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All you want to know about the President’s power of ordinance making

February 5th, 2013 1 comment

The President issued the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance on February 3, 2013. This ordinance amends the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Evidence Act. Here we explain what an ordinance is, how it is made and with what frequency it is used.

This article was first published on Rediff and can be accessed here.

What is an ordinance and who makes it?

Under the Constitution, the power to make laws rests with the legislature. However, in cases when Parliament is not in session, and ‘immediate action’ is needed, the President can issue an ordinance. An ordinance is a law, and could introduce legislative changes.

The Supreme Court has clarified that the legislative power to issue ordinances is ‘in the nature of an emergency power’ given to the executive only ‘to meet an emergent situation’. An example of immediacy can be seen in the ordinance passed in 2011 to give IIIT – Kancheepuram the status of an institute of national importance so that students could be awarded their degrees on completion of their course.

What will happen to the ordinance when Parliament meets for the Budget session?

After the ordinance is notified it is to be laid before Parliament within 6 weeks of its first sitting. The first sitting of Parliament in the Budget session this year will be February 21, 2013. Parliament could either choose to pass the ordinance, disapprove it or it may lapse within the 6 week time frame.  In addition, the President may chose to withdraw the ordinance.

Once the ordinance is laid in Parliament, the government introduces a Bill addressing the same issue. This Bill is supposed to highlight the reasons that necessitated the issue of the Ordinance. Thereafter, the Bill follows the regular law making process.

An amendment to Criminal Laws addressing similar issues is currently pending in Parliament. How will this play out vis-à-vis the ordinance?

The ordinance gives effect to some of the provisions of the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2012, with some modifications.

In the upcoming Budget session the government may introduce a new Bill replacing both the Ordinance and the Amendment Bill currently pending in Parliament. The parliamentary Standing Committee is currently examining the Amendment Bill and is expected to submit its report by the end of March.

How often does the President use this power to make ordinances?

Data over the last 60 years indicates that 1993 saw the highest number of ordinances being passed, i.e. 34. In comparison, a fewer number of ordinances are now being issued. For example, in the last 10 years the average number of ordinances issued per year is 6.

Presidential elections: The race heats up!

June 14th, 2012 2 comments

The Election Commission has announced the schedule for the election of the President of India.  The last date for nominations is June 30, elections will be held on July 19, and counting will take place on July 22.  The BJD and AIADMK have proposed the name of Mr. P.A. Sangma.  The Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress have suggested three names.  Other parties or alliances have not announced any contenders.  Our calculations show that no single party or alliance has the numbers to unilaterally elect candidates of its choice.

A candidate will need 5,48,507 votes to be elected as the President.  If the UPA were to vote as a consolidated block, its vote tally would reach 4,49,847 (41% of the total votes).  Among the Congress allies, Trinamool holds the largest number of votes (47,898). If Trinamool decides to support some other candidate, the UPA tally will fall to 4,01,949 votes (37% of the total).

The votes held by the major alliances are given in the table below:

Coalition Value of votes Percentage of total votes
UPA

4,49,847

41.0%

NDA

3,03,912

27.7%

Left

52,282

4.8%

Bahujan Samaj Party

43,723

4.0%

Samajwadi Party

68,943

6.3%

Biju Janata Dal

30,215

2.8%

AIADMK

36,216

3.3%

Others

1,11,874

10.2%

Total

10,97,012

Minimum required to be elected

5,48,507

 

 

A detailed break-up of votes held by each party is given in the table below:

Party Value of votes Percentage of total votes
Indian National Congress

3,31,855

30.30%

Bharatiya Janata Party

2,32,454

21.20%

Samajwadi Party

68,943

6.30%

All India Trinamool Congress

47,898

4.40%

Bahujan Samaj Party

43,723

4.00%

Janata Dal (United)

41,574

3.80%

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)

36,216

3.30%

Communist Party of India (Marxist)

35,734

3.30%

Biju Janata Dal

30,215

2.80%

Nationalist Congress Party

24,058

2.20%

Independent

23,830

2.20%

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)

21,780

2.00%

Telugu Desam Party

21,256

1.90%

Shiv Sena

18,320

1.70%

Shiromani Akali Dal

11,564

1.10%

Communist Party of India

9,758

0.90%

Rashtriya Janata Dal

8,816

0.80%

Others

7,420

0.70%

Janata Dal (Secular)

6,138

0.60%

Jammu and Kashmir National Conference

5,556

0.50%

Rashtriya Lok Dal

5,412

0.50%

Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhaga (DMDK)

5,104

0.50%

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha

4,584

0.40%

Muslim League Kerala State Committee

4,456

0.40%

Indian National Lok Dal

4,068

0.40%

All India Forward Bloc

3,961

0.40%

Jharkhand Vikas Morcha

3,352

0.30%

Asom Gana Parishad

3,284

0.30%

Telangana Rashtra Samiti

3,044

0.30%

Revolutionary Socialist Party

2,829

0.30%

Bodoland People’s Front

2,808

0.30%

All India United Democratic Front

2,796

0.30%

Praja Rajyam Party

2,664

0.20%

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena

2,275

0.20%

Kerala Congress (M)

2,076

0.20%

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen

1,744

0.20%

Nagaland People’s Front

1,722

0.20%

Sikkim Democratic Front

1,640

0.10%

Peoples Democratic Party

1,512

0.10%

Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi

1,058

0.10%

Lok Janasakti Party

957

0.10%

All Jharkhand Students Union

880

0.10%

Haryana Janhit Congress

820

0.10%

Mizo National Front

732

0.10%

Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

708

0.10%

Swabhimani Paksha

708

0.10%

Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi

708

0.10%

YSR Congress Party

708

0.10%

Peasants and Workers Party

700

0.10%

Pattali Makkal Katchi

528

0.00%

Manithaneya Makkal Katch

352

0.00%

Puthiya Tamilaga

352

0.00%

All India NR Congress

240

0.00%

J&K National Panthers Party

216

0.00%

Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)

176

0.00%

United Democratic Party

153

0.00%

Lok Satta Party

148

0.00%

Loktantrik Samajwadi Party

129

0.00%

J&K Democratic Party Nationalist

72

0.00%

People’s Democratic Front

72

0.00%

Uttarakhand Kranti Dal

64

0.00%

Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party

60

0.00%

People’s Party of Arunachal

32

0.00%

Total

10,97,012

 

Notes:

The electoral  college for the Presidential election consists of the elected members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and all Legislative Assemblies. The winning candidate must secure at least 50% of the total value of votes polled. 

Each MP/ MLA’s vote has a pre-determined value based on the population they represent. For instance, an MP’s vote has a value of 708, an MLA from UP has a vote value of 208 and an MLA from Sikkim has a vote value of 7 (Note that all MPs, irrespective of the constituency or State they represent, have equal vote value).

Parties in various coalitions:

UPA: Congress, Trinamool, DMK, NCP,Rashtriya Lok Dal, J&K National Conference, Muslim League Kerala State Committee, Kerala Congress (M), All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, Sikkim Democratic Front, Praja Rajyam Party, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi

NDA: BJP, JD(U), Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal, Janata Party

Left: CPI(M), CPI, Revolutionary Socialist Party, All India Forward Bloc

Scenarios for upcoming Rajya Sabha, Presidential and VP elections

March 7th, 2012 No comments

Several Rajya Sabha seats go to elections this year. The President and the Vice-President are also due to be elected by August. We analyse the impact of the recent State Assembly elections on the composition of the Rajya Sabha and the outcome of the Presidential polls.

Rajya Sabha – How will its composition change?

Since Rajya Sabha members are elected by the elected members of State Legislative Assemblies, a change in the composition of State Assemblies can affect the composition of Rajya Sabha.  A total of 61 Rajya Sabha seats are up for election in April and July.  This includes 10 seats from Uttar Pradesh and 1 seat from Uttarakhand.

In light of the recent Assembly elections, we work out two scenarios to estimate the composition of Rajya Sabha in 2012.

Members of Rajya Sabha are elected through the system of proportional representation by means of the Single Transferable Vote (STV). In an STV election, a candidate is required to achieve a certain minimum number of votes (called the ‘quota’) to be elected.  (For more details on the STV system, click here)

For instance, in the case of Uttar Pradesh (UP) 10 Rajya Sabha seats go to election this year.  Candidates will be elected to these 10 seats by the 403 elected MLAs of the Uttar Pradesh State Assembly.  Each MLA will rank the candidates based on his/ her preference. After successive rounds of elimination, candidates who are able to secure at least 37  {or 403/(10+1) } votes will be declared elected.

In the new UP Assembly, Samajwadi  Party (SP) has a total strength of 224 members. As a result, SP can elect at least 6 (or 224/37) Rajya Sabha MPs of its choice.  BSP’s strength of 80 will allow it to elect 2 (or 80/37) MPs to Rajya Sabha. Similarily, the BJP with a strength of 47 MLAs can have one candidate of its choice elected to the Rajya Sabha.  This leaves 1 seat.  The fate of this seat depends on the alliances that may be formed since no other party in UP has 37 or more seats in the Assembly.  If the Congress (28 seats) and RLD (9 seats) join hands, they may be able to elect a candidate of their choice.

We build two scenarios which give the likely range of seats for the major coalitions and parties. The actual result will likely fall between these scenarios, depending on alliances for each election.

Of the two scenarios, Scenario II is better for the UPA. It is based on the assumption that the UPA is able to put together the necessary support/ alliances to get its candidates elected to seats with indeterminate status.  Scenario I is based on the assumption that the UPA is not able to put together the required support. As a result, the seats in question get allocated to candidates from other parties/ coalitions. (See Notes for the composition of the coalitions)

Composition of Rajya Sabha

Party/ Coalition Current composition Scenario I Scenario II
Total seats

245

245

245

UPA

93

95

98

NDA

66

67

65

Left

19

14

14

BSP

18

15

15

SP

5

9

9

BJD

6

8

7

AIADMK

5

5

5

Nominated

7

12

12

Others

21

20

20

Vacant

5

0

0

It appears that there would not be a major change in the composition of the Rajya Sabha.

Which party’s candidate is likely to become the next President?

The next Presidential election will be held in June or July.  The electoral college for the Presidential election consists of the elected members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and all Legislative Assemblies. Each MP/ MLA’s vote has a pre-determined value based on the population they represent. For instance, an MP’s vote has a value of 708, an MLA from UP has a vote value of 208 and an MLA from Sikkim has a vote value of 7. (Note that all MPs, irrespective of the constituency or State they represent, have equal vote value)

As is evident, changes in the composition of Assemblies in larger States such as UP can have a major impact on the outcome of the Presidential election.

The elections to the office of the President are held through the system of proportional representation by means of STV (same as in the case of Rajya Sabha).  The winning candidate must secure at least 50% of the total value of votes polled.  (For details, refer to this Election Commission document).

By this calculation, a candidate will need at least 5,48,507 votes to be elected as the President. If the UPA were to vote as a consolidated block, its vote tally would reach 4,50,555 votes under Scenario II (the one that is favourable for the UPA).  Therefore, the UPA will have to seek alliances if it wants a candidate of its choice to be elected to the office of the President.

Scenarios for Presidential elections

(figures represent the value of votes available with each party/ coalition)

Party/ Coalition Scenario I Scenario II
UPA

4,48,431

4,50,555

NDA

3,05,328

3,03,912

Left

51,574

51,574

BSP

43,723

43,723

SP

69,651

69,651

BJD

30,923

30,215

AIADMK

36,216

36,216

Others

1,11,166

1,11,166

Total

10,97,012

10,97,012

Minimum required to be elected

5,48,507

5,48,507

What about the Vice-President?

Elections to the office of the Vice-President (VP) will be held in July or August.  The electoral college will consist of all members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha (i.e. both elected and nominated). Unlike the Presidential elections, all votes will have an equal value of one.

Like the President, the VP is also elected through the system of proportional representation by means of STV.  The winning candidate must secure at least 50% of the total value of votes polled.

Presently, two seats are vacant in the Lok Sabha. If we exclude these from our analysis, we find that a candidate will need at least 395 votes to be elected as the VP.  Under our best case scenario, the UPA holds 363 votes in the forthcoming VP elections.

As is the case with Presidential elections, the UPA will have to seek alliances to get a candidate of its choice elected to the office of the Vice-President.

Scenarios for VP elections

(figures represent the value of votes available with each party/ coalition)

Party/ Coalition

Scenario I

Scenario II

UPA

360

363

NDA

216

214

Left

38

38

BSP

36

36

SP

31

31

BJD

22

21

AIADMK

14

14

Nominated

14

14

Others

57

57

Total

788

788

Minimum required to be elected

395

395

Notes:

[1] UPA: Congress, Trinamool, DMK, NCP,Rashtriya Lok Dal, J&K National Conference, Muslim League Kerala State Committee, Kerala Congress (M), All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, Sikkim Democratic Front, Praja Rajyam Party, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi

[2] NDA: BJP, JD(U), Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal

[3] Left: CPI(M), CPI, Revolutionary Socialist Party,All India Forward Bloc