Needed, an Indian Legislative Service:
- P.K. Ramacharyulu was appointment as the Secretary-General of the Upper House by M. Venkaiah Naidu, Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, on September 1, 2021.
- 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
- Article 98 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.
- Since the first Parliament in 1952, Except for some of the lateral entry staff, who could become Secretaries-General, all the others were from the civil services or other services.
- Since 1993, all the Secretaries-General of the Rajya Sabha were from the civil service till the appointment of Ramacharyulu as the 12th Secretary-General.
Issues with Civil Servants being appointed as Secretary-General of Parliament:
- 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.
- Appointment of civil servants as secretary general breaches the principle of separation of power.
- Compromises Reciprocal Supervisory Nature of Parliamentary Democracy: In a parliamentary polity, one of the roles of Parliament is to watch over the executive’s administrative behaviour.
Way Forward- Constituting an Indian Legislative Service:
- There are thousands of legislative bodies in India, ranging from the panchayat, block panchayat, etc. Despite these mammoth law-making bodies, they lack their own common public recruiting and training agency at the national level.
- A common Indian Legislative service can build a combined and experienced legislative staff cadre, enabling them to serve from across local bodies to Union Parliament. Presently, the Parliament and State legislative secretariats recruit their pool of bureaucrats separately.
- The Rajya Sabha can, under Article 312, pass a resolution, in national interest, to create an all-India service common to both the Union and the States. This enables Parliament to create such a service by law.
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