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The Hindu Editorial

19-December-2023

1. A blow for the rights of the legislature, in law making

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity- Executive- Governor Crucial for UPSC mains as it covers constitutional nuances, federal principles, Governor’s powers, and the legal intricacies of bill assent.
Context:
  • In a landmark judgment, CJI Chandrachud creatively interprets Article 200, limiting Governor’s power to withhold assent.
  • Supreme Court emphasizes timely decisions, while potential exploitation in reserving Bills for the President is examined.
  • Governor’s discretion restricted by constitutional principles.
 Landmark Judgment (November 10, 2023):
  • Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, interprets Article 200 creatively in State of Punjab vs Principal Secretary case.
New Interpretation of Article 200:
  • CJI’s interpretation links withholding of assent with sending the Bill back for reconsideration.
  • Governor has no option but to give assent after reconsideration.
Clarity on Governor’s Powers:
  • Judgment clarifies confusion about Governor’s power to withhold assent.
  • Protects legislative rights and constitutional system from unelected Governors.
Emphatic on Timely Decisions:
  • Supreme Court emphasizes Governors cannot delay decisions on Bills.
Reserving Bills for President’s Consideration:
  • Governor’s absolute option available.
  • Second provison to Article 200 mentions Bills mandatorily reserved for President’s consideration.
Areas of Potential Exploitation:
  • Governors can still frustrate state law-making by reserving Bills for President’s consideration.
  • Supreme Court examines the issue of what Bills can be sent to the President.
Constitutional References:
  • Constitution indirectly refers to reserving Bills for President’s consideration in Articles 213 and 254.
Governor’s Discretion Limited:
  • Governor cannot send Bills exclusively on State subjects to the President.
  • Bills on concurrent subjects need President’s assent only if they conflict with central laws.
Constitutional Duty of Governor:
  • Governor’s duty is not to send Bills to the President for assent if they pertain exclusively to State subjects.
  • Constitutional validity of laws is decided by the court.
Conclusion:
  • Governor’s discretion limited; cannot send Bills to President arbitrarily.
  • Constitutional scheme restricts Governor’s powers to ensure adherence to federal principles.
PYQ: Discuss the essential conditions for exercise of the legislative powers by the Governor. Discuss the legality of re-promulgation of ordinances by the Governor without placing them before the Legislature. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2022) (250 words/15 m)
Practice Question: How does the recent SC judgement on Article 200 redefine Governor’s power over state bills, and what are its implications for federal balance? (150 words/10 m)
 

2. Grass-root democracy as a bulwark against Maoists.

Topic: GS3 – Internal Security – Linkages between development & spread of extremism. Critical for UPSC as it covers tribal rights, Maoist insurgency, democratic challenges, and governance strategies in conflict zones.
Context:
  • Chhattisgarh elections highlight the significance of tribal votes. Maoist insurgency affects tribal regions, but low voter turnout raises questions.
  • Addressing tribal aspirations, implementing PESA Act, and nurturing leadership crucial for long-term resolution.
 Tribal Vote Significance:
  • Tribal votes crucial in Chhattisgarh elections, constituting 34% of the state’s vote share.
Maoist Insurgency Context:
  • Maoist insurgency prevalent in tribal regions, particularly in Bastar.
  • Tribals form the primary cadre base for the Maoist movement.
Election Violence in Maoist Strongholds:
  • Elections in Schedule Five areas affected by violence and Maoist boycott calls.
  • Low voter turnout, particularly in Bijapur and Konta, reported as 3% to 4%.
Challenges in Resolving Maoist Conundrum:
  • Elections lacked a focused approach to addressing the Maoist challenge.
  • Lack of resolution for the Maoist insurgency remains a significant issue.
Democracy’s Connotations for Tribals:
  • Maoists discourage tribal participation in the democratic process through boycotts.
  • Insurgents force people to shun empowerment through voting, questioning Maoists’ claims.
Disillusionment and Trend Shift:
  • Voter turnout decline suggests potential tribal disillusionment with the democratic process.
  • Trend contrasts with past where locals often ignored Maoist boycotts.
Tribal Aspirations and Awareness:
  • Increasing tribal awareness leads to assertiveness for constitutional rights.
  • Pathalgadi movement in Jharkhand reflects tribal assertions and demands for dignity.
PESA Act Implementation:
  • Political parties raise PESA Act implementation, but modalities remain unclear.
  • PESA Act envisages empowering gram sabhas for tribal socio-economic governance.
Maoist Exploitation of PESA Gap:
  • Maoists exploit PESA Act implementation gap, running parallel ‘jantana sarkar’ in strongholds.
  • PESA, if implemented correctly, could mainstream tribal communities and make Maoists irrelevant.
Need for Tribal Leadership Nurturing:
  • Tribal leadership needs acknowledgment and a voice at the grassroots level.
  • Resolving Maoist challenge involves enabling democracy at the grassroots, recognizing tribal aspirations.
Beyond Security and Development:
  • Resolving Maoist challenge not only about security and development but also empowering democracy.
  • Recognizing tribal aspirations crucial for a comprehensive solution.
Conclusion:
  • Chhattisgarh elections underline the challenge of Maoist insurgency in tribal regions.
  • A comprehensive solution requires dispelling Maoist myths, nurturing tribal leadership, and empowering democracy at the grassroots to address long-standing issues.
PYQ: Describe the challenges faced by tribal communities in India. How can these challenges be effectively addressed? You may include specific examples in your answer. (2020 UPSC Mains – Optional – Public Administration)
Practice Question: Discuss governance strategies to address tribal rights, Maoist insurgency, and promote democracy in conflict zones, focusing on Chhattisgarh. (150 words/10 m)

3. The hollowing out of the anti-defection law

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity- Anti-Defection Law
UPSC questions often directly address the recent issue of defections and potential loopholes in the anti-defection law’s merger provision – concerning political defections, loopholes in anti-defection laws, and their impact on democratic stability.
Context:
  • The Tenth Schedule, governing the anti-defection law, faces challenges and misuse, particularly in political defections causing government changes.
  • The exemption for mergers is criticized, leading to calls for its deletion for law strengthening.
 Introduction:
  • Anti-defection law, governed by the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, remains a prominent topic in public discourse.
  • Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly, Rahul Narwekar, currently handling disqualification petitions against factions of the Shiv Sena.
Purpose of Anti-defection Law:
  • Enacted to curb frequent floor-crossing by legislators.
  • Provides for the disqualification of elected legislators in instances of voluntary party switching or voting against party directions.
Provisions of the Tenth Schedule:
  • Disqualification applies when legislators voluntarily switch parties or go against party directives.
  • Exemption from disqualification when two-thirds of elected members agree to “merge” with another party.
Evolution of Tenth Schedule:
  • Pre-2003: Split in the original party, one-third of members moving out exempted from disqualification.
  • 91st Amendment in 2003 omitted the split exception due to its misuse.
Challenges and Misuse:
  • Political defections persist and often go unpunished or undetected.
  • Instances of defections causing the downfall of State governments in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Karnataka, and Arunachal Pradesh.
Exploitation of Exemptions:
  • Shiv Sena and NCP factions from Maharashtra exploit exemptions under the Tenth Schedule.
  • Form alliances without actual mergers by claiming to be the original political party themselves.
Splits Followed by Mergers:
  • Trend observed in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
  • Legislators separate, form a group, avail split exemption, and then merge with another party.
  • Allows multiple defections, undermining the anti-defection law.
A Potent Tool for Political Maneuvering:
  • Merger provision strategically used to bring down elected governments.
  • Exemptions fuel speculation and contribute to the downfall of governments.
Call for Deletion of Merger Exception:
  • Criticism of the merger exception as a potent tool for political maneuvering.
  • D. Kumaraswamy’s prediction in Karnataka highlights the potential misuse.
  • Proposal to delete the merger exception to strengthen the anti-defection law.
Conclusion:
  • The Tenth Schedule’s exemption for party mergers, exploited for political maneuvering, warrants deletion to fortify the anti-defection law and prevent its misuse, fostering a healthier democratic process
Anti-defection Law.
  • Enshrined in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • Aims to curb frequent floor-crossing by legislators.
  • Disqualifies elected members for voluntary party-switching or voting against party directives.
  • Exempts defection if two-thirds of members agree to “merge” with another party.
  • Pre-2003, split exemption for one-third members moving out; omitted by the 91st Amendment.
  • Challenges include persistent defections causing government changes and misuse of exemptions.
  • Proposal to delete the merger exception for law strengthening.
PYQ: The role of individual MPs (Members of Parliament) has diminished over the years and as a result healthy constructive debates on policy issues are not usually witnessed. How far can this be attributed to the anti-defection law, which was legislated but with a different intention? (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2013) (12.5 m)
Practice Question: Discuss the challenges and misuse of the anti-defection law, focusing on the exemption for party mergers and its implications. (250 words/15 m)

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