Non-Constitutional Bodies | UPSC

Non-Constitutional Bodies: Non-Constitutional Bodies are those institutions that do not derive their powers from any article of the Constitution. In other words, the Non-Constitutional Bodies are those public institutions that are established either by a law passed by the Parliament (Statutory Body) or by an executive resolution (Non-Statutory Body). In this article, we will discuss both major statutory and non-statutory bodies.

Non-Constitutional Bodies

Non-constitutional bodies are an extremely important topic from the perspective of competitive exams such as UPSC, PCS, NET etc. Thus, we suggest you read this full article in order to grasp the complete concepts of the following Non-Constitutional Bodies.

List of Non-Constitutional Bodies

1) National Human Rights Commission

The National Human Rights Commission is a Non-Constitutional Body which was established in 1993 through the Protection of Human Rights Act, of 1993, making it a statutory body. The commission was created as a watchdog of Human Rights in India and fundamental rights relating to equality, life, etc. The body consists of a Chairperson and five other members. The qualifications of the members of the commission’s body are:

  1. The Chairperson must be a retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or any other Justice of the Supreme Court.
  2. Of the other five members, one must be either retired or serving justice of the Supreme Court.
  3. One member must be a retired or serving Chief Justice of any High Court
  4. The other three members must be pioneers in the field of Human Rights with practical knowledge

The NHRC has the right to intervene in any court proceedings that involve violations of Human Rights involved in it. It can also inquire into any case that involves a violation of human rights. In this respect, it has all the powers enjoyed by a civil court.

 Also, the NHRC deals with cases of Human Rights Violations in the NCT of Delhi, as the capital city locks any of its own States Human Rights Commission.

2) States Human Rights Commission

Established along with the National Human Rights Commission, the States Human Rights Commission is an independent body that can conduct enquiries into instances of Human Rights Violations in the state. The SHRCs are created by the states by an official gazette notification. 

States Human Rights Commissions, however, can launch enquiries into cases that come under the Concurrent and State List. Moreover, the NHRC has many overriding powers over the SHRCs. For instance, if any case is already under investigation by the NHRC, the SHRCs cannot launch their own enquiry. 

Some of the important functions of the SHRC are as follows:

  1. The primary function of the SHRC is to conduct enquiries into instances of Human Rights Violations in the State.
  2. It is also responsible for constantly reviewing the legal and constitutional safeguards regarding Human Rights.
  3. It is also responsible for visiting jails and reviewing the living conditions of the inmates on a regular basis.

The SHRC governing body consists of three members [1 Chairperson and 2 other members]. The chairperson must be a retired Chief Justice or a judge of any high court (and not just the high court of the state), while the other two members must be a serving, retired judge of any high court or a district judge, and a person with practical experience on Human Rights.

3) NITI Aayog

NITI Aayog (National Institute for transforming India) is perhaps the most important and the latest of all Non-Constitutional Bodies. It was established on 1st January 2015 after the Government of India dissolved the Planning Commission. It is a think tank that provides policy suggestions and technical advice to the Union Government and the State Governments. An important point to note about Niti Aayog is that it was created by an executive resolution, which makes it a non-statutory body. In many respects, the structure of NITI Aayog is similar to that of the Planning Commission.

NITI Aayog is headed by the Prime Minister who acts as the Chairperson. Its governing council consists of all the Chief Ministers of the States, Union Territories with Legislatures as well as Lt. Governors of UTs without legislature. If a contentious case involves two or more states, the matter is then referred to the Regional Council, which is there to deal with particular such matters.

Its main job is to design policy frameworks for the various governments as mentioned above. It also evaluates and monitors the policies set by governments. Additionally, it promotes cooperative federalism in the country.

The major difference between the erstwhile Planning Commission and NITI Aayog is that the former was effectively highly top-down. The Planning Commission was appointed by the Prime Minister and its members were only responsible to him. In NITI Aayog, on the other hand, the Chief Ministers have a say in the working and governing of the institution.

4) Central Vigilance Commission

Established in 1964, the Central Vigilance Commission is a corruption watchdog that receives allegations of corruption by officers at high posts and acts upon them. Originally established as a non-statutory body upon recommendation of the Santhanam Committee Report, it received the status of a Statutory body in 2003. The CVC is headed by a Central Vigilance Commissioner and assisted by a maximum of two Vigilance commissioners. 

The CVC performs an important function in safeguarding public money

  1. If the Union government refers a case to it of a public servant employed by it or any of its subsidiaries, then it is required to conduct an enquiry.
  2. CVC can also conduct an enquiry into the conduct of Group A Officers, members of All India Services or any specified level of officers of any branch of the Union Government.
  3. If the CBI investigates any offences related to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, then the CVC is required to give directions and exercise superintendence to the CBI
  4. The CVC is to be consulted by the Union government while drafting rules for disciplinary matters.
  5. It is also responsible for acting on complaints against misuse of office from whistleblowers

5) Central Information Commission

The Central Information Commission was established by the Right to Information Act, 2005. The Right to Information Act provides for RTI appeals which are decided by the commission whether to entertain them or not. The Central Information Commission is a high-powered body which consists of one Chief Information Commissioner and six other Information Commissioners.

The functions of the commission include inquiring into complaints from any person who has not been able to submit an information request because of the non-appointment of a Public Information Officer, who has refused the information requested, etc. While conducting such enquiry, the CIC has the powers of a civil court.

See Also:

Constitutional Bodies in India | UPSCDifference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha

6) State Information Commission

The State Information Commission came into existence along with the Central Information Commission through the same Right to Information Act. The body consists of one State Chief Information Commissioner and ten other commissioners. It has similar functions to that of the Central Information Commission but only in respect to the state.

7) Central Bureau of Investigation

As suggested by the Santhanam Committee, the Central Bureau of Investigation is one of the most important non-constitutional bodies in India. The CBI was established by an executive order and derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. This makes it a non-statutory body. However, due to the same reason, the institution has remained controversial since its establishment.

CBI is the main investigating body of the Union Government. The main function of the CBI is to prevent corruption, and curb violence and economic offences. It also includes the prevention of cyber crimes in the country. It also plays an active role against organised crime. Additionally, it collaborates with the local police to solve cases. It also deals with conventional crimes such as murder, rape, kidnapping, loot etc if the state government refers any such case to it or if the Supreme Court or High Court directs so.

The CBI is headed by a Director. He is appointed by a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition of Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.

8) National Investigation Authority

Established in 2009 after the infamous 26/11 Attacks, the National Investigation Agency was established through the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008. The primary function of the NIA is to conduct investigations to prevent terrorist attacks and terrorist activities in the country. Along with that, the agency deals with fake currency and terror funding through its special TFFC Cell. It comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

However, the NIA can investigate and prosecute only under those acts mentioned in the schedule of the NIA Act. It also collaborates with various other agencies to prevent terror and other crimes. Since 2019, it also has the power to investigate offences of human trafficking, counterfeit currency, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, explosive substances and cyber-terrorism.

9) National Disaster Management Authority

Established after the 2004 tsunami, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is one of the non-constitutional bodies of India. It was formed to unleash a holistic and integrated approach to disaster management. Initially established in 2005 as a non-statutory body, the NDMA was made a statutory body the same year when the Parliament passed the National Disaster Management Authority Act, 2005.

The body consists of one chairperson and a maximum of nine other members. Its main function is to mitigate the disastrous impacts of natural disasters. It spreads awareness among the citizens to prepare for any such disaster. It identifies, monitors and assesses the risks in a prospective natural event. Most importantly. It undertakes initiatives for the reconstruction of disaster-affected areas. Additionally, for a specialist response to disaster, there is the National Disaster Response Force.

In addition to the NDMA, the NDMA Act also made it compulsory for every state to have its own State Disaster Management Authority and every district must have its own District Disaster Management Authority.

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