The Parliament of India consists of the President and the two houses –the Lower House or Lok Sabha and the Upper House or Rajya Sabha.
It is the Upper House of the Parliament. It consists of representatives of the states. The maximum strength of the Rajya Sabha is 250. Of these 238 represent the States and Union territories and the rest 12 are nominated by the President from amongst persons who have distinguished themselves in the field of literature, art, science, social service, etc. Representatives of the states are elected by members of State Legislative Assemblies on the basis of proportional representation through a single transferable vote. The Rajya Sabha represents the federal character of the Constitution in the Parliament. The membership of a State is based on the population of that state.
Term: The Rajya Sabha is a permanent body, and not subject to dissolution. One third of its members retire every 2- year. The members are elected by the elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies for a six year term.. There are no seats reserved for Scheduled Castes & Tribes in the Rajya Sabha.
Qualifications for membership
In order to be qualified to become a member of the Rajya Sabha, a person must be:
(1) be a citizen of India;
(2) not be less than 30 years of age; and
(3) have registered as a voter in any parliamentary constituency.
Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha
The Vice –President of India is ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha . He presides over the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha. In his absence the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha presides over. The Deputy Chairman is elected by the members of the Rajya Sabha amongst themselves.
Special powers of the Rajya Sabha
The special powers of the Rajya Sabha are in the form of initiating certain resolutions.
(1) A resolution seeking the removal of the Vice-President can originate only in the Rajya Sabha where the resolution must be passed by a majority of all the then members of the Rajya Sabha, and agreed to by the Lok Sabha.
(2) If the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution by a majority of not less than two- thirds of the members present and voting that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest that Parliament should make laws with respect to any matter enumerated in the State List, it shall be lawful for Parliament to make law for the whole or any part of the territory of India on that matter for a period of not exceeding more than one year.
(3) If the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution by a majority of not less than two- third of the members present and voting that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest, to create one or more all- India services, Parliament by law may provide for such services.
The Lok Sabha is the Popular house of the Indian Parliament. It consists of representatives elected by the people on the basis of universal adult franchise through secret ballot. The constitution prescribes a membership of not more than 530 representatives of the states, not more than 20 representatives of the Union Territories and not more than 2 members of the Anglo- Indian Community nominated by the President., if in the opinion of the President that the Anglo- Indian community is not adequately represented in the Lok Sabha. The Constitution empowers the Parliament to readjust the seats in the Lok Sabha on the basis of population after every census.
Term -The normal term of the Lok Sabha is five years, but it may be dissolved earlier by the President. The 42nd Amendment Act 1976 extended the normal life of the Lok Sabha to six years, but the 44th amendment Act 1978 has set it at five years as the original Constitution envisaged. The life of the Lok Sabha can be extended by the Parliament beyond the five year term when a proclamation of emergency under Article 352 is in force. But the Parliament cannot extend the normal life of the Lok Sabha for more than one year at a time, but in any case such extension cannot continue beyond a period of six months after the proclimation comes to an end.
Qualifications for membership of Lok Sabha
In order to be a member of the Lok Sabha, a person must:
(1) be a citizen of India
(2) not be less than 25 years of age and
(3) has registered as a voter in any Parliamentary constituency.
Disqualifications for membership.
A person shall be disqualified for being a chosen as, and for continuing as, a member of either House of the Parliament if he:
(a) holds any office of profit;
(b) is of unsound mind;
(c) voluntarily acquires the citizenship of a foreign country;
(d) is an undischarged insolvent; or
(e) is disqualified under any law made by the Parliament
A member who incurs any of the disqualification after election is deemed to have vacated his seat. A member can resign at any time. His resignation has to be accepted by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha or the Speaker of the Lok Sabha as the case may be. If a member of either House remains absent for 60 days without seeking the permission of the House, the House may declare his seat vacant. Matters of disqualifications of a member are decided by the President in consultation with the Election Commission, which is binding on him.
Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha
The Speaker is the Chief Presiding Officer of the Lok Sabha. The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha are elected by the members of the Lok Sabha amongst themselves. When the office of the Speaker falls vacant or when the Speaker is absent from any sitting of the house, the Deputy Speaker performs the duties of the Speaker. The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker remain in office so long as they are members of the house. The Speaker continues in his office, even after the Lok Sabha is dissolved till the newly elected Lok Sabha is constituted. The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker may be removed from their office by a resolution of the House after serving a 14 day notice on them. The Speaker does not vote in the first instance, but exercises his casting vote in the case of a tie i.e. in the case of equality of votes.
The Speaker possesses certain powers that do not belong to the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. They are as follows:
(1) It is the Speaker who presides over a joint sitting of the Houses of the Parliament;
(2) When a Money Bill is transmitted from the Lok Sabha to the Rajya Sabha the power to certify it as a money bill is given to the Speaker,
(3) The decision of the Speaker as to whether a bill is money bill is final
Special powers of the Lok Sabha- The Lok Sabha enjoys the following powers which are not available to the Rajya sabha
(1) A confidence or no confidence motion can be initiated and passed only in the Lok Sabha.
(2) Money and financial bills can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha cannot reject or amend a Money bill by virtue of its legislative powers. It possesses only a recommendatory role in the passage of a money bill and can delay it for a maximum period of 14 days only. The Lok Sabha enjoys full legislative power in this regard.
Under Art.352 the Lok Sabha in a special sitting can disapprove the continuance in force of a national emergency proclaimed by the President. In such a case the President shall revoke the national emergency.
Next Topic: Sessions of Parliament
Previous Topic: Attorney General of India