1.9. THE DILEMMA OF DELIMITATION
Why in News?
An increase in number of seats in both Houses of the Indian Parliament is expected after the lifting of the freeze imposed by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976, which is due in 2026.
- The power to determine the aspects and manner of delimitation lies with the Parliament. This power has been exercised 4 times through enactment of the Delimitation Commission Acts 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.
- The 42nd Amendment Act 1976, froze the allocation of the seats in the Lok Sabha to the states and the division of each state into territorial constituencies till year 2000 at the 1971 (census) level.
- This amendment took care of the concerns of the states which took a lead in population control faced the prospect of their number of seats getting reduced.
- The prohibition on readjustment was extended for another 25 years, i.e. upto 2026, by the 84th Amendment Act of 2001. The main objective behind extending this was to encourage population limiting measures.
- The 87th Amendment Act 2003 provided for delimitation of constituencies on the basis of 2001 census, which was done without altering the number of seats or constituencies.
Constitutional Provisions for Delimitation
- Clause (2) of Article 81 provided that, there shall be allotted to each State a number of seats in the House of the People in such a manner that the ratio between that number and the population of the State is, so far as practicable, the same for all States.
- Clause (3) defined the expression “population” for the purposes of Article 81 to mean the population as ascertained at the last preceding Census of which the relevant figures have been published.
- Each state is divided into territorial constituencies in such a manner that the ratio between population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it is the same throughout the state.
- Through these provisions the constitution ensures that there is uniformity of representation in two respects
o Between different states
o Between different constituencies of the same state
- After every census, a readjustment is to be made in the
o Allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha to the states
o Division of each state into territorial constituencies
Delimitation means the act or process of fixing limits of boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body. Delimitation in the J&K is done under the state constitution.
Under 31st Amendment Act, delimitation exercise doesn’t apply to states and Union Territories having population less than 6 million.
Other Important Provisions
Article 82 provides for the readjustment of seats in the House of the people to the States and the division of each State into territorial constituencies after every census.
Article 170 provides for the composition of Legislative Assemblies.
The Delimitation Commission in India is a highpower body whose orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court.
The Commission consists of the Chief Election Commissioner of India and two judges of Supreme
Court or any of the High Courts in India. These orders come into force on a date to be specified by the President of
India in this behalf. The copies of its orders are laid before the House of the People and the State Legislative Assembly concerned, but no modifications are permissible therein by them.
- The problem is that the current population of our country stands at 121 Crore, which is way more than what was there in 1976, when the figures were frozen. Basing the 1971 Census figure of 54.81 crore to represent today’s population presents a distorted version of our democratic polity and is contrary to what is mandated under Article 81 of the Constitution.
- Concerns expressed by the States in 1976 which necessitated the freezing of seat allocation on the basis of 1971 population figures would appear to hold good even today and have to be addressed to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. Now the first census figures after 2026 will be available for 2031, which will already be too late to envelope the reality of Indian electorates.
- More number of members jostling with each other to capture attention to raise their respective issues would make it a difficult task for the presiding officer to ensure smooth functioning of House.
- There is a need for a debate now on how to deal with the problems that are likely to arise else we will be forced to postpone the lifting of the freeze to a future date as was done in 2001.
1.10. MAKING INDIA HUB OF ARBITRATION
Why in News?
The High-Level Committee, under the Chairmanship of Justice B. N. Srikrishna, to review the institutionalization of arbitration mechanism and suggest reforms thereto has submitted its report recently.
- The Government of India has laid emphasis on making Arbitration a preferred mode for settlement of commercial disputes by taking legislative and administrative initiatives on arbitration.
- The initiatives aim at minimizing court intervention, bring down costs, fix timelines for expeditious disposal, and ensure neutrality of arbitrator and enforcement of awards.
- Arbitration is often the first alternative amongst various ways to manage contract related disputes and it holds the promise of flexibility, speed and cost-effectiveness.
- The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 envisages various ways to encourage foreign investment by projecting India as an investor friendly country having a sound legal framework and ease of doing business in India.
- The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking for 2017 reveals that India continues to fare badly on enforcement of contracts, with an average of 1,420 days taken for enforcement. The absence of effective means for enforcement of contracts is a serious fetter on the legal system and impedes economic growth and development.
- Also, it was found that judicial intervention and failure of the government and its agencies to use institutional arbitration has, among others, led to India’s reputation as an “arbitration-unfriendly” jurisdiction.
- In India, both ad hoc arbitration mechanism and institutionalised mechanism are riddled with various problems. Besides this a lack of awareness about the advantages of institutional arbitration and the existence of certain institutions leads to parties avoiding institutional arbitration or preferring foreign arbitral institutions over Indian ones.
- The committee in its report has recommended strengthening of institutional arbitration in India.The Committee has divided its Report in three parts.
- The part I is devoted to suggest measures to improve the overall quality and performance of arbitral institutions in India and to promote the standing of the country as preferred seat of arbitration. Important points in this part are
o Setting up of an autonomous body called Arbitration Promotion Council of India (APCI), having representatives from all the stakeholders for grading arbitral institutions in India.
o APCI may recognize professional institutes providing for acceleration of arbitration.
o Creation of a specialist arbitration bench to deal with commercial disputes in the domain of the courts.
o The committee also opined that the National Litigation Policy must promote arbitration in government contracts.
- The Committee in Part II of the Report reviewed the working of International Centre for Alternate Dispute Redressal(ICADR). It called for declaring the ICADR as an Institution of national importance.
- In the III part, the committee has recommended for the creation of post of ‘International Law Advisor’ (ILA) to advise the Government and coordinate dispute resolution strategy for the Government in disputes arising out of its international law obligations, particularly disputes arising out of BITs.
The ICADR is an autonomous organization with its headquarters at New Delhi. The Regional Centres of ICADR are fully funded and supported by the respective State Governments.
It was set up by the Department of Legal Affairs as an autonomous body registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
The Minister for Law & Justice is the Chairman of ICADR. Its main object is to promote popularise and propagate Alternative Dispute Resolution to facilitate early resolution of disputes to reduce the burden of arrears in the Courts.
- With India’s focus gradually shifting towards greater growth and development through increased Foreign Investment, it is essential for the government to make India safer for the foreign investments.
- To achieve this goal institutionalization of the arbitration mechanism can help to make dispute settlement easier and quicker.
- As also the mechanism, has become crucial for commercial dispute resolution, particularly for high-value disputes involving international parties, in most advanced jurisdictions.
- The recommended steps might not necessarily lessen the burden of judiciary but will push the developmental agendas of the government further.
1.11. NRIS PERMITTED TO VOTE THROUGH PROXY
Why in news?
The Union cabinet has recently approved proposal to change the electoral laws to allow NRIs to vote in the Lok Sabha and assembly elections through a proxy. Earlier, this was permitted only to service personnel.
- Overseas electors will have to appoint a nominee afresh for each election — one person can act as proxy for only one overseas voter. This is unlike the armed forced who can nominate their relatives as permanent proxy to vote on their behalf.
- Service voters can cast their vote through post as well but this is not permitted for NRIs as the government felt that it could become an administrative and logistic nightmare.
|Current Status |
- In 2010, Representation of the People (Amendment) Act was amended to introduce Section 20A to make NRI eligible to be registered as a voter in the constituency mentioned in her Indian passport.
- Before this amendment, only “ordinary residents” could cast their vote.
- However, Section 20A required NRIs to be physically present in their respective constituencies at the time of elections.
Challenges with proxy voting
- Violates right to equality – It gives special privilege to person who have migrated abroad but not to people who have domestically migrated.
- Difficulty in checking illegal practices – such as buying of votes from the NRIs’ nominees, bribery and inducements of voters abroad, checking concurrence in proxy vote with the main voter etc.
- Violates the principle of secrecy of voting
- It would be difficult to ascertain the genuineness of proxy selected by an NRI
Arguments in favor of bill
- Citizens have a democratic right to choose their legislators irrespective of their place of residency.
- With the rapid increase in cross-border migrations, the concept of nationhood and political membership is increasingly being decoupled from territorial locations.
- The government can make Aadhaar mandatory for all, including the NRIs, for voting.
- NRIs may be allowed to do e-voting from their workplaces overseas for e.g. Mahe residents have for long been voting online in the French elections.
1.12. NEW RATING SYSTEM FOR BUREAUCRATS
Why in news?
The parliamentary standing committee has criticized the new 360-degree rating system for the bureaucrats proposed as one of the major administrative reform by the government.
What is the 360-degree rating system?
- The 360-degree approach is a new multi-source feedback system for performance appraisal of bureaucrats started by the current government for future postings.
- The system seeks to look beyond the ratings received in appraisal reports written by their bosses. It relies on feedback of juniors and other colleagues for an all-round view.
Criticism of the rating system
- According to the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, in the context of India, where strong hierarchical structures exist and for historical and social reasons it may not be possible to introduce this system unless concerns of integrity and transparency are addressed.
- The report notes that the 360-degree approach does not have any statutory backing, or supported by any Act.
- It Improves credibility of performance appraisal as it reduces bureaucrat's zone of maneuverability such as lobbying the minister concerned for a job in his department, or even other senior bureaucrats in key positions.
- It provides feedback from all angles and bring to table differing opinions and perspectives.
- It positively impacts the work culture of an organization.