The Budget session 2013 commenced with the President, Pranab Mukherjee, addressing Parliament on February 21, 2013. The address is a statement of the policy of the government. Yesterday a Motion of Thanks was moved in the Lok Sabha and a detailed discussion took place on the President’s address. (The significance of the President’s speech has been discussed in an article published in the Indian Express.) Below are some legislative and policy items from the agenda of the central government outlined in the speech.
Legislative and policyagenda outlined in President’s addresses between 2009-2012 and their status
Legislations mentioned in the President’s Address between 2009-12
|To be introduced|
|Goods and Services Tax||Constitutional Amendment Bill introduced|
|The National Food Security Bill||Introduced|
|Amend the Land Acquisition Act and enact the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill||Introduced|
|Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention Prohibition and Redressal) Bill||Passed|
|The Whistleblower Bill||Pending|
|The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill||Pending|
|The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill||Pending|
|A model Public Services Law (to cover officials providing important social services and commits them to their duties)||Two bills introduced: the Electronic Services Delivery Bill and the Citizen’s Charter Bill|
|The Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill||Passed|
|The National Council for Higher Education Bill||Introduced|
|Foreign Educational Institutions Bill||Introduced|
|Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill||Passed|
|The Women’s Reservation Bill||Pending|
|The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill||Introduced|
|The Public Procurement Bill||Introduced|
|The General Anti-Avoidance Rules||Scheduled for 2016|
|Amend of RTI Act (to provide for disclosure by government in all non-strategic areas)||To be introduced|
Policy items mentioned in the President’s Addresses between 2009-2012
|National Mission for Female Literacy – all women to be literate by 2013-14||National Literacy Mission recast in September 2009 to focus on female literacy; as per 2011 census the female literacy rate in India is 65.46%|
|Disposal of remaining claims in 2010 under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act||As on February 28, 2010, 27.16 lakh claims had been filed, 7.59 lakh titles had been distributed and 36,000 titles were ready for distribution; as on July 31, 2012, the number of claims filed for the recognition of forest rights and titles distributed are 32.28 lakh and 12.68 lakh respectively|
|Introduction of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Minor Forest Produce (MFP) being considered||Based on the recommendations of the Committee constituted by Ministry of Panchayati Raj to look into aspects of MSP, Value addition and marketing of MFP in Fifth Schedule Areas, a Central Sector Scheme of MSP for MFP has been contemplated|
|Voting rights for Indian citizens living abroad||Bill passed; NRIs can vote at the place of residence mentioned in their passport|
|12th Plan target growth 9% with 4% growth for the agricultural sector||GDP grew by 5.4% and the agriculture sector by 1.8% in the first half of the current fiscal year (2012-13)|
|Establish national investment and manufacturing zones to promote growth in manufacturing||Under the National Manufacturing Policy, 12 National Investment and Manufacturing Zones are notified, 8 of them along the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor and 4 others at Nagpur, Tumkur, Chittor and Medak|
|Strengthening public accountability of flagship programmes by the creation of an Independent Evaluation Office.||Government has approved setting up of an Independent Evaluation Office and the Governing Board will be chaired by Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission|
|Unique Identity Card scheme to be implemented by 2011-12||Bill to give statutory status pending in Parliament; enrollment until February 2013 is approximately 28 crore|
|Establishment of National Counter-Terrorism Centre||Proposed launch of NCTC in March 2011 on hold as consultation with states is on; meeting held by the union government with the Chief Ministers of all the States in May 2012|
|Conversion of analog cable TV system to digital by December 2014||Government has implemented the first phase of digitization in Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai; by March 31, 2013, 38 cities with a population of more than one million will be covered|
|A roadmap for judicial reform to be outlined by the end of 2009 and implemented in a time-bound manner||Vision statement formulated in 2009 outlining road map for improving justice delivery and legal reforms and steps to reduce pendency in Courts; setting up of a National Mission for the Delivery of Justice and Legal Reforms to improve court administration and reduce pendency was approved in June 2011|
*Introduced means introduced in one House; Pending means passed by one House and pending in the other House; Passed means passed by both Houses of Parliament.
 “Major Recommendations of Expert Committee on GAAR Accepted”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Finance, January 14, 2013.
 Lok Sabha, Starred Question No. 175, December 5, 2012, Ministry of Human Resource Development.
 Lok Sabha, Unstarred Question No. 2672, March 12, 2010, Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
 Lok Sabha, Starred Question No. 108, August 17, 2012, Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
 “PM approves Constitution of National Council for Senior Citizens”, Press Information Bureau, February 1, 2012, Prime Minister’s Office.
On June 13, 2022, the West Bengal government passed a Bill to replace the Governor with the Chief Minister, as the Chancellor of 31 state public universities (such as Calcutta University, Jadavpur University). As per the All India Survey on Higher Education (2019-20), state public universities provide higher education to almost 85% of all students enrolled in higher education in India. In this blog, we discuss the role of the Governor in state public universities.
What is the role of the Chancellor in public universities?
State public universities are established through laws passed by state legislatures. In most laws the Governor has been designated as the Chancellor of these universities. The Chancellor functions as the head of public universities, and appoints the Vice-Chancellor of the university. Further, the Chancellor can declare invalid, any university proceeding which is not as per existing laws. In some states (such as Bihar, Gujarat, and Jharkhand), the Chancellor has the power to conduct inspections in the university. The Chancellor also presides over the convocation of the university, and confirms proposals for conferring honorary degrees. This is different in Telangana, where the Chancellor is appointed by the state government.
The Chancellor presides over the meetings of various university bodies (such as the Court/Senate of the university). The Court/Senate decides on matters of general policy related to the development of the university, such as: (i) establishing new university departments, (ii) conferring and withdrawing degrees and titles, and (iii) instituting fellowships.
The West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 designates the Chief Minister of West Bengal as the Chancellor of the 31 public universities in the state. Further, the Chief Minister (instead of the Governor) will be the head of these universities, and preside over the meetings of university bodies (such as Court/Senate).
Does the Governor have discretion in his capacity as Chancellor?
In 1997, the Supreme Court held that the Governor was not bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, while discharging duties of a separate statutory office (such as the Chancellor).
The Sarkaria and Puunchi Commission also dealt with the role of the Governor in educational institutions. Both Commissions concurred that while discharging statutory functions, the Governor is not legally bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. However, it may be advantageous for the Governor to consult the concerned Minister. The Sarkaria Commission recommended that state legislatures should avoid conferring statutory powers on the Governor, which were not envisaged by the Constitution. The Puunchi Commission observed that the role of Governor as the Chancellor may expose the office to controversies or public criticism. Hence, the role of the Governor should be restricted to constitutional provisions only. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 also mentions this recommendation given by the Puunchi Commission.
Recently, some states have taken steps to reduce the oversight of the Governor in state public universities. In April 2022, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed two Bills, to transfer the power of appointing the Vice-Chancellor (in public universities) from the Governor, to the state government. As of June 8, 2022, these Bills have not received the Governor’s assent.
In 2021, Maharashtra amended the process to appoint the Vice Chancellor of state public universities. Prior to the amendment, a Search Committee forwarded a panel of at least five names to the Chancellor (who is the Governor). The Chancellor could then appoint one of the persons from the suggested panel as Vice-Chancellor, or ask for a fresh panel of names to be recommended. The 2021 amendment mandated the Search Committee to first forward the panel of names to the state government, which would recommend a panel of two names (from the original panel) to the Chancellor. The Chancellor must appoint one of the two names from the panel as Vice-Chancellor within thirty days. As per the amendment, the Chancellor has no option of asking for a fresh panel of names to be recommended.