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Overview:

India’s states reflect the country’s diversity. The Department of States in the Ministry of Home Affairs is the interface between these entities, many of which are home to several different ethnic or linguistic groups, and the federal government. While the states are self-governed, the ministry through this department assists the state governments and makes timely interventions when necessary.

more
History:

The first home minister not only oversaw the federal state, he created it. It took Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s determination to consolidate hundreds of princely states and give shape to India as we know it today. In his book, The Story of the Integration of the Indian States, VP Menon, Patel’s secretary in the ministry who played a key role in the process, wrote: “The entire staff of the States Ministry, both at New Delhi as well as at the regional headquarters, threw themselves heart and soul into the task.” Together, they talked with rulers and convinced them to be part of the new nation and when that failed with some, they threatened military action. In 1961, when the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules were framed, a Department of States was assigned to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

more
What it Does:

Several initiatives and institutions of the Ministry of Home affairs fall within the purview of the department:

 

Interstate and Zonal Councils

The Inter-State Council, recommended by Sarkaria Commission on center-state relations—named after Justice Rajinder Singh Sarkaria, a retired Supreme Court judge, who headed it—came into being in 1990. Chaired by the prime minister, with the chief ministers of the states and union territories and ministers in the federal government as its members, the council has met 10 times, made 247 recommendations, 179 of which have been implemented. A standing committee headed by the Union Minister of Home Affairs (MHA) holds consultations on issues pertaining to the states before a meeting is convened.

 

There are five Zonal Councils, for the northern, central, eastern, western and southern zones, as well as a special Northeast Council. Zonal Councils, with chief ministers of the relevant zone as members, are chaired by the MHA. The Zonal Councils were set up in 1956, having been proposed by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru “to develop the habit of cooperative working” between states. Altogether, there have been 106 Zonal Council meetings, and most recently, the Southern Zonal Council met in 2007 in Hyderabad. A meeting of the Northern Zonal Council scheduled for September 2011 could not be held as legislative assembly sessions were in progress in the states.

 

Both the Inter-State and Zonal Councils have secretariats and, most recently, in March 2010, the latest report on center-state relations was submitted via a commission chaired by Justice Madan Mohan Punchhi, a retired chief justice of the Supreme Court.

 

Union Territories

Apart from the 28 states, there are small regions and islands of the country, including the National Capital Region of Delhi (NCR), that have been designated “union territories.” The Department of States is charged with administration of the seven union territories through appointed lieutenant governors and administrators. Only two of these seven regions, Puducherry and NCR, have their own legislatures. The remaining five have home ministers' advisory committees comprising the administrators, members of parliament and nominated members of district panchayats and municipal council/committees.

 

Human Rights

The National Human Rights Commission helmed by a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court works with its state counterparts to check human rights violations, including those by civil servants. For instance, it issues “show-cause notices” to the authorities involved in custodial deaths and conducts its own investigations. It promotes equal human rights to the disabled and the right to health, seeks to end bonded labor, prenatal sex selection and communalism, and represents the country in international human rights forums. At present, Justice KG Balakrishnan heads the commission.

 

The 15th meeting of the National Human Rights Council was organized by the ministry in September 2011. The council is chaired by the prime minister and among its members are union ministers, leaders of opposition in the two houses of Parliament, chief ministers of all states and union territories with legislatures, leaders of national and regional political parties, heads of national commissions, eminent media personalities, representatives of the business community, public figures and women representatives. The council strives to achieve “common citizenship, unity in diversity, freedom of religions, secularism, equality, justice—social, economic and political, and fraternity among all communities.”

 

Anti-Trafficking Cell

Without any restriction on the movement between different states and swathes of the country in poverty, there is an urgent need to tackle issues like human trafficking at the federal level. Hence, the ministry has stepped up with a central anti-human-trafficking cell. The cell works with the state governments to raise awareness on the issue and cracks down on practices like child marriages that often lead to the child being trafficked for labor or prostitution.

 

To strengthen law enforcement against human tracking, the ministry has proposed 330 anti-human trafficking units (AHTU) throughout the country and plans to provide relevant training to 10,000 police officers. Toward this end, the ministry has provided financial assistance to all state governments and issued an advisory.

 

Police and Police Reforms

A National Police Commission was established in 1977 to examine the scope for reforms in state and central police forces. Between 1979 and 1981, the commission submitted eight reports. For a decade-and-a-half, reluctance from various branches federal and state governments stifled implementation of these recommendations. In 1996, this led to Prakash Singh, a former Director General Police (DGP) of Assam, Uttar Pradesh and the Border Security Force, filing a writ petition in the Supreme Court in 1996. Ten years later, in 2006, the apex court gave its judgment on the petition, directing the governments both in the center and the states to implement the recommendations of the commission that included setting up of a state security commission, police establishment board, police complaints authority and national security commission, as well as establishing a minimum tenure for DGPs and other high-ranking officers. All these measures, the court said, were necessary to check the undue influence of the political establishment on both the state and central police forces. The court also directed the governments to separate the investigation and law-and-order wings of the police to “ensure speedier investigation, better expertise and improved rapport with the people.”

 

The Supreme Court then constituted a committee under Justice KT Thomas, a retired judge of the court, in 2008 to examine whether its directives have been complied with. The committee filed its final report in 2010.

 

While reforms of the police forces have been thrust on the ministry’s agenda by the court, their modernization has been its own initiative. With assistance from Bureau of Police Research and Development, this has been an effort toward reducing the dependence of the state police forces on the federal government by equipping them with technology and personnel. The ministry has also been funding construction and renovation of prison facilities and training prison administrators.

more
Where Does the Money Go:

According to the 2010-11 annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs, in the fiscal year 2009-2010, the federal government’s assistance to union territories without legislatures was Rs. 55.96 billion; it spent Rs. 35.66 billion on National Capital Territory of Delhi and Puducherry in the same period.

The Modernization of State Police Forces scheme was launched in 2000 and till the fiscal year 2009-2010; Rs. 100.87 billion had been released to the states. The funds were to be spent on, among others, construction of secure police stations, housing and training infrastructure; procurement of vehicles, weapons and forensic equipment; upgrading communication and surveillance; and computerization. The scheme, which was originally planned for the period 2000-2010, was extended for another year. In addition, Rs. 20 billion has been approved by the federal government’s committee on economic affairs for the proposed information technology infrastructure linking all police stations in the country. The Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System is to be implemented in the period 2009-2012. Besides, the ministry has released a first installment of Rs. 87.2 million to all states for establishing110 Anti-Human Trafficking Units. In 2002, the ministry also set aside Rs. 18 billion for the construction and renovation of prison complexes nationwide. Of the 165 new jails planned, 114 have been completed.

 

The ministry continues to provide pensions and retirement benefits to the people, who fought for India’s independence from the British, and their eligible dependents. The monthly pension has risen from Rs. 200 in 1972 to Rs. 14,116 in 2010. In the year 2010-11, Rs. 5.8 billion had been sanctioned for pensions in addition to Rs. 350 million for free railway passes.

more
Controversies:

The Inter-State Council

The Inter-State Council has not met since 2006, noted LK Advani, leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in his blog. The meetings were most frequent when the United Front, a coalition of 13 mostly regional parties, was in power, between 1996 and 1998. During the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime, the council met on four occasions. Since the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) returned to power in 2004, the council has only met twice. Advani, who was the home minister during the NDA regime, said that the council needs to meet and be revived soon. Claiming the “continuing disregard for federalism by the present Union government,” he wrote that his party demanded a revisit of the appointment, role and functioning of governors. Of late, the federal government-appointed governors of the BJP-ruled states like Karnataka and Gujarat have been in the news for attempting to rein in the chief ministers.

 

Balakrishnan’s Allegedly Inflated Assets

The National Human Rights Commission Chairman KG Balakrishnan also has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Relatives of the former chief justice of Supreme Court were found to be in possession of assets disproportionate to their incomes. This was followed by leading lawyers submitting a petition to the Home Minister PC Chidambaram that alleged Balakrishnan and his relatives had under-reported incomes. Acting on the petition, the ministry has asked the revenue department to conduct an investigation.

more
Suggested Reforms:

Despite being one of the largest cities in the world and having its own elected state government, federalism is least practiced in the capital, Delhi. Being a union territory and a state, the city has both a central government-appointed lieutenant governor and an elected chief minister at the helm. The civic bodies and the Delhi police report to the central government, leaving the state government helpless in times of crisis like the widely reported infrastructural delays in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games that the city hosted in October 2010 and the September 2011 Delhi High Court blast. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has demanded that civic bodies like New Delhi Municipal Council, Municipal Corporation of Delhi and Delhi Development Authority be brought under the state government. In the aftermath of the explosion, she said that that some of the functions of the Delhi Police, which reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs, like law and order and traffic, should be transferred to the state government for “better coordination and faster delivery.”

more
Debate:

When the National Human Rights Council met in September 2011, one of the major talking points was the bill drafted by the National Advisory Council (NAC) called “Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011.”

 

Pro

Supporters of the bill argued it was important because it would provide for a national authority appointed by the central government with special powers to deal with violence against minorities and those who belong to scheduled castes and tribes.

 

Con

A few chief ministers of states objected to the bill because they held the view that it would undermine federalism. Others like Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that the bill assumes that the perpetrators of communal violence belong to the majority community, which will ultimately be to the detriment of the minorities. The BJP went a step further, with its leader Arun Jaitley writing that terrorists (whom he assumes are Muslims) “will be incentivized to create communal riots due to a statutory assumption that members of a jihadi group will not be punished under this law.”

more

Comments

Leave a comment

Founded:
Annual Budget:
Employees:
Official Website:
Department of States
  • Latest News
Bookmark and Share
Overview:

India’s states reflect the country’s diversity. The Department of States in the Ministry of Home Affairs is the interface between these entities, many of which are home to several different ethnic or linguistic groups, and the federal government. While the states are self-governed, the ministry through this department assists the state governments and makes timely interventions when necessary.

more
History:

The first home minister not only oversaw the federal state, he created it. It took Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s determination to consolidate hundreds of princely states and give shape to India as we know it today. In his book, The Story of the Integration of the Indian States, VP Menon, Patel’s secretary in the ministry who played a key role in the process, wrote: “The entire staff of the States Ministry, both at New Delhi as well as at the regional headquarters, threw themselves heart and soul into the task.” Together, they talked with rulers and convinced them to be part of the new nation and when that failed with some, they threatened military action. In 1961, when the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules were framed, a Department of States was assigned to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

more
What it Does:

Several initiatives and institutions of the Ministry of Home affairs fall within the purview of the department:

 

Interstate and Zonal Councils

The Inter-State Council, recommended by Sarkaria Commission on center-state relations—named after Justice Rajinder Singh Sarkaria, a retired Supreme Court judge, who headed it—came into being in 1990. Chaired by the prime minister, with the chief ministers of the states and union territories and ministers in the federal government as its members, the council has met 10 times, made 247 recommendations, 179 of which have been implemented. A standing committee headed by the Union Minister of Home Affairs (MHA) holds consultations on issues pertaining to the states before a meeting is convened.

 

There are five Zonal Councils, for the northern, central, eastern, western and southern zones, as well as a special Northeast Council. Zonal Councils, with chief ministers of the relevant zone as members, are chaired by the MHA. The Zonal Councils were set up in 1956, having been proposed by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru “to develop the habit of cooperative working” between states. Altogether, there have been 106 Zonal Council meetings, and most recently, the Southern Zonal Council met in 2007 in Hyderabad. A meeting of the Northern Zonal Council scheduled for September 2011 could not be held as legislative assembly sessions were in progress in the states.

 

Both the Inter-State and Zonal Councils have secretariats and, most recently, in March 2010, the latest report on center-state relations was submitted via a commission chaired by Justice Madan Mohan Punchhi, a retired chief justice of the Supreme Court.

 

Union Territories

Apart from the 28 states, there are small regions and islands of the country, including the National Capital Region of Delhi (NCR), that have been designated “union territories.” The Department of States is charged with administration of the seven union territories through appointed lieutenant governors and administrators. Only two of these seven regions, Puducherry and NCR, have their own legislatures. The remaining five have home ministers' advisory committees comprising the administrators, members of parliament and nominated members of district panchayats and municipal council/committees.

 

Human Rights

The National Human Rights Commission helmed by a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court works with its state counterparts to check human rights violations, including those by civil servants. For instance, it issues “show-cause notices” to the authorities involved in custodial deaths and conducts its own investigations. It promotes equal human rights to the disabled and the right to health, seeks to end bonded labor, prenatal sex selection and communalism, and represents the country in international human rights forums. At present, Justice KG Balakrishnan heads the commission.

 

The 15th meeting of the National Human Rights Council was organized by the ministry in September 2011. The council is chaired by the prime minister and among its members are union ministers, leaders of opposition in the two houses of Parliament, chief ministers of all states and union territories with legislatures, leaders of national and regional political parties, heads of national commissions, eminent media personalities, representatives of the business community, public figures and women representatives. The council strives to achieve “common citizenship, unity in diversity, freedom of religions, secularism, equality, justice—social, economic and political, and fraternity among all communities.”

 

Anti-Trafficking Cell

Without any restriction on the movement between different states and swathes of the country in poverty, there is an urgent need to tackle issues like human trafficking at the federal level. Hence, the ministry has stepped up with a central anti-human-trafficking cell. The cell works with the state governments to raise awareness on the issue and cracks down on practices like child marriages that often lead to the child being trafficked for labor or prostitution.

 

To strengthen law enforcement against human tracking, the ministry has proposed 330 anti-human trafficking units (AHTU) throughout the country and plans to provide relevant training to 10,000 police officers. Toward this end, the ministry has provided financial assistance to all state governments and issued an advisory.

 

Police and Police Reforms

A National Police Commission was established in 1977 to examine the scope for reforms in state and central police forces. Between 1979 and 1981, the commission submitted eight reports. For a decade-and-a-half, reluctance from various branches federal and state governments stifled implementation of these recommendations. In 1996, this led to Prakash Singh, a former Director General Police (DGP) of Assam, Uttar Pradesh and the Border Security Force, filing a writ petition in the Supreme Court in 1996. Ten years later, in 2006, the apex court gave its judgment on the petition, directing the governments both in the center and the states to implement the recommendations of the commission that included setting up of a state security commission, police establishment board, police complaints authority and national security commission, as well as establishing a minimum tenure for DGPs and other high-ranking officers. All these measures, the court said, were necessary to check the undue influence of the political establishment on both the state and central police forces. The court also directed the governments to separate the investigation and law-and-order wings of the police to “ensure speedier investigation, better expertise and improved rapport with the people.”

 

The Supreme Court then constituted a committee under Justice KT Thomas, a retired judge of the court, in 2008 to examine whether its directives have been complied with. The committee filed its final report in 2010.

 

While reforms of the police forces have been thrust on the ministry’s agenda by the court, their modernization has been its own initiative. With assistance from Bureau of Police Research and Development, this has been an effort toward reducing the dependence of the state police forces on the federal government by equipping them with technology and personnel. The ministry has also been funding construction and renovation of prison facilities and training prison administrators.

more
Where Does the Money Go:

According to the 2010-11 annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs, in the fiscal year 2009-2010, the federal government’s assistance to union territories without legislatures was Rs. 55.96 billion; it spent Rs. 35.66 billion on National Capital Territory of Delhi and Puducherry in the same period.

The Modernization of State Police Forces scheme was launched in 2000 and till the fiscal year 2009-2010; Rs. 100.87 billion had been released to the states. The funds were to be spent on, among others, construction of secure police stations, housing and training infrastructure; procurement of vehicles, weapons and forensic equipment; upgrading communication and surveillance; and computerization. The scheme, which was originally planned for the period 2000-2010, was extended for another year. In addition, Rs. 20 billion has been approved by the federal government’s committee on economic affairs for the proposed information technology infrastructure linking all police stations in the country. The Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System is to be implemented in the period 2009-2012. Besides, the ministry has released a first installment of Rs. 87.2 million to all states for establishing110 Anti-Human Trafficking Units. In 2002, the ministry also set aside Rs. 18 billion for the construction and renovation of prison complexes nationwide. Of the 165 new jails planned, 114 have been completed.

 

The ministry continues to provide pensions and retirement benefits to the people, who fought for India’s independence from the British, and their eligible dependents. The monthly pension has risen from Rs. 200 in 1972 to Rs. 14,116 in 2010. In the year 2010-11, Rs. 5.8 billion had been sanctioned for pensions in addition to Rs. 350 million for free railway passes.

more
Controversies:

The Inter-State Council

The Inter-State Council has not met since 2006, noted LK Advani, leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in his blog. The meetings were most frequent when the United Front, a coalition of 13 mostly regional parties, was in power, between 1996 and 1998. During the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime, the council met on four occasions. Since the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) returned to power in 2004, the council has only met twice. Advani, who was the home minister during the NDA regime, said that the council needs to meet and be revived soon. Claiming the “continuing disregard for federalism by the present Union government,” he wrote that his party demanded a revisit of the appointment, role and functioning of governors. Of late, the federal government-appointed governors of the BJP-ruled states like Karnataka and Gujarat have been in the news for attempting to rein in the chief ministers.

 

Balakrishnan’s Allegedly Inflated Assets

The National Human Rights Commission Chairman KG Balakrishnan also has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Relatives of the former chief justice of Supreme Court were found to be in possession of assets disproportionate to their incomes. This was followed by leading lawyers submitting a petition to the Home Minister PC Chidambaram that alleged Balakrishnan and his relatives had under-reported incomes. Acting on the petition, the ministry has asked the revenue department to conduct an investigation.

more
Suggested Reforms:

Despite being one of the largest cities in the world and having its own elected state government, federalism is least practiced in the capital, Delhi. Being a union territory and a state, the city has both a central government-appointed lieutenant governor and an elected chief minister at the helm. The civic bodies and the Delhi police report to the central government, leaving the state government helpless in times of crisis like the widely reported infrastructural delays in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games that the city hosted in October 2010 and the September 2011 Delhi High Court blast. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has demanded that civic bodies like New Delhi Municipal Council, Municipal Corporation of Delhi and Delhi Development Authority be brought under the state government. In the aftermath of the explosion, she said that that some of the functions of the Delhi Police, which reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs, like law and order and traffic, should be transferred to the state government for “better coordination and faster delivery.”

more
Debate:

When the National Human Rights Council met in September 2011, one of the major talking points was the bill drafted by the National Advisory Council (NAC) called “Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011.”

 

Pro

Supporters of the bill argued it was important because it would provide for a national authority appointed by the central government with special powers to deal with violence against minorities and those who belong to scheduled castes and tribes.

 

Con

A few chief ministers of states objected to the bill because they held the view that it would undermine federalism. Others like Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that the bill assumes that the perpetrators of communal violence belong to the majority community, which will ultimately be to the detriment of the minorities. The BJP went a step further, with its leader Arun Jaitley writing that terrorists (whom he assumes are Muslims) “will be incentivized to create communal riots due to a statutory assumption that members of a jihadi group will not be punished under this law.”

more

Comments

Leave a comment

Founded:
Annual Budget:
Employees:
Official Website:
Department of States
  • Latest News