Indian Union Parliament: Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha

INDIAN UNION PARLIAMENT

The Union Parliament is a bicameral legislature with the Rajya Sabha as the Upper House or the Council of States and the Lok Sabha as the Lower House or House of the People. The Union Parliament is popularly known as the Indian Parliament. It is composed of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

Lok Sabha though the Lower House is the most powerful house of the Union Parliament. The maximum strength of Lok Sabha can be up to 552 out of which 550 members are elected and 2 members are nominated. At present Lok Sabha has 545 members, out of which 525 are the elected representatives of the people living in the States of the Union and 20 members are elected representatives of the people living in the Union Territories. The President has the right to nominate to the Lok Sabha two members belonging to the Anglo-Indian Community. Meghalaya has two Lok Sabha seats – one in Shillong and the other one in Tura. The term or tenure of Lok Sabha is 5 years.

The meetings of the Lok Sabha are presided over by the elected Speakers. Along with the Speaker, the Lok Sabha also elects a Deputy Speaker who then presides over the meetings in the absence of the Speaker.

Rajya Sabha consists of a maximum of 250 members, out of which 238 are representatives of the States and Union Territories and 12 members are nominated by the President from amongst themselves who have special knowledge or practical experience in the spheres of science, literature, art and social sciences. The state of Meghalaya has 1 seat in the Rajya Sabha. Presently Rajya Sabha has several 245 members out of which 233 are elected and 12 members are nominated by the President. The term or tenure of members of the Rajya Sabha is 6 years and one-third of its members retire after every two years.

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The Indian Vice President is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The Vice President of India presides over the meetings and conducts its proceedings. During the absence of the Vice President, the Deputy Chairman presides over the meetings of the Rajya Sabha. The Deputy Chairman is elected by all the Rajya Sabha MPs from amongst themselves.

INDIAN UNION PARLIAMENT: LOK SABHA

The Lok Sabha is called the House of the People popularly known as the Lower House of the Union Parliament. It is the first and a powerful lower house of the Union parliament. It is directly elected by the people and represents the people of India.

COMPOSITION

The maximum strength of Lok Sabha can be up to 552 out of which 550 members are elected and 2 members are nominated. At present Lok Sabha has 545 members, out of which 525 are the elected representatives of the people living in the States of the Union and 20 members are elected representatives of the people living in the Union Territories of India. The President has the right to nominate to the Lok Sabha two members belonging to the Anglo-Indian Community.

QUALIFICATIONS

  1. A person must be a citizen of India.
  2. He must be 25 years of age and above.
  3. He must not hold any office or profit under the Union or State Government.
  4. He must not have an unsound mind or be bankrupt.
  5. He must not have been declared an offender of a grave crime by any court.
  6. He should possess all such qualifications as may be prescribed by a law of the Parliament.

TERMS AND TENURE

The normal term of the member of Lok Sabha is 5 years. However, the term can be extended for 1 year during an emergency. But fresh elections to the Lok Sabha must be held within 6 months of the revocation of the emergency. The President of India can dissolve the Lok Sabha at any time when the Prime Minister advises him to do so or when no party may be in a position to form a government.

SESSIONS / MEETINGS

The President can call the sessions of Parliament at any time but the gap between two meetings of the Parliament cannot be more than 6 months. It means in one year a minimum of two sessions of the Lok Sabha are essential.

QUORUM

For the meeting of the Lok Sabha, the presence of at least 1/10th of its total memberships is essential. If 1/10th of the members are not present in a meeting of the Lok Sabha, the Speaker of the House can adjourn the meeting of the Lok Sabha for lack of quorum.

POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF THE LOK SABHA

The powers and functions of the Lok Sabha can be discussed in the following points.

  1. Legislative Powers: An ordinary bill can become a law only after it has been approved by both the Houses of Parliament. It can be introduced in any House i.e., Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. When it is passed by the Lok Sabha, it is sent to the Rajya Sabha. After it is secured the approval of both the Houses, it goes to the President for his signatures. After this, it becomes a law. Although an ordinary bill can be introduced in either of both Houses of Parliament, 90% of the bills are introduced in the Lok Sabha. In case the Rajya Sabha rejects the bill passed by the Lok Sabha and returns it to the Lok Sabha with some amendments, the Lok Sabha reconsiders the bill. If the Lok Sabha re-passes the bill and Rajya Sabha is still not prepared to pass it, a deadlock occurs. If this deadlock remains unresolved for 6 months, the President summons a joint sitting of the two Houses. The decision of the joint sitting is accepted by both the Houses of Parliament.
  2. Executive Powers: For all its work, the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible before the Lok Sabha i.e., house of the people. The ministers remain in office so long as they enjoy the support of a majority in the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha also has the power to remove the ministers from office by passing a vote of no-confidence against them. Thus, the life and death of the Cabinet depends upon the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha maintains continuous control over the Council of Ministers by several methods such as by asking questions from ministers about their policies and activities and criticizing their policies and by moving and adopting various types of resolutions and motions (adjournment motion, call attention motion, censure and no-confidence motion) and by rejecting the bills of the government. If the Lok Sabha rejects any policy or decision of the cabinet disapproves the budget or the bill of the government or passes a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister, it is taken to be a vote of no confidence against the entire council of the minister and entire council of minister resigns.
  3. Financial Powers: The Lok Sabha has a superior position than the Rajya Sabha in financial matters. A Money Bill can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha (House of the People). After the Bill is passed by the Lok Sabha, the money bill goes to the Rajya Sabha for consideration. A money bill passed by the Lok Sabha can be delayed only for a maximum period of 14 days in Rajya Sabha. If the Rajya Sabha fails to pass such a bill from the date of submission, the money bill is deemed to have been passed by both the Houses of Parliament – Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. It is sent to the President for his assent. In case of any disputes, whether a particular bill is a money bill or not, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha gives the decision. His decision is final and it cannot be challenged in a court or even in the Houses of Parliament. Thus we can say that the Lok Sabha has the final control over the matters relating to levying or abolishing of taxes and control over the fiscal policies of the nation. The Lok Sabha is the real custodian of the national purse.
  4. Judicial powers: The Lok Sabha also performs several judicial functions. The impeachment proceedings can be taken up against the President both in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha House. The President can be removed from his office only by a resolution adopted by each of the two Houses with a 2/3rd majority of its members. The Lok Sabha can also investigate the charges prepared by the Rajya Sabha against the Vice President of India. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha can pass a resolution for the removal of any judge of the Supreme Court and High Court of a State. Both Houses jointly pass a special address and present it to the President for the removal of some high officers of the state like the Attorney General, the Chief Election Commissioner of India, and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Lok Sabha can also take action against any member or any citizen who is held to be guilty of committing disrespect to the House.
  5. Electoral powers: The Lok Sabha also performs some electoral functions. The elected members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha together with State Legislative Assemblies take part in the election of the President. The members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha elect the Vice President of India. The members of the Lok Sabha can also elect the Speaker and Deputy Speaker from amongst themselves to preside over the meetings.
  6. Other Miscellaneous Powers: besides the above-mentioned powers the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha perform the following functions.
  • Approval of the ordinance issued by the parliament.
  • Approval of emergency proclamation.
  • Making any change in the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the High Court.
  • Making any change in the qualifications for the membership of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
  • Change of boundaries of the state, creation of new states, and change in the name of state.
  • Revising of salaries and other allowances of the members of the parliament.

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RAJYA SABHA

The Rajya Sabha is called the Council of States popularly known as the Upper House of the Union Parliament. It is a quasi-permanent body and not subject to dissolution. However, one-third of its members retire after 2 years and are replaced by newly elected members.

COMPOSITION

Rajya Sabha consists of a maximum of 250 members, out of which 238 are representatives of the States and Union Territories and 12 members are nominated by the President from amongst themselves who have special knowledge or practical experience in the spheres of science, literature, art and social sciences. Presently Rajya Sabha has several 245 members out of which 233 are elected and 12 members are nominated by the President. Meghalaya has one Rajya Sabha seat that is in Shillong, Meghalaya.

QUALIFICATIONS

  1. A person must be a citizen of India.
  2. He must be 30 years of age.
  3. He must not hold any office or profit under the Union or State Government.
  4. He must not have an unsound mind or be bankrupt.
  5. He must not have been declared an offender of a grave crime by any court.
  6. He should possess all such qualifications as may be prescribed by a law of the Parliament.

TERMS AND TENURE

The normal term of the member of Lok Sabha is 6 years. However, one-third of its members retire every two years and are replaced by their newly elected members. It is a quasi-permanent body and not subject to dissolution.

SESSIONS / MEETINGS

The President can call the sessions of Parliament at any time but the gap between two meetings of the Parliament cannot be more than 6 months. It means in one year a minimum of two sessions of the Rajya Sabha are essential.

CHAIRMAN OF THE RAJYA SABHA

The Indian Vice President is the ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha. He is not a member of the House but he presides over the meetings and conducts its proceedings. During his absence, the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha presides over the meetings. The Deputy Chairman is elected by all the members of the Rajya MPs from amongst themselves.

QUORUM

For the meeting of the Rajya Sabha, the presence of at least 1/10th of its total memberships is essential. It means that at least 1/10th of the members of the Rajya Sabha members must be present for starting the work of the House.

POWER AND FUNCTIONS OF RAJYA SABHA

The powers and functions of the Lok Sabha can be discussed in the following points.

  1. Legislative Power: Rajya Sabha enjoys equal powers with the Lok Sabha in the sphere of ordinary law-making. An ordinary bill can become a law only after it has been approved by both the Houses of Parliament. An ordinary bill can be introduced both in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. When it is passed by the Lok Sabha, it is sent to the Rajya Sabha. After it is secured the approval of both the Houses, it goes to the President for his signatures. After this, it becomes a law. Although an ordinary bill can be introduced in either of both Houses of Parliament, 90% of the bills are introduced in the Lok Sabha (money bill). In case the Rajya Sabha rejects the bill passed by the Lok Sabha and returns it to the Lok Sabha with some amendments, the Lok Sabha reconsiders the bill. If the Lok Sabha re-passes the bill and Rajya Sabha is still not prepared to pass it, a deadlock occurs. If this deadlock remains unresolved for 6 months, the President summons a joint sitting of the two Houses, and the joint sitting is presided over by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. The decision of the joint sitting is accepted by both the Houses of Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha).
  2. Executive Power: For all its work, the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible before the Lok Sabha i.e., house of the people. The Lok Sabha can remove the ministers from office by passing a vote of no-confidence against them, not the Rajya Sabha. Although Rajya Sabha cannot remove the ministry from its office but can have some control by maintaining continuous control over the Council of Ministers through several methods such as by asking questions from ministers about their policies and activities by criticizing their policies and by moving and adopting various types of resolutions and adjournment motions by rejecting the bills of the government. The Prime Minister can also be from the Rajya Sabha if the majority in the Lok Sabha may elect or adopt him as its leader.
  3. Financial Power: In the financial sphere, the Rajya Sabha is a weak House. A Money Bill can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha (House of the People). After the Bill is passed by the Lok Sabha, the money bill goes to the Rajya Sabha for consideration. A money bill passed by the Lok Sabha can be delayed only for a maximum period of 14 days in Rajya Sabha. If the Rajya Sabha fails to pass such a bill from the date of submission, the money bill is deemed to have been passed by both the Houses of Parliament – Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. It is sent to the President for his assent. If the Rajya Sabha makes some proposals regarding amendments to the bill and the bill is returned to the Lok Sabha, it depends upon the Lok Sabha to reject or accept the proposed amendments. In case of any disputes, whether a particular bill is a money bill or not, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha gives the decision. His decision is final and it cannot be challenged in a court or even in the Houses of Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha).
  4. Judicial Power: The Rajya Sabha also performs several judicial functions. The impeachment proceedings can be taken up against the President both in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha House. The charges against the Vice President of India can be leveled only in the Rajya Sabha. The President can be removed from his office only by a resolution adopted by each of the two Houses with a 2/3rd majority of its members. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha can pass a resolution for the removal of any judge of the Supreme Court and High Court of a State. Lok and Sabha and Rajya Sabha Houses jointly pass a special address and present it to the President for the removal of some high officers of the state like the Attorney General, the Chief Election Commissioner of India, and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
  5. Electoral Power: The Rajya Sabha also performs some electoral functions. The elected members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha together with State Legislative Assemblies take part in the election of the President. The members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha elect the Vice President of India. The members of the Rajya Sabha also elect a Deputy Chairman from amongst themselves.
  6. Two Special Powers: Two exclusive or special powers of the Rajya Sabha are:
  • Power to declare a state subject as a subject of national importance: The Rajya Sabha can pass a resolution by the 2/3rd majority of its members for declaring a state subject as a subject of national importance. Such a resolution can be repeatedly passed by the Rajya Sabha year after year.
  • Power of creation or abolition of an All India Service: The Rajya Sabha has the power to create one or more new All India Services. Rajya Sabha can do so by passing a motion supported by a 2/3rd majority on the plea of national interest. Similarly, the Rajya Sabha can also disband an existing All India Services.

7. Miscellaneous Power: Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha can together amend the constitution by passing an amendment bill with a 2/3rd majority in each House.

  • Approval of the ordinance issued by the parliament.
  • Approval of emergency proclamation.
  • Making any change in the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the High Court.
  • Making any change in the qualifications for the membership of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

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