Recognition of Parties in India:
• Last week, Meghalaya’s National People’s Party led by Conrad Sangma was recognised as a “national party”. The
NPP is the eighth party to get that recognition — after Congress, BJP, BSP, NCP, CPI, CPI(M) and Trinamool Congres— and the first from the Northeast.
• The Election Commission lists political parties as “national party”, “state party” or “registered (unrecognised) party”.
The conditions for being listed as a national or a state party are specified under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968. A party has to satisfy any one of a number of these conditions.
• For recognition as a national party, the conditions specified under Paragraph 6B of the 1968 Order are:
(i) a 6% vote share in the last Assembly polls in each of any four states, as well as four seats in the last Lok Sabha polls; or
(ii) 2% of all Lok Sabha seats in the last such election, with MPs elected from at least three states; or
(iii) recognition as a state party in at least four states.
• The NPP has satisfied the last of these conditions. It is recognised as a state party in four states — Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Nagaland, besides Meghalaya. It has earned that recognition by fulfilling different conditions in different states.
• For recognition as a state party, any one of five conditions needs to be satisfied. These are specified under paragraph 6A of the Order:
(i) two seats plus a 6% vote share in the last Assembly election in that state; or
(ii) one seat plus a 6% vote share in the last Lok Sabha election from that state; or
(iii) 3% of the total Assembly seats or 3 seats, whichever is more; or
(iv) one of every 25 Lok Sabha seats (or an equivalent fraction) from a state; or
(v) an 8% state-wide vote share in either the last Lok Sabha or the last Assembly polls.
• Once recognised as a national or a state party, a political party retains that status irrespective of its performance in the next elections. It loses the given status only if it fails to fulfill any of the conditions for two successive Assembly and two successive Lok Sabha elections.
• The recognition granted by the Commission to the parties determines their right to certain privileges like allocation of the party symbols, provision of time for political broadcasts on the state-owned television and radio stations and access to electoral rolls.
• Further, the recognized parties need only one proposed for filing the nomination. Also, these parties are allowed to have forty “star campaigners” during the time of elections and the registered–unrecognized parties are allowed to have twenty “star campaigners”. The travel expenses of these star campaigners are not included in the election expenditure of the candidates of their parties.
• Every national party is allotted a symbol exclusively reserved for its use throughout the country. Similarly,
every state party is allotted a symbol exclusively reserved for its use in the state or states in which it is so recognised. A registered-unrecognized party, on the other hand, can select a symbol from a list of free symbols.
Jal Shakti Ministry:
• Fulfilling its poll promise, the government has launched a new unified ‘Jal Shakti’ ministry that is aimed at providing clean drinking water as well as fight India’s water woes.
• The new ministry has been formed by merging the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation headed by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat
• The mandate of the newly-formed Jal Shakti Ministry will go much beyond bringing previous ministries of water resources and drinking water and sanitation under one umbrella. It will attempt to integrate the demand side and supply side of water in the country so that the issues relating to water are dealt with in a holistic manner.
To increase piped water coverage from the existing low 18 percent to 100 percent coverage by 2024, the
Centre has requested all states to adopt an approach similar to the newly-formulated Jal Shakti Ministry that integrates all ministries and bodies dealing with water under one umbrella.
• There are several other Central ministries that deal with water in a piecemeal manner. For instance, the
Ministry of Forest and Environment is entrusted with the conservation of most rivers in the country. Similarly,
urban water supply is looked after by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and micro-irrigation projects come under the Ministry of Agriculture.
• In the Constitution, water is included as Entry 17 on List II that is the State List. This entry is subject to the provision of Entry 56 of List-I i.e. Union List which enables the Union to deal with inter-State rivers if
Parliament legislates for the purpose.
Creation of Ministries/Departments:
• The Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 is made by the President of India under Article 77 of the Constitution for the allocation of business of the Government of India.
• The Ministries/Departments of the Government of India are created by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister under these Rules. The business of the Government of India is transacted in the ministries/departments, secretariats and offices (referred to as “Department”) as per the distribution of subjects specified in these Rules.
Each of the Ministry (ies) will be assigned to a Minister by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. Each department will be generally under the charge of a Secretary to assist the Minister on policy matters and general administration.
• The Cabinet Secretariat is responsible for secretarial assistance to the Cabinet, its committees and ad hoc Groups of Ministers, and for maintenance of record of their decisions and proceedings. The Secretariat monitors the implementation of the decisions/directions of the Cabinet/Cabinet Committees/ groups of ministers. The Secretariat is also responsible for the administration of the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961 and facilitates smooth transaction of business in ministries/departments of the Government by ensuring adherence to these Rules.
Reconstitution of Cabinet Committees:
• Under the Transaction of Business Rules, the Government has reconstituted Cabinet
Committees. These include – Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, Cabinet
Committee on Accommodation, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, Cabinet
Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs, Cabinet
Committee on Security and two new ones- Cabinet Committee on Investment and
Growth and Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development.
• In terms of the TBR, 1961, inter-alia, there shall be “Standing Committees of the Cabinet” as set out in the First Schedule to the TBR, 1961, with the functions specified therein. The Prime Minister may, from time to time, amend the Schedule by adding to or reducing the numbers of such Committees or by modifying the functions assigned to them. Every Standing Committee shall consist of such Ministers as the Prime Minister may from time to time specify. Conventionally, while Ministers with Cabinet rank are named as ‘members’ of the Standing Committees of the Cabinet, Ministers of State, irrespective of their status of having ‘Independent Charge’ of a Ministry/Department, and others ‘with rank of’ a Cabinet Minister or Minister of State are named as ‘special invitees’.
• The Second Schedule to TBR 1961, lists the items of Government business where the full Cabinet, and not any Standing Committee of the Cabinet should take a decision.
However, to the extent there is a commonality between the cases enumerated in the Second Schedule and the cases set out in the First Schedule, the Standing Committees of the Cabinet shall be competent to take a final decision in the matter, except in cases where the relevant entries in the respective Schedules themselves preclude the Committees from taking such decisions. Also, any decision taken by a Standing Committee may be reviewed by the Cabinet.
• The Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 was issued by the Central Government under Section 3 of The Foreigners Act, 1946. It is applicable to the whole country. Major amendments in the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 were undertaken in 2013. The last amendment was issued in May 2019. All these orders are applicable to the whole country and are not specific to any state.
• The May 2019 amendment only lays down the modalities for the Tribunals to decide on appeals made by persons not satisfied with the outcome of claims and objections filed against the NRC.
• Since NRC work is going on only in Assam, therefore, the aforementioned Order, issued on 30th May 2019 is applicable only to Assam as on date for all practical purposes. This Amendment Order also provides for reference by District Magistrate to the Tribunal for its opinion as to whether the Appellant is a “foreigner” or not within the meaning of the Foreigners Act, 1946.
• The amended order also allows District Magistrates to refer individuals who haven’t filed claims against their exclusion from NRC to the Tribunals to decide if they are foreigners or not.
• The MHA has amended the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, and has empowered district magistrates in all States and Union Territories to set up tribunals to decide whether a person staying illegally in India is a foreigner or not. Earlier, the powers to constitute tribunals were vested only with the Centre.
• Recently, the MHA sanctioned around 1,000 Tribunals, which are quasi-judicial bodies, to be set up in Assam in the wake of the publication of the final NRC by July 31. As per the directions of the Supreme Court, the Registrar General of India (RGI) published the final draft list of NRC on July 30 last year to segregate Indian citizens living in Assam from those who had illegally entered the State from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.
• The amended Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 2019 also empowers individuals to approach the Tribunals. Earlier only the State administration could move the Tribunal against a suspect, but with the final NRC about to be published and to give adequate opportunity to those not included, this has been done. If a person doesn’t find his or her name in the final list, they could move the Tribunal.
Article 21 and issue of Social media posts:
• The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of journalist Prashant Kanojia on bail in the issue of having shared on social media a video of a woman claiming she had sent a marriage proposal to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
• The hearing on Tuesday was based on the habeas corpus petition moved by Mr. Kanojia’s wife, Jagisha Arora, represented by advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, under Article 32 of the Constitution. The ASG argued that a habeas corpus plea would not lie before the apex court as the accused had already been produced before the jurisdictional court and remanded in custody through a judicial order.
• But the court differed with the government, saying Article 32 enshrined a fundamental right. The Bench threatened to use its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to do complete justice in the Kanojia case.
• Article 142 of the Constitution of India deals with Enforcement of decrees and orders of Supreme Court and unless as to discovery, etc. It states that the Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it.
The Supreme Court (under Article 32) and the high courts (under Article 226) can issue the writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, and quowarranto.
Further, the Parliament (under Article 32) can empower any other court to issue these writs. Since no such provision has been made so far, only the Supreme Court and the high courts can issue the writs and not any other court.
• Before 1950, only the High Courts of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras had the power to issue the writs. Article
226 now empowers all the high courts to issue the writs. These writs are borrowed from English law where they are known as ‘prerogative writs’. They are so
• Habeas Corpus- It is a Latin term which literally means ‘to have the body of’. It is an order issued by the court to a person who has detained another person, to produce the body of the latter before it. The court then examines the cause and legality of a detention. It would set the detained person free if the detention is found to be illegal.
• Thus, this writ is a bulwark of individual liberty against arbitrary detention. The writ of habeas corpus can be issued against both public authorities as well as private individuals.
The writ, on the other hand, is not issued where the:
(a) detention is lawful,
(b) the proceeding is for contempt of a legislature or a court,
(c) detention is by a competent court, and
(d) detention is outside the jurisdiction of the court.
called in England as they were issued in the exercise of the prerogative of the King who was, and is still, described as the ‘fountain of justice’. Later, the high court started issuing these writs as extraordinary
remedies to uphold the rights and liberties of the British people.