UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | 23 March 2022

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What the article is about?

  • Talks about the need for a common service that can strengthen legislative bodies in India at all levels.

Syllabus: GS-II Indian polity, Constitution, Separation of power


  • Article 98 of the Constitution provides the scope of separate secretariats for the two Houses of Parliament.
    • The Secretary-General, with the rank equivalent to the Cabinet Secretary, is the third most key functionary of the Rajya Sabha after the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman.
    • The Secretaries-General of both the Houses are mandated with many parliamentary and administrative responsibilities. 

Need for a common legislative service:

  • The principle laid in Article 98 is that the secretariats should be independent of the executive government.
  • A precedent – appointing the Secretary-General from ‘outside’ or bureaucracy, often retired – is hard to unfollow.
  • Such practise impacts realising the intended functioning of the Parliamentary system.
    • A separate secretariat marks a feature of a functioning parliamentary democracy.
    • One of the prerequisites that demand the post of the Secretary-General is unfailing knowledge and vast experience of parliamentary procedures, practices and precedents.
    • Most of the civil servants lack precisely this aspect of expertise.
    • It dishonours the purpose of ensuring the independence of the Secretariat but also leads to a conflict of interests.
      • It breaches the principle of separation of power.
    • There are thousands of legislative bodies in India, ranging from the panchayat, block panchayat, Zila Parishad, municipal corporations to State legislatures and Union Parliament at the national level.
      • Despite these mammoth law-making bodies, they lack their own common public recruiting and training agency at the national level 

Indian Legislative Service:

  • A common service can build a combined and experienced legislative staff cadre, enabling them to serve from across local bodies to Union Parliament.
    • The Rajya Sabha can, under Article 312, pass a resolution to this effect, in the national interest, to create an all-India service common to both the Union and the States, and enables Parliament to create such a service by law.
  • In the United Kingdom, the Clerk of the House of Commons has always been appointed from the legislative staff pool created to serve Parliament.
    • It is high time that India adapts and adopts such democratic institutional practices. 

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