Non Constitutional Bodies of India: Planning Commission, NITI Aayog, NHRC, CIC, CVC, CBI, Lokpal


There are various types of bodies- Constitutional, Non-Constitutional, Statutory, Quasi-Judicial and Autonomous bodies in India. In this article, we will learn about non-Constitutional Bodies in India. The Non-Constitutional bodies are those bodies that are not mentioned in the Indian Constitution. These bodies can be statutory or non-statutory. Statutory bodies are those bodies that are formed or derive their function from an act passed by the Parliament. 

1. Planning Commission

It was a non-constitutional, non-statutory and autonomous body. It was an advisory body to the Government of India for various issues related to economic development. It had executive powers. It was established in March 1950 by a resolution of the Cabinet.

1.1. Structure of Planning Commission

Besides having the Prime Minister of India as its ex-officio chairman, Planning Commission used to have a Deputy Chairman and 6 members of the Union Cabinet as its ex-officio members. The Planning Minister also used to be its ex-officio member. In addition, experts were also invited as per the requirement.

1.2. Functions of Planning Commission

  • Evaluation of the physical, capital and human resources of the country
  • Giving suggestions for more effective and balanced use of available resources in India
  • Deciding priorities and stages for carrying out of the plan
  • To show the factors making economic development slower
  • To draw five-year plans for the development of the country

Under the Planning Commission, 12 five-year plans were implemented in the country from 1951 to 2017. The details of the plans are as follows:

  • First Plan (1951–1956)
  • Second Plan (1956–1961)
  • Third Plan (1961–1966)
  • Fourth Plan (1969–1974)
  • Fifth Plan (1974–1978)
  • Sixth Plan (1980–1985)
  • Seventh Plan (1985–1990)
  • Eighth Plan (1992–1997)
  • Ninth Plan (1997–2002)
  • Tenth Plan (2002-2007)
  • Eleventh Plan (2007-2012)
  • Twelfth Plan (2012-2017)
  • Plan holidays were declared during 1966–1969
  • Rolling plan was implemented during 1978-1980.
  • Annual plans were implemented between 1990 and 1992.

Planning Commission was abolished on 17 August 2014 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

2. National Development Council

The National Development Council is the apex body for deliberating and deciding on development matters in India. It is neither a constitutional body nor a statutory body. It was established on 6 August 1952. It is an advisory body. It should meet a minimum of two times every year.

It served as the subsidiary body of the Planning Commission. After the abolition of the Planning Commission in 2014, the relevance of this institution also seemed to be diminishing. The last meeting of NDC was held in December 2012. This was 57th meeting. It was held to approve the 12th five year plan.

2.1. Structure of National Development Council

Prime Minister is the Chairman of the National Development Council.  It has all Union Ministers and Chief Ministers of all states as its members. Chief Ministers/Administrators of all UTs are also its members. Additionally, members of the Planning Commission, which has been replaced by NITI Aayog are also members of the National Development Council.

2.2. Objectives of National Development Council

At the time of establishment, National Development Council had the following objectives:

  • Getting the agreement of the states for helping in the execution of the plan
  • Strengthening and mobilization of nation's efforts and resources in support of the plan
  • Promote common economic policies in all important sectors and ensure balanced and rapid development of the whole country.

3. NITI Aayog

NITI Aayog was established on January 1, 2015, by replacing the Planning Commission, an organization that has been functioning since 1950. NITI stands for National Institute for Transforming India. This institution works on the vision of maximum governance and minimum government. It echoes the spirit of cooperative federalism. It focuses on the bottom-up approach.

NITI Aayog has mainly prepared three documents for development. They are Agenda of 3-Year Action, 7-year medium-term strategy and 15-Year vision document.

NITI Aayog is based on the 7 pillars of effective governance. They are pro-people, pro-activity, participation, empowering, the inclusion of all, equality and transparency.

NITI Aayog’s activities can be divided into four main heads:

  • Policy and Programme Framework
  • Cooperative Federalism
  • Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Think Tank, and Knowledge and Innovation Hub

3.1. Structure of NITI Aayog

  • Chairperson - Prime Minister (Currently- Narendra Modi)
  • Vice-chairperson- Vice-chairperson is appointed by the Prime Minister. Currently, Dr. Rajiv Kumar is vice-chairperson of NITI Aayog.
  • Governing Council – It has Prime Minister, Chief Ministers of all states and UTs with legislatures and Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands as its members. Four Union Ministers are part of the council as ex-officio members and three Union Ministers are part of the Council as special invitees. Its first meeting was organized in 2015 and the fifth meeting was held in June 2019. 
  • Regional Councils – Prime Minister can convene regional councils to address specific regional issues. It will have Chief Ministers of states in the region. It will also have Lieutenant Governors of UTs in the region. Chairperson of the NITI Aayog or his nominee acts as chairman of regional councils.
  • Full time and part-time members: Along with full-time members (currently 3), NITI Aayog can have a maximum of two part time members in an ex-officio capacity. They must be from leading universities, research institutes or other institutes on a rotational basis.
  • Ex-Officio Members – Prime Minister nominates a maximum of four members of the Union Council of Ministers as ex-officio members. Currently, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Nirmala Sitaraman and Narendra Singh Tomar are the ex-officio members of NITI Aayog.
  • Chief Executive Officer - A person of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India, is appointed by the Prime Minister for a fixed term as Chief executive officer. Currently, Amitabh Kant is the Chief executive officer.
  • Special invitees – PM can nominate experts and specialists as special invitees. PM can also nominate practitioners with relevant domain knowledge as special invitees.

The two main hubs of NITI Aayog for efficient functioning are:

1. Team India Hub – It promotes cooperative federalism. It provides a framework to help NITI Aayog in completing the task of engaging with states.  

2. Knowledge and Innovation Hub – Its central activities include maintaining a State-of-the-Art Resource Centre. 

3.2. Functions of NITI Aayog

  • To evolve a shared vision of national development priorities sectors and strategies with the active involvement of States
  • To promote cooperative federalism 
  • To develop mechanisms to formulate credible plans at the village level 
  • To ensure that the interests of national security are incorporated in economic strategy and policy
  • To pay special attention to the vulnerable sections of our society that may be at risk of not benefiting adequately from economic progress
  • To design strategic and long term policy and programme frameworks and initiatives, and monitor their progress and their efficacy. 
  • To provide advice and encourage partnerships between key stakeholders and national and international like-minded Think tanks, as well as educational and policy research institutions.
  • To create a knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurial support system through a collaborative community of national and international experts, practitioners and other partners.
  • To offer a platform for resolution of inter-sectoral and inter­ departmental issues in order to accelerate the implementation of the development agenda.
  • To maintain a state-of-the-art Resource Centre, be a repository of research on good governance and best practices in sustainable and equitable development.
  • To focus on technology upgradation and capacity building for implementation of programmes and initiatives
  • To undertake other activities to execute the national development agenda.

4. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

It is a statutory body formed on 12 October 1993, under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. It is responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights. It is defined by the Act as the protector of the "rights related to life, liberty, equality and freedom and equality of the person guaranteed by the constitution".

4.1. Structure of NHRC

It is a multi-member body consisting of a chairperson, five full time members and seven ex-officio members. Only a former Chief Justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court should become chairperson of NHRC.

Who can become full time members of NHRC?

  • A person who is serving or retired judge of the Supreme Court
  • A person who is a serving or retired chief justice of a high court
  • Three persons having knowledge or practical experience of human rights (out of these three, one should be a woman)

Ex-officio members of NHRC:

  • Chairperson of National Commission for Scheduled Castes
  • Chairperson of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
  • Chairperson of National Commission for Women
  • Chairperson of National Commission for Minorities
  • Chairperson of National Commission for Backward Classes
  • Chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
  • Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities

Currently, Justice Arun Kumar Mishra is the chairperson of NHRC. Justice Mahesh Mittal Kumar, Rajiv Jain, Smt Jyoti Kalra and Dnyaneshwar Manohar Mulay are its current members.

Who appoints the members of NHRC?

The Chairperson and members of NHRC are appointed by the President of India on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the following six members:

  • Prime Minister (Chairman)
  • Home Minister
  • Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha
  • Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha
  • Speaker of Lok Sabha
  • Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha

Who appoints the members of the State Human Rights Commission?

The Chairman and members of the State Human Rights Commission are appointed by the Governor in consultation with the Chief Minister, Home Minister, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and Leader of the Opposition in the State Legislative Assembly.

Tenure of members of NHRC: The Chairperson and members of NHRC are appointed till 3 years or till the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.

Removal of members of NHRC: They can be removed on charges of misconduct or incompetency proved by an inquiry by the Supreme Court.

4.2. Functions and Responsibilities of NHRC

The NHRC is entrusted with the following responsibilities:

  • To recommend measures for effective implementation of constitutional and legal safeguards for protection of human rights
  • Reviewing factors including acts of terrorism, which prevent the enjoyment of human rights and recommending appropriate remedial measures
  • To make recommendations for their effective implementation by studying treaties and other international instruments on human rights
  • To undertake and promote research in the field of human rights
  • To visit the jail and detention places and make recommendations after studying the condition of prisoners
  • To encourage the efforts of non-governmental organizations and institutions to work in the field of human rights

It presents its annual report to the President. The President presents the report before each House of Parliament.

4.3. Powers of NHRC

  • It has the powers of a civil court and can grant interim relief.
  • It also has the authority to recommend payment of compensation or damages.
  • It can recommend to both the Central and State Governments to take appropriate steps to prevent human rights violations.

5. Central Information Commission (CIC)

It is the highest appellate body available to applicants seeking information under the Right to Information Act. It was established in 2005 by the Central Government under the Right to Information Act, 2005. It submits an annual report to the Central Government.

5.1. Structure of CIC

It can have a maximum of 11 members. They include one Chief Information Commissioner and a maximum of ten Information Commissioners.

Currently, CIC has seven members, which include one Chief Information Commissioner and six Information Commissioners.

The Chief Information Commissioner is the head of the Central Information Commission. Shri Y K Sinha is the current Chief Information Commissioner.

Who appoints Chief Information Commissioner and other Information Commissioners?

The Chief Information Commissioner and other Information Commissioners are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee. 

The composition of the committee is given below.

  • Prime Minister, (Chairperson)
  • Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha
  • Union Cabinet Minister (nominated by Prime Minister)

5.2. Tenure of CIC and Information Commissioners

The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners hold office for the term prescribed by Central Government or till the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners cannot be reappointed.

The central government prescribes the salaries and allowances and other conditions of service of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners.

How can CIC be removed?

Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners can be removed by the President.

6. Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)

It is an apex anti-corruption government body in India. It was established on the recommendation of the K. Santhanam Committee to advise and guide in the field related to the prevention of corruption.

It was established on 11 February 1964 by a resolution of the Government of India and was granted statutory status in 2003 under the Central Vigilance Commission Act 2003.

Nittur Srinivas Rau was appointed as the first Chief Vigilance Commissioner of India in 1964.

6.1. Structure of CVC

It consists of a Central Vigilance Commissioner (Chairperson) and a maximum of two vigilance commissioners. Suresh N Patel is the current Central Vigilance Commissioner.

President can appoint Central Vigilance Commissioners and vigilance commissioners on the recommendation of a committee. It consists of three members given below.

  • Prime Minister (head of the committee)
  • Union Minister of Home Affairs (member)
  • Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha (member)

Their tenure is 4 years or 65 years, whichever is earlier.

President can remove the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner from his post based on misbehavior or incapacity.

They are ineligible for further employment under the Central or state government.

6.2. Functions of CVC

CVC is not controlled by any ministry or department. It is only responsible to Parliament. The central government can make references to CVC about allegations of corruption against its employees. CVC will enquire about such cases as it has all the powers of a Civil Court. It is not an investigative agency. It conducts investigations either with the help of CBI or central vigilance officers in government offices.

CVC is the chairperson and other vigilance commissioners are the members of the Committee that recommends for the appointment of Director of Enforcement.

7. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

It is the premier investigating agency of India. It functions under the Department of Personnel, Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Public Grievances. It was originally formed in 1963 to investigate bribery and corruption in government.

This agency is known for investigating various economic offenses, special crimes, corruption cases and other high-profile cases. CBI is India's officially designated single point of contact for Interpol.

Subodh Kumar Jaiswal is the current director of CBI.

The CBI has been empowered to conduct investigations under the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946.

Director of CBI

Who appoints the Director of CBI?

Till 2014, CBI Director was appointed based on DSPE Act, 1946.

In 2014, Lokpal Act provided for a committee to appoint a CBI director.

The composition of this committee is given below.

  • Prime Minister (Chairperson)
  • Leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha or leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha
  • Supreme Court judge nominated by the Chief Justice of India or Chief Justice of India himself

CBI Director is appointed for a period of not less than 2 years.

8. Lokpal and Lokayukta

Lokpal is an anti-corruption authority or body. It is the statutory body. The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 has provided the Lokpal for the Union and the Lokayukta for the states. Lokpal investigates allegations of corruption against public officials.

India is a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

In India, the concept of Lokpal was first proposed by the then Law Minister, Ashok Kumar Sen in the 1960s. Dr. L. M. Singhvi coined the term Lokpal and Lokayukta.

In 1971, Maharashtra became the first state to establish an institution of Lokayukta. Currently, Lokayuktas have been established by 21 states and one UT (Delhi) till 2013. The institution of Lokayukta is not the same in all states.

The motto of Lokpal is Ma Gridhah Kasyasvidhanam (Do not be greedy for anyone’s wealth). It was adopted in November 2019.

Composition of Lokpal

Lokpal is a multi-member body. It consists of a Chairperson and a maximum of 8 members. 50% of these members should be judicial members.

Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh has been appointed as the first Lokpal of the country.

Who appoints Chairperson of Lokpal?

Members of the Lokpal are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a selection committee. The composition of the selection committee is given below.

  • Prime Minister
  • Speaker of the Lok Sabha
  • Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha
  • Chief Justice of India (CJI) or a sitting judge of Supreme Court nominated by CJI
  • A distinguished jurist (President nominates distinguished jurist as per recommendations of the first four members of the selection committee.

To select the chairperson and members, the selection committee constitutes a search panel of at least eight persons.

What is the tenure of Chairperson of Lokpal?

The tenure of the Chairperson and members of the Lokpal is up to 5 years or up to the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.

Powers and Functions of Lokpal

  • The Lokpal's jurisdiction includes the Prime Minister, other Ministers, Members of Parliament, Group A, B, C and D officers and Central Government officials.
  • The Lokpal cannot investigate against the Prime Minister if allegations of corruption are related to international relations, security, public order, nuclear power and space.
  • The Lokpal does not have jurisdiction over ministers and MPs in terms of what is said by them in Parliament or what vote is given by them in Parliament.
  • Lokpal has powers of superintendence over CBI, and powers to give direction to CBI.
  • If the Lokpal has sent a case to the CBI, the investigating officer in such a case cannot be transferred without the approval of Lokpal.
  • The inquiry wing of the Lokpal has the powers of a civil court.
  • The Lokpal also has the power to seize assets, income, and benefits obtained through corruption under special circumstances.
  • The Lokpal has the power to recommend the transfer or suspension of a public servant charged with corruption charges.

9. Non Constitutional Bodies - In short

Non-Constitutional Body

Composition of the body

Tenure

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

Chairperson, five full-time members and seven ex-officio members

Till 3 years or age of 70 years, whichever is earlier

Central Information Commission (CIC)

Maximum 11 members (one Chief Information Commissioner and maximum ten Information Commissioners)

Currently having one Chief Information Commissioner and six Information Commissioners

Till term prescribed by Central Government or age of 65 years, whichever is earlier

Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)

a Central Vigilance Commissioner (Chairperson) and maximum two vigilance commissioners

Till 4 years or the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

Headed by a director

At least 2 years

Lokpal

Chairperson and a maximum of 8 members (50% of these members should be judicial members)

Up to 5 years or up to the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier

 

Non-Constitutional Body

Number of the members in selection committee for chairperson/heads & members of non-constitutional body

Composition of the selection committee for chairperson/heads & members of non-constitutional body

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

Six

Prime Minister (Chairman), Home Minister, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, ,Speaker of Lok Sabha, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha

Central Information Commission (CIC)

Three

Prime Minister, (Chairperson), Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, Union Cabinet Minister (nominated by Prime Minister)

Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)

Three

Prime Minister (head of the committee), Union Minister of Home Affairs (member), Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha (member)

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

Three

Prime Minister (Chairperson), Leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha or leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha, Supreme Court judge nominated by the Chief Justice of India or Chief Justice of India himself

Lokpal

Five

Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India (CJI) or a sitting judge of Supreme Court nominated by CJI, A distinguished jurist (President nominates distinguished jurist as per recommendations of the first four members of selection committee

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Non-Constitutional Bodies

Who acts as the Chairperson of NITI Aayog?

Prime Minister of India is the Chairperson of NITI Aayog.

Which body was replaced by NITI Aayog?

In 2015, NITI Aayog was launched to replace Planning Commission.

When was National Human Rights Commission established?

National Human Rights Commission was established on 12 October 1993.

What is the tenure of the Chief Information Commissioner?

The Chief Information Commissioner holds the office for the term prescribed by Central government or till the age of 65 years.

Which committee recommended the establishment of Central Vigilance Commission?

K Santhanam Committee recommended the establishment of Central Vigilance Commission.

Who was appointed as the first Chief Vigilance Commissioner of India?

Nittur Srinivas Rau was appointed as the first Chief Vigilance Commissioner of India.

Who coined the term Lokpal and Lokayukta?

Dr L M Singhvi coined the term Lokpal and Lokayukta.

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