• Policies made by government involve many people. government consults and takes views from many people before making any policy.
• President is head of state and is highest formal authority in country.
• Prime Minister is head of government and actually exercises all governmental powers. He takes most of decisions in Cabinet meetings.
• Parliament consists of President and two Houses – Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Prime Minister must have support of a majority of Lok Sabha members.
• Supreme Court and High Courts in India settle disputes arising out of governmental decisions.
• A government order was issued on August 13 1990 said that 27% of vacancies in civil posts and services under Government of India are reserved for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes [SEBC].
• SEBC is another name for all those people who belong to castes that are considered backward by government. benefit of job reservation was till then available only to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
• Order came after Government of India had appointed Second Backward Classes Commission in 1979. It was headed by B.P. Mandal. Hence, it is popularly known as Mandal Commission. It was asked to determine criteria to identify socially and educationally backward classes in India and recommend steps to be taken for their advancement.
• Commission gave its report in 1980 and made many recommendations. One of these was that 27% of government jobs be reserved for socially and educationally backward classes.
• order had a mixed reaction from people, some felt that existence of inequalities among people of different castes in India necessitated job reservations, and it would give a fair opportunity to those communities who had not adequately been represented in government employment.
• Those who opposed this order filed a number of cases in courts. They appealed to courts to declare order invalid and stop its implementation.
• Supreme Court of India bunched all these cases together. This case was called ‘Indira Sawhney and others vs Union of India case’. Nine judges of Supreme Court heard arguments of both sides.
• Supreme Court judges in 1992 by a majority declared that this order of Government of India was valid. It said that well-to-do persons among backward classes should be excluded from getting benefit of reservation. dispute came to an end, and this policy has been followed since then.
• Parliament is an assembly of elected representatives that exercises supreme political authority on behalf of people. At state level, this is known as Legislature or Legislative Assembly.
Functions of Parliament
• Parliament is final authority for making laws for country. This task of law-making or legislation is so crucial that these assemblies are known as legislatures.
• Parliaments control all money that governments have.
• Parliament is highest forum of discussion and debate on public issues and national policy in country.
• Parliament exercises some control over those who run government. In India, those who run government can take decisions only so long as they enjoy support of Parliament.
Houses of Parliament
• Parliament consists of two Houses. two Houses are called Council of States [Rajya Sabha] and House of People [Lok Sabha].
• President of India is a part of Parliament, although he is not a member of either House. That is why all laws made in Houses come into force only after they receive assent of President.
Lok Sabha vs Rajya Sabha
• Our Constitution has given Rajya Sabha some special powers, but on most matters, Lok Sabha exercises supreme power.
• Any ordinary law needs to be passed by both Houses. But if there is a difference between two Houses, final decision is taken in a joint session in which members of both Houses sit together. view of Lok Sabha is likely to prevail in such a meeting because of larger number of members.
• Lok Sabha exercises more powers in money matters. Once Lok Sabha passes budget of government or any other money-related law, Rajya Sabha cannot reject it. Rajya Sabha can only delay it by 14 days or suggest changes in it. Lok Sabha may or may not accept these changes.
• Lok Sabha controls Council of Ministers. Only a person who enjoys support of majority of members in Lok Sabha is appointed Prime Minister. If majority of Lok Sabha members have ‘no confidence’ in Council of Ministers, all ministers including Prime Minister, have to quit. Rajya Sabha does not have this power.
• In a democratic country, two categories make up executive.
• One that is elected by people for a specific period, is known as political executive. Political leaders who take big decisions fall in this category. They are called temporary executive.
• In second category, people are appointed on a long-term basis. It is known as permanent executive or civil services. Persons working in civil services are known as civil servants. They remain in office even when ruling party changes.
Council of Ministers
• Council of Ministers is official name for body that includes all Ministers. It generally has 60 to 80 Ministers of different ranks.
• Cabinet Ministers are generally top-level leaders of ruling party or parties who are in charge of major ministries. cabinet is inner ring of Council of Ministers. It comprises about 25 ministers.
• Ministers of State with independent charge are generally in-charge of smaller Ministries. They participate in cabinet meetings only when specially invited.
• Ministers of State are attached to and required to assist Cabinet Ministers. This is not practical for all ministers to meet regularly and discuss everything, decisions are taken in Cabinet meetings. That is why parliamentary democracy is called Cabinet form of government. Cabinet works as a team.
• ministers may have different views and opinions, but everyone has to own up to every decision of Cabinet.
• No minister can openly criticise any decision of government, even if it is about another Ministry or department.
• Every ministry has secretaries, who are civil servants. secretaries provide necessary background information to ministers to take decisions.
• Cabinet as a team is assisted by Cabinet Secretariat. This includes many senior civil servants who try to coordinate working of different ministries.
• Prime Minister is most important political institution in country. There is no direct election to post of Prime Minister.
• President appoints Prime Minister. But President cannot appoint anyone he likes. President appoints leader of majority party or coalition of parties that have a majority in Lok Sabha.
• Prime Minister does not have a fixed tenure. He continues in power so long as he remains leader of majority party or coalition.
• President appoints other ministers on advice of Prime Minister. Prime Minister is free to choose ministers, as long as they are members of Parliament.
• A person who is not a member of Parliament can become a minister, but such a person has to get elected to one of Houses of Parliament within six months of appointment as a minister.
Powers of Prime Minister
• Prime Minister has wide-ranging powers. He chairs Cabinet meetings. He coordinates work of different departments. His decisions are final in case disagreements arise between departments. He supervises different ministries. All ministers work under his leadership.
• Prime Minister distributes and redistributes work to ministers. He has power to dismiss ministers.
• When Prime Minister quits, entire ministry quits.
• Parliamentary democracies are known as Prime Ministerial forms of government due to large number of powers of Prime Minister.
• In our political system, President being head of State exercises only nominal powers. President of India is like Queen of Britain whose functions are ceremonial.
• President supervises overall functioning of all political institutions in country.
• President is not elected directly by people. elected Members of Parliament [MPs] and elected Members of Legislative Assemblies [MLAs] elect him.
• President is only a nominal executive while Prime Minister is real executive.
Powers of President
• All governmental activities take place in name of President.
• All laws and major policy decisions of government are issued in his name.
• All major appointments are made in name of President, like appointment of Chief Justice of India, Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts of states, Governors of States, Election Commissioners, Ambassadors to other countries.
• All international treaties and agreements are made in name of President.
• President is supreme commander of defence forces of India.
• President exercises all these powers only on advice of Council of Ministers. President can ask Council of Ministers to reconsider its advice. But if same advice is given again, he is bound to act according to it.
• A bill passed by Parliament becomes a law only after President gives assent to it. If President wants, he can delay this for some time and send bill back to Parliament for reconsideration. But if Parliament passes bill again, he has to sign it.
• There is one very important thing he does on his own – to appoint Prime Minister when no party or coalition gets a majority in Lok Sabha, in this case President exercises his discretion.
• President asks newly appointed Prime Minister to prove majority support in Lok Sabha within a specified time.
Courts in India
• All courts at different levels in a country put together are known as judiciary.
• Indian judiciary consists of a Supreme Court for entire nation, High Courts in States, District Courts at local level.
• India has an integrated judiciary. It means Supreme Court controls judicial administration in country. Its decisions are binding on all other courts of country.
Supreme Court and High Courts
• Supreme Court can take up any dispute – between citizens of country; between citizens and government; between two or more state governments; and between governments at union and state level. This is highest court of appeal in civil and criminal cases. It can hear appeals against decisions of High Courts.
• Supreme Court and High Courts have power to interpret Constitution of country. They can declare invalid any law of legislature or actions of executive, whether at Union level or at State level if they find such law or action is against Constitution. It is called judicial review.
• Anyone can approach courts if public interest is hurt by actions of government. It is known as public interest litigation.
• Supreme Court of India has ruled that core or basic principles of Constitution cannot be changed by Parliament.
Judges of Courts
• judges of Supreme Court and High Courts are appointed by President on advice of Prime Minister and in consultation with Chief Justice of Supreme Court.
• Once a person is appointed as judge of Supreme Court or High Court it is nearly impossible to remove him or her from that position.
• A judge can be removed only by an impeachment motion passed separately by two-thirds members of two Houses of Parliament. It has never happened in history of Indian democracy.
• An independent and powerful judiciary is considered essential for democracies.
• Independence of judiciary means that it is not under control of legislature or executive.
• powers and independence of Indian judiciary allow it to act as guardian of Fundamental Rights.