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INTRODUCTION
01 Aug 2020

Our Constitution has adopted the Parliamentary System of Government for a harmonious blending of the legislative and executive organs of the State.

India has a Parliamentary form of Government also known as Westminster model of the Government.

The Parliament is the supreme legislative body of the Government of India. Unlike the British Parliament, the authority of the Indian Parliament is defined, limited and restrained.

According to Article 79,

there shall be a Parliament for the union which shall consists of the President and the two houses namely – The Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and The House of the People (Lok Sabha)”.

Although President is not the member of either house of the Parliament but he is integral part of Parliament and perform several functions related to proceedings of the Parliament such as:

  1. Summoning and Prorogation of the Houses
  2. Dissolving Lok Sabha
  3. Giving prior recommendation to certain Bills
  4. No Bill can become law without his assent.

Functions of the Parliament

The functions of Parliament as the legislative organ are as follows:

  • To Provide Cabinet: The first function of the Parliament is to provide Cabinet for the Legislative work and make sure that it has the confidence of the majority in the House.
  • Criticism of the Cabinet: Though Cabinet formulates the policy, the Parliament organizes a forum for debate, discussion and criticism on such policy. So that the Cabinet can get the advice of other members of the Parliament and learn about its own errors and deficiencies.
  • Legislation: Another important function of Parliament is to make law which benefits society.
  • Control over Executives: Parliament exercises control over executives by asking questions and supplementary questions, moving motions and resolutions such as adjournment motion, call attention motion, No-Confidence Motion etc.
  • Financial Control: Parliament also exercises financial control over executive by taking part in budgetary debate introducing cut-motion.
  • Amendment of the Constitution: Parliament has the power to amend the Constitution under Article 368.
  • Role in Elections: Parliament has role in election of President, Vice-President and impeachment of President and removal of Vice-President.
  • Budget: Parliament passes the budget.
  • Parliament has the power to remove Judges of Supreme Court and High Court, CAG, CEC etc.
  • Parliament is an authentic source of Information. The information is collected and disseminated through the debates and specific medium of ‘Questions’ to Ministers.

Composition of Rajya Sabha

According to Article 80 there shall be a Council of States, which shall consist of 250 members, of whom:

  1. 12 members to be nominated by the President in accordance with the procedure.
  2. Not more than 238 members are representatives of states and union territories (only Delhi and Puducherry have representatives in the Rajya Sabha and since now Jammu and Kashmir is also a union territory with legislature, it will also send its representative to Rajya Sabha).

Nomination:

  • 12 members are nominated by the President on the advice of Union Council of ministers from among the person having wide experience or special knowledge in the fields of Arts, Science, Literature and Social Service.

Representation of States and Union Territories:

  • The representatives of State are elected by the members of legislative assemblies of different states including Delhi and Puducherry.
  • The members of Rajya Sabha are elected by the members of Legislative Assemblies of the State through proportional representation by means of Single Transferrable vote.

Note:

According to Constitution the maximum strength of Rajya Sabha should not exceed 250.

However, as per decision of Vajpayee Government and subsequently act passed by the Parliament in 2001, the strength of Rajya Sabha has been fixed to 245 till the year 2025.

Under 42nd Amendment Act of 1976, Indira Gandhi extended for 25 years and in 2001, Vajpayee govt. freeze the strength to 245 till year 2025.

Important Points to Remember:

Rajya Sabha is a permanent house not subject to dissolution.

One-Third of its members retire every 2 years and the tenure of its members is 6 years.

Rajya Sabha is upper house of Parliament. It is also called as Second Chamber of the Parliament.

Qualifications For Rajya Sabha

In order to be chosen a member of Parliament:

  • He must be a citizen of India.
  • He must have completed 30 years of age.
  • He must be an ordinary resident or a registered voter in the state from where he is intended to be elected.
  • He must not hold any office of profit.

Proportional Representation for Council of States

The system of proportional representation was adopted for the second Chamber in the Union and State Legislatures for the following reasons:

  • Article 80 (4) The proportional representation method is adopted because the election for the Rajya Sabha is indirect, i.e. the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of each State elect the members of the Rajya Sabha. It is done so that minority communities and parties also get some representation in the Rajya Sabha.
  • Article 171 (4) Similarly, the election to the Legislative Council of the State is conducted by proportional representation. It consists of the municipalities, district boards and other local authorities and of graduates and teachers of three years standing resident in the State.

Special Powers of Rajya Sabha

Following are the special powers of Rajya Sabha as they are not available to Lok Sabha:

  1. Under Article 67 a resolution for removal of Vice President can only be initiated in Rajya Sabha. If Rajya Sabha passes it by a majority of all the then members of the house then it is transferred to the Lok Sabha where only simple majority is required.
  2. Under Article 249, if Rajya Sabha passes a resolution by 2/3rd majority then a particular subject in the state list is of National importance and Parliament can make law on it. Then only Parliament is competent to make law on such state list subjects.
  3. Under Article 312 for creating of one or more All India Services it is essential to pass a resolution by 2/3rd majority in Rajya Sabha. Then only Parliament can create such All-India services by making laws.

Federal Nature of Rajya Sabha

  1. In a federal system, the Upper House of the Parliament represents the state of the union. Rajya Sabha represents the states in the true spirit of Indian Federalism.
  2. Rajya Sabha is a revising house or dietary house over the Lok Sabha. If a bill is passed in the Lok Sabha hastily, Rajya Sabha can reject it, take no-action for 6 months or make some amendment to the bill and send it back to the Lok Sabha in the light of Public opinion.
  3. Rajya Sabha is useful because senior politicians are accommodated in it, after their defeat in Lok Sabha election, so that their talent and experience is not lost and nation can make use of it.

Chairman of Rajya Sabha

  • The Vice-President is the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha. He presides over the proceedings of Rajya Sabha.
  • In his absence the Deputy Chairman performs the functions of the chairman.
  • The Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha is elected by the members of Rajya Sabha from among its own members.
  • He can be removed from the office by a resolution passes by majority of all the then members of the House.
  • Lok Sabha has no role in removing of Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha.