Chapter II of Part V of the Constitution deals with Parliament. The Constitution calls the legislature of the Union as Parliament. Our Constitution has adopted the Parliamentary system of government.
According to Art. 79 our Parliament is bicameral consisting of the President, and the two Houses (Bicameral legislature) the Lower House called the House of People or Lok Sabha and the Upper House called the Council of States or Rajya Sabha.The President is a part of the Legislature for, even though he does not sit in Parliament, except for the purpose of delivering his opening address [Art. 87], a Bill passed by the House of Parliament cannot become law without the President’s assent. The other legislative functions of the President, such as the making of Ordinances while both Houses are not in sitting, have already been explained.
Art, 80 deals with the composition of Rajya Sabha.
The Rajya Sabha shall be composed of not more than 250 members.
(i) 12 members shall be nominated by the President from amongst persons having ‘special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, art, and social service’; and (ii) the remainder (238) shall be representatives of the States and the Union Territories elected by the method of indirect election.
The representatives of each State shall be elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of the State in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. The representative of the Union Territories shall be chosen in such manner as parliament may prescribe [Art. 80(5)]. Accordingly Parliament has prescribed that they be indirectly elected by members of an electoral college for that Territory, in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
The American principle of equality of States’ representation is not followed in electing the representatives, instead the seats are allocated on the basis of population of the States.The Rajya Sabha thus reflects a federal character by representing the units of the federation.
Art. 81 deals with the composition of Lok Sabha.
The Lok Sabha consists of not more than 530 representatives of the States (chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies of the state, provided that the representation to a state with less than six millions population will not be allowed), not more than 20 representatives of Union Territories, and not more than 2 members of the Angio-Indian community, nominated by the President, if he is of opinion that the Anglo-Indian community is not adequately represented in the House of the People [Art. 331].
The representatives of the States shall be directly elected by the people of the State on the basis of adult suffrage. Every citizen who is not less than 18 years of age and is not otherwise disqualified, shall be entitled to vote at such election [Art, 326].
There will be no reservation of seats for any minority community other than the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes [Arts. 330, 341, 342].
The members from the Union Territories are to be chosen in such manner as Parliament may by law provide. Thus Parlisament has enacted that representatives of all the Union Territories shall be chosen by direct election.
Election to the Lok Sabha is through single member constituency unlike for the Rajya Sabha where it is through the system of proportional representation.
Constitution provides for uniformity of representation in two respect—(i) each State shall be allotted a number of seats in the House of the People in such manner that the ratio between the number and the population of the State is, so far as practicable, the same for all States and (ii) each State shall be divided into territorial constituencies in such manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it is, so far as practicable, the same throughout the State.
Qualification & Disqualification
For becoming a member of Parliament, a person (i) must be a citizen of India, (ii) must be not less than 30 years of age in the case of the Council of States and not less than 25 years of age in the case of the House of the People, (iii) additional qualifications may be prescribed by Parliament by law [Art. 84]
Disqualifications and Vacation of Seats
According to Art. 102, a person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament:
(i) if he holds any office of profit under tthe Government of India or the Government of any State (other than an office exampted by Parliament by law) but not a Minister for the Union or for a State; or
(ii) if he is of unsound mind and stand so declared by a competent Court;
(iii) if he is an undischarged insolvent
(iv) if he is not a citizen of India or has voluntarily acquired citizenship of a foreign State or is under acknowledgement of allegiance or adherence to a foreign power;
(v) If he is so disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament.
A member of Parliament shall vacate his seat in the following [Art. 101]:
(i) Dual membership : (a) If a person is chosen to be a member of both Houses of Parliament he must vacate his seat in one of the two Houses, as may be prescribed by Parliament by law;
(b) Similarly, if a person is elected to the Union Parliament and a State legislature then he must resign his seat in the State Legislature; otherwise his seat in Parliament shall fall vacant at the expiration of the period specified in the rules made by the President.
(ii) Disqualification : If a person incurs any of the disqualifications mentioned in Art 102 (e.g., becoming of unsound mind), his seat will thereupon become vacant immediately.
(iii) Resignation : A member may resign his seat in writing addressed to the Chairman of the Council of States or the Speaker of the House of the People, as the case may be, and thereupon his seat shall be vacant.
(iv) Absence without permission : The House may declare a seat vacant if the member in question absents himself from all meetings of the House for a period of 60 days without permission of the House.
Adjournment, Prorogation and Dissolution The sitting of a House may be terminated by (i) dissolution (ii) prorogation, or (iii) adjournment.
The House of the People is only subject to dissolution. It may take place in either of two ways. (i) By efflux of time, i.e., on the expiry of its term of five years, or the term as extended during a Proclamation of Emergency; (ii) By an exercise of the President’s power under Art. 85(2).
While the powers of dissolution and prorogation are exercised by the President on the advice of his Council of Ministers, the power to adjourn the daily sittings of the House of the People and the Council of States belongs to the Speaker and the Chairman, respectively.
A dissolution brings the House of the People to an end (so that there must be a fresh election), Adjournment does not put an end to the existence of a session of Parliament but merely postpones the further transaction of business for a specified time, hours, days or weeks.
Officers of Parliment Each House of Parliament has its own presiding officer and secretarial staff.
Rajya Sabha: Chairman & Deputy Chairman : The Vice President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha and presiding officer of that House. The House elects one of its member to be the Deputy Chairman (Art. 89) who looks after the House in his absence (Art. 91). The Chairman may be removed from the office only if he is removed from the office of the Vice-President.
The Deputy Chairman vacates his seat if he ceases to be a member of the House. He may resign his office by writing to the Chairman. He may be removed from his office by a resolution of the Rajya Sabha passed by a majority of all the then members, of the Councial, after 14 days notice has been given of intention to move the resolution [Art, 90]. Art 92 stipulates that the Chairman or Deputy Chairman will not preside while a resolution for his removal from office is under consideration. The functions of the Chairman in the Rajya Sabha are similar to those of the Speaker in the House of the People except that the Speaker has certain special powers according to the Constitution, for instance, of certifying a Money Bill, or presiding over a joint sitting of the two Houses.
The functions of Deputy Chairman are similar to that of the Deputy Speaker in relation to his House.
Lok Sabha : Speaker & Deputy Speaker : Speaker, the presiding officer of Lok Sabha, and Deputy Speaker are elected by the members amongst themselves (Art. 93).
The Speaker or the Deputy Speaker normally hold office during the life of the House, but his office may be terminate be earlier in any of the following ways: (i) By his ceasing to be a member of the House, (ii) By resignation in writing, addressed to the Deputy Speaker, and vice versa. (iii) By removal from office by a resolution, passed by a majority of all the then members of the House [Art. 94]. Such a resolution shall not be moved unless at least 1 days’ notice has been given of the intention to move the resolution.
Also whenever the Lok Sabha is dissolved the Speaker shall not vacate his office unitl immediately before the first meeting of the Lok Sabha after the dissolution. While a resolution for his removal is under consideration, the Speaker shall not preside but he shall have the right to speak in, and to take part in the proceedings of the House, and shall have a right of vote except in the case of equality of votes [Art. 96].
Art, 97 stipulates that Parliament may by law fix the salaries and allowances of the officer of Parliament.
Power of the Speaker The Speaker presides over the meetings of the House, except while a resolution for his removal is under consideration. He does not vote in the first instance, but shall have the right to exercise a casting vote in the case of equality of votes. He has the final power to maintain order within the House of the People and to interpret its Rules of Procedure. In the absence of a quorum, he can adjourn the House or suspend the meeting until there is a quorum, he can adjourn the House or suspend the meeting until there is a quorum.
His conduct in regulating the procedure or maintaining order in the House will not be subject to the jurisdiction of any Court [art. 122].
Besides presiding over his own House, the Speaker possesses certain powers not belonging to the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha: (i) The Speaker presides over a joint sitting of the two Houses of parliament [Art. 118(4); and (ii) When a Money Bill is transmitted from the Lower House to the Upper House, the Speaker has to endorse on the Bill his certificate that it is a Money Bill [Art. 110(4)] and
then only the subsequent procedure in the passage of the Bill will be governed by the provisions relating to Money Bills.
Powers of Deputy Speaker
While the office of Speaker is vacant or the Speaker is absent from a sitting of the House, the Deputy Speaker presides, except when a resolution for his own removal is under consideration [Art. 95].
Parliamentary Privileges and immunities Art. : 105 lays down the privileges of the members of Parliament, These come under two categories, (i) those availed by an M.P. in his individual compacity, and (ii) those enjoyed by the M.Ps belonging to each House collectively. These privileges respect the honour of a parliamentarian and are meant to safeguard his freedom, authority and dignity.
Privileges of Individual Members
(i) Freedom of speech: An M.P. is not subject to restrictions specified in Art. 19(2). He would not be liable for anything said in Parliament, subject to two limitations. First, the freedom should respect the rules and modes prescribed by Parliament. Secondly, no discussion can take place in Parliament with respect to the conduct of a judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court unless proceedings against him are initiated.
(ii) Freedom from arrest: A member cannot be arrested for a period of 40 days before or after the meeting of the House. He cannot be arrested while the meeting of a committee continues. But this rule does not apply to arrests made under Preventive Detention Act During such arrests, the presiding officer should be acquainted with the arrest, cause of arrest and the place where he is being kept.
(iii) Freedom from attendance as witness : A member cannot be forced to appear as witness while parliament is in session.
Collective Privileges They are:
(i) The right to publish debates and proceedings and the right to restrain publication by others,
(ii) The right to exclude strangers from the galleries at any time;
(iii) The right to publish parliamentary misbehaviour; (iv) The right to regulate the internal affairs of the House;
(v) The right to punish members and outsiders for breach of its privileges.
The law-making power of Parliament is immense. It is vested with power to legislate on all subjects enumerated in the Union List (97 items)and the Concurrent List (47 items).
Thus, Parliament can make laws with regard to
(i) admission or formation of a new state;
(ii) implementation of the directive principles of state policy; and
(iii) emoluments of the President, Vice President, Governor, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Speaker, Member of Parliament, Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, Chairman and members of the UPSC, Attorney General, Ministers, etc.,
Parliament also participates in the law-making process on the States subjects (66 items), subject to the following conditions:
(i) If the Rajya Sabha resolves by two-thirds majority of the members present and voting, that in the national interest Parliament should make law on a particular matter mentioned in the State List [Art. 249];
(ii) If both the Houses of legislature of two or more States pass a resolution that Parliament should make a law on a particular matter mentioned in the State List [Art. 252];
(iii) If an emergency is in operation [Art. 250];
(iv) If emergency is imposed on account of the failure to the constitutional machinery [Art. 356];
(v) If there is a need to legislate on any item of the State List of implement an international treaty/agreement [Art. 253];
(vi) If law of the State is inconsistent with the Parliamentary laws, the latter would prevail [Art. 251].
Additionally, the power to legislate on residual matters vests with Parliament rather than the federating units.
(i) Parliament sanctions the money to be spent by the executive. It is passed during vote on-account.
(ii) The Parliamentary committee and the Estimates committee monitor the expenditure of Government.
(iii) A money bill passed by Parliament becomes effective and even the President cannot withhold his assent [Art. 111]
Control over the Executive
(i) All members of Parliament are accountable to Parliament both collectively and individually
(ii) Each minister tells Parliament about the affairs of his department and answers pertinent questions.
(iii) The Council of Ministers, as a body, is responsible to Parliament for the general affairs of government
(iv) Vote of no-confidence motion may be initiated against individual members, which amounts to the same as against the whole Council including the Prime Minister.
(i) Parliament, rather than States, initiates constitutional amendments.
(ii) Parliament can amend even fundamental rights.
In fact, barring the ‘basic feature’, it can bring in any amendment.
(iii) Such amendments are approved by simple majority and then special majority of each House separately.
Electoral and Punitive Powers
(i) M.Ps. participate in the election of the president along with members of the states’ legislature.
(ii) Parliament can recommend the removal of the Supreme Court and High Court Judges, the Chief Election Commissioner, the Comptroller and Accountant General and the Chairman and members of the UPSC.
(iii) Impeachment of the President and Vice-President are within Parliamentary powers.
(iv) Parliament can punish both its own members as well as outsiders. Parliamentary decisions are not subject to challenge in the court.
(i) Parliament’s approval to the proclamation of emergency is a must for its validity. The proclamation ceases to operate beyond thirty days in the event of its (non-approval) disapproval.
(ii) Parliament acts as a public forum, important public issues are discussed on Parliament’s floor.
Thus the expression of public grievance forms an important function of Parliament.
(iii) Parliament disseminates education by publicity.
The mass media help in extending the Parliament’s educational role.
Exclusive Powers of the Lok Sabha
(i) Control on Council of Ministers : The Lok Sabha, rater than the Rajya Sabha, controls the Council of Ministers. The Ministers of the Council are individually and collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha only. The Rajya Sabha has the full right to be informed about government affairs even though it cannot pass a censure motion against Government.
(ii) Money Bills : The Lok Sabha has complete and final authority on money bills. The money bills are introduced in the Lok Sabha with the recommendation of the President and certification of the Speaker. Passed by the Lok Sabha, the bill goes to the Rajya Sabha, which is under obligation to returnit within 14 days. Its non-response within the stipulated time would be deemed to be approved by it. If the Rajya Sabha rejects or amends the bill it is reconsidered and voted in the Lok Sabha. However, the Lok Sabha cannot be forced to accept the recommendation of the Rajya Sabha. Since there is no provisiton of joint sitting in case of money bills, the Lok Sabha has the final say.
(iii) Proclamation of Emergency : The Lok Sabha has exclusive power to disapprove the proclamation of emergency issued under art. 352. This can be done if 10% of Lok Sabha members, in writing, convey their intention in this regard to the Speaker or the President. In such a case, a joint sitting is called within 14 days for considering the resolution. If such a sitting passes the resolution, the President will have to revoke it [Art. 352 (8)].