The Parliament of India
The Parliament in India consists of the
President and two Houses. They are called Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Though the
President is not a member of either House of Parliament, he is a part of the
Parliament. Let us now proceed to read about the composition of the two Houses
of Parliament. The Lok Sabha is also called House of the People. Its membership
cannot be more than 550. Of these, not more than 530 members are elected from
the states and not more than 20 from the union territories. In addition, not
more than two members may be nominated by the President from the Anglo-Indian
community, if the President feels that the Anglo-Indians have not got adequate
representation in Parliament. Let us now read how members of both the houses are
Members of Lok Sabha are directly elected by
the people. Each State and union territory is allowed to elect as many members
as are on the basis at its imputation. Each state is divided into
constituencies, which are roughly of the same size in terms of population. One
member is elected from one constituency. This means that there will be as many
constituencies in India as there are members to be elected to the Lok Sabha. The
members are elected on the basis of universal adult franchise-You have read
earlier that this means all Indian citizens who are above the age of 18 years
have the right to vote and elect their representatives.
The Rajya Sabha consists-of not more than 250
members. Of these 250 members not more than 238 are elected indirectly by state
Legislative Assemblies arid. 12 are nominated by the President. These 12 are
eminent people such as writers, artistes, scientists etc. The 238 elected
members of the Rajya Sabba are elected by the 'elected' members of the
Legislative Assemblies of the States in accordance with the method of
proportional representation through a single transferable vote system.
The term of the Lok Sabha is five years. But
the Lok Sabha may be dissolved even earlier by the President on the advice of
the Council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister. During an emergency
however the tem of the Lok Sabha may be extended by six months at a time by a
law passed by the Parliament.
Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, is a permanent
House and it cannot be dissolved by the President. But, its members are elected
for a term of 6 years with 1/3rd members retiring after every two years.
Elections are held ay two years for 1/3rd seats of the Rajya Sabha.
The following qualifications are necessary to
be elected to the Lok Sabha:
1. The candidate should be a citizen of India.
2. He or She should be at least 25 years of age.
3. He or She should possess such other qualification as may be specified by
Parliament from time to time.
To become the member of the Rajya Sabha, a
person should be a citizen of India and above 30 years of age. The other
1. He or. She should be of a sound mind;
2. He or She should not hold any office of profit, and
3. He or She should not be a bankrupt.
This means any post directly
under the central or state Government. Thus, no government servant can become a
member of Parliament.
The only difference is that to be elected to
the Lok Sabha, a citizen should be a voter from any constituency in the country.
In order to be elected to the Rajya Sabha, a citizen should be a registered
voter in the State that he/ she seeks to represent.
presiding officers of the Parliament
At least two
sessions of the Parliament are held every year. The time gap between the last
day of the previous session and the first day of the next session should not be
more than six months. In practice, however, normally three sessions are held
every year. Sessions of the Parliament are summoned and prorogued by the
President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
The Lok Sabha is presided over by the Speaker. He/she is elected from among its
members by the House itself. In the Speaker's absence, the Deputy Speaker
presides over the sittings of the Lok Sabha. He is also elected by the House
from amongst its members. The Speaker is an important official of the Lok Sabha.
He conducts the proceedings of the Lok Sabha and presides over its meetings. He
fixes the time table for the House. Without his permission, no member can speak
in the House. If any member is behaving in an unruly manner, the Speaker can ask
him to leave the House. He regulates the entry of visitors into House. He
protects the privileges of members of the House. When there is disorder in the
House, he can adjourn its meetings. The Speaker presides over the joint sittings
of both Houses of Parliament. He decides whether a bill is a money bill or not.
In short, his authority is supreme within the House. He may vote in the House,
but in practice he does not cast his vote. He only exercises a casting vote.
The presiding officer of the Rajya Sabha is known as the Chairman. The Vice
President of India is the ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha. In his
absence, the Deputy Chairman presides over the meetings of the Rajya Sabha. The
Deputy Chairman is elected by the Rajya Sabha from amongst in members. The
Chairman of the Rajya Sabha performs the work of presiding over the meetings of
the Rajya Sabha. But, he cannot vote as he is not a member of the House. He can
only exercise a casting vote.
When an equal number of
members have voted both in favour and against a bill, it is called a tie. The
presiding officer may cast their vote so that a decision may be taken. Such a
vote is called a Casting Vote.
The Parliament performs a variety of functions.
The foremost of these is law-making.. Let us see these in detail.
The Parliament makes laws for the whole country
taking into account the crucial subjects and issues of India such as defense,
communications, airways, foreign affairs etc. It passes both money bills and
A draft of a proposed law is
called a bill. It is normally drafted by the Law Ministry. When a bill is passed
it becomes a Law and is known as an Act.
A bill is considered a money bill if it is
concerned with income or expenditure of the government. If it proposes to impose
a new tax or lift a tax or wants to change any of the existing taxes, it is a
money bill. Similarly, a bill that provides a permit for expenditure of certain
funds is a money bill. It is the Speaker of the Lok Sabha who decides wether a
bill is a money bill or not. And his decision is final, that means, no one can
question his decision.
All other bills are called ordinary bills or a
Money bills can be introduced only in the Lok
Sabha, whereas non-money bills or ordinary bills can be introduced in any House
of Parliament. After a bill is passed by both the Houses it is sent to the
President for his signature. Only after the bill receives the assent of the
President does it become a law. President can send an ordinary bill back for
reconsideration once. After the two Houses have reconsidered the bill on his
recommendation, it goes back to the President and the second time, the President
must sign the bill. However, the President has no power to refuse to sign a
Money Bill. He must sign it the first time that it comes to him.
The members of Parliament perform certain
electoral functions. Firstly, the elected members of both Houses of Parliament
along with the elected members of the state Legislative Assemblies form the
electoral college which elects the President of India. Besides this, all the
members of Parliament also elect the Vice President of India.
3. The Power
The Parliament has the power of removing the
President through a process of impeachment.
The Vice President of India can be removed by a
resolution of the Rajya- Sabha passed by a majority of its members and agreed
upon to it by the Lok Sabha. Parliament also has the power of removing the Chief
Justice and judges of the Supreme Court on grounds of proven misbehavior.
over the Executive
The Parliament keeps a check on the functioning
of the Council of Ministers which is the real executive. The most important
devise is the “No Confidence Motion”. When the opposition feels that the
government deserves to be removed from power it may move a vote of no-confidence
in the Lok Sabha. If it is passed by the Lok Sabha, the government has to
resign. You may be aware that in 1993 a vote of no confidence was proposed by
Lok Sabha against the Narsimha Rao government but it was not be passed. Hence
the government continued to remain in power. The other method of keeping a check
on the government is by asking questions. The members of Parliament can ask
questions from any minister and the latter must reply. This will keep the
ministers alert about how their departments are functioning. Besides the main
questions, the members of the Parliament can also ask the minister supplementary
questions. These are questions which are related to the main question. In some
cases the normal business of the House can be suspended or adjourned to discuss
some urgent matter. This is done by moving a motion, which is called an
Adjournment Motion. The government is also kept under check through measures
such as debate on the purposed budget and cuts in the proposed expenditure. It
may be mentioned that if the Parliament does not pass the proposed budget, it is
considered a vote of no-confidence against the government.
It is through these devises that the Parliament
keeps a check on the functioning of our ministers and the Prime Minister.
of the Constitution
There are times when the conditions and
situations in the country have changed and it is not possible to meet the new or
changed conditions with the existing provisions of the Constitution. So, the
Constitution may need to be suitably changed to meet the demands of time. This
can be done by amendment of the Constitution. Parliament of India has the power
to amend the Constitution. Some of the parts of the Constitution can be amended
by Parliament only if legislatures of half of the states also agree.