Constitutional Bodies in India: Constitutional Bodies in India are those institutions that are established or changed by an Act amending the Constitution. Some institutions were already mentioned in the Constitution at the time of its adoption in 1950, while others were added to it later through Constitutional Amendment Acts. The Constitutional Bodies in India play a major role in its functioning and upholding the democratic ethos of the country.
Questions on Constitutional Bodies in India are quite common in exams such as UPSC, PCS, NET (Political Science), and entrance exams of various colleges and universities. Thus, it is extremely important to get an in-depth understanding of the topic. Thus, in this article, we explain in-depth about the Constitutional Bodies in India.
Constitutional Bodies in India: Raison D’etre
The existence of Constitutional Bodies in India owes to the need for independent bodies as recognised by our founding fathers. Such independent bodies, it was understood, would be able to work independently without any interference from the government. Hence, these bodies derive their powers and authority from the Constitution itself. Thus, to alter their powers and functionalities, a Constitutional Amendment is necessary. Thus, it becomes extremely difficult for a government to make drastic changes in its powers without having a two-thirds majority in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
List of Constitutional Bodies in India
The following list consists of all Constitutional Bodies in India
|1||Election Commission||7||National Commission for Scheduled Castes|
|2||Finance Commission||8||National Commission for Scheduled Tribes|
|3||Union Public Service Commission||9||National Commission for Backward Classes|
|4||State Public Service Commission||10||Attorney General of India|
|5||Comptroller and Auditor General of India||11||Special Office for Linguistic Minorities|
|6||Goods and Services Tax Council||12||Advocate General of the state|
Constitutional Bodies in India: Details
The Constitutional Bodies in India are discussed in detail below
1) Election Commission of India
(i) The Election Commission of India is an independent body that was created by the enactment of the Constitution in 1950.
(ii) Article 324 of the Constitution deals with the powers, control, superintendence, direction and functionalities of the Election Commission
(iii) The Commission is responsible for conducting the election of Members of Parliament, Members of Legislative Assemblies, Members of Legislative Council, President and Vice-President.
(iv) The vision of the Election Commission is to be an Institution of Excellence by strengthening and deepening the democracy of India. It ensures free and fair elections, accessibility of polling booths for the electorate, ethical behaviour of the contestants, participation of eligible citizens, promotes awareness about the elections and so on.
(v) The powers of the Election Commission are categorised into: Administrative, Advisory and Quasi-Judicial.
2) Union Public Service Commission
(i) The Union Public Service Commission is also among the Constitutional Bodies in India which came into being with the Constitution itself.
(ii) Articles 315 to 323 contained in Part XIV of the Constitution of India deal with the UPSC.
(iii) Its primary function is to recruit suitable candidates for services in various departments and ministries of Union and State Governments. It conducts examinations for the recruitment of suitable candidates for All-India Service, Central Services and that of central-administered regions. Moreover, if two or more states request so, the UPSC can assist in framing and operating schemes of joint recruitment for posts which require special qualifications.
(iv) The UPSC also serves the needs of a state if requested by the Governor of the State and approved by the President. It also advises the government on matters pertaining to promotion when asked.
(v) The UPSC is an autonomous body. The government cannot alter its functionalities and its Chairman cannot be reappointed to the post.
(vi) The UPSC is visualised as a ‘watchdog’ of the merit system in the country by the Constitution.
3) Finance Commission
(i) The Finance Commission also comes among the Constitutional Bodies in India which came into being with the Constitution.
(ii) The Finance Commission derives its powers from Article 280 of the Constitution. Its main function is to make recommendations to the President of India on the distribution of net proceeds of taxes between the Union and the States, the principles determining the Union’s grants of aid to the States and the measures, measures required to increase the consolidated fund of a province to be provided to municipalities and panchayats for public works, etc.
(iii) The Finance Commission submits its report to the President who then lays it before the Parliament. The report and its recommendations are not binding upon the Government of India and hence the Government can reject it.
4) States Public Service Commission
(i) The States Public Service Commission is also among the Constitutional Bodies in India that were created along with the enactment of the Constitution.
(ii) Articles 315 to 323 deal with the States Public Service Commission and its functions, compositions and independence. The Constitution has not specified the strength of the Commission and has left the matter to the State Government. These articles authorise the state government to set up the conditions of service. However, half of the members of the commission must have at least 10 years of experience under either the Union Government or the State Government.
(iii) The Chairman of SPSC can only be removed by the President and not the Governor. This ensures the independence of the Commission.
(iv) The main function of the Commission is to conduct recruitment to civil posts through examinations. The commission also determines the principles to be followed for recruitment and appointments.
(v) The SPSC presents to the Governor an annual report regarding its performance who then lays it before the Vidhan Sabha
(vi) The State Public Service Commission is the watchdog of the merit system in the state.
5) Comptroller and Auditor General of India
(i) The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), according to B. R. Ambedkar, is “the most important officer” under India’s Constitution. The office of CAG is also one of the earliest Constitutional Bodies in India.
(ii) The Office of CAG derives its powers from Article 148 which provides for its independence. The CAG is provided with a security of tenure. Moreover, he can be removed from office only when both houses of the Parliament pass a resolution with a Special Majority (2/3rd of those present and voting with a minimum of 50% attendance).
(iii) The office of CAG holds a huge deal of importance in the democratic functioning of the country. She/He audits the accounts of the Consolidated Fund of India, that of States and of Union Territories with a Legislature, Contingency Fund of India, Balance Sheets of all trading of the Union, Public Accounts of India, expenditure of the Union and the States, etc.
(iv) The CAG is responsible only to the Parliament. He/She submits three annual reports on Appropriation Accounts, Finance Accounts and Public Undertakings to the President who then tables them to the Parliament.
(v) One criticism of the CAG is that many departments are allowed to withdraw money from the Consolidated Fund of India without the need for authorisation from the CAG’s Office. Thus, in practice, the CAG acts only as Auditor General and not as Comptroller.
6) Goods and Services Tax Council
(i) The Goods and Services Tax Council was established by the 101st Constitutional Amendment of 2016. Article 279-A was created for this purpose.
(ii) The Finance Minister acts as the chairperson of the council. The Council is responsible for deciding the taxes, cesses and surcharges to be levied by the Union, States and the local bodies, the goods and services that are exempted or subjected to the GST etc.
(iii) The 101st Amendment Act is criticised for giving excessive weightage to the Union Government in the council. The vote of the Union is equal to one-third of the total votes cast.
7) National Commission for Scheduled Castes
(i) This is one of the Constitutional Bodies in India that was established after the enactment of the Constitution. The 65th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1990 established a constitutional body for SCs and STs. Late, in 2003, the 89th Constitutional Amendment Act bifurcated the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
(ii) Article 338 pertains to the functions and powers of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.
(iii) The commission has all the powers of a Civil Court while investigating a matter or a complaint regarding a violation of any rights of the Scheduled Castes. This includes summoning, searching for any document or any article, requisitioning etc.
(iv) The commission is required to be consulted on all major policy decisions of the Union Government.
8) National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
(i) As mentioned above, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes was formed in 2003 by the 89th Constitutional Amendment Act. As a result, article 338-A was added to the Constitution.
(ii) The main function of the commission is to investigate all kinds of matters relating to the Scheduled Tribes of the country, including violation or deprivation of rights.
(iii) The powers of NCST are the same as that of NCSC.
9) National Commission for Backward Classes
(i) The 102nd Constitutional Amendment added another body to the already existing Constitutional Bodies in India by giving constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes. As a result, Article 338-B was added to the Constitution.
(ii) The National Commission for Backward Classes was constituted in 1993 with an Act of Parliament after a Supreme Court directive that established it as a statutory body.
(iii) The constitutional status of NCBC is at par with NCSC and NCST. The powers and functions of all three are the same.
10) Attorney General of India
(i) The Attorney General of India was also one of the original Constitutional Bodies in India. Article 76 of the Constitution gives the Attorney General a Constitutional Status.
(ii) The Attorney General is the Chief Law Officer of the Union Government. His/Her duties include appearing before the Supreme Court of India on behalf of the Central Government. He is also allowed to appear before any High Court in a case in which the Union government is a party or is concerned. He is also responsible for giving advice on matters of Law when asked by the President.
(iii) The Attorney general can also take part in the proceedings of both houses of Parliament.
11) Special Office for Linguistic Minorities
(i) The Special Office for Linguistic Minorities was also not one of the original Constitutional Bodies in India. It was made so by the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1956 as the demand for linguistic states was catching ground.
(ii) As a result of the amendment, article 350-B was added to the Constitution. The article mandated that a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities shall be appointed by the President. He/She is assisted by the Solicitor General of India.
(iii) The Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities is responsible for the investigation of all the matters pertaining to linguistic minorities of the country, as well as for promoting and preserving linguistic minorities and their language. The Office comes under the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
12) Advocate General of the State
(i) The Advocate General of the state also comes under the original constitutional bodies of India. Article 165 gives it a constitutional status.
(ii) The Advocate General of the State is appointed by the Governor after consulting with the Chief Minister and his/her council of ministers. He represents the Government of the State before the High Court of the State or any other court.
(iii) He is also responsible for giving advice to the State Government on matters relating to Law when asked.
(iv) He has the right to take part in the proceedings of the State Legislature.
The above list of Constitutional Bodies in India is an exhaustive list.
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