Polity & Constitution: December 2020 Current Affairs Current Affairs Notes | EduRev

Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly

Current Affairs : Polity & Constitution: December 2020 Current Affairs Current Affairs Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


	
4	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
1.	POLITY	AND	CONSTITUTION	
1.1.	PARLIAMENTARY	SCRUTINY	
Why in news? 
The recent protests over Agricultural 
Reform laws by farmers has reignited the 
debate on ‘ineffectiveness of 
Parliamentary scrutiny over the executive’.  
About Parliamentary scrutiny of the 
government  
Parliament is the embodiment of the 
people’s will. Therefore, in addition to its 
legislative role, it is also mandated to 
scrutinize the functioning of the 
Government. The Parliament is equipped 
with various instruments for close and 
continuous scrutiny of the functioning of 
the government. These instruments are as 
follows 
• Discussion/debate: During 
discussions/debates on Bills, issues of 
public or national interest on the floor 
of Parliament legislatures could point 
out any shortcoming of the 
government or its policies or loopholes 
in any laws or proposed bills. 
• Question Hour:  It is the first hour of 
business every day 
when PARLIAMENT is in session. It is 
during the Question Hour that the 
members can ask questions on every 
aspect of administration and Governmental activity. This brings government policies in national as well as 
international spheres come into sharp focus.  
o With the broadcasting of Question Hour since 1991, it has become one the most visible aspects of 
parliamentary scrutiny. 
• Parliamentary committees: Parliament has put in place a large machinery of committees to scrutinize the Bills 
which are brought before it by the government. They carry out the detailed scrutiny of the proposed 
legislation, for which they can solicit expert advice and elicit public opinion.  
o Committee meetings are ‘closed door’ and members are not bound by party whips. This enables them to 
have an objective view on issues before them.  
What renders parliamentary scrutiny of the government ineffective? 
• Deciding the duration and timing of the session of the Parliament is government’s prerogative: According to 
Article 85 of the Constitution, the time gap between two sessions cannot be more than six months. However, 
it is the government (Cabinet committee on parliamentary affairs) that decides the exact time and duration 
of the Parliamentary session. Allowing the government to call the Parliament to meet is seen as a conflict with 
the principle of government being accountable to the Parliament.  
o For example, recently the winter session of the Parliament was truncated owing to the COVID-19 
Pandemic.  
o Also, as there is no fixed calendar for the sessions, the Governments have shuffled around the dates of 
sessions to accommodate political and legislative exigencies.  
Related Information 
State Legislative Assembly (SLA) scrutiny 
• Just like Parliament, SLA also has the power to scrutinize the 
functioning of the respective State Government. SLAs are also 
equipped with instruments like  
o Discussion/debate 
o Question Hour 
o Assembly Committees 
o Council of Minister is collectively responsible to the Vidhan 
Sabha  
• However, the functioning of the SLAs have been sub optimal 
thereby affecting the scrutiny of State Government activities by 
the respective SLA. 
o Low sittings: In the last 20 years, SLAs across the country, on 
average, met for less than 30 days in a year. But states like 
Kerala, Odisha, Karnataka are an exception. Low sittings shows 
that bills are passed without debate and discussions. 
o Question Hour: Total ‘starred questions’ asked vary between 
11,200 in Rajasthan to 65 in West Bengal in 2017-19. In this 
time period only 21% of starred questions admitted in the 
14
th
 Rajasthan Assembly and 7% in 13
th
 Maharashtra Assembly 
were answered on the floor of the House. 
ü For the 2020, Monsoon session West Bengal, Punjab, 
Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra 
Assembles have done away with Question Hour. 
o Opaque functioning: Unlike Parliament, sittings of SLAs are not 
live streamed. While some states such as Karnataka, Delhi 
and Rajasthan host the texts of legislative debates on their 
assembly websites, many others like West Bengal don’t.  
• Therefore, SLAs should also bring reforms parallel to that needed 
in Parliament for enhancing the effectiveness of the scrutiny of the 
State Government. 
Page 2


	
4	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
1.	POLITY	AND	CONSTITUTION	
1.1.	PARLIAMENTARY	SCRUTINY	
Why in news? 
The recent protests over Agricultural 
Reform laws by farmers has reignited the 
debate on ‘ineffectiveness of 
Parliamentary scrutiny over the executive’.  
About Parliamentary scrutiny of the 
government  
Parliament is the embodiment of the 
people’s will. Therefore, in addition to its 
legislative role, it is also mandated to 
scrutinize the functioning of the 
Government. The Parliament is equipped 
with various instruments for close and 
continuous scrutiny of the functioning of 
the government. These instruments are as 
follows 
• Discussion/debate: During 
discussions/debates on Bills, issues of 
public or national interest on the floor 
of Parliament legislatures could point 
out any shortcoming of the 
government or its policies or loopholes 
in any laws or proposed bills. 
• Question Hour:  It is the first hour of 
business every day 
when PARLIAMENT is in session. It is 
during the Question Hour that the 
members can ask questions on every 
aspect of administration and Governmental activity. This brings government policies in national as well as 
international spheres come into sharp focus.  
o With the broadcasting of Question Hour since 1991, it has become one the most visible aspects of 
parliamentary scrutiny. 
• Parliamentary committees: Parliament has put in place a large machinery of committees to scrutinize the Bills 
which are brought before it by the government. They carry out the detailed scrutiny of the proposed 
legislation, for which they can solicit expert advice and elicit public opinion.  
o Committee meetings are ‘closed door’ and members are not bound by party whips. This enables them to 
have an objective view on issues before them.  
What renders parliamentary scrutiny of the government ineffective? 
• Deciding the duration and timing of the session of the Parliament is government’s prerogative: According to 
Article 85 of the Constitution, the time gap between two sessions cannot be more than six months. However, 
it is the government (Cabinet committee on parliamentary affairs) that decides the exact time and duration 
of the Parliamentary session. Allowing the government to call the Parliament to meet is seen as a conflict with 
the principle of government being accountable to the Parliament.  
o For example, recently the winter session of the Parliament was truncated owing to the COVID-19 
Pandemic.  
o Also, as there is no fixed calendar for the sessions, the Governments have shuffled around the dates of 
sessions to accommodate political and legislative exigencies.  
Related Information 
State Legislative Assembly (SLA) scrutiny 
• Just like Parliament, SLA also has the power to scrutinize the 
functioning of the respective State Government. SLAs are also 
equipped with instruments like  
o Discussion/debate 
o Question Hour 
o Assembly Committees 
o Council of Minister is collectively responsible to the Vidhan 
Sabha  
• However, the functioning of the SLAs have been sub optimal 
thereby affecting the scrutiny of State Government activities by 
the respective SLA. 
o Low sittings: In the last 20 years, SLAs across the country, on 
average, met for less than 30 days in a year. But states like 
Kerala, Odisha, Karnataka are an exception. Low sittings shows 
that bills are passed without debate and discussions. 
o Question Hour: Total ‘starred questions’ asked vary between 
11,200 in Rajasthan to 65 in West Bengal in 2017-19. In this 
time period only 21% of starred questions admitted in the 
14
th
 Rajasthan Assembly and 7% in 13
th
 Maharashtra Assembly 
were answered on the floor of the House. 
ü For the 2020, Monsoon session West Bengal, Punjab, 
Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra 
Assembles have done away with Question Hour. 
o Opaque functioning: Unlike Parliament, sittings of SLAs are not 
live streamed. While some states such as Karnataka, Delhi 
and Rajasthan host the texts of legislative debates on their 
assembly websites, many others like West Bengal don’t.  
• Therefore, SLAs should also bring reforms parallel to that needed 
in Parliament for enhancing the effectiveness of the scrutiny of the 
State Government. 
	
5	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
• Disruptions during Question Hour: In the 16
th
 Lok Sabha, question hour has functioned in Lok Sabha for 77% 
of the scheduled time, while in Rajya Sabha it has functioned for 47%. Consequently, this time lost indicates a 
lost opportunity to hold the government accountable for its actions. 
o Also, over the years, there has been a decline in the sittings days of Parliament. 
• Not referring bills to the Parliament committees: There has been a declining trend in the percentage of Bills 
being referred to a Committee. While 60% of the Bills in the 14th Lok Sabha and 71% in the 15th Lok Sabha 
were vetted by the Parliamentary committees, this proportion came down to 27% in the 16th Lok Sabha. 
What needs to be done to ensure effectiveness of the Parliamentary scrutiny? 
• Insulate the functioning of Parliament from externalities: For the unforeseen externalities (like the pandemic 
this year), the parliamentary rules can be relaxed to allow its functioning with reduced number of members 
of Parliament (MPs) or the full strength of MPs convening in a hybrid manner (Mix of virtual and Physical 
session). 
• Parliament should have the power to regulate its procedure, sittings and timings: Given the legislature’s role 
in keeping the executive accountable for its actions, one argument is that the government should not have 
the power to convene or take decisions on sittings and timings of the Parliament.  Instead, Parliament should 
convene itself so that it can effectively exercise its oversight functions and address issues without delay (by 
convening the session whenever required).   
• Annual calendar for the sessions: Some countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia release an annual 
calendar with the sitting dates at the beginning of the year.  This could be followed by the Parliament of India 
also. 
• Minimum number of sittings should be fixed: Lesser number of sittings indicates that Parliament was able to 
transact less business.  To address this, the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution 
has recommended that Lok Sabha should have at least 120 sittings in a year, while Rajya Sabha should have 
100 sittings.  
• Shadow cabinet: To improve government accountability in Parliament, the opposition in some countries such 
as the UK, Canada, and Australia forms a shadow cabinet. Under such a system, opposition MPs track a certain 
portfolio, scrutinise its performance and suggest alternate programs.  This allows for detailed tracking and 
scrutiny of ministries and assists MPs in making constructive suggestions.   
• Changing certain provisions of the Anti-defection law: The Supreme Court (Kihota Hollohon vs. Zachilhu, 
1992), while upholding the validity of the Anti-defection law highlighted the need to limit disqualifications in 
the cases where Legislatures vote against the directions of Party. The court held that “such provisions should 
be limited to only those voting that are crucial to the existence of the government and to matters integral to 
the electoral programme of the party. So as not to 'unduly impinge' on the freedom of speech of members”.  
Conclusion 
Parliament’s scrutiny of the government is crucial not only for upholding the accountability of the government to 
people of India but also for improving the quality of laws drafted. Strengthening the instruments of Parliamentary 
Scrutiny can go a long way in minimizing the potential implementation challenges.  
1.2.	WOMEN	IN	JUDICIARY	
Why in news? 
Attorney General of India recently stressed on the need to improve the representation of women in the judiciary. 
Background 
• Recently, Madhya Pradesh High Court has granted bail to a man accused of sexual harassment on the 
condition that he will request the complainant to tie a 'rakhi' on him. 
o With this appeal was filed by nine women lawyers seeking to set aside the High Court’s order and a 
direction to courts across the country to restrain from imposing such conditions as these are against the 
principle of law. 
• However, such trivialisation of sexual offences, through a judicial order to tie Rakhi, or in rape cases, to 
compromise by marrying the accused, indicate that patriarchy and misogyny, with regressive notions of 
honour continue to obstruct women’s access to justice. 
Page 3


	
4	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
1.	POLITY	AND	CONSTITUTION	
1.1.	PARLIAMENTARY	SCRUTINY	
Why in news? 
The recent protests over Agricultural 
Reform laws by farmers has reignited the 
debate on ‘ineffectiveness of 
Parliamentary scrutiny over the executive’.  
About Parliamentary scrutiny of the 
government  
Parliament is the embodiment of the 
people’s will. Therefore, in addition to its 
legislative role, it is also mandated to 
scrutinize the functioning of the 
Government. The Parliament is equipped 
with various instruments for close and 
continuous scrutiny of the functioning of 
the government. These instruments are as 
follows 
• Discussion/debate: During 
discussions/debates on Bills, issues of 
public or national interest on the floor 
of Parliament legislatures could point 
out any shortcoming of the 
government or its policies or loopholes 
in any laws or proposed bills. 
• Question Hour:  It is the first hour of 
business every day 
when PARLIAMENT is in session. It is 
during the Question Hour that the 
members can ask questions on every 
aspect of administration and Governmental activity. This brings government policies in national as well as 
international spheres come into sharp focus.  
o With the broadcasting of Question Hour since 1991, it has become one the most visible aspects of 
parliamentary scrutiny. 
• Parliamentary committees: Parliament has put in place a large machinery of committees to scrutinize the Bills 
which are brought before it by the government. They carry out the detailed scrutiny of the proposed 
legislation, for which they can solicit expert advice and elicit public opinion.  
o Committee meetings are ‘closed door’ and members are not bound by party whips. This enables them to 
have an objective view on issues before them.  
What renders parliamentary scrutiny of the government ineffective? 
• Deciding the duration and timing of the session of the Parliament is government’s prerogative: According to 
Article 85 of the Constitution, the time gap between two sessions cannot be more than six months. However, 
it is the government (Cabinet committee on parliamentary affairs) that decides the exact time and duration 
of the Parliamentary session. Allowing the government to call the Parliament to meet is seen as a conflict with 
the principle of government being accountable to the Parliament.  
o For example, recently the winter session of the Parliament was truncated owing to the COVID-19 
Pandemic.  
o Also, as there is no fixed calendar for the sessions, the Governments have shuffled around the dates of 
sessions to accommodate political and legislative exigencies.  
Related Information 
State Legislative Assembly (SLA) scrutiny 
• Just like Parliament, SLA also has the power to scrutinize the 
functioning of the respective State Government. SLAs are also 
equipped with instruments like  
o Discussion/debate 
o Question Hour 
o Assembly Committees 
o Council of Minister is collectively responsible to the Vidhan 
Sabha  
• However, the functioning of the SLAs have been sub optimal 
thereby affecting the scrutiny of State Government activities by 
the respective SLA. 
o Low sittings: In the last 20 years, SLAs across the country, on 
average, met for less than 30 days in a year. But states like 
Kerala, Odisha, Karnataka are an exception. Low sittings shows 
that bills are passed without debate and discussions. 
o Question Hour: Total ‘starred questions’ asked vary between 
11,200 in Rajasthan to 65 in West Bengal in 2017-19. In this 
time period only 21% of starred questions admitted in the 
14
th
 Rajasthan Assembly and 7% in 13
th
 Maharashtra Assembly 
were answered on the floor of the House. 
ü For the 2020, Monsoon session West Bengal, Punjab, 
Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra 
Assembles have done away with Question Hour. 
o Opaque functioning: Unlike Parliament, sittings of SLAs are not 
live streamed. While some states such as Karnataka, Delhi 
and Rajasthan host the texts of legislative debates on their 
assembly websites, many others like West Bengal don’t.  
• Therefore, SLAs should also bring reforms parallel to that needed 
in Parliament for enhancing the effectiveness of the scrutiny of the 
State Government. 
	
5	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
• Disruptions during Question Hour: In the 16
th
 Lok Sabha, question hour has functioned in Lok Sabha for 77% 
of the scheduled time, while in Rajya Sabha it has functioned for 47%. Consequently, this time lost indicates a 
lost opportunity to hold the government accountable for its actions. 
o Also, over the years, there has been a decline in the sittings days of Parliament. 
• Not referring bills to the Parliament committees: There has been a declining trend in the percentage of Bills 
being referred to a Committee. While 60% of the Bills in the 14th Lok Sabha and 71% in the 15th Lok Sabha 
were vetted by the Parliamentary committees, this proportion came down to 27% in the 16th Lok Sabha. 
What needs to be done to ensure effectiveness of the Parliamentary scrutiny? 
• Insulate the functioning of Parliament from externalities: For the unforeseen externalities (like the pandemic 
this year), the parliamentary rules can be relaxed to allow its functioning with reduced number of members 
of Parliament (MPs) or the full strength of MPs convening in a hybrid manner (Mix of virtual and Physical 
session). 
• Parliament should have the power to regulate its procedure, sittings and timings: Given the legislature’s role 
in keeping the executive accountable for its actions, one argument is that the government should not have 
the power to convene or take decisions on sittings and timings of the Parliament.  Instead, Parliament should 
convene itself so that it can effectively exercise its oversight functions and address issues without delay (by 
convening the session whenever required).   
• Annual calendar for the sessions: Some countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia release an annual 
calendar with the sitting dates at the beginning of the year.  This could be followed by the Parliament of India 
also. 
• Minimum number of sittings should be fixed: Lesser number of sittings indicates that Parliament was able to 
transact less business.  To address this, the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution 
has recommended that Lok Sabha should have at least 120 sittings in a year, while Rajya Sabha should have 
100 sittings.  
• Shadow cabinet: To improve government accountability in Parliament, the opposition in some countries such 
as the UK, Canada, and Australia forms a shadow cabinet. Under such a system, opposition MPs track a certain 
portfolio, scrutinise its performance and suggest alternate programs.  This allows for detailed tracking and 
scrutiny of ministries and assists MPs in making constructive suggestions.   
• Changing certain provisions of the Anti-defection law: The Supreme Court (Kihota Hollohon vs. Zachilhu, 
1992), while upholding the validity of the Anti-defection law highlighted the need to limit disqualifications in 
the cases where Legislatures vote against the directions of Party. The court held that “such provisions should 
be limited to only those voting that are crucial to the existence of the government and to matters integral to 
the electoral programme of the party. So as not to 'unduly impinge' on the freedom of speech of members”.  
Conclusion 
Parliament’s scrutiny of the government is crucial not only for upholding the accountability of the government to 
people of India but also for improving the quality of laws drafted. Strengthening the instruments of Parliamentary 
Scrutiny can go a long way in minimizing the potential implementation challenges.  
1.2.	WOMEN	IN	JUDICIARY	
Why in news? 
Attorney General of India recently stressed on the need to improve the representation of women in the judiciary. 
Background 
• Recently, Madhya Pradesh High Court has granted bail to a man accused of sexual harassment on the 
condition that he will request the complainant to tie a 'rakhi' on him. 
o With this appeal was filed by nine women lawyers seeking to set aside the High Court’s order and a 
direction to courts across the country to restrain from imposing such conditions as these are against the 
principle of law. 
• However, such trivialisation of sexual offences, through a judicial order to tie Rakhi, or in rape cases, to 
compromise by marrying the accused, indicate that patriarchy and misogyny, with regressive notions of 
honour continue to obstruct women’s access to justice. 
	
6	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
• In this regard Attorney General of India said that there is need to gender-sensitize judges and improve women 
participation in judiciary. 
• A parliamentary standing committee on law and justice in 2015 had proposed reservation for women in the 
higher judiciary.  
Existing women participation in judiciary 
In Supreme 
Court (SC) 
• Supreme Court has only 2 women judges, as against a total sanctioned strength of 34 judges and 
there has never been a female Chief Justice of India.  
• Since its inception 70 years ago, only eight women judges have been appointed to the Supreme 
Court.  
• Justice Fathima Beevi was the first woman SC judge, and she was appointed in 1989, 40 years after 
its establishment. 
• Currently, there are 17 women senior counsel designates in the Supreme Court as opposed to 403 
men. 
In High 
Courts (HC) 
• In HCs there are only 80 women judges out of the total sanctioned strength of 1,113 comprising only 
7.2% of the total number of judges. 
• 6 HCs (Manipur, Meghalaya, Patna, Tripura, Telangana, and Uttarakhand) have no sitting women 
judges. 
In 
Subordinate 
courts 
• There are 27% female judges in the lower judiciary. 
• Sub-ordinate judiciary has better women participation due to reservation by some states and 
entrance exams at the entry level, however it is highly skewed between states. 
Advocates • Women make up only 15% of all enrolled advocates in the country. 
Why there is need to improve women representation in judiciary? 
• Constitutional Provisions: Article 14, 15, 15(3), 16, 39(a), 39(b), 39(c) and 42 of Constitution of India provides 
for gender justice, hence increased women participation is necessary to achieve provisions under these 
articles. 
o Constitution of India not only grants equality to women but also empowers the State to adopt measures 
of positive discrimination in favour of women for neutralizing the cumulative socio economic, 
educational and political disadvantages faced by them.  
• Sensitivity in proceedings: Women in society are seen as empathetic and sensitive, improving participation 
will help to improve quality of justice which is most acceptable within rule of law. 
• Social respect: With rise in women number in judiciary stigma of incapability of women in litigation job will 
get vanished and will provide due social respect to women. 
• Improve accessibility to justice by women: Easy availability of women advocates and judges for women 
victims, makes them more comfortable and confident to communicate problems like sexual violence, which 
eventually improves access to justice. 
What are the challenges to improve participation of women in judiciary? 
• Appointment: In higher judiciary power of appointment rests almost exclusively with the collegium, which has 
tended to be opaque and therefore likely to reflect bias, unlike entrance exam and reservation in subordinate 
judiciary. 
• Workplace conditions: It is difficult especially for a young woman in a male-dominated profession, with poor 
sanitation in court premises, lack of paid maternity leave and crèches, sexual harassment and frequent 
transfers contribute to the low numbers of women in litigation and inevitably to the low numbers of women 
judges. 
o Also, even after having Vishakha guidelines and Gender sensitization committees, the participation of 
women in higher judiciary is very dismal.  
• Job security and irregularity: Litigation job in higher judiciary does not provide continuous income source, as 
well it is irregular without defined working time, hence women without other income source and irregularity 
tends to leave litigation job.  
 
 
Page 4


	
4	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
1.	POLITY	AND	CONSTITUTION	
1.1.	PARLIAMENTARY	SCRUTINY	
Why in news? 
The recent protests over Agricultural 
Reform laws by farmers has reignited the 
debate on ‘ineffectiveness of 
Parliamentary scrutiny over the executive’.  
About Parliamentary scrutiny of the 
government  
Parliament is the embodiment of the 
people’s will. Therefore, in addition to its 
legislative role, it is also mandated to 
scrutinize the functioning of the 
Government. The Parliament is equipped 
with various instruments for close and 
continuous scrutiny of the functioning of 
the government. These instruments are as 
follows 
• Discussion/debate: During 
discussions/debates on Bills, issues of 
public or national interest on the floor 
of Parliament legislatures could point 
out any shortcoming of the 
government or its policies or loopholes 
in any laws or proposed bills. 
• Question Hour:  It is the first hour of 
business every day 
when PARLIAMENT is in session. It is 
during the Question Hour that the 
members can ask questions on every 
aspect of administration and Governmental activity. This brings government policies in national as well as 
international spheres come into sharp focus.  
o With the broadcasting of Question Hour since 1991, it has become one the most visible aspects of 
parliamentary scrutiny. 
• Parliamentary committees: Parliament has put in place a large machinery of committees to scrutinize the Bills 
which are brought before it by the government. They carry out the detailed scrutiny of the proposed 
legislation, for which they can solicit expert advice and elicit public opinion.  
o Committee meetings are ‘closed door’ and members are not bound by party whips. This enables them to 
have an objective view on issues before them.  
What renders parliamentary scrutiny of the government ineffective? 
• Deciding the duration and timing of the session of the Parliament is government’s prerogative: According to 
Article 85 of the Constitution, the time gap between two sessions cannot be more than six months. However, 
it is the government (Cabinet committee on parliamentary affairs) that decides the exact time and duration 
of the Parliamentary session. Allowing the government to call the Parliament to meet is seen as a conflict with 
the principle of government being accountable to the Parliament.  
o For example, recently the winter session of the Parliament was truncated owing to the COVID-19 
Pandemic.  
o Also, as there is no fixed calendar for the sessions, the Governments have shuffled around the dates of 
sessions to accommodate political and legislative exigencies.  
Related Information 
State Legislative Assembly (SLA) scrutiny 
• Just like Parliament, SLA also has the power to scrutinize the 
functioning of the respective State Government. SLAs are also 
equipped with instruments like  
o Discussion/debate 
o Question Hour 
o Assembly Committees 
o Council of Minister is collectively responsible to the Vidhan 
Sabha  
• However, the functioning of the SLAs have been sub optimal 
thereby affecting the scrutiny of State Government activities by 
the respective SLA. 
o Low sittings: In the last 20 years, SLAs across the country, on 
average, met for less than 30 days in a year. But states like 
Kerala, Odisha, Karnataka are an exception. Low sittings shows 
that bills are passed without debate and discussions. 
o Question Hour: Total ‘starred questions’ asked vary between 
11,200 in Rajasthan to 65 in West Bengal in 2017-19. In this 
time period only 21% of starred questions admitted in the 
14
th
 Rajasthan Assembly and 7% in 13
th
 Maharashtra Assembly 
were answered on the floor of the House. 
ü For the 2020, Monsoon session West Bengal, Punjab, 
Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra 
Assembles have done away with Question Hour. 
o Opaque functioning: Unlike Parliament, sittings of SLAs are not 
live streamed. While some states such as Karnataka, Delhi 
and Rajasthan host the texts of legislative debates on their 
assembly websites, many others like West Bengal don’t.  
• Therefore, SLAs should also bring reforms parallel to that needed 
in Parliament for enhancing the effectiveness of the scrutiny of the 
State Government. 
	
5	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
• Disruptions during Question Hour: In the 16
th
 Lok Sabha, question hour has functioned in Lok Sabha for 77% 
of the scheduled time, while in Rajya Sabha it has functioned for 47%. Consequently, this time lost indicates a 
lost opportunity to hold the government accountable for its actions. 
o Also, over the years, there has been a decline in the sittings days of Parliament. 
• Not referring bills to the Parliament committees: There has been a declining trend in the percentage of Bills 
being referred to a Committee. While 60% of the Bills in the 14th Lok Sabha and 71% in the 15th Lok Sabha 
were vetted by the Parliamentary committees, this proportion came down to 27% in the 16th Lok Sabha. 
What needs to be done to ensure effectiveness of the Parliamentary scrutiny? 
• Insulate the functioning of Parliament from externalities: For the unforeseen externalities (like the pandemic 
this year), the parliamentary rules can be relaxed to allow its functioning with reduced number of members 
of Parliament (MPs) or the full strength of MPs convening in a hybrid manner (Mix of virtual and Physical 
session). 
• Parliament should have the power to regulate its procedure, sittings and timings: Given the legislature’s role 
in keeping the executive accountable for its actions, one argument is that the government should not have 
the power to convene or take decisions on sittings and timings of the Parliament.  Instead, Parliament should 
convene itself so that it can effectively exercise its oversight functions and address issues without delay (by 
convening the session whenever required).   
• Annual calendar for the sessions: Some countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia release an annual 
calendar with the sitting dates at the beginning of the year.  This could be followed by the Parliament of India 
also. 
• Minimum number of sittings should be fixed: Lesser number of sittings indicates that Parliament was able to 
transact less business.  To address this, the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution 
has recommended that Lok Sabha should have at least 120 sittings in a year, while Rajya Sabha should have 
100 sittings.  
• Shadow cabinet: To improve government accountability in Parliament, the opposition in some countries such 
as the UK, Canada, and Australia forms a shadow cabinet. Under such a system, opposition MPs track a certain 
portfolio, scrutinise its performance and suggest alternate programs.  This allows for detailed tracking and 
scrutiny of ministries and assists MPs in making constructive suggestions.   
• Changing certain provisions of the Anti-defection law: The Supreme Court (Kihota Hollohon vs. Zachilhu, 
1992), while upholding the validity of the Anti-defection law highlighted the need to limit disqualifications in 
the cases where Legislatures vote against the directions of Party. The court held that “such provisions should 
be limited to only those voting that are crucial to the existence of the government and to matters integral to 
the electoral programme of the party. So as not to 'unduly impinge' on the freedom of speech of members”.  
Conclusion 
Parliament’s scrutiny of the government is crucial not only for upholding the accountability of the government to 
people of India but also for improving the quality of laws drafted. Strengthening the instruments of Parliamentary 
Scrutiny can go a long way in minimizing the potential implementation challenges.  
1.2.	WOMEN	IN	JUDICIARY	
Why in news? 
Attorney General of India recently stressed on the need to improve the representation of women in the judiciary. 
Background 
• Recently, Madhya Pradesh High Court has granted bail to a man accused of sexual harassment on the 
condition that he will request the complainant to tie a 'rakhi' on him. 
o With this appeal was filed by nine women lawyers seeking to set aside the High Court’s order and a 
direction to courts across the country to restrain from imposing such conditions as these are against the 
principle of law. 
• However, such trivialisation of sexual offences, through a judicial order to tie Rakhi, or in rape cases, to 
compromise by marrying the accused, indicate that patriarchy and misogyny, with regressive notions of 
honour continue to obstruct women’s access to justice. 
	
6	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
• In this regard Attorney General of India said that there is need to gender-sensitize judges and improve women 
participation in judiciary. 
• A parliamentary standing committee on law and justice in 2015 had proposed reservation for women in the 
higher judiciary.  
Existing women participation in judiciary 
In Supreme 
Court (SC) 
• Supreme Court has only 2 women judges, as against a total sanctioned strength of 34 judges and 
there has never been a female Chief Justice of India.  
• Since its inception 70 years ago, only eight women judges have been appointed to the Supreme 
Court.  
• Justice Fathima Beevi was the first woman SC judge, and she was appointed in 1989, 40 years after 
its establishment. 
• Currently, there are 17 women senior counsel designates in the Supreme Court as opposed to 403 
men. 
In High 
Courts (HC) 
• In HCs there are only 80 women judges out of the total sanctioned strength of 1,113 comprising only 
7.2% of the total number of judges. 
• 6 HCs (Manipur, Meghalaya, Patna, Tripura, Telangana, and Uttarakhand) have no sitting women 
judges. 
In 
Subordinate 
courts 
• There are 27% female judges in the lower judiciary. 
• Sub-ordinate judiciary has better women participation due to reservation by some states and 
entrance exams at the entry level, however it is highly skewed between states. 
Advocates • Women make up only 15% of all enrolled advocates in the country. 
Why there is need to improve women representation in judiciary? 
• Constitutional Provisions: Article 14, 15, 15(3), 16, 39(a), 39(b), 39(c) and 42 of Constitution of India provides 
for gender justice, hence increased women participation is necessary to achieve provisions under these 
articles. 
o Constitution of India not only grants equality to women but also empowers the State to adopt measures 
of positive discrimination in favour of women for neutralizing the cumulative socio economic, 
educational and political disadvantages faced by them.  
• Sensitivity in proceedings: Women in society are seen as empathetic and sensitive, improving participation 
will help to improve quality of justice which is most acceptable within rule of law. 
• Social respect: With rise in women number in judiciary stigma of incapability of women in litigation job will 
get vanished and will provide due social respect to women. 
• Improve accessibility to justice by women: Easy availability of women advocates and judges for women 
victims, makes them more comfortable and confident to communicate problems like sexual violence, which 
eventually improves access to justice. 
What are the challenges to improve participation of women in judiciary? 
• Appointment: In higher judiciary power of appointment rests almost exclusively with the collegium, which has 
tended to be opaque and therefore likely to reflect bias, unlike entrance exam and reservation in subordinate 
judiciary. 
• Workplace conditions: It is difficult especially for a young woman in a male-dominated profession, with poor 
sanitation in court premises, lack of paid maternity leave and crèches, sexual harassment and frequent 
transfers contribute to the low numbers of women in litigation and inevitably to the low numbers of women 
judges. 
o Also, even after having Vishakha guidelines and Gender sensitization committees, the participation of 
women in higher judiciary is very dismal.  
• Job security and irregularity: Litigation job in higher judiciary does not provide continuous income source, as 
well it is irregular without defined working time, hence women without other income source and irregularity 
tends to leave litigation job.  
 
 
	
7	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
Way forward 
• Monitoring and assessment: The Supreme Court must direct high courts, lower courts and tribunals for 
collection of data to determine the number of women judges and also to determine year-wise number of 
seniors designates. 
• Checks and balance: There should be some checks and balance against the opacity of collegium and made 
more open for appointment of judges in higher judiciary. 
• Course and training: Gender sensitization course for all new entrants at law school and refresher training for 
old judges.  
• Improve retention: Retention of women advocates in higher judiciary needs to be maintained to make more 
options available for collegium to appoint competent women judges. 
• Holistic inclusion: To be truly diverse, the Indian judiciary would need representation of judges from not only 
different gender identities, but also from different caste, socioeconomic, religious and regional backgrounds.  
1.3.	REVIEW	OF	THE	INFORMATION	COMMISSIONS	
Why in news? 
Recently, the Parliamentary Committee on 
Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and 
Justice has decided to review working of the 
Central Information Commission (CIC) and 
the State Information Commissions (SICs).  
Background 
• Central/State (C/S) Information 
Commissions are statutory bodies 
constituted under the Right to 
Information (RTI) Act, 2005.  
o They are the final appellate 
authority for RTI Act. 
o They are vested with wide power 
like power to impose penalty on 
erring Public Information Officers (PIOs), initiate an inquiry against them (for this they are vested with the 
same powers as are vested in a civil court) etc. 
• CIC is required to submit annual reports to the Parliament and the SICs to state legislatures through its 
administrative wings, the Ministry of Personnel and Training in Centre and Services Department in the states. 
o However, these annual reports are rarely discussed in Parliament or state legislatures raising questions 
over the efficacy of the information law (RTI). 
• Now for the first time the functioning of this body would directly be scrutinized by a parliamentary 
committee, to effectively implement its functioning. 
Why is there a need to scrutinize the functioning of the C/S Information Commission?   
Every year 40 to 60 lakh RTI applications are filed in India. Being the final appellate authority effective functioning 
of C/S Information Commission is crucial for proper implementation of the RTI Act. Following factors make their 
scrutiny a need of the hour:  
• To prevent the misuse of power by the C/S Information Commission: Among various powers, they have the 
power to appoint PIOs and to recommend disciplinary action against them. Scrutiny of functioning is required 
for ensuring the transparency and accountability of the C/S Information Commissions to the people of the 
country.   
• Ensuring diligent discharge of the mandates: Since, 2015 there has been a sudden surge in the number of 
cases (appeal/complaints) being returned to the Appellant by the C/S Information Commissions without 
any substantial reason for the same. In 2019-20, 59% of the disposed cases should have triggered the 
process of penalty on the PIOs. However; penalties were imposed only in 2.2% of the cases.  
About Central Information Commission  
• The Commission consists of a Chief Information Commissioner 
and not more than ten Information Commissioners (IC).  
• They are appointed by President on the recommendation of a 
committee consisting of Prime Minister as Chairperson, Leader 
of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister 
nominated by the Prime Minister.  
• They should be persons of eminence in public life with wide 
knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social 
service, management, journalism, mass media or administration 
and governance.  
• They shall not be Member of Parliament or Member of the 
Legislature of any State or Union Territory as the case may be , 
or hold any other office of profit or connected with any political 
party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession. 
• They are not eligible for reappointment. 
Page 5


	
4	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
1.	POLITY	AND	CONSTITUTION	
1.1.	PARLIAMENTARY	SCRUTINY	
Why in news? 
The recent protests over Agricultural 
Reform laws by farmers has reignited the 
debate on ‘ineffectiveness of 
Parliamentary scrutiny over the executive’.  
About Parliamentary scrutiny of the 
government  
Parliament is the embodiment of the 
people’s will. Therefore, in addition to its 
legislative role, it is also mandated to 
scrutinize the functioning of the 
Government. The Parliament is equipped 
with various instruments for close and 
continuous scrutiny of the functioning of 
the government. These instruments are as 
follows 
• Discussion/debate: During 
discussions/debates on Bills, issues of 
public or national interest on the floor 
of Parliament legislatures could point 
out any shortcoming of the 
government or its policies or loopholes 
in any laws or proposed bills. 
• Question Hour:  It is the first hour of 
business every day 
when PARLIAMENT is in session. It is 
during the Question Hour that the 
members can ask questions on every 
aspect of administration and Governmental activity. This brings government policies in national as well as 
international spheres come into sharp focus.  
o With the broadcasting of Question Hour since 1991, it has become one the most visible aspects of 
parliamentary scrutiny. 
• Parliamentary committees: Parliament has put in place a large machinery of committees to scrutinize the Bills 
which are brought before it by the government. They carry out the detailed scrutiny of the proposed 
legislation, for which they can solicit expert advice and elicit public opinion.  
o Committee meetings are ‘closed door’ and members are not bound by party whips. This enables them to 
have an objective view on issues before them.  
What renders parliamentary scrutiny of the government ineffective? 
• Deciding the duration and timing of the session of the Parliament is government’s prerogative: According to 
Article 85 of the Constitution, the time gap between two sessions cannot be more than six months. However, 
it is the government (Cabinet committee on parliamentary affairs) that decides the exact time and duration 
of the Parliamentary session. Allowing the government to call the Parliament to meet is seen as a conflict with 
the principle of government being accountable to the Parliament.  
o For example, recently the winter session of the Parliament was truncated owing to the COVID-19 
Pandemic.  
o Also, as there is no fixed calendar for the sessions, the Governments have shuffled around the dates of 
sessions to accommodate political and legislative exigencies.  
Related Information 
State Legislative Assembly (SLA) scrutiny 
• Just like Parliament, SLA also has the power to scrutinize the 
functioning of the respective State Government. SLAs are also 
equipped with instruments like  
o Discussion/debate 
o Question Hour 
o Assembly Committees 
o Council of Minister is collectively responsible to the Vidhan 
Sabha  
• However, the functioning of the SLAs have been sub optimal 
thereby affecting the scrutiny of State Government activities by 
the respective SLA. 
o Low sittings: In the last 20 years, SLAs across the country, on 
average, met for less than 30 days in a year. But states like 
Kerala, Odisha, Karnataka are an exception. Low sittings shows 
that bills are passed without debate and discussions. 
o Question Hour: Total ‘starred questions’ asked vary between 
11,200 in Rajasthan to 65 in West Bengal in 2017-19. In this 
time period only 21% of starred questions admitted in the 
14
th
 Rajasthan Assembly and 7% in 13
th
 Maharashtra Assembly 
were answered on the floor of the House. 
ü For the 2020, Monsoon session West Bengal, Punjab, 
Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra 
Assembles have done away with Question Hour. 
o Opaque functioning: Unlike Parliament, sittings of SLAs are not 
live streamed. While some states such as Karnataka, Delhi 
and Rajasthan host the texts of legislative debates on their 
assembly websites, many others like West Bengal don’t.  
• Therefore, SLAs should also bring reforms parallel to that needed 
in Parliament for enhancing the effectiveness of the scrutiny of the 
State Government. 
	
5	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
• Disruptions during Question Hour: In the 16
th
 Lok Sabha, question hour has functioned in Lok Sabha for 77% 
of the scheduled time, while in Rajya Sabha it has functioned for 47%. Consequently, this time lost indicates a 
lost opportunity to hold the government accountable for its actions. 
o Also, over the years, there has been a decline in the sittings days of Parliament. 
• Not referring bills to the Parliament committees: There has been a declining trend in the percentage of Bills 
being referred to a Committee. While 60% of the Bills in the 14th Lok Sabha and 71% in the 15th Lok Sabha 
were vetted by the Parliamentary committees, this proportion came down to 27% in the 16th Lok Sabha. 
What needs to be done to ensure effectiveness of the Parliamentary scrutiny? 
• Insulate the functioning of Parliament from externalities: For the unforeseen externalities (like the pandemic 
this year), the parliamentary rules can be relaxed to allow its functioning with reduced number of members 
of Parliament (MPs) or the full strength of MPs convening in a hybrid manner (Mix of virtual and Physical 
session). 
• Parliament should have the power to regulate its procedure, sittings and timings: Given the legislature’s role 
in keeping the executive accountable for its actions, one argument is that the government should not have 
the power to convene or take decisions on sittings and timings of the Parliament.  Instead, Parliament should 
convene itself so that it can effectively exercise its oversight functions and address issues without delay (by 
convening the session whenever required).   
• Annual calendar for the sessions: Some countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia release an annual 
calendar with the sitting dates at the beginning of the year.  This could be followed by the Parliament of India 
also. 
• Minimum number of sittings should be fixed: Lesser number of sittings indicates that Parliament was able to 
transact less business.  To address this, the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution 
has recommended that Lok Sabha should have at least 120 sittings in a year, while Rajya Sabha should have 
100 sittings.  
• Shadow cabinet: To improve government accountability in Parliament, the opposition in some countries such 
as the UK, Canada, and Australia forms a shadow cabinet. Under such a system, opposition MPs track a certain 
portfolio, scrutinise its performance and suggest alternate programs.  This allows for detailed tracking and 
scrutiny of ministries and assists MPs in making constructive suggestions.   
• Changing certain provisions of the Anti-defection law: The Supreme Court (Kihota Hollohon vs. Zachilhu, 
1992), while upholding the validity of the Anti-defection law highlighted the need to limit disqualifications in 
the cases where Legislatures vote against the directions of Party. The court held that “such provisions should 
be limited to only those voting that are crucial to the existence of the government and to matters integral to 
the electoral programme of the party. So as not to 'unduly impinge' on the freedom of speech of members”.  
Conclusion 
Parliament’s scrutiny of the government is crucial not only for upholding the accountability of the government to 
people of India but also for improving the quality of laws drafted. Strengthening the instruments of Parliamentary 
Scrutiny can go a long way in minimizing the potential implementation challenges.  
1.2.	WOMEN	IN	JUDICIARY	
Why in news? 
Attorney General of India recently stressed on the need to improve the representation of women in the judiciary. 
Background 
• Recently, Madhya Pradesh High Court has granted bail to a man accused of sexual harassment on the 
condition that he will request the complainant to tie a 'rakhi' on him. 
o With this appeal was filed by nine women lawyers seeking to set aside the High Court’s order and a 
direction to courts across the country to restrain from imposing such conditions as these are against the 
principle of law. 
• However, such trivialisation of sexual offences, through a judicial order to tie Rakhi, or in rape cases, to 
compromise by marrying the accused, indicate that patriarchy and misogyny, with regressive notions of 
honour continue to obstruct women’s access to justice. 
	
6	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
• In this regard Attorney General of India said that there is need to gender-sensitize judges and improve women 
participation in judiciary. 
• A parliamentary standing committee on law and justice in 2015 had proposed reservation for women in the 
higher judiciary.  
Existing women participation in judiciary 
In Supreme 
Court (SC) 
• Supreme Court has only 2 women judges, as against a total sanctioned strength of 34 judges and 
there has never been a female Chief Justice of India.  
• Since its inception 70 years ago, only eight women judges have been appointed to the Supreme 
Court.  
• Justice Fathima Beevi was the first woman SC judge, and she was appointed in 1989, 40 years after 
its establishment. 
• Currently, there are 17 women senior counsel designates in the Supreme Court as opposed to 403 
men. 
In High 
Courts (HC) 
• In HCs there are only 80 women judges out of the total sanctioned strength of 1,113 comprising only 
7.2% of the total number of judges. 
• 6 HCs (Manipur, Meghalaya, Patna, Tripura, Telangana, and Uttarakhand) have no sitting women 
judges. 
In 
Subordinate 
courts 
• There are 27% female judges in the lower judiciary. 
• Sub-ordinate judiciary has better women participation due to reservation by some states and 
entrance exams at the entry level, however it is highly skewed between states. 
Advocates • Women make up only 15% of all enrolled advocates in the country. 
Why there is need to improve women representation in judiciary? 
• Constitutional Provisions: Article 14, 15, 15(3), 16, 39(a), 39(b), 39(c) and 42 of Constitution of India provides 
for gender justice, hence increased women participation is necessary to achieve provisions under these 
articles. 
o Constitution of India not only grants equality to women but also empowers the State to adopt measures 
of positive discrimination in favour of women for neutralizing the cumulative socio economic, 
educational and political disadvantages faced by them.  
• Sensitivity in proceedings: Women in society are seen as empathetic and sensitive, improving participation 
will help to improve quality of justice which is most acceptable within rule of law. 
• Social respect: With rise in women number in judiciary stigma of incapability of women in litigation job will 
get vanished and will provide due social respect to women. 
• Improve accessibility to justice by women: Easy availability of women advocates and judges for women 
victims, makes them more comfortable and confident to communicate problems like sexual violence, which 
eventually improves access to justice. 
What are the challenges to improve participation of women in judiciary? 
• Appointment: In higher judiciary power of appointment rests almost exclusively with the collegium, which has 
tended to be opaque and therefore likely to reflect bias, unlike entrance exam and reservation in subordinate 
judiciary. 
• Workplace conditions: It is difficult especially for a young woman in a male-dominated profession, with poor 
sanitation in court premises, lack of paid maternity leave and crèches, sexual harassment and frequent 
transfers contribute to the low numbers of women in litigation and inevitably to the low numbers of women 
judges. 
o Also, even after having Vishakha guidelines and Gender sensitization committees, the participation of 
women in higher judiciary is very dismal.  
• Job security and irregularity: Litigation job in higher judiciary does not provide continuous income source, as 
well it is irregular without defined working time, hence women without other income source and irregularity 
tends to leave litigation job.  
 
 
	
7	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
Way forward 
• Monitoring and assessment: The Supreme Court must direct high courts, lower courts and tribunals for 
collection of data to determine the number of women judges and also to determine year-wise number of 
seniors designates. 
• Checks and balance: There should be some checks and balance against the opacity of collegium and made 
more open for appointment of judges in higher judiciary. 
• Course and training: Gender sensitization course for all new entrants at law school and refresher training for 
old judges.  
• Improve retention: Retention of women advocates in higher judiciary needs to be maintained to make more 
options available for collegium to appoint competent women judges. 
• Holistic inclusion: To be truly diverse, the Indian judiciary would need representation of judges from not only 
different gender identities, but also from different caste, socioeconomic, religious and regional backgrounds.  
1.3.	REVIEW	OF	THE	INFORMATION	COMMISSIONS	
Why in news? 
Recently, the Parliamentary Committee on 
Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and 
Justice has decided to review working of the 
Central Information Commission (CIC) and 
the State Information Commissions (SICs).  
Background 
• Central/State (C/S) Information 
Commissions are statutory bodies 
constituted under the Right to 
Information (RTI) Act, 2005.  
o They are the final appellate 
authority for RTI Act. 
o They are vested with wide power 
like power to impose penalty on 
erring Public Information Officers (PIOs), initiate an inquiry against them (for this they are vested with the 
same powers as are vested in a civil court) etc. 
• CIC is required to submit annual reports to the Parliament and the SICs to state legislatures through its 
administrative wings, the Ministry of Personnel and Training in Centre and Services Department in the states. 
o However, these annual reports are rarely discussed in Parliament or state legislatures raising questions 
over the efficacy of the information law (RTI). 
• Now for the first time the functioning of this body would directly be scrutinized by a parliamentary 
committee, to effectively implement its functioning. 
Why is there a need to scrutinize the functioning of the C/S Information Commission?   
Every year 40 to 60 lakh RTI applications are filed in India. Being the final appellate authority effective functioning 
of C/S Information Commission is crucial for proper implementation of the RTI Act. Following factors make their 
scrutiny a need of the hour:  
• To prevent the misuse of power by the C/S Information Commission: Among various powers, they have the 
power to appoint PIOs and to recommend disciplinary action against them. Scrutiny of functioning is required 
for ensuring the transparency and accountability of the C/S Information Commissions to the people of the 
country.   
• Ensuring diligent discharge of the mandates: Since, 2015 there has been a sudden surge in the number of 
cases (appeal/complaints) being returned to the Appellant by the C/S Information Commissions without 
any substantial reason for the same. In 2019-20, 59% of the disposed cases should have triggered the 
process of penalty on the PIOs. However; penalties were imposed only in 2.2% of the cases.  
About Central Information Commission  
• The Commission consists of a Chief Information Commissioner 
and not more than ten Information Commissioners (IC).  
• They are appointed by President on the recommendation of a 
committee consisting of Prime Minister as Chairperson, Leader 
of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister 
nominated by the Prime Minister.  
• They should be persons of eminence in public life with wide 
knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social 
service, management, journalism, mass media or administration 
and governance.  
• They shall not be Member of Parliament or Member of the 
Legislature of any State or Union Territory as the case may be , 
or hold any other office of profit or connected with any political 
party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession. 
• They are not eligible for reappointment. 
	
8	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
• Keeping public trust intact in the 
C/S Information Commissions: 
Tenure, salary and allowances of 
the information commissioners 
is not fixed. RTI Amendment Act, 
2019 has empowered the 
Central Government to notify 
them. This amendment has raised 
apprehension of eroding 
autonomy of the Commission. 
Scrutiny of their functioning by 
the parliamentary committee as a 
neutral body may allay this fear of 
the people. 
o RTI Act, 2005 earlier assured 
incumbents of a fixed five-
year term, with 65 as the 
retirement age. The salaries, 
allowances that were earlier 
pegged with that of the Chief 
Election Commissioner (for 
Chief Central Information 
Commissioner) and Election 
Commissioner (Central 
Information Commissioner 
and State Chief Information Commissioner).  
• Provide continuity in regular transparency in the system: In the past, effective functioning of these 
commissions have led to exposure of many corruptions cases (like Adarsh Society Scam, 2G scam, Common 
wealth game scam etc. Parliamentary scrutiny would not only provide continuity but may also give fillip to 
such effective functioning.  
What more needs to be done to enhance the accountability of the C/S Information Commission?  
• Make the process of appointing transparent: The process of appointment of the information commissioner 
is not transparent. Because of which many a time such appointments have been set aside by the courts. 
o The selection process should be in compliance with the direction of Supreme Court in the Union of India 
vs Namit Sharma case, 2013 where it directed that the selection committee to put the relevant facts 
(indicating that recommended candidates are eminent in public life, knowledge and experience) in public 
domain.  
• Ensure balanced composition of the ICs: The prescribed criteria for appointment as information 
commissioner is very broad. 84% of the Chief Information Commissioners and 59% of the Information 
Commissioners are retired government officials. Moreover, the Search Committee which short-lists the 
persons consists of bureaucrats only. There is a need to ensure that eminent persons from different 
background are appointed.  
• Cases should be allocated to commissioners with expertise in the matter: In 2013, the Supreme Court took 
the cognisance of the poor quality of orders passed by Information Commissioners. It also directed that Chief 
Information Commissioners must ensure that matters involving intricate questions of law are heard by 
commissioners who have legal expertise.  
• Ensure optimal capacity of the C/S Information Commissions: In 2011, the Central Information 
Commissions has set an annual norm for itself of 3,200 cases per commissioner, per year. This norm should 
be accepted by all the Information commissioners across the country.  Also there is a concomitant need to 
develop norms for budget and staffing patterns (legal and technical experts) of Information Commissioners. 
This is especially important not only for reducing backlogs but also for timely disposal of new cases. 
• The Appeal filing process should be made people friendly to check the rising number of rejection of cases 
(complaints/appeals) by the C/S Information Commissions. RTI rules should not allow for returning of 
Related information 
RTI Act, 2005 
• RTI Act, 2005 makes the governance citizen centric by equipping citizens 
with the power to seek information from public authorities. 
• It provides the mechanism for grievance redressal to citizens who are 
denied any information 
• RTI applicant is not required to give any reason for seeking information. 
• Public authorities mandated to proactively disclose certain information 
(like functions, structure, powers and duties of its officers and employees 
financial information). 
• Authorities responsible for supplying information: Public authorities 
designate some officers in their administrative units as the Public 
Information Officers (PIOs).  
o These PIOs are mandated to supply the information sought within 
30 days (or 48 hours If information sought concerns the life or liberty 
of a person). 
• Appeal mechanism: If the information sought is not provided within the 
specified time period, then the RTI applicant can file appeal against the 
decision of the PIOs. 
o First Appeal Authority: The first appeal lies within the public 
authority itself. The first Appellate Authority happens to be an 
officer senior in rank to the Central Public Information Officer. 
o Final Appellate Authority: C/S Information Commission, a statutory 
body that has a Chief information Commissioner and who is assisted 
with not more than 10 information commissioners. They are 
appointed by the President/Governor in the State respectively. 
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