Q. 4. Do you agree that the Rajya Sabha enjoys fewer powers than the Lok Sabha?
Ans. The Rajya Sabha performs a variety of functions. But Rajya Sabha enjoys fewer powers than Lok Sabha.
1. Legislative Powers. The Rajya Sabha is an integral part of the Indian Parliament. Since the main responsibility of the Parliament is to make laws.
Hence, the Rajya Sabha takes part in the making of laws. Except Money Bills, all bills can originate in the Rajya Sabha. No Bill can become a law unless agreed to by both the Houses. The Lok Sabha by itself cannot pass a Bill and send it to the President for his assent.
In case of disagreement between the two Houses on a Bill or on the amendment made in the Bill, the President has been empowered to summon a joint meeting of the two Houses for the purpose of deliberation and voting on the Bill. At a joint sitting, questions are decided by a majority of the members of both houses present and voting. A decision taken at a joint sitting, shall mean the decision of both Houses. At the time of the joint sitting the Speaker of the Lok Sabha presides.
2. Financial Powers. In financial matters, it is the Lok Sabha which enjoys a pre-eminent position. The Rajya Sabha has not been given any substantial power with regard to finance. No Money Bill or Financial Bill can first be introduced in the Rajya Sabha. It is the privilege of the Lok Sabha to pass the Money Bill first and send it to the Rajya Sabha for its recommendation.
The Lok Sabha is not bound to accept the recommendations made by the Rajya Sabha. In case the Lok Sabha rejects the recommendations of the Rajya Sabha, the Bill is deemed to have been passed by both Houses in the form in which it was passed by the Lok Sabha. Likewise if the Rajya Sabha does not return the Money Bill to the Lok Sabha within 14 days, it will be considered to have been passed by both Houses in the form in which it was passed by the Lok Sabha. Thus, the Lok Sabha possesses complete control over the purse of the nation.
3. Control over Executive. The Rajya Sabha does not control the Executive as the Constitution makes of the Council of Ministers collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. But this does not mean that the Rajya Sabha can exert no influence over the Executive. Some of the Ministers are taken from the Rajya Sabha.
The members of the Rajya Sabha have the right to ask questions and supplementary questions from the Ministers. They can elicit information about the actions of the Government and can pass resolutions impressing on the Government the desirability of pursuing a particular line of policy.
As said, the Council of Ministers can be ousted from office by the Lok Sabha only. The Rajya Sabha can condemn the Government but it cannot kick the Government out of office.
4. Judicial Powers. Like the Upper Houses in other countries, the Rajya Sabha is also vested with some judicial functions. The President can be removed from office by the process of impeachment. A resolution to impeach the President may be moved in an House of Parliament. Such a resolution has to be passed by both the Houses separately by at least 2/3rd majority of the total membership of the houses.
Clearly, the Rajya Sabha enjoys co-equal powers with the Lok Sabha in the process of impeachment of the President. In the removal of the Vice-President, a resolution to that effect can be moved in the Rajya Sabha only.
But the Lok Sabha must agree with that resolution if the Vice-President is to be removed from the office. Likewise, it has identical powers with the Lok Sabha in the matter of removal of a judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court.
5. Constituent Powers. The Rajya Sabha exercises constituent functions along with the Lok Sabha. A Bill to amend the Constitution may originate in either Houses of Parliament. The Bill amending the Constitution is required to be passed in each House by a majority of its total membership and by a majority of two-third of its members present and voting. The Constitution is silent on how to resolve a dead-lock between the two Houses.
6. Electoral Powers. The Rajya Sabha has the following electoral powers:
(i) The elected members of the Rajya Sabha take part in the elections of the President.
(ii) All the members (elected and nominated both) of the Rajya Sabha take part in the elections of the Vice-President.
(iii) The members elect the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
7. Miscellaneous Powers. The miscellaneous functions of the Rajya Sabha are as follows:
(i) The reports of all the Commissions appointed by the President are considered both by the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.
(ii) The approval of the Rajya Sabha is necessary for the continuance of the proclamation of emergency.
(iii) Every order made by the President suspending the enforcement of Fundamental Rights is required to be laid before each House of Parliament.
8. Special Powers of the Rajya Sabha. Under the Constitution, the Rajya Sabha has been vested with two special and exclusive powers. They are:
(i) Under Article 249, the Rajya Sabha may declare by resolution, passed by two-third majority of its members present and voting, that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest that Parliament should make laws with respect to any matter enumerated in the State List.
(ii) Under Article 312 of the Constitution, the Rajya Sabha is empowered to create one or more All India Services. If the house passes a resolution by not less than 2/3rd of the members present and voting that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest to do so.
Position of the Rajya Sabha. After having an analysis of the powers of the Rajya Sabha, it becomes clear that the makers of the Constitution intended it to be less powerful and influential than the Lok Sabha.
In matters of ordinary legislation, it cannot prove to be an obstacle in the way of the Lok Sabha because of its half of strength of the Lok Sabha. At the most, it can delay an ordinary bill for six months. It has absolutely no control over the purse of the nation. Then the privilege to remove the Government from office belongs to the Lok Sabha only. The Rajya Sabha can denounce the Government but it cannot dislodge the Government. In certain respects it is weaker than the House of Lords. In the opinion of certain critics, the Rajya Sabha is only a Secondary Chamber.
All this, however, is not to suggest that the Rajya Sabha is only an appendage of the Lok Sabha. While in certain matters it has coequal powers with the Lok Sabha, in two cases it has exclusive powers as well. It has reacted very strongly whenever the Lok Sabha made an attack upon its privileges.
In 1954, much excitement was caused in the Rajya Sabha by an alleged observation made in the Lok Sabha by N.C.
Chatterjee that, “the Upper House which is supposed to be a body of elders, seems to be behaving irresponsibly like a pack of urchins.” According to Morris Jones, “It has three outweighing merits, it supplies additional political positions for which there is demand, it provides some additional debating opportunities for which there is occasional need and it assists in the solution of legislative limited problems.”
Q. 5. Describe the composition and powers of the Lok Sabha. Is there any limitations to its authority?
Discuss the Composition and Functions of Lok Sabha.
Ans. Lok Sabha is the Lower House of Parliament.
It is a popular House because it represents the nation at large. It is not only popular but a powerful House as well. It is the pivot of all political activities.
Composition. According to the 31st Amendment, the maximum strength of the Lok Sabha has been put at 547 members. But according to Goa, Daman and Diu reorganisation Act, 1987 maximum elected members of the Lok Sabha can be 550. The President can appoint two Anglo-Indians.
Thus, the Lok Sabha can consist of (a) not more than 530 representatives of the people, (b) not more than 20 representatives of Union Territories and (c) not more than two members of the Anglo-Indian community nominated by the President, if he is of the opinion that the Anglo-Indian community is not adequately represented in the Lok Sabha. At present, Lok Sabha consists of 545 members. 530 members are elected members from the states and 13 elected members from the Union Territories and two are nominated by the President.
Election. The members of the Lok Sabha are elected directly by the people. Every citizen of India of not less than 18 years has the right to vote provided, of course, he or she is not otherwise disqualified on grounds of unsoundness of mind, crime or corrupt or illegal practice. The voting is by secret ballot.
Normally one member represents a population between 5 to 10 lakhs. As per Constitution, there shall be allotted to each State a number of seats in Lok Sabha in such a manner that the ratio between the population of the State as far practicable, is same for all the States. Each State shall be divided into territorial constituencies in such a manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and number of seats allotted to it, as far as practicable, is the same throughout the State.
Though the system of separate communal electorate has been abolished yet the Constitution reserves certain seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This reservation shall be valid till 2020 because the term has been extended by amending the Constitution.
Term. The life of the Lok Sabha is five years. All the members are chosen at one and at the same time. Unlike the election to the Rajya Sabha where 1/3rd members retire every two years, all the members of the Lok Sabha are elected for a period of five years. However, the President can dissolve the Lok Sabha even before the expiry of its term, i.e., five years. On 13th March, 1991 the President dissolved the Lok Sabha on the advice of Prime Minister, Chandra Shekhar. Thus, the tenure of Ninth Lok Sabha was 15 months only. On 26th April, 1999 Lok Sabha was dissolved by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Qualifications. To be qualified for election to the Lok Sabha, a person must possess the following qualifications:
1. He must be a citizen of India.
2. He must have completed 25 years of age.
3. He must not hold any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State.
4. He must possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed by the Parliament.
5. No person can be a member of both Houses of Parliament. In case he becomes, he must vacate one of two seats. Likewise, one person cannot be a member of a House of Parliament and of a State Legislature simultaneously.
Quorum. For a meeting of the Lok Sabha the presence of at least 1/10th of its total members is essential. If at any time, during 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.
Speaker. The Speaker is the presiding officer of the Lok Sabha. He is elected by the members of the Lok Sabha from among themselves. The Speaker presides over the meetings of the House, maintains order in the House and conducts the business of the House in accordance with the Rules of the House.
The Constitution also provides for the office of the Deputy Speaker. He too is the member of the House and is elected by the members of the Lok Sabha from among themselves. The Deputy Speaker performs the duties of the Speaker when the latter is absent or while the office of the Speaker is vacant.
Privileges. Members of the Lok Sabha enjoy certain privileges:
1. Members have full freedom of speech in the House. No case can be started against a member for a speech given in the House.
2. Members cannot be arrested in any civil suit before 40 days of the beginning of the session.
3. During the session, members can be arrested in criminal cases only but information must be given to the Speaker.
4. Members get monthly salary and many other allowances.
Powers of the Lok Sabha
The powers and functions of the Lok Sabha can be discussed under following heads:
1. Legislative Powers. Law making function is the joint action of the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha and the President. Any type of bill can be introduced in the Lok Sabha. After the bill is passed by the Lok Sabha, it is sent to the Rajya Sabha and it can delay the bill at the most for 6 months.
If the Rajya Sabha rejects the bill or does not take any action over it for a period of six months, a joint session of the two Houses of the Parliament is called and the majority vote decides the fate of the bill. As the number of the members of the Lok Sabha is larger than that of the Rajya Sabha, therefore the Lok Sabha can get the bills passed according to its own wishes.
2. Financial Powers. The Lok Sabha controls the finances of the State. All money bills can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha and not in the Rajya Sabha. If there is a difference of opinion whether a particular bill is a money bill or a non-money bill, the decision of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha will be final.
After a money bill is passed by the Lok Sabha, it is sent to the Rajya Sabha. The Rajya Sabha can delay the passage of a money bill at the most for 14 days.
The Rajya Sabha may reject the bill or may not take any action over bill for a period of 14 days. In both these conditions, the bill will be considered as passed.
It will be sent to the President and he gives his assent to the bill. The President cannot use his veto power in case of money bill.
3. Control over the Executive. It is the Lok Sabha which controls the executive. The leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha is the Prime Minister of the country. Most of the ministers are also taken from the Lok Sabha. The Cabinet is responsible to the Lok Sabha for all its actions and policies.
The members of the Lok Sabha ask the ministers questions and supplementary questions and they are to answer these questions. The members of the Lok Sabha can criticise the functioning of the Cabinet. If the Lok Sabha passes a vote of no-confidence against the Cabinet, it has to resign. The Cabinet remains in office till it is supported by the majority of the members of the House.
4. Judicial Powers. The Lok Sabha can start impeachment proceedings against the President of India. It investigates into the charges levelled against the Vice-President and gives its decision. It along with the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution of the removal of the judges of the High Court or the Supreme Court.
5. Electoral Functions. The Lok Sabha participates in the elections of the President. It has also the right to participate in the election of the Vice-President. The Lok Sabha elects a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker from amongst the members.
6. Amendment in the Constitution. The resolution for amending the Constitution can be introduced in the Lok Sabha. In this field, it enjoys equal powers with the Rajya Sabha.
7. Miscellaneous Functions. The miscellaneous functions of the Lok Sabha are as follows:
(i) Approval of the Lok Sabha is necessary over the ordinances issued by the President.
(ii) The approval of the Lok Sabha is necessary for the continuance of the proclamation of emergency.
(iii) The Lok Sabha can pass a resolution for abolishing or reconstituting the Upper Chamber of a State legislature.
(iv) The Lok Sabha can punish and take any punitive action against non-member as well as its own members who commit a breach of its privileges.
(v) The reports of the Union Public Service Commission, the Comptroller and Auditor General, Finance Commission, etc., are presented to both Houses for their consideration.
Position of the Lok Sabha
Lok Sabha is the Lower Chamber of the Parliament. Almost all its members are elected by the people. This Chamber is more important than the Rajya Sabha because it represents the nation. The Lok Sabha controls the ordinary as well as money bills. No bill can be passed against the wishes of the Lok Sabha.
The Lok Sabha has also control over the Cabinet. It can remove the Cabinet by passing a vote of no-confidence or by rejecting the budget. The Lok Sabha is the most powerful, influential and an important part of the Parliament. In fact, it is the Lok Sabha which exercises all the powers of the Parliament.