Need of an Indian Legislative Service
- Ramacharyulu was the first-ever Rajya Sabha secretariat staff who rose to become the Secretary-General of the Upper House.
- A precedent — appointing the Secretary-General from ‘outside’ or bureaucracy, often retired — very hard to unfollow was made possible by the Chairman.
- Since the first Parliament in 1952, 11 Secretaries-General had served in the Rajya Sabha before Ramacharyulu. Except for some of the lateral entry staff, who could become Secretaries-General, all the others were parachuted from the civil services or other services from time to time.
Independent of the executive
- Article 98 of the Constitution provides the scope of separate secretariats for the two Houses of Parliament.
- The principle, hence, laid in the Article is that the secretariats should be independent of the executive government.
- 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 Secretary-General also enjoys certain privileges such as freedom from arrest, immunity from criminal proceedings, and any obstruction and breach of their rights would amount to contempt of the House.
- 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.
Constituting a breach
- Serving civil servants or those who are retired come with long-held baggage and the clout of their past career.
- When civil servants are hired to the post of Secretary-General, this not only 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. The officials mandated with exercising one area of power may not expect to exercise the others.
- Parliament has all the reasons for its surveillance of administration.
- Parliament must have the technical and human resource competency that is on a par with the executive to be an effective body for providing meaningful scrutiny and to make the executive accountable.
- A strong Parliament means a more answerable executive. However, the bureaucracy persistently does not allow Parliament to be a competent and robust legislative institution.
An All india service is Must
- Despite these mammoth law-making bodies, they lack their own common public recruiting and training agency at the national level. Parliament and State legislative secretariats recruit their pool of bureaucrats separately.
- Creating a common all-India service cadre — an Indian Legislative Service — is a must.
- 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 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.