• term ‘Parliament’ refers to national legislature.
• legislature of States is described as State Legislature.
• Parliament in India has two houses. When there are two houses of legislature, it is known as a bicameral legislature.
• two Houses of Indian Parliament are Council of States or Rajya Sabha and House of People or Lok Sabha.
• Constitution has given States option of establishing either a unicameral or bicameral legislature.
• At present, only Six States have a bicameral legislature. States having a bicameral legislature are: [i] Andhra Pradesh [ii] Bihar [iii] Karnataka [iv] Maharashtra [v] Telangana [vi] Uttar Pradesh
• Countries with large size and much diversity generally prefer to have two houses of national legislature to give representation to all sections in society and to give representation to all geographical regions or parts of country.
• A bicameral legislature makes it possible to have every decision reconsidered. Every decision taken by one house goes to other house for its decision.
• This means that every bill and policy would be discussed twice. This ensures a double check on every matter.
• Rajya Sabha represents States of India. This is an indirectly elected body.
• elected members of State Legislative Assembly in turn elect members of Rajya Sabha.
• number of members to be elected from each State for Rajya Sabha has been fixed by fourth schedule of Constitution.
• Members of Rajya Sabha are elected for a term of six years. They can get re-elected. All members of Rajya Sabha do not complete their terms at same time.
• Every two years, one-third members of Rajya Sabha complete their term, and elections are held for those one-third seats only. Thus, Rajya Sabha is never fully dissolved. Therefore, it is known as Permanent House of Parliament.
• Apart from elected members, Rajya Sabha has twelve nominated members.
• President nominates these members.
• These nominations are made from among those persons who have made their mark in fields of literature, science, art & social service.
• members of Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies are directly elected by people. For election, entire country [state, in case of State Legislative Assembly] is divided into territorial constituencies of roughly equal population.
• One representative is elected from each constituency through universal adult suffrage where value of vote of every individual would be equal to another. At present, there are 543 constituencies. This number has not changed since 1971 census.
• Lok Sabha is elected for five years.
• Lok Sabha can be dissolved before five years if no party or coalition can form government or if Prime Minister advises President to dissolve Lok Sabha and hold fresh elections.
Powers of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Lok Sabha Rajya Sabha
|Lok Sabha||Rajya Sabha|
|Makes Laws on matters included in Union List and Concurrent List. Can introduce and enact money and non money bills.||Considers and approves non-money bills and suggests amendments to money bills.|
|Approves proposals for taxation, budgets & annual financial statements.||Approves Constitutional amendments.|
|Controls executive by asking questions, supplementary questions, resolutions and motions and through a no confidence motion.||Exercises control over executive by asking questions, and introducing motions and resolutions.|
|Amends Constitution.||Participates in election and removal of President, Vice President, Judges of Supreme Court and High Court. It can alone initiate procedure for removal of Vice President.|
|Approves Proclamation of emergency.||Can give Union parliament power to make laws on matters included in State list.|
|Elects President and Vice President and removes Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts.|
|Establishes committees and commissions and considers their reports.|
• If Union Parliament wishes to remove a matter from State list [over which only State Legislature can make law] to either Union List or Concurrent List in interest of nation, approval of Rajya Sabha is necessary [Special power of Rajya Sabha].
• Powers exercised only by Lok Sabha: Rajya Sabha cannot initiate, reject or amend money bills. Council of Ministers is responsible to Lok Sabha and not Rajya Sabha. Therefore, Rajya Sabha can criticise government but cannot remove it.
• In passing of non-money bills, Constitutional amendments, impeaching President and removing Vice President, powers of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are co-equal.
Functions of Parliament
• Legislative Function: Parliament enacts legislation for country. actual task of drafting bill is performed by bureaucracy under supervision of minister concerned. No major bill is introduced in Parliament without approval of Cabinet.
• Control of Executive and ensuring its accountability: most vital function of Parliament is to ensure that executive does not overstep its authority and remains responsible to people who have elected them.
• Financial Function: If Government of India proposes to introduce any new tax, it has to get approval of Lok Sabha. government has to give an account to legislature about money it has spent and resources that it wishes to raise. legislature ensures that government does not misspend or overspend. It is done through budget and annual financial statements.
• Debating Function: Parliament is highest forum of debate in country. There is no limitation on its power of discussion. Members are free to speak on any matter without fear. This makes it possible for Parliament to analyse any or every issue that faces nation. These discussions constitute heart of democratic decision-making.
• Representation: Parliament represents divergent views of members from different regional, social, economic, & religious groups of different parts of country.
• Constituent Function: Parliament has power of discussing and enacting changes to Constitution. constituent powers of both houses are similar. All Constitutional amendments have to be approved by a special majority of both Houses.
• Judicial functions: judicial functions of Parliament include considering proposals for removal of President, Vice-President and Judges of High Courts and Supreme Court.
• Electoral Functions: Parliament performs some electoral functions. It elects President and Vice President of India.
Parliament Control over Executive
• legislature in parliamentary system ensures executive accountability at various stages: policymaking, implementation of law or policy and during and post implementation stage. legislature does this through use of a variety of devices: Deliberation and discussion, approval or refusal of laws, financial control, and No-confidence motion.
• Deliberation and discussion: During law-making process, members of legislature have a chance to talk about direction of executive policies and how those policies are carried out. During sessions of Parliament, every day there is a time called “Question Hour” where members can ask questions and ministers have to answer them. Zero Hour, where members can talk about anything they think is important [but ministers don’t have to answer], a half-hour discussion on things that are important to public, an adjournment motion. are all ways to keep control.
• Approval and Ratification of Laws: Parliamentary control is exercised through its power of ratification. A bill can become law only with approval of Parliament. A government that has support of a disciplined majority may not find it difficult to get approval of Legislature. They are products of intense bargaining and negotiations amongst members of ruling party or coalition of parties and even government and opposition. If government has a majority in Lok Sabha but not in Rajya Sabha, government will be forced to make substantial concessions to gain approval of both Houses.
• Financial control: Financial resources to implement programmes of government are granted through budget. Lok Sabha can discuss reasons for which government requires money. It can enquire into cases of misuse of funds based on report of Comptroller and Auditor General and Public Accounts committees. legislature is concerned about policies of government that are reflected in budget. Through financial control, legislature controls policy of government.
• No-Confidence Motion: most powerful weapon that enables Parliament to ensure executive accountability is no-confidence motion. If government has support of its party or a coalition of parties that have a majority in Lok Sabha, it is not possible to dismiss government.
Law-making in Parliament
• basic function of any legislature is to make laws for its people. A definite procedure is followed in process of making of law.
• A bill is a draft of proposed law. There can be different types of bills.
• When a non-minister proposes a bill, it is known as a Private Member’s Bill. A bill proposed by a minister is described as Government Bill.
• draft of any bill is prepared by concerned ministry.
• A bill may be introduced in Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha by a member of House [but often a minister responsible for subject introduces bill]. A money bill can be introduced only in Lok Sabha. Once passed there, it is sent to Rajya Sabha.
• A large part of discussion on bills takes place in committees. recommendation of committee is then sent to House. That is why committees are referred to as miniature legislatures. It is second stage in law-making process.
• In third and final stage, bill is voted upon. If a non-money bill is passed by one House, it is sent to other House where it goes through same procedure.
• A bill has to be passed by both Houses for enactment. If there is a disagreement between two Houses on proposed bill, an attempt is made to resolve it through Joint Session of Parliament.
• If it is a money bill, Rajya Sabha can either approve bill or suggest changes but cannot reject it. If it takes no action within 14 days, bill is deemed to have been passed. Amendments to bill, suggested by Rajya Sabha, may or may not be accepted by Lok Sabha.
• When a bill is passed by both Houses, it is sent to President for his assent. assent of President results in enactment of a bill into law.
Committees of Parliament
• committees play a vital role not merely in lawmaking, but in day-to-day business of House. Since Parliament only meets during sessions, it has limited time at its disposal.
• There are other important functions also, like studying demands for grants made by various ministries, looking into expenditure incurred by various departments, investigating cases of corruption.
• committee system has reduced burden on Parliament. Many important bills have been referred to committees.
Parliament Regulating Itself
• presiding officer of legislature is final authority in matters of regulating business of legislature.
• Most of members of legislatures are elected on ticket of some political party.
• There was an agreement among parties that a legislator who is elected on one party’s ticket must be restricted from ‘defecting’ to another party.
• An amendment to Constitution was made [52nd amendment act] in 1985. It is called antidefection amendment.
• presiding officer of House is authority who takes final decisions on all such cases. If it is proved that a member has ‘defected’, then such a member loses membership of House. Besides, such a person is disqualified from holding any political office like ministership.
• If a member remains absent in House when asked by party leadership to remain present or votes against instructions of party or voluntarily leaves membership of party, it is deemed as defection.