Part 5: Political and Election Systems

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Article 5 The Political System
The political system is an important component of democratic governance. It needs to be properly structured so that it nurtures responsible politics and enable the society to prevent self-seekers and the corrupt from holding public offices. In this, proper definition of roles and jurisdictions, regulation of political parties, and an electoral system that ensures direct accountability to the people, play important roles.
 
Article 5.1 Roles and Jurisdictions
There shall be elected governments at the local, state and national levels each having exclusive jurisdiction over local, state and national matters. To take democracy close to the people, the local level may be further divided into local, sub local and grassroots. The grassroots government will be most important from the perspective of the people being direct democracy while all others are representative democracy.
 
In grassroots governments, the parliament consisting of all adult men and women shall be the supreme authority. All other governments shall have an elected chief executive, a parliament and judiciary, all accountable to its people. The chief executive and his deputy shall be directly elected. The chief executive and ministers appointed by him shall not be a member of any parliament. The parliament shall consist of an elected assembly and a council of stakeholders. It shall approve the budget, perform watchdog functions, and approve the appointment of the political ministers and professional departmental heads selected by the chief executive.
 
Article 5.11 Recognition of political parties
Political parties shall be recognised as local, state or national parties by the concerned Election Commission depending upon the percentage of votes secured by them in the previous local, state or national elections. The National Election Commission shall prepare appropriate rules in this regard. The concerned Election Commission will approve the name and assign symbols that can be used only by persons nominated by the political party to which they are allotted.
 
Article 5.12 Donations exempt from income tax
(1) Registered political parties and independent candidates shall give receipts authenticated by the concerned election commission for all donations received by them. They can receive donations without receipt (for example through donation marches), restricted to 10 percent of the total donations received by them in any year. All such donations shall be exempt from income tax to both the donor and the party. The loss in tax revenue shall be treated as state support to political parties.
 
Political parties and independent candidates shall be required to maintain proper accounts of all donations and other receipts and of all expenditures, and furnish audited accounts and other prescribed details to the concerned election commission and income tax authorities. They shall furnish an abstract of the donations received and expenditure incurred by email to the concerned election commission to enable it to display it on its website, for the benefit of citizens.
 
Article 5.13 Inner party democracy
The National Election Commission shall make model constitutions for political parties providing for inner party democracy covering, amongst other things:
 
(1) Inner party election of office bearers, that is president and one or more vice-presidents, general secretaries and treasurers, and such other office bearers that its constitution provides for;
 
(2) Inner party primary elections for nomination of candidates for the positions of chief executives, deputy chief executives and legislators at the local, state and national levels.
 
The National Election Commission shall make rules regarding inner party democracy. If an election commission is satisfied that a recognised political party had violated the requirement of inner party democracy, it may (1) revoke its recognition, (2) deny symbol to its candidates for election, and/or (3) take such other action as it deemed fit. Such an order will not be passed without giving the political party reasonable opportunity of being heard.
 
Article 5.14 Suspension or revocation of recognition
The concerned election commission may, after giving a political party opportunity of being heard, suspend or revoke its recognition for any of the following reasons:
 
(1) It has failed to maintain the percentage of votes prescribed for qualifying for recognition;
 
(2) It had not properly accounted for donations or had otherwise not maintained its accounts properly. This will be without prejudice to such action as the tax authorities may take;
 
(3) It or its members have indulged in any election malpractice or illegal activity and the party has not taken any action against the defaulting member.
 
Article 5.2 The Election System
The succeeding Articles define electors and describe how the two houses of parliaments and the executives at the local, state and national levels are constituted and function.

Article 5.21 Electors
All citizens of India who have attained the age of 18 years in the year preceeding the year of an election and have got their name entered in the electoral rolls shall be electors in an election. The local election commissions shall prepare and update electoral rolls and display them along with photograph of the elector on their websites. The National Election Commission shall make appropriate rules for the preparation and updating of the electoral rolls.
 
Article 5.22 Legislatures and their constituencies
(1) The constituencies for the national and state assemblies as delineated after independence have not been altered notwithstanding that there has been considerable increase in the population in some states in relation to others. An argument advanced is that the states that have failed to contain their population should not benefit in representation. There is considerable merit in this argument. The increase is truly the product of excessive exploitation of the people by the political system through denial of basic education and healthcare facilities.
 
(2) The national and state constituencies in all states as presently constituted shall remain frozen for all time. The state sovereign rights commissions shall specifically monitor the defaulting states in regard to total local control over education and healthcare personnel and infrastructure, and resources to manage them. These states should try to roll back the population to the proportion as it was at independence.
 
(3) Since the role that the national and state governments shall be required to play will hereafter be limited to state and national infrastructure and coordination, there is also no need for or justification in increasing the size of and expenditure on national and state assemblies.
 
Article 5.23 Qualifications and term of legislators
Legislators at the local, state and national levels shall be at least 30 years in age, citizens of India for at least 10 years and have residence in the constituency for at least two years just prior to seeking election. They can hold office as a legislator in any assembly for no more than two terms.
 
Article 5.24 Election of legislators
General local, state and national elections shall be held once in four years in the months of March-April and results declared on or before April 30. Roughly half the members of local, state and national assemblies shall be elected in the general election. A mid-term election shall be held two years later for filling the remaining vacancies of legislators including those due to death, resignation or any other reason. Thereafter election of legislators shall be held along with the general and mid-term election in such a manner that every legislator has a term of four years.
 
Article 5.25 Functions of the Assembly
Each assembly shall elect its speaker and deputy speaker. It shall be the principle law making body. It shall through its various committees, perform watchdog functions over the executive. It shall constitute standing committees on budget and appropriation, legislation, planning and environment, and such other matters as are related to its functions. The local assembly shall meet at least once every month whereas the state and national assemblies shall normally have four sessions in a year.
 
The assemblies will be involved in approving appointment of ministers and departmental heads through joint committees of the concerned assembly and council, and in the impeachment proceedings of the chief or deputy chief executive in the manner provided in the Constitution.
 
Article 5.26 Recall of legislators
If ten per cent grassroots parliaments in the constituency of a local, state or national legislature, through resolution in open assembly, express no confidence giving reasons against a legislator, and forward it to the concerned election commission, the commission shall circulate the resolution amongst all grassroots governments in the constituency. If a majority of the grassroots governments through resolution in open assembly endorse the resolution, the commission shall issue an order of recall against the legislator. Thereupon, his seat shall be deemed to have become vacant and will be filled in the election next following.
 
Article 5.27 Negative vote
In all local, state and national elections, the ballot paper shall, in addition to the name and symbols of the candidates seeking election, provide a last entry "None of the above candidates" with an appropriate symbol. This will enable voters to reject all candidates if they felt that all candidates seeking election were undesirable. If this entry secures the largest number of vote cast, all candidates seeking election shall be declared ineligible for all local, state and national elections held thereafter.
 
Note: Such a provision exists in some places such as Nevada State in USA. It will be useful in India for preventing self-seekers and the corrupt from jockeying for elective offices.
 
Article 5.28 Reservations
(1) The colonial rulers used reservation as a tool to divide and rule over communities. Reservation in elections is also anti-democracy as it prevents persons who do not belong to the category for whom a seat is reserved to contest elections, and citizens from voting for them. It abuses communities for whom seats are reserved as vote banks and distorts the political system. In 50 years since independence, it has not uplifted any community but only individual families that have often alienated themselves from their community. The policy is basically flawed.
 
(2) Reservation in public employment is also flawed. It leads to emphasis on and over recruitment in public employment, committing public funds to wasteful bureaucratic expenditure, increasing demand for reservation by various sections, and slowing down decision-making due to bureaucratisation. Hereto, it benefits individual families and not the community as a whole. The emphasis in democracy should truly be on creating job opportunities outside government, especially for disadvantaged communities, and keeping public employment to the bare minimum.
 
(3) As from the date of coming into force of this Constitution, all reservations in elective positions and public employment in local, state and national governments shall stand abolished, except to the extent provided in Articles 5.29 and 5.30.
 
Article 5.3 Nomination of women candidates
It shall be mandatory for every recognised political party to field women on at least one-third of the total number of the seats on which it fields candidates in any local, state or national election. If it fails to do so, the Election Commission shall, through draw of lots in the presence of political parties, deny party ticket to male candidates in excess of twice the number of women candidates fielded by it. This will equip women for public life and develop leadership qualities in them for getting elected in that or later election for serving the community.
 
This shall not be applicable in (a) the election of chief executives, and (b) grassroots governments, that is village and urban neighbourhood governments.
 
Note: Political parties magnanimously introduced one-third reservation in local elections for both legislators and chief executives and took credit for the so-called progressive step. However, when it came to state and national elections, they blocked the proposal realising that it created serious structural problems.
 
All reservations are anti-people and anti-democracy. They prevent candidates from contesting an election and voter from voting for a person of their choice. Requiring political parties to field stipulated number of women candidates is however legitimate. Through open contest, women will develop leadership qualities to win that or later elections. There should be no reservation for any chief executive as it is a highly responsible position and may lead to aberrations like "Sarpanch pati".
 
Article 5.31 Affirmative action for disadvantaged communities
(1) To enable the disadvantaged communities to become an integral part of the society, the state shall extend the policy of reservation for them in public education institutions for another 10 years, closely monitored by the councils of stakeholders. It will be fortified by providing access to learning equipment, special coaching and sports to better equip their youth for the employment market. Private trusts shall be encouraged to set up institutions of education to improve availability of education and extend scholarships to students of such communities.
 
(2) Other things being equal, preference in professional and business contracts shall be given by the state to persons from disadvantaged communities. They shall also be extended special facilities to set up professional offices and business enterprises.
 
Article 5.4 Councils of Stakeholders
The powerful feudal lords of Britain forced the king to institute a parliament and provide for a House of Lords as the upper house to protect feudal interests. Based on this model, a Council of States has been provided in India. It has turned out to be a refuge for politicians who cannot win elections. Since elected bodies mostly vote on party lines, two such bodies hardly benefits the society
 
One of the important recommendations of the Rio Conference on Environment and Development held in 1992 was that to resolve social and environmental conflicts and moderate decision-making for sustainability, mulit-stakeholder councils in which various interest groups are represented, should be instituted in every nation. Such councils can be effective only if they are a part of mainstream governance. There shall be councils of stakeholders as the upper house at local, state and national level for moderating decision-making for social, environmental and economic sustainability. They shall consist of various interest groups such as disadvantaged communities, farmers, labour, industry, women, religions, academics, professionals, and NGOs identified through an appropriate process.
 
The councils of stakeholders shall deliberate on the various social, environmental and economic concerns in their jurisdiction, review legislation and policy initiatives before their associated assemblies and adopt resolutions to bear on the decision-making processes.
 
Article 5.41 Qualification of councillors
Councillors at the local, state and national level shall be at least 35 years in age and citizens of India for at least 10 years. It will be desirable if they are high school graduates. They should not be nor have never been a member of a registered political party. Those nominated as councillor, shall be debarred in future from seeking election in any assembly.
 
Article 5.42 Composition of Councils of Stakeholders
The councils at the local, state and national levels shall be composed as follows. Person who have been or are a member of a political party cannot become a member of a council of stakeholders, nor can any political party sponsor any candidate or interfere in the processes. If a recognised political party does so, the election commission can take appropriate disciplinary action against it.
 
Members representing Local Council State Council National Council
1 Disadvantaged communities 2 4 12
2 Agriculture labour 2 4 12
3 Village artisans 2 4 12
4 Farmers 2 4 12
5 Labour unions 2 4 12
6 Small and medium industry 2 4 12
7 Large industry, Real estate 2 4 12
8 NRIs 2 4 12
9 Women and children issues 2 4 12
10 Religions, practitioners and academics 4 6 12
11 Architects, planners 2 4 12
12 Artists, Sociologist 2 4 12
13 Economists, political scientists 2 4 12
14 Doctors/traditional medicine, family welfare 2 4 12
15 Lawyers, media professionals 2 4 12
16 Education, Information Technology, telecom 2 4 12
17 Engineers, technologists 2 4 12
18 Bio-diversity and other scientists 2 4 12
19 Security 2 4 12
20 Civil society organisations (NGOs) 4 6 12
 
Total 44 84 240
Note: Under each category, 50 per cent shall be women. Local councils of 40 or so and state councils of 80 or so may be adequate. The national council should have adequate representation from each state. The above is illustrative and can be studied and improved.

Article 5.43 Nomination of councillors and their term
The normal method of nomination of members in the councils of stakeholders will be through elections in the representative bodies of the concerned stakeholders. Wherever such a method is not feasible, an appropriate procedure in consultation with the representative bodies will be evolved.
 
The councils shall be permanent bodies in which half the members from each category shall retire every year thus giving a term of two years to every member. A person can be re-nominated by the representative body after a gap of three years limited to a total of two terms.
 
Article 5.44 Functions of the Councils
The councils of stakeholders will deliberate on issues of public concern bearing on promoting a self-reliant sustainable society that avoids wastage, exploitation of the society, harm to other life forms, and destruction of the environment. They will focus on curbing social exploitation, polluting water systems, destruction of forests and wild life, loss of soil cover and dislocation of life support systems.
 
The councils will pay special attention to conservation of energy and promoting alternate energy systems. They will examine appropriate technologies and systems and how they can be integrated in the society.
 
The councils will dwell on the various social ills and the initiatives needed to deal with them. They will study how religions can be made a positive force for social regeneration in a secular environment, instead to being the cause of social divide.
 
The councils will address strengthening of institutions that promote responsible politics and curb ills such as corruption, so that need to punish the culprits indulging in them may be minimal.
 
The councils will be involved in approving appointment of ministers and departmental heads through joint committees of the concerned assembly and council, and the hearing on impeachment proceedings of the chief or deputy chief executive in the manner provided in the Constitution.
 
The councils of stakeholders shall work closely with the sovereign rights commissions in strengthening institutions for promoting an egalitarian, self-reliant society.
 
Article 5.45 Protection to legislators and councillors
In order to enable legislators and councillors to make statements in the house without fear of legal action against him, no legislator or councillor shall be liable for civil or criminal offence or for damages for anything he has said in the parliament. He can however be prosecuted for physical violence on other members, damage to property, giving or taking bribes and such other offences.
 
Article 5.5 Election of chief executives
(1) The chief executive and deputy chief executive at the local, state and national levels shall be elected though direct election as a team for a term of four years in the general election held in the months of March-April. If there are more than two teams of candidates, the voters can give a second preference vote. If no team of candidates gets more than 50 per cent of the votes polled, the second preference vote of those who have voted for candidates other than the two teams of candidates who have obtained highest votes, shall be counted. Such of these votes that are in favour of the aforesaid two teams of candidates, will be added to their votes and the team that now gets the highest number of votes shall be declared elected.
 
(2) The chief executives thus elected will identify their team of ministers and process approval of their appointment by the concerned parliament. If the parliament rejects any of them, the chief executives can propose another. The chief executives along with the deputy chief executive and ministers shall take oath of office in the first week of July and present their first budget for the ensuing financial year October 1 to September 30.
 
(3) In case a chief executive becomes incapacitated, the deputy chief, and in case both become incapacitated, the senior most minister shall assume his office till such time as is necessary.
 
Note: In a nation with cultural richness such as India, the people may, even for the election of the national chief executive, like to vote for a local favourite and cast their second vote to a national leader. The transferred vote may thus often bring forth the best leadership. Such a provision is also likely to attract more voters.
 
Article 5.51 Qualification of chief executives
Chief executives and deputy chief executives shall be citizens of India by birth and at least 35 years of age. All chief executives should have been living in the jurisdiction in which they are seeking election for at least six years and the national chief executives for at least 15 years in India.
 
Article 5.52 Functions and powers of chief executives
The chief executives shall, subject to the laws and regulations made by the parliaments, be in overall charge of the administration of their jurisdictions. They shall, from time to time, inform the concerned parliament of the state of the jurisdiction and recommend to its consideration such measures, as they consider expedient. They may, when the parliament is not in session, promulgate through ordinance laws that will lapse if not approved by the parliament within six months.
 
A chief executive shall within ten days either approve a legislation or bill of appropriation passed by the parliament and sent to him for approval, or return it accompanied by a statement of the reasons for disapproval. If the chief executive does not approve it, the parliament can override his veto through a vote by two-third majority.
 
The chief executives may on extraordinary occasions convene joint meetings of both houses of parliament and address them. They shall ensure that the laws are faithfully executed. Subject to the provisions of the Constitutions and laws, they shall appoint all public officials in their jurisdiction.
 
Article 5.53 Restriction on total term of legislators and elected executives
To curb the tendency to treat holding elective offices as a profession or business for personal benefit and aggrandisement and not for serving the community, no person shall hold the office of legislator, chief executive or deputy chief executive for more than two terms or eight years in any local, state and national assembly. The period for which such offices were held prior to the adoption of this Constitution shall not be counted in such computation.
 
Article 5.54 Impeachment of chief or deputy chief executives
(1) If a local, state or national assembly comes to a prima facie conclusion that the concerned chief or deputy chief executive had indulged in abuse of office or committed serious impropriety not befitting his office, it may, through resolution, initiate impeachment proceedings against him. On receipt of such resolution, the concerned sovereign rights commission shall appoint an independent apolitical counsel to enquire into the charges. If after considering the report of the independent counsel and such other material as may be at its disposal, the assembly resolves through a majority vote that in its view the executive had indeed abused office or committed serious impropriety, it may impeach him on specified charges. The records shall thereafter be forwarded to the concerned council for holding proceedings for removal from office.
 
(2) The concerned chief judge, and not the deputy chief executive, shall preside over the special meetings of the council to consider removal due to impeachment. The members of the council shall function as the jury. The judge in council shall examine such documents and record such evidence, as it considers appropriate. It will provide adequate opportunity to the counsels of the impeached executive to examine the documents, cross-examine witnesses and produce defence. It shall also provide adequate opportunity to the impeached executive to personally explain his position.
 
(3) If after considering the evidence, the council comes to the conclusion that the impeached executive had indeed abused his office and/or committed serious impropriety, it shall pass a resolution removing him from office whereupon the executive shall be deemed to have relinquished office. The council has no jurisdiction to impose penalty or any other punishment. The resolution of the council will be without prejudice to any action that may be taken in a court of law by the state or by an aggrieved person.
 
Note: Impeachment proceedings often tend to be voted on party lines and less on merits. Because of India’s rich cultural heritage, a multi-party environment has emerged. The chief executive may often not have a majority in the assembly and, as such, will be vulnerable to being impeached. As a result, he will have to be particularly careful in his conduct. Thus the multi-party environment that has become a play field for abuse in the Westminster system, will be an asset in this system. Should the chief executive be unfairly impeached, he is likely to be protected by the apolitical assembly, acting as the jury.
 
Article 5.6 Legislation
The local, state and national assemblies shall have jurisdiction to promulgate legislation as described in Schedule A. The concerned chief executive, assembly or council can initiate a proposal for legislation. If the assembly approves a proposed legislation, it will forward it to the council for concurrence. If the council does not concur or proposes any changes, the assembly will consider the observations of the council. If it still wishes to pursue the legislation, it will forward it with such modifications, as it considers appropriate, to the concerned chief executive for his signature of approval. If the chief executive approves it, it will become law.
 
The chief exercise shall have the right to veto a bill. If he does not approve the bill, the assembly can override the veto and promulgate the bill through two-third majority of members present and voting.
 
Article 5.61 Appropriation bills
The chief executive shall initiate budget proposals, that is appropriation bills. If the assembly does not approve the budget proposal and proposes some modifications, the chief executive shall consider the observations of the assembly, make such modifications as he deems fit and return it to the assembly for reconsideration until the bill is approved.


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