India: The states and Union Territories
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India: The states and Union Territories
THE STATES of India
The system of government in States closely resembles that of the Union.
State executive consists of Governor and Council of Ministers with Chief Minister as its head. The Governor of a State is appointed by the President for a term of five years and holds office during his pleasure. Only Indian citizens above 35 years of age are eligible for appointment to this office. Executive power of the State is vested in Governor.
Council of Ministers with Chief Minister as head, aids and advises Governor in exercise of his functions except in so far as he is by or under the Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion. In respect of Nagaland, Governor has special responsibility under Article 371 A of the Constitution with respect to law and order and even though it is necessary for him to consult Council of Ministers in matters relating to law and order, he can exercise his individual judgement as to the action to be taken.
Similarly, in respect of Arunachal Pradesh, Governor has special responsibility under Article 371H of the Constitution with respect to law and order and in discharge of his functions in relation thereto. Governor shall, after consulting Council of Ministers, exercise his individual judgement as to the action to be taken. These are, however, temporary provisions if President, on receipt of a report from Governor or otherwise is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for Governor to have special responsibility with respect to law and order, he may so direct by an order.
Likewise, in the Sixth Schedule which applies to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram as specified in para 20 of that Schedule, discretionary powers are given to Governor in matters relating to sharing of royalties between district council and state government. Sixth Schedule vests additional discretionary powers in Governors of Mizoram and Tripura in almost all their functions (except approving regulations for levy of taxes and money lending by non-tribals by district councils) since December 1998. In Sikkim, Governor has been given special responsibility for peace and social and economic advancement of different sections of population.
All Governors while discharging such constitutional functions as appointment of Chief Minister of a State or sending a report to President about failure of constitutional machinery in a State or in respect of matters relating to assent to a Bill passed by legislature, exercise their own judgement.
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
The Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor who also appoints other ministers on the advice of the Chief Minister. The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to legislative assembly of the State.
For every state, there is a legislature which consists of Governor and one House or, two Houses as the case may be. In Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, there are two Houses known as Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly. In the remaining states, there is only one House known as legislative assembly. Parliament may, by law, provide for abolition of an existing legislative council or for creation of one where it does not exist, if proposal is supported by a resolution of the legislative assembly concerned.
Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad) of a state comprises not more than one-third of total number of members in legislative assembly of the state and in no case less than 40 members (Legislative Council of Jammu and Kashmir has 36 members vide Section 50 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir). About one-third of members of the council are elected by members of legislative assembly from amongst persons who are not its members, one-third by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state, one-twelfth by electorate consisting of persons who have been, for at least three years, engaged in teaching in educational institutions within the state not lower in standard than secondary school and a further one-twelfth by registered graduates of more than three years standing. Remaining members are nominated by Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, cooperative movement and social service. Legislative councils are not subject to dissolution but one-third of their members retire every second year.
Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) of a state consists of not more than 500 and not less than 60 members (Legislative Assembly of Sikkim has 32 members vide Article 371F of the Constitution) chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the state. Demarcation of territorial constituencies is to be done in such a manner that the ratio between population of each constituency and number of seats allotted to it, as far as practicable, is the same throughout the state. Term of an assembly is five years unless it is dissolved earlier.
POWERS AND FUNCTIONS
State legislature has exclusive powers over subjects enumerated in List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution and concurrent powers over those enumerated in List III. Financial powers of legislature include authorisation of all expenditure, taxation and borrowing by the state government. Legislative Assembly alone has power to originate money bills. Legislative Council can make only recommendations in respect of changes it considers necessary within a period of fourteen days of the receipt of money bills from Assembly. Assembly can accept or reject these recommendations.
RESERVATION OF BILLS
The Governor of a state may reserve any Bill for the consideration of the President. Bills relating to subjects like compulsory acquisition of property, measures affecting powers and position of High Courts and imposition of taxes on storage, distribution and sale of water or electricity in inter-state river or river valley development projects should necessarily be so reserved. No Bills seeking to impose restrictions on interstate trade can be introduced in a state legislature without previous sanction of the President.
CONTROL OVER EXECUTIVE
State legislatures, apart from exercising the usual power of financial control, use all normal parliamentary devices like questions, discussions, debates, adjournments and no-confidence motions and resolutions to keep a watch over day-to-day work of the executive. They also have their committees on estimates and public accounts to ensure that grants sanctioned by legislature are properly utilised.
The UNION TERRITORIES of India
Union Territories are administrated by the President acting to such extent, as he thinks fit, through an Administrator appointed by him. Administrators of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Delhi and Pondicherry are designated as Lieutenant Governors. The Governor of Punjab is concurrently the Administrator of Chandigarh. The Administrator of Dadra and Nagar Haveli is concurrently the Administrator of Daman and Diu. Lakshadweep has a separate Administrator.
The National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Pondicherry each has a legislative assembly and council of ministers. Legislative assembly of Union Territory of Pondicherry may make laws with respect to matters enumerated in List II or List III in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution in so far as these matters are applicable in relation to the Union Territory. The legislative assembly of National Capital Territory of Delhi has also these powers with the exceptions that Entries 1, 2 and 18 of the List II are not within the legislative competence of the legislative assembly. Certain categories of Bills, however, require the prior approval of the Central Government for introduction in the legislative assembly. Some Bills, passed by the legislative assembly of the Union Territory of Pondicherry and National Capital Territory of Delhi are required to be reserved for consideration and assent of the President.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT: India
Municipal bodies have a long history in India. The first such Municipal Corporation was set-up in the former Presidency Town of Madras in 1688; and was followed by similar corporations in the then Bombay and Calcutta in 1726. The Constitution of India has made detailed provisions for ensuring protection of democracy in Parliament and in the state legislatures. However, Constitution did not make the local self-government in urban areas a clear-cut constitutional obligation. While the Directive Principles of State Policy refer to village Panchayats, there is no specific reference to Municipalities except the implicity in Entry 5 of the State List, which places the subject of local self-governments as a responsibility of the states.
In order to provide for a common framework for urban local bodies and help to strengthen the functioning of the bodies as effective democratic units of selfgovernment, Parliament enacted the Constitution (74th Amendment) Act, 1992 (known as Nagarpalika Act) relating to municipalities in 1992. The Act received the assent of the President on 20 April 1993. The Government of India notified 1 June 1993 as the date from which the said Act came into force. A new part IX-A relating to the Municipalities has been incorporated in the Constitution to provide for among other things, constitution of three types of Municipalities, i.e., Nagar Panchayats for areas in transition from a rural area to urban area, Municipal Councils for smaller urban areas and Municipal Corporation for large urban areas, fixed duration of municipalities, appointment of state election commission, appointment of state finance commission and constitution of metropolitan and district planning committees. All State/UT Administrations have set-up their state election commissions and Finance Commissions.
Article 40 of the Constitution which enshrines one of the Directive Principles of State Policy lays down that the State shall take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such powers and, authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.
In the light of the above a new Part IX relating to the Panchayats has been inserted in the Constitution to provide for among other things, Gram Sabha in a village or group of villages; constitution of Panchayats at village and other level or levels; direct elections to all seats in Panchayats at the village and intermediate level, if any, and to the offices of Chairpersons of Panchayats at such levels; reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in proportion to their population for membership of Panchayats and office of Chairpersons in Panchayats at each level; reservation of not less than one-third of the seats for women; fixing tenure of five years for Panchayats and holding elections within a period of six months in the event of supersession of any Panchayat.