Q. 1. Describe the composition of Indian Parliament.
Ans. All the legislative powers of the federal government are vested in the Parliament. The laws framed by the Indian Parliament are enforced in the whole of the country. The Parliament holds its meetings in New Delhi, the Capital of India.
Composition. Article 79 of the Constitution provides a bi-cameral Parliament for the Union. The Union Parliament consists of the President and the two Houses to be known respectively as the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha).
(1) Rajya Sabha. Rajya Sabha is the Upper Chamber of the Parliament. It can have at the most 250 members in it. The President of India nominates 12 members. These are the persons who have distinguished themselves in the field of art, literature, science and social service.
Rest of the members are elected by the members of State legislatures. At present it consists of 245 (233 + 12) members in all. l/3rd of its members retire after every two years and other members are elected to fill up the vacancies. Each member remains in the office for a period of 6 years.
(2) Lok Sabha. Lok Sabha is the Lower House of the Parliament. It can have at the most 550 elected members. 530 members can be directly elected by the voters from different states and 20 members can be elected from Union Territories. The members will be elected according to the laws framed by the Union Parliament. The President can nominate two members from the Anglo-Indian community if he feels that in the Lok Sabha, this community has not got adequate representation. In this manner, maximum strength of the Lok Sabha can be 552.
But at present Lok Sabha has 543 elected members.
The members of the Lok Sabha are elected for a period of 5 years. The President of India can dissolve the Lok Sabha before the expiry of its term and can order fresh elections. The members of the Lok Sabha elect one Speaker and one Deputy Speaker from amongst its members.
Session of the Parliament. The President of India convenes the session of the Parliament. He can call the sessions of both the Houses on the same date or on different dates. The second session of the Parliament must be convened within a period of 6 months. There should not be a difference of more than 6 months between the last meeting of the last session and the first meeting of the next session. In this way, two sessions are certainly called in one year.
Q. 2. Discuss the powers and functions of Indian Parliament.
Discuss financial and judicial functions of Parliament.
Ans. The Indian Parliament has been given many types of powers. The powers of Parliament include law-making or legislation, financial, executive and judicial powers.
1. Legislative Powers. The Parliament has the right to frame laws for the whole of the country. It can frame laws on the subjects mentioned in the Union list and Concurrent list. Under certain special circumstances the Parliament gets the right to frame laws on the subjects mentioned in the State list. The Parliament frames laws on State subjects for Union Territories. The Rajya Sabha can transfer a State subject in favour of the centre for the purpose of making laws. In case of the proclamation of emergency by the President, the Parliament can legislate on State subjects.
The Residuary powers are under the control of the Central Government and so, Parliament frames laws on all the residuary subjects. The bill is sent to the President after it is passed by both the Houses.
Excepting the money bills he can give his assent and make use of his veto powers. If the Parliament passes that bill for the second time, then the President is bound to give his assent to that bill.
2. Financial Powers. The Parliament controls the finances of the State. The government places the budget in the Parliament before the start of the financial year. The Parliament discusses the budget and gives its assent to the bill. The government can neither impose any tax upon the public nor can it spend the money without the approval of the Parliament. The President will have to give his assent to the money bill passed by the Parliament.
3. Control over the Executive. The Parliament controls Executive in the following ways:
(i) The Prime Minister and the other ministers are taken from the Parliament and after becoming ministers, they remain the members of the Parliament. They participate in the meetings of the Parliament.
(ii) The ministers are responsible to the Parliament for their actions and policies.
(iii) The members of the Parliament can ask the ministers questions regarding the functioning of the administration. The ministers are to give a satisfactory reply to all these questions.
(iv) The members of the Parliament by introducing ‘Adjournment Motion’ can invite the attention of the government to a serious problem or event.
(v) During discussion on budget the members of the Parliament discuss the working of different departments of the government and criticise the policies of the government.
(vi) The Cabinet continues to remain in office according to the wishes of the Lok Sabha. It can seek the removal of the Cabinet by passing a no-confidence motion against or by rejecting an important government bill or by passing a resolution for reducing the salary of a particular minister.
4. Judicial Powers. The Parliament exercises some judicial powers also:
(i) The Parliament can remove the President from office through impeachment.
(ii) The Parliament can also remove the VicePresident from office.
(iii) The Parliament can remove the judges of the High Court and Supreme Court by passing a resolution to that effect.
5. Electoral Powers. (i) The elected members of the Parliament participate in the election of the President.
(ii) The Vice-President is elected by the members of both the Houses of the Parliament.
6. Amendment of the Constitution. It is the Parliament which can initiate a resolution for the amendment of the Constitution. Some provisions of the Constitution can be amended only by the Parliament. In some important matters the amendment proposals after being passed by the Parliament are to be sent for the approval of legislatures of the States. The States cannot introduce a resolution of amendment of the Constitution.
Position of the Parliament. The Indian Parliament enjoys vast powers and it is a very important institution. It represents the entire nation.
The laws framed by it are enforced in the whole of the State. But the Indian Parliament is not a supreme and sovereign body. The Indian Parliament is less powerful than the British Parliament. The sovereignty of the British Parliament is a well known fact. The British Parliament can make, repeal, amend and abolish any law it likes. But the Indian Parliament cannot make all the laws it likes.
The reason for this is that in England there is a unitary type of government and all powers are with the Centre, but in India there is a federal type of government and the powers have been distributed between the Centre and the States. Indian Parliament cannot be called a supreme and sovereign body due to reasons given as follows:
(i) The powers in India are distributed between the Centre and the States and the Parliament cannot frame laws on the subjects mentioned in the State list during peace time.
(ii) The Parliament cannot make any law which violates the Fundamental Rights of the people.
(iii) The Parliament cannot amend the Constitution independently.
(iv) The Constitution is considered the supreme law of the land. The Parliament can do nothing against it.
(v) The Judiciary has the power of judicial review over the laws framed by the Parliament. The Supreme Court of India can declare a law null and void if it is against the provisions of the Constitution.
Q. 3. Describe the composition, powers and functions of the Rajya Sabha.
Ans. The legislative powers of the Union have been vested in the Parliament. The Parliament consists of two Houses–the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.
Composition. According to the Constitution, the maximum strength of the Rajya Sabha has been put at 250 members. Out of 250 members, 12 members are nominated by the President. These members shall consist of persons having special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, art and social service.
The remaining 238 members represent the States and the Union Territories. The representatives of the States are elected by the elected members of their Legislative Assemblies in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. The method of election is, accordingly indirect. In the case of Union Territories, members are chosen in such a manner as Parliament may by law determine.
Representation of the States is on the basis of population. At present, the Rajya Sabha has 245 members. Out of 245 members, 233 members represent the 29 States and 4 members represent two Union Territories and the remaining 12 members have been nominated by the President.
Term. Like the Senate of the U.S.A., the Rajya Sabha is a permanent House. It is not subject to dissolution. Members of the Rajya Sabha are elected for six years, one-third members retiring after every two years.
Qualifications for the members of the Rajya Sabha. A candidate for election to the Rajya Sabha must possess the following qualifications:
1. He must be a citizen of India.
2. He must have completed 30 years of age.
3. He must be a parliamentary elector in the state from which he is seeking election and must have been residing in the State for the last six months.
4. He must possess such other qualifications as Parliament may by law prescribe.
5. He should not hold any office of profit under the Government of India or any state government.
Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. Like the Vice-President of the U.S.A., the Indian Vice-President is also the ex-officio Chairman of the Upper House. The Rajya Sabha elects a Deputy Chairman from among its own members and he presides in the absence of the Chairman or during the period when the Vice-President is discharging the function of the President.
At present Sh. Venkaiah Naidu is the President of Rajya Sabha. The Deputy Chairman is a member of the Rajya Sabha and he is to vacate the office if he ceases to be its member.
Quorum. According to 42nd Amendment, until Parliament by law or otherwise provides the Quorum to constitute a meeting of either House of Parliament is one-tenth of the total number of members of the House. If at any time during a meeting of a House there is no quorum, it is the duty of the Chairman either to adjourn the House or to suspend the meeting until there is a Quorum.