The scope of social audits is intensive but highly localised and covers only certain selected aspects out of a wide range of audit concerns in the financial, compliance and performance audits.
  • The monitoring through social audits is informal and unprocessed with limited follow-up action.
  • The institutionalisation on the ground has been inadequate, and it has faced great resistance from the establishment due to the lack of adequate administrative and political will in institutionalising social audit to deter corruption.
  • Inadequate access to data and lack of expertise are other obstacles.
  • Lack of focused media attention and scrutiny to social audits.
  • While formal social audit arrangements have been provided for in NREGA, other programmes like PDS, NRHM etc. have varying arrangements for grass‐root level monitoring, limiting their utility.

Recommendations

  • Social audit compliments the CAG’s audits and therefore it should be mainstreamed into our processes for audit of all social sector programmes.
  • Learning from the progress made by the civil society groups and Gram Sabhas in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan in setting up separate directorates for social audit, other states can also introduce such measures.
  • There must be a formal framework of cooperation and coordination for mutual communication of various audit plans and their synchronization.
  • Uniformity of social audit at the village level for all social sector programmes can be taken up so that arrangements for community participation are better institutionalised
  • Education and awareness of Gram Sabha should be initiated to enable them to comprehend and understand their rights better. · NGOs can help in strengthening social audits such as MKSS in Rajasthan.

1.2. A CASE FOR LARGER BENCHES

Why in News? · Setting up of 9-judge bench to hear case of right to privacy has once again renewed the debate on setting up of larger constitutional benches to deal with important cases.

Background

  • In the early years, all 8 judges including chief justice sat together to hear the cases.
  • With the increase in workload, Parliament increased the number of judges gradually from 8 in 1950 to the present 31 and the constitution of benches also changed and they sat in smaller benches of two and three to dispose of backlogs (currently about 60,000 cases)
  • In the 1960s, Supreme Court heard about 100 five-judge or larger benches a year. By the first decade of the 2000s, the court averaged only about 10 constitution benches a year.
  • Thus, various important cases are being heard by smaller benches such as RTE act case was decided by three judges, Naz Foundation case by just two judges etc.
  • However, focusing more judges on constitution benches also comes with a concern that it could come at the cost of less access to the court for other matters.

Reason for demands for larger benches:

Article 145(3) of constitution: states that any “substantial question of law” relating to the interpretation of the Constitution must be heard by benches of at least five judges

  • More judges mean that there will be more points of view, greater reflection and more thorough analysis in vital cases. It will also add to legitimacy thus, minimizing coming up of same issue frequently.
    For example -The issue of privacy itself has been debated in eight or more instances
  • It is more difficult to overturn a five-judge bench than a two- or three-judge bench, meaning the public can have more confidence in the stability of the law
  • Stability would also set the doctrine of precedent because as of now both High Courts and lower courts are left confused as to which of the various pronouncements they are meant to follow Way forward
  • There needs to be clarity in determining when a case involves a “substantial question” of constitutional law and so requires a larger bench.
  • Also, explanation needs to be given to justify why the matter was being heard by less than five judges

1.3. PRISON REFORMS

Why in news?

  • The murder of a women life convict in Byculla women’s prison over some missing ration in June has brought back focus on prison reforms especially on vulnerability of inmates to custodial violence Issues related to prisons
  • Overcrowding - The occupancy rate at all-India level was 117.4 percent, till December 2014.
  • Learning from the progress made by the civil society groups and Gram Sabhas in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan in setting up separate directorates for social audit, other states can also introduce such measures.
  • There must be a formal framework of cooperation and coordination for mutual communication of various audit plans and their synchronization.
  • Uniformity of social audit at the village level for all social sector programmes can be taken up so that arrangements for community participation are better institutionalised.
  • Education and awareness of Gram Sabha should be initiated to enable them to comprehend and understand their rights better.
  • NGOs can help in strengthening social audits such as MKSS in Rajasthan.

1.2. A CASE FOR LARGER BENCHES

Why in News?

  • Setting up of 9-judge bench to hear case of right to privacy has once again renewed the debate on setting up of larger constitutional benches to deal with important cases.

Background

  • In the early years, all 8 judges including chief justice sat together to hear the cases.
  • With the increase in workload, Parliament increased the number of judges gradually from 8 in 1950 to the present 31 and the constitution of benches also changed and they sat in smaller benches of two and three to dispose of backlogs (currently about 60,000 cases)
  • In the 1960s, Supreme Court heard about 100 five-judge or larger benches a year. By the first decade of the 2000s, the court averaged only about 10 constitution benches a year.
  • Thus, various important cases are being heard by smaller benches such as RTE act case was decided by three judges, Naz Foundation case by just two judges etc.
  • However, focusing more judges on constitution benches also comes with a concern that it could come at the cost of less access to the court for other matters.

Reason for demands for larger benches:

  • Article 145(3) of constitution: states that any “substantial question of law” relating to the interpretation of the Constitution must be heard by benches of at least five judges
  • More judges mean that there will be more points of view, greater reflection and more thorough analysis in vital cases. It will also add to legitimacy thus, minimizing coming up of same issue frequently.
  • For example -The issue of privacy itself has been debated in eight or more instances
  • It is more difficult to overturn a five-judge bench than a two- or three-judge bench, meaning the public can have more confidence in the stability of the law
  • Stability would also set the doctrine of precedent because as of now both High Courts and lower courts are left confused as to which of the various pronouncements they are meant to follow Way forward
  • There needs to be clarity in determining when a case involves a “substantial question” of constitutional law and so requires a larger bench.
  • Also, explanation needs to be given to justify why the matter was being heard by less than five judges

1.3. PRISON REFORMS

Why in news?

  • The murder of a women life convict in Byculla women’s prison over some missing ration in June has brought back focus on prison reforms especially on vulnerability of inmates to custodial violence Issues related to prisons ·

Overcrowding - The occupancy rate at all-India level was 117.4 percent, till December 2014.

 

1.4. CEC APP OIN TMENT ISSUES

Issues related to Chief Election Commissioner

  • The appointment of CEC and other ECs according to the Article 324, shall be done as per the law made by the Parliament in this regard. However, no such law has yet been made which leaves a “gap”. Recently, Supreme Court had asked the centre why no enabling law has yet been framed.
  • This leaves the appointment of such a crucial post solely to the executives (President on the advice of PM and Council of Ministers).
  • The constitution has not prescribed the qualifications (legal,
Constitutional Provisions related to EC As per the Article 324 of the constitution, “The Election Commission shall consist of Chief Election Commissioner and such numbers of other Election Commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix and appointment of CEC and other ECs shall, subject to provisions of any law made in that behalf by the Parliament, be made by the President.”

educational, administrative, or judicial) of the members of election commission

  • The constitution has not debarred the retiring Election commissioner from any further appointment by the government.
  • There is also no clarity regarding the power division between the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners.

Way forward · 2nd ARC, in its fourth report on 'Ethics in Governance', has said that it would be appropriate to have a collegium headed by the Prime Minister to appoint the chief and members of the EC which has a far reaching importance and critical role in working of the democracy.

  • The court acknowledged that the appointments of CEC and ECs till now have been fair and politically neutral. But the void in law needs to be filled to ensure “fair and transparent selection”.
  • A clear set of rules can bring more clarity in the appointment and may avoid such petitions and questions in future.

1.5.  LATE RALENTRY INTO CIVIL SERVICES

Why in News Recently Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) has been asked to prepare a proposition on lateral entry into Civil Services. Background

  • The decision has been taken in response to a Central Government Staffing Policy Paper in which a shortage of officers in middle ranks was admitted by DoPT. Presently the numbers to be inducted are approximately 40.
  •  However lateral entry to civil services is not a new phenomenon in India. Domain experts have been brought in from outside to head various committees.
  • 1st ARC as early as in 1965 talked about need for specialization. The 10th Report of 2nd ARC has also recommended an institutionalised transparent process for lateral entry at both central and state levels.
  • Other two commitees that followed the suit were Surinder Nath Committee and Hota committee in 2003 and 2004 respectively.

Why we Need Lateral Entry

  • The Basawan Committee (2016) had pointed out that the bigger states like Bihar, MP and Rajasthan have a deficit of over 75 to 100 officers. Lateral induction is, therefore, being seen as a small step towards essential housekeeping in central government staffing.
  • Shift from uniformity of centrally planned economic policy to diverse demands of competitive federalism requires specialized skills and knowledge for informed policy making.
  • Various think-tanks have also explained how the IAS is hamstrung by political interference, out-dated personal procedures and a mixed record on policy implementation. There is no correlation between the postings of the Civil Service Officers and their area of specialization which comes only at a later stage.
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