What is a Parliament?
Article 79 of the Constitution states that there shall be a Parliament of the Union and that is to consist of the President and two Houses known as the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha).
The Rajya Sabha was first constituted on April 3, 1952.
The Lok Sabha held its first sitting on May 13, 1952, after the first general election in the winter of 1951-52.
The maximum strength of Lok Sabha has been fixed at 550.
Out of 550, 530 represent the States and 20 from Union Territories.
Not more than 20 members are to be elected from the Union Territories, in such manners as may be provided by law or by Parliament (At present the number of members elected from the Union Territories is 17).
Not more than two members can be nominated by the President to represent the Anglo-Indian community, if the President is satisfied that this community is not properly represented in the Lok Sabha.
Rajya Sabha consists of not more than 250 members on the whole. Of these 12 members, having specialised knowledge of literature, science, art or social sciences are to be nominated by the President.
Facts to be Remembered
- The Drafting Committee of the Constitution was headed by B.R. Ambedkar.
- The Election Commission is an autonomous body.
- The Objective Resolution was moved by Jawaharlal Nehru. The Constitution of India was established as a secular state. It implies I. Any religion can be professed, practised and propagated by people. II. The State is neutral in religious matters. III. No discrimination is to be made, on the basis of religion, in matters of employment.
- Article 19 mentions freedom of speech and expression, freedom to live anywhere in India.
- Right against exploitation prohibits forced labour and children under fourteen being employed in hazardous employment.
- When the Vice-President discharges the functions of the President during the latter's illness, he does not draw the salary etc. payable to the Chairman of Rajya Sabha
- President can be impeached only for violation of the Constitution.
- What is the value of a vote of an elected Member of Parliament for the election of the President? A total number of votes assigned to the elected members to the State Legislative Assemblies divided by the total number of elected members of both Houses of Parliament.
- In which aspect is the election of the President different from that of the Vice-President? — State Assemblies do not participate in the Vice-Presidential election and nominated members do not participate in the Presidential election.
- Though the Constitution has formally vested all executive authority of the union government in the President, actually this power is used by him on the advice of the Council of Ministers.
- Vote of Credit & Exception Grants: During a national emergency, the House might grant lump-sum money without details through a vote of credit. Exception grants are meant for a special purpose.
- Quorum: The minimum number of members of the legislature must be present to make the proceedings valid. The minimum number of required members for the fulfilment of quorum is equal to one-tenth of the total number of members of the legislature including the speaker or the person acting as such.
- Token cut: The amount of demand for a grant to be reduced by Rs 100. The most widely used objective is to voice a particular grievance for which the Government of India is responsible. (Cut motion is a device to initiate discussion on demands for grants moved generally by the opposition, it has a symbolic value).
- Whip: Organizing Secretary of a Parliamentary party, with authority over its members to maintain discipline and secure attendance at Parliamentary debates and voting. Whip also means an order given by such a secretary to members of the party or to attend a debate and vote.
- No confidence Motion: A resolution introduced by the opposition claiming that the House has lost its confidence in the government.
- Adjourn, Prorrogue and Dissolve: Adjourn is the suspension of a session every day, a few days or indefinitely: discretion of the Speaker. Prorogue means the ending of a session: discretion of the President or the Governor. A ‘dissolve’ is ending the life of a legislature: discretion of the President or the Governor.
- Speaker Protem: When the Lok Sabha is summoned for the first time after the first time after the general election, the President appoints a member of Lok Sabha as the Speaker Protem (normally the senior-most member). The Protem Speaker becomes ineffective when newly elected members take an oath and elect their Speaker. For example, in the 10th Lok Sabha, Indrajit Gupta was the Protem Speaker.
- Half an Hour Discussion: It is arising out of the questions already answered. It can be held in Lok Sabha during the last half-an-hour on (Mon-Wed-Fri). In Rajya Sabha, it is held generally from 5 P.M.
The remaining members of the Rajya Sabha are to be elected by the elected members of the Vidhan Sabhas of the States in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.
Qualifications for Election as a Member of Parliament
- Every citizen of India who has completed 25 years of age is qualified to be elected to the Lok Sabha.
- For the election to the Rajya Sabha, the age is kept at 30 years. Some other qualifications may also be prescribed by law.
Disqualifications from Membership
- If a person holds an office of profit, is of an unsound mind, is an undischarged insolvent, voluntarily acquires the citizenship of another country, is disqualified under any law made by the Parliament, he is ineligible to be elected as a Member of Parliament and can be disqualified to continue as a Member if he is already one.
- The disqualification issue regarding a Member is to be decided by the President in accordance with the opinion of the Election Commission.
Duration of the House
Lok Sabha: The duration of the Lok Sabha is five years from the date of the first meeting. But if an emergency is in force, its duration can be extended by one year at a time and a maximum of six months thereafter (Art. 83).
Rajya Sabha: Rajya Sabha is a permanent House and, therefore, cannot be dissolved. However, 1/3rd of its members retire every two years. Thus the term of each member of Rajya Sabha comes to six years.
Lok Sabha: Lok Sabha elects its own presiding officers called the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker. Both are elected for the term of the Lok Sabha.
- The Speaker is the Presiding officer of the Lok Sabha.
- He does not vote but he can use his casting vote in case of a tie.
- He presides over the joint sittings of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
- He does not preside when a resolution for his removal is discussed by the House but he can participate in the proceedings of the House when such a resolution is being discussed.
Rajya Sabha: The Vice-President acts as the Ex-Officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The Deputy Chairman is elected by the Rajya Sabha.
Points To Be Remembered
- Substantive Motion: It is a self-contained proposal submitted for the approval of the House. For example, adjournment motion, no-confidence motion, etc.
- Resolution: It is a substantive motion. Every resolution is a particular type of motion but all motion needs not to be substantive. Further, whereas all resolutions are subjected to vote, all motions cannot be so. For example—private member’s resolution, Government resolution, statutory resolution etc.
- Pardon: It rescinds both the sentence and the conviction and absolves the offender from all punishment and disqualifications.
- Commutation: It merely substitutes one form of punishment for another of a lighter character.
- Remission: It reduces the amount of sentence without changing it character.
- Respite: It means awarding a lesser sentence instead of the penalty prescribed in view of the pregnancy of a woman offender.
- Reprieve: It means a stay of execution of a sentence, e.g., pending a proceeding for pardon or commutation.
- In India, first of all, Maharashtra’s legislation on “Ban on the use of prenatal sex determination” came into effect.
All Members of Parliament enjoy certain powers, privileges and immunities necessary to enable the House to maintain its dignity and independence.
These privileges are of two types:
- those which are enjoyed by the Members individually; and
- those which belong to each House of Parliament as a collective body.
Major privileges enjoyed individually include:
- freedom of speech,
- freedom from arrest in civil cases, and
- exemption from attendance as jurors and witnesses.
The privileges of the Houses collectively enjoyed are:
- the right to publish debates and proceedings along with the right to restrain others from publishing them;
- the right to exclude others;
- the right to regulate the internal affairs of the House and to decide matters within its walls;
- the right to punish parliamentary misbehaviour; and
- the right to punish members as well as outsiders for breach of its privileges.
|General Sir Roy Bucher||1 January 1948 - 14 January 1949|
|General (now Field Marshal) K.M. Cariappa||15 January 1949 - 14 January 1953|
|General Maharaj Rajendra Sinhji||15 January 1953 - 31 March 1955|
|Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh is honoured with the rank of Marshal of the Air Force|| |
- A money bill can originate only in the Lok Sabha on the recommendation of the President.
- After a money bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha, it is transmitted to the Rajya Sabha.
- The Rajya Sabha is given 14 days to make its recommendations.
- If the Rajya Sabha fails to make a recommendation within this period, the bill is considered to have been passed by both the Houses of Parliament and is transmitted to the President for his assent.
- If the Rajya Sabha returns the Bill within 14 days with its recommendations, it is up to the Lok Sabha to accept or reject the recommendations.
- Even if the Lok Sabha does not accept the recommendations of the Rajya Sabha the bill is deemed to have been passed by both Houses.
- Thus with regard to the money bill, the final authority rests with the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha can delay its enactment for a maximum period of 14 days.
Difference Between Money Bill and Finance Bill
- A money bill deals exclusively with taxation, borrowing or expenditure whereas a Finance Bill has broader coverage in that it deals with other matters as well.
- A money bill is certified by the Speaker whereas a finance bill requires no such certificate.
- A money bill must be returned by the Rajya Sabha within 14 days of its receipt with its recommendations, if any, which the Lok Sabha is not bound to accept. Disagreement over a finance bill, however, is resolved at a Joint Sitting by the majority of the total number of members present and voting.
Facts to be Remembered
- The legislative functions of the President include summoning and proroguing the two Houses of Parliament, convening a joint sitting of the two Houses to resolve a deadlock, and addressing both Houses at the commencement of the first session of each year.
- A person to be eligible for appointment as Governor must possess the following qualifications. He should be a citizen of India, he should be thirty-five years of age and he should not hold any office of profit under the Central of India, he should be thirty-five years of age and he should not hold any office of profit under the Central or State Government.
- When a bill passed by the State Legislature is presented to the Governor, he may return a Bill for consideration, reserve a Bill for the President's consideration, and assent to the bill.
- The salary and allowances of the members of the Council of Ministers in a State are determined by State Legislature.
- Judges can be removed from office before the expiry of their term on grounds of proved misbehaviour or incapacity by the President on the recommendation of the two Houses of Parliament.
- Once an advisory opinion is sought, it is within the discretion of the Supreme Court to give or refuse to give it and the Supreme Court can depart from its own earlier decisions.
- The Chief Justice of India can appoint officers and servants of the Supreme Court in consultation with the Union Public Service Commission.
- The Supreme Court, on a reference by the President, can recommend the removal from office of Chairman and Members of UPSC.
- Judicial Review gives the Supreme Court the power of pronouncing on the constitutional validity of laws passed by legislature or actions by administrative authorities.
- Judicial Review does not apply to the advice tendered by the Council of Ministers to the President or Governor, privileges of the Members of Parliament and State Legislatures and powers exercised by the President and Governor.
Functions of Parliament
The Parliament has the power to make laws on any of the subjects included in the Union list, in the concurrent list and even on residuary subjects.
It acquires the power to make laws on subjects included in the State list if the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution to that effect.
The Parliament controls the finances of the Union Government. No tax can be levied and no expenditure can be incurred by the Union Government without the approval of the Parliament. The Parliament can levy taxes on subjects in the Union List.
The Parliament exercises control over the Council of Ministers since they are answerable to the Parliament. The moment the Parliament exercises no confidence in the Cabinet, it has to resign. Members of Parliament also exercise control over the Government by putting questions to the Ministers, by moving adjournment or censure motions and through such debates as on the Budget or on the President’s Address.
The Parliament has the power to amend the Constitution. In certain cases, the amendments passed by the Parliament require the approval of not fewer than half the States in the Indian Union.
The Parliament participates in the election of the President. It elects the Vice-President.
The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha are elected by the members of the Lok Sabha and the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is elected by the members of the Rajya Sabha.
The Parliament has the power to create more All-India Services. It can remove from office the President, the Vice-President, the Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, the Attorney General, the Comptroller and Auditor-General, and the Chief Election Commissioner in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Constitution.
Adjournment, Prorogation and Dissolution
Adjournment is an internal affair of the House. Usually, the Presiding officer can adjourn a sitting of the House. Adjournment does not affect any Bill that lies pending.
The power to prorogue the House lies with the President. Prorogation has the effect of terminating a particular session of the House. Generally a few days after the sine die adjournment of the House, the President issues a notification to prorogue it. A pending Bill does not lapse if the House is prorogued.
To dissolve the House means to put an end to its life. The President alone has the power to dissolve the Lok Sabha. A pending Bill lapses if the Lok Sabha is dissolved. The Rajya Sabha being a permanent chamber is never dissolved.
Miscellaneous Powers of Supreme Court
- The decision of the Supreme Court is binding upon all courts within the territory of India. However, the Supreme Court is not bound by its earlier decision; it can come to a different decision if it is convinced that it had made an error or harmed the public interest.
- The Supreme Court can recommend to the President the removal of the chairman and members of the UPSC.
- Disputes regarding the election of the President and the Vice-president are decided by the Supreme Court.
- The Supreme Court can appoint its officers and servants in consultation with the UPSC and determine their conditions of services in consultation with the President.
- The decrees and orders issued by the Supreme Court are enforceable throughout India in such manner as may be prescribed by any law made by the Parliament.
- The Supreme Court can make rules regarding the practice and procedure of the Court with the approval of the President.
Judiciary at the Lower Level
- Panchayat courts, at the lowest level of the judiciary, under the various names, Nyaya Panchayat, Panchayat Adalat, Gram Kutchery, function on both sides, civil as well as criminal.
- Next to the Panchayat courts are Munsiff’s courts which have jurisdiction over claims up to Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000.
- Above the Munsiffs are subordinate judges.
- The District judge hears first appeals from the decisions of the Subordinate Judges and the Munsiffs.
- The District Judge is the highest judicial authority (civil and criminal) in the district.
- But after the enactment of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, the trial of criminal cases is done exclusively by Judicial Magistrates.
- The Chief Judicial Magistrate is the head of the criminal courts within the district.
- The High Courts and the Supreme Court are the supreme judicial tribunal of the States and the Union respectively.
Legislative Procedure in Parliament
- An Ordinary Bill can be introduced in either House and has to be passed with the required majority in that House.
- Then the Bill is sent to the other House. The other House may
i) agree to the Bill,
ii) reject the Bill,
iii) pass the Bill with amendments, or
iv) not take any action for six months.
In case the other House agrees to the Bill, it is passed by both the Houses. In the other three cases, if the first House insists on getting the Bill passed and the second House is adamant is not passing the Bill as wanted by the first House, a joint sitting of the two Houses may be convened to end the deadlock.
- After the Bill is passed or deemed to have been passed by both the Houses, the Bill is presented to the President for his assent. A bill becomes law only when the President gives it his assent. The President has the option to send the Bill back to the Parliament with his message. But if the Bill is again passed by the two Houses, the President will have to give his assent.
Joint sitting of the two Houses
- In case of a deadlock over the passing of a Bill, the President summons a joint sitting. The joint sitting is presided over by the Speaker.
- Once a Bill is passed at a joint sitting, it is deemed to have been passed by both the Houses.
- Since the numerical strength of the Lok Sabha is greater than that of the Rajya Sabha, the will of the Lok Sabha is likely to prevail.
- A Bill that deals with
- imposition or abolition of any tax,
- borrowing of money by the Government of India,
- the custody and maintenance of the Consolidated Fund, or Contingency Fund, or the Public Accounts of India,
- the declaration of any expenditure as charged expenditure, and
- the Audit of the accounts of the Union and of the States is called Money Bill.
- It may deal with anyone or more than one of the matters listed above.
- The Speaker is the final authority to decide whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not, and he has to certify it as such before it can be introduced in the Lok Sabha.
- A Money Bill can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha with the prior approval of the President. After it has been passed by the Lok Sabha, it is sent to the Rajya Sabha for its recommendations.
- The Rajya Sabha is allowed 14 days to give its recommendation, at the end of which whether the Lok Sabha accepts the recommendation of the Rajya Sabha or not, the Bill is deemed to have been passed by both the Houses.
- Thus, in the case of Money Bills, it is the Lok Sabha that enjoys real power.
Sources of the Indian Constitution
- From the Government of India Act, 1935
Parliamentary System of Government
Powers of Federal Judiciary Emergency Powers
- From the Constitution of the United Kingdom
Rule of Law
- From the Constitution of the U.S.A.
Independence of Judiciary
Indirect election of the President
Removal of the Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts
- From the Constitution of Ireland
The Directive Principles of State Policy
Methods of Presidential ElectionNomination of members to the Rajya Sabha by the President
- From the Constitution of Canada
Federalism with strong Centre, including the residuary powers with the Centre
- From the Constitution of Australia
Idea of the Concurrent List
- From the Weimer Constitution of Germany
Provision concerning the suspension of the
Fundamental Rights during the emergency
- From the Japanese Constitution
The principle of procedure established by law on which the Supreme Court of India functions
- From the Constitution of erstwhile USSR/Italy
- From the Constitution of South Africa
Procedure for the amendment of the Indian Constitution.
- An annual budget containing the proposed expenditure and estimated income and taxation proposals is introduced by the Finance Minister, about a month before the commencement of the new financial year, in the Lok Sabha.
- Demands for grants of various Ministries are discussed by the Lok Sabha and is approved one by one.
- All the expenditure approved through various demands for grants are presented in the form of an Appropriation Bill by the Finance Minister in the Lok Sabha.
- Taxation proposals are presented by him in the form of the Finance Bill.
Committees of Parliament
The Parliament is assisted by a number of committees in the discharge of its duties. The member of these committees are appointed by the Speaker or elected by the House from amongst its members.
The important Committees of the Lok Sabha are:
Business Advisory Committee: It consists of 15 members with the Speaker as its chairman. It plans and regulates the business of the House and advises regarding the allocation of time for discussion of different matters. It also decides when the sessions of the Parliament should be called.
Committee on Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions: It consists of 15 members. It classifies the bills submitted by members of the House according to their importance.
Select Committees: There are a number of select committees constituted for the consideration of different kinds of bills. These committees collect information and submit reports on bills referred to them.
Officers of the Legislature
- The Speaker addresses his resignation to the Deputy Speaker or vice versa.
- A Speaker may be removed from the office by a resolution of the Assembly passed by a majority of the members present in the Assembly.
- A 14 days notice is to be given for moving such a resolution.
- When the office of both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker are vacant, their duties are performed by such member of the House as may be appointed by the Governor.
- While a resolution for the removal of a Speaker is under consideration, he will not preside over the meeting.
- In the above case, Speaker shall have the right to speak in the proceedings but can vote only in the first instance on the resolution but not in case of an equality of votes.
- Provisions with regard to vacation and duties of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Legislative Council are the same as those of the Assembly.
- Their salaries are fixed by the Legislature of the State by law.
Committee on Petition: It consists of 15 members. The Committee examines the petitions submitted to it and suggests remedial measures.
Rules Committee: It consists of 15 members with the Speaker as its ex-officio chairman. The committee considers matters of procedure and the conduct of business in the House and makes suggestions for the improvement of procedure.
Committee on Privileges: This committee, consisting of 15 members looks into cases regarding the violation of privileges of members of Parliament and recommends appropriate action.
Committee on Subordinate Legislation: This committee examines rules and regulations enacted by the executive to fill the gaps in the laws enacted by Parliament and ascertains how far these rules are within the limits prescribed in the main law.
Committee on Public Undertakings: Consisting of 15 members—10 from the Lok Sabha and 5 from the Rajya Sabha—this committee examines the working of public undertakings, including their accounts and finances.
Committee on Government Assurances: This committee examines how far the assurances and undertakings given by ministers on the floor of the House have been implemented within the stipulated period.
Committee on Absence of Members: This committee examines the leave applications of members. It also looks into cases where members have been missing from the house without permission for more than six months. It can condone the absence of such members or declare the seat vacant and ask for a by-election to fill up the same.
Estimate Committee: This committee is constituted by the Lok Sabha on the basis of proportional representation and consists of 30 members. It examines the annual estimates and suggests alternative policies to the government to ensure efficiency and economy in administration.
Public Accounts Committee: This committee consists of 22 members—15 from the Lok Sabha and 7 from the Rajya Sabha. It is assisted by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. It ensures that expenditure has not exceeded the grants made by Parliament and the money has been spent for the purpose for which it was sanctioned. In short, the committee ensures regularity and economy in expenditure.