Parliament of India: Introduction
- The legislature is the most important institution for the functioning of representative democracy.
- The primary object of the legislature is to hold its representatives accountable, responsible for the interest of the people.
- It is the highest law-making body, having elected representation from all the constituents of the state.
- In India, the legislature at the Centre is called the Parliament of India.
- The legislative in the state and the union territory are called Legislative Assemblies.
- The parliament consists of two houses: the House of People is Lok Sabha and the Council of States that is Rajya Sabha.
- Lok Sabha also called as Lower House and the Council of States is called the Upper House. This is called a Bicameral system of Parliament.
- The bicameral system of Parliament is inspired by the British Parliament system and the USA.
- Similarly, the USA has the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council.
- In many states, the unicameral legislature only exists, that is in many state Legislative Council is absent.
- In India, the Parliament shares its law-making function and responsibilities of implementation with 28 states and 8 Union territories in the country.
Union Legislature: The Parliament
- The Parliament is also called as Union Legislature or National Legislature.
- It is the supreme body of law-making, decision making and symbol of democratic governance.
Session of Parliament UPSC
- When the Parliament meet for discussing the various issues, approving bills, motion with a scheduled meeting. It is called the Session.
- The Parliament holds three sessions in a year:
- Budget Session from February to May.
- Monsoon Session from July to August
- Winter Session from November to December
Powers of parliament
- Parliament has two important power and functions. It is Legislative and financial.
- It is legislative powers for lawmaking and financial powers to prepare money bill as called Budget.
- As it has the power to elect the President and Vice President.
- It has judicial function on matters of the impeachment of President, Vice President, Judge of Supreme Court and High Court.
- It is the duty of the President to summon the Parliament and must have not less than two sessions in year.
The Parliament has a judicial function also on the matters of the proposals for the removal of the President, Vice – President, Judges of the Supreme Court, and High Courts, and the process of removal is called ‘impeachment’.
It is the duty of the President to summon the Parliament and must have not less than two sessions in a year. Every year, at the commencement of the first session of the parliament, the President delivers his special address which would be the future course of action of the parliament in view of giving
framework for new policies, programmes, and initiatives of the government.
The parliament of India has functions of legislation, overseeing of administration, passing of the Budget, ventilation of public grievances, and discussing national policies and issues of concern. The cabinet, both individually and collectively accountable and removable by the Loksabha.
Functioning of House of People (Lok Sabha)
The parliament has two houses and both houses are carrying the same values and responsibilities with a few exceptions such as passing the finance bills. The first one is the Lok Sabha (Lower House or House of People) with 543 members elected from 543 Parliamentary constituencies across the country directly by the people who have attained the age of 18 and above and registered as voters.
The Lok Sabha has 2 nominated members from the AngloIndian community.
A quorum of the House: One-tenth of the total number of members of Lok Sabha / Rajya Sabha constitutes the quorum for a meeting of the House.
The grand total number of members in the Lok Sabha is 545, but the nominated members cannot decide the government when it proves majority on the floor of the House. The Lok Sabha is the highest forum for discussion, debate on public issues, interests, and policies to cater to the socio-economic needs of the people.
The members of both houses are generally called by the public as Member of Parliament, Member of ParliamentLok sabha is one who represents the constituency of the state, comprising of six assembly constituencies, directly elected by the people through elections. The term of the Lok Sabha is for five years.
Roles and Responsibilities of the SpeakerThe leader of the House of the People are the Speaker – who is elected by the LokSabha, from among its members. The speaker’s duties are to conduct, facilitate the debates and discussions, and answer questions regulating the conduct of members of the House and taking care of their privileges and rights.
The Speaker of Lok Sabha is the administrative head of the parliamentary secretariat. The speaker also ensures that the members adhere to the appropriate procedures, and allow the members to
raise questions, allotting time to speak and withdraw the objectionable remarks from the record, and moving a Motion of Thanks to the President’s speech.
The Speaker has the power to expel the members if they flout or violate the norms and rules of the
house. The permission of the speaker is required to move amendments to a bill. It is up to the speaker to decide whether the bill is to be moved or not.
The speaker plays the role of guardian of the rights and privileges of the house, its various committees such as consultative, select, Advisory and of members of that. Another important power of the speaker is to refer any question of privilege to the committee of privileges for examining, investigating, and reporting.
The questions raised by the members and answers, explanations and reports are addressed to the speaker. The speaker is the final authority to decide on the question of point of order. Under the constitution, Speaker enjoys special provisions and certifies money bills.
The speaker of the House of the People presides the joint sessions of the parliament in case of special occasions or in the event of disagreement between the two houses on certain legislative measures. The speaker decides whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not and his decision on this question is final.
It is the speaker who decides on granting recognition to the Leader of Opposition in the House of People. Under 52ndConstitution Amendment, the speaker has the disciplinary power to disqualify a member of the house on the grounds of defection.
Even though, the speaker is also one of the members of the House and holds neutral, does not vote in the house except on rare occasions when there is a tie at the end of the decision. The Rajya Sabha or the Council of states is called the upper house.
It has a total number of 250 members including238 from all the states and union territories and 12 members nominated by the President. The council of states Rajya Sabha is called the second chamber of the parliament of India.
The Rajya Sabha is an institution to protect the rights and interests of the states like the senate in
The USA. It was constituted on 3rd April 1952. The members for Rajya Sabha are elected by the members of the respective state Legislative Assemblies (MLAs). Apart from the members of the states, twelve distinguished members from the fields of literature, science, art, and social service were nominated by the President of India.
Unlike the House of People, the Council of states is not subject to dissolution but one-third of the members retire every second year. The term of the individual member is six years. The members of the Council of States are elected by their respective state legislative assemblies in accordance with
the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
Functioning of Rajya Sabha.
The Vice-President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The chairman presides over the proceedings and regulates the Rajya Sabha. Except for the Money/Financial Bill all, other bills will be placed before the Rajya Sabha for discussion, questions, motions, and resolutions under the rules of procedure and conduct of business.
The functions of Rajya Sabha may broadly be categorized as Legislative, Financial, Deliberative, and Federal. Legislation is by far the most important business of RajyaSabha, as indeed of Parliament and in this sphere, Rajya Sabha enjoys almost equal powers with Lok Sabha. In the U.S.A, the representatives in the state councils are called as Senate where every state has
equal representation irrespective of the size and population of the states. But in India,
the representation in the Rajya Sabha is based on its size of the population.
Who can be a Member of the Rajya Sabha?
Must be a citizen of India
Must not be less than 30 years
Under the Representation of the
People Act, 1951, a person had to be an elector in a parliamentary constituency in the State from where he seeks election to Rajya Sabha.
It may, however, be mentioned that the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2003,
which amended Section 3 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, has done away with the
requirement of being a resident of State or Union territory from which a person seeks to contest elections to Rajya Sabha.
He/She has to be an elector in a parliamentary constituency anywhere in India. It has also provided that the election to fill a seat in Rajya Sabha shall be by open ballot.
Courtesy: https://rajyasabha.nic.in/ rsnew/practiceprocedure/book1.asp
For example, Uttar Pradesh with the highest population elects 31 members to Rajya Sabha; on the other hand, Sikkim, the least populated state, elects only one member to Rajya Sabha. Tamil Naduelects 18 members to the Rajya Sabha.
The number of members to be elected from each State has been fixed by the fourth schedule of the Constitution. Members of the Rajya Sabha are elected for a term of six years and then they can be re-elected.
The Rajya Sabha is known as the Permanent House of the Parliament never gets fully dissolved. Some of the important privileges and immunities are given to the members of Rajya Sabha as follows.
Powers and Privileges of Members of Parliament
- Freedom of speech in Parliament and immunity of a member from any proceedings
in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in parliament or
any committee thereof.
- Immunity to a person from proceedings in any court in respect of the publication
by under the authority of either House of Parliament of any report, paper, votes or
- Prohibition on the court to inquire into proceedings of parliament.
- Immunity to a person from proceedings in any court in respect of the publication
in Newspaper of a substantially true report of any proceedings of either House of
Parliament unless the publication is proved to have been made with malice.
- Freedom from arrest of members in civil cases during the continuance of the session
of the House and forty days before the commencement and forty days after its
- Exemption of a member from service of legal process and arrest within the precincts
of the House.
Parliament: Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha
Powers of the Lok Sabha
- The of Lok Sabha is the most powerfulpolitical institution which reflectsthe political, social and economic conditions of the country holds the highest responsibility and virtually represents the entire population.
- The Lok Sabha is constituted with members elected directly by the people. These members represent the variedinterests of the people. Thus it becomes the apex democratic institution. Itis here that the nations’ policies and programmes and laws emerge.
- The Lok Sabha makes the Laws on the matters of Union List and Concurrent List It can exact new laws and repeal existing law, or amend the same. I has an exclusive authority over money bills.
- The special power of the Lok Sabha is that once it passes the budget or any other money related law, the Rajya Sabha cannot reject it. But the Rajya Sabha can delay the law for 14 days only and if Rajya Sabha suggests any changes regarding the law, it is upto the Lok
Sabha to accept or reject it.
- The one of the privileges of the Lok Sabha is preparing and presenting the budget and financial statement which is an explicit expression of peoples control over nation’s economy.
- The Lok Sabha controls the executiveby asking questions, supplementary questions, passing resolutions, motions and no confidence motion.
- The Lok Sabha has the power to amend the constitution and approve the proclamation of emergency.
- The Lok Sabha involves in electing the President and Vice-President of India. The Lok Sabha has power to establish new committees and commissions and tabling their reports for debate and discussion and further consideration for implementation.
- The Lok Sabha controls the council of Ministers and a Prime Minister, who enjoys the majority support of it. If the Prime Minister loses the confidence of the Lok Sabha the entire government
- has to quit and face the election.
Powers of Rajya Sabha
Position of Rajya Sabha
The Constitutional position of the RajyaSabha (as compared with the Lok Sabha)can be studied from three angles:
- Where Rajya Sabha is equal to Lok
- Where Rajya Sabha is unequal to Lok
- Where Rajya Sabha has special powersthat are not all shared with the Lok
Equal Status with Lok Sabha
In the following matters, the powers and status of the Rajya Sabha are equal to that of the Lok Sabha:
- Introduction and passage of ordinarybills.
- Introduction and passage ofConstitutional amendment bills.
- Introduction and passage of financialbills involving expenditure from theConsolidated Fund of India.
- Election and impeachment of thepresident.
- Election and removal of the VicePresident. However, Rajya Sabhaalone can initiate the removal of the
vice-president. He is removed by aresolution passed by the Rajya Sabha bya special majority and agreed to by theLok Sabha by a simple majority.
- Making recommendation to thePresident for the removal of Chief Justice
and judges of Supreme Court and highcourts, chief election commissioner and
comptroller and auditor general.
- Approval of ordinances issued by thePresident.
- Approval of proclamation of all threetypes of emergencies by the President.
- Selection of ministers includingthe Prime Minister. Under the
Constitution, the ministers includingthe Prime Minister can be members of
either House. However, irrespective oftheir membership, they are responsible
only to the Lok Sabha. Enlargment of the jurisdiction of the
- Supreme Court and the Union Public
- Service Commission.
Unequal Status with Lok Sabha
In the following matters, the powers and status of the Rajya Sabha are unequal to
that of the Lok Sabha:
- A Money Bill can be introduced onlyin the Lok Sabha and not in the Rajya Sabha.
- Rajya Sabha cannot amend or reject aMoney Bill. It should return the bill to the Lok Sabha within 14 days, eitherwith recommendations or without recommendations.
- The Lok Sabha can either accept orreject all or any of the recommendation of the Rajya Sabha. In both the cases,the money bill is deemed to have been passed by the two Houses.
- A financial bill, not containing solelythe matters of Article 110, also can be introduced only in the Lok Sabhaand not in the Rajya Sabha. But, with regard to its passage, both the Houseshave equal powers.
- The final power to decide whether aparticular bill is a Money Bill or not is vested in the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
- The Speaker of Lok Sabha presides overthe joint sitting of both the Houses.
- The Lok Sabha with greater numberwins the battle in a joint sitting except when the combined strength of theruling party in both the Houses is less than that of the opposition parties.
- Rajya Sabha can only discuss the budgetbut cannot vote on the demands for
grants (which is the exclusive privilegeof the Lok Sabha).
- A resolution for the discontinuance ofthe national emergency can be passed
only by the Lok Sabha and not by theRajya Sabha.
- The Rajya Sabha cannot remove thecouncil of ministers by passing a noconfidence motion. This is becausethe Council of ministers is collectivelyresponsible only to the Lok Sabha. But, the Rajya Sabha can discuss andcriticize the policies and activities of the government.
Special Powers of Rajya Sabha
Due to its federal character, theRajya Sabha has been given two exclusive
or special powers that are not enjoyed bythe Lok Sabha:
- It can authorize the Parliament to makea law on a subject enumerated in the
State List (Article 249).
- It can authorize the Parliament to create new All-India Service common to both the Centre and states (Article 312).An analysis of the above points makes it clear that the position of theRajya Sabha in our constitutional system is not as weak as that of the House ofLords in the British constitutional system nor as strong as that of the Senate in theAmerican constitutional system. Except
in financial matters and control over thecouncil of ministers, the powers and status of the Rajya Sabha in all other spheres are broadly equal and coordinate with that of the Lok Sabha.
- Even though the Rajya Sabha has been given fewer powers as compared with
- the Lok Sabha, its utility is supported on the following grounds:
- It checks hasty, defective, careless and ill-considered legislation made by the Lok Sabha by making provision of revision and thought.
- It facilitates giving representation toeminent professionals and experts who cannot face the direct election. The President nominates 12 such persons to the Rajya Sabha.
- It maintains the federal equilibrium by protecting the interests of the states against the undue interference of theCentre.
Hindi and English have been declared by the Constitution to be the languages for conducting business in Parliament. The Presiding Officer may, however, allow any member not proficient in either to address the House in his mother tongue (Article 120).
The Lawmaking Process in the Indian Parliament stands evident for its democratic credentials. In the law-making process, the role of opposition parties becomes much more important to reflect upon the
relevance of the bill and its context so as to streamline democratic governance.
The law is a guiding force to regulate society, politics, and the economy for the welfare of the state and people. The law is primarily introduced in the Parliament in the form of a ‘bill’ as proposed legislation for consideration of the legislature.
The bill will be taken for thorough discussion in the parliament to have an understanding
within the framework of the constitution.
The bill will become law once the legislature passed it and is approved by the president. The Law becomes an act only after getting consent from the President of India. The primary function of the
Parliament is to make fresh laws and bring changes in the existing laws in accordance
with the constitutional procedures. the parliament of India passes two types of
bills such as:
- Money Bill
- Non-Money Bill or ordinary or
An ordinary bill has to pass through different stages before becoming an Act. The procedures prescribed in theConstitution for passing the bills are of two different categories. These are as follows:
An ordinary bill under consideration has to go through the following stages has to pass through both houses with discussions, suggestions, and approval. An ordinary bill may be introduced in either House of the Parliament.
- The first stage of the bill relates to theintroduction of the bill in either house as ‘Reading of the Bill’. Most of thebills are introduced by the Ministers concerned. The bill is drafted by thetechnical experts in that particular field and then council of ministers willapprove the bill. The ordinary Member
of Parliament can also introduce a billwhich is called as ‘Private Member Bill’.
- For the introduction of the bill it shouldbe informed to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or The Chairman of Rajya Sabha one month in advance. Then he date of introduction for the Private Member Bill will be fixed and allowed to move the bill in the floor of house. Generally there will be no discussion on the proposed bill at this reading stage which is only a formal affair.
- After the introduction of bill, it will be published in Gazette of India. The Speaker or the Chairman may allowome bills to be published in the Gazette even before the first reading, in that case no motion for leave to introduce bill is necessary.
- The Second Reading of the bill usuallytakes place after an interval of two days after the first reading. At this stage, anyof the four courses are adopted.
- The bill may be taken forconsideration by the House at once.
- It may be sent to a select committeeof the House.
- It may be sent to a joint select
committee of the two Houses or
It may be circulated for eliciting public opinion. Very rarely bills are taken up for consideration straight away.
When the bill is adopted for circulation (i.e.,4th course), the secretariat of the House concerned requests the state government to publish the bill in the State Gazettes invite opinions from local bodies and recognized associations.
Such opinions are circulated among the members of the House.
If the bill is referred to a select committee, the mover selects the members of the committee, the Speaker or the Chairman of the House appoints one member of the committee and the chairman of the committee. The committee will study the bill and report back to the House.
The report stage is the most important stage where a bill is debated clause by clause. In this stage, the report is circulated along with the original bill and the report of the Select committee. The Report stage is for giving the final shape to the bill. Then the bill will be submitted for the Third Reading in which the bill is to be passed with a majority of votes. The Third Reading is for formal approval by
After the bill is adopted at the Third Reading in either of the houses, it is transmitted to the other House where it goes through all the stages. The other house may accept the bill as it is. After
coming across all the stages, it is sent to the President’s assent.
Once a bill is passed in its originating house, it also may be rejected in the other house. Otherwise, it may introduce amendments not acceptable to the original House or, may not return the bill within six months. Insuch a case, a constitutional deadlock develops between the two houses.
The President may call a joint session of the two Houses to resolve the deadlock. The Speaker or in his absence the Deputy Speaker presides over such joint sessions. The deadlock is dissolved
by a majority vote.
Finally, the bill is passed by both houses and goes to the President for his assent. If the President assents to the bill, it becomes a law. But the President may return the bill for reconsideration. If the bill is sent back to the President with or, without amendments, the President cannot withhold his assent. Such a complicated and time-consuming procedure is adopted to prevent hasty legislation.
Structure, Powers, and Functions of Legislature
The legislative powers and functions of the Union and the States are clearly demarcated in the seventh schedule of theConstitution of India. The powers on which both unions and the states can legislate. The Constitution has classified the subjects for which the legislation made to perform the duties and responsibilities with specific powers for division of powers to avoid the seventh schedule of the constitution provides for trifurcation of legislative powers;
- The Union List
- The State List and
- The Concurrent List
The Union list includes the subjects over which the parliament has exclusive authority to make laws and change the existing laws. The state legislature has exclusive authority over subjects mentioned in the state list. In the subjects enumerated in the ‘Concurrent List’, both the union and the states can legislate.
In the event of contradictions between the union and states, the union’s authority will
prevail. The residuary power is vested in the Centre.
Table at 41,42
Amendment Process and Procedure
The constitution of India has a unique provision to make the Constitution relevant to changing conditions and needs but without changing the basic structure. Article 368 deals with the amendment
of the Constitution. As per this article, the Parliament has the supreme power to initiate the amendment process. The procedures for amendment of the constitution are as follows:
- Parliament may amend the constitution through by way of addition, variation or repeal any provision of this Constitution in accordance with the procedure laid down in this article.
- An amendment of this Constitution may be initiated through the introduction of a Bill in either House of Parliament, and when the Bill is passed in each House by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting, it shall be presented to the President who shall give his assent to the Bill.
- The bill must be passed in each house by a special majority that is, majority
by more than 50 per cent of the total membership of the house and a majority
of two-thirds of the members of the house present and voting. Each house
must pass the bill separately. In case of a disagreement between the two houses,
on issues concerning amendment there is no provision for holding a jointsitting of the two houses. If the bill seeks to amend the federal provisions of the constitution, it must also be ratified by the legislatures of half of the states by a simple majority, that is, a majority of the members present and voting in such legislatures.
- After duly passed by both the housesof parliament and ratified by the state legislatures wherever necessary, the billis forwarded to the President for assent. The President must give his assent tothe bill. He can neither withhold his assent to the bill nor return the bill forreconsideration of the Parliament. After president’s assent, the bill becomes anAct (i.e., A Constitutional Amendment
Act) and the constitution standsamended in accordance with the terms of the Act.
Types of Amendments
Article 368 provides for two types of amendments, that is, by a special majority of parliament and also through the ratification of half of the states by a simple majority.
But, some other articles provide for the amendment of certain provisions of the constitution by a simple majority of parliament, that is, a majority of the members of each house present and voting, similar to the ordinary legislative process. Therefore, the constitution can be amended in three ways:
- Simple majority of the parliament,
- Special majority of the parliament, and
- Special majority of the parliament and the ratification of half of the state legislatures.
- Simple Majority of Parliament: According to Article 368 a number of provisions in the constitution can be amended by a simple majority of the two houses of parliament. These provisions include
- Admission or establishment of new states, formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries, or names of existing states.
- Abolition or creation of legislative councils in states.
- Second schedule – emoluments, allowances, privileges and so on of the president, the governors, the speakers, judges, etc.
- Quorum in parliament.
- Salaries and allowances of the members of parliament.
- Rules of procedure in parliament.
- Privileges of the parliament, its members and its members and its committees.
- Use of English language in parliament.
- Number of judges in the Supreme Court.
- Conformant more jurisdiction on the Supreme Court.
- Use of official languages.
- Citizenship – acquisition and termination.
- Elections to parliament and state legislatures.
- Delimitation of constituencies.
- Union territories. Fifth schedule – administration of schedule areas and scheduled tribes
- Sixth schedule –administration of tribal areas.
By Special Majority of Parliament
The majority of the provisions in the constitution need to be amended by a special majority of the parliament, that is, a majority (i.e., more than 50 percent) of the total membership of each
house and a majority of two-thirds of the members of each house present and
The expression total membership of the house irrespective of the fact whether there are vacancies or absentees. The special majority is required only for voting at the third reading stage of the bill. The constitution’s clauses which can be amended in this way include:
(i) fundamental rights (ii) directive principles of state policy: and (iii) all other provisions which are not covered by the first and third categories.
Amendments by Special Majority of Parliament and Consent of States
The basic structures of the constitution which are related to the federal structure of the polity can be
amended by a special majority of the parliament and also with the consent of half of the state legislatures by a simple majority.
There is no time limit within which the states should give their consent to the bill. The following provisions can be amended in this way:
- Election of the president and its manner.
- Extent of the executive power of the union and the states.
- Supreme Court and high courts.
- Distribution of legislative powers between the union and the states.
- Any of the list in the seventh schedule.
- Representation of states in parliament.
- Power of parliament to amend the constitution and its procedure (Article 368).