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Our parliament


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Our parliament

  1. 1. OurParliamentThe Parliament of India, representing as it doesall politically organized shades of public opinionat the national level, occupies a preeminent andpivotal position in the countrys constitutionalset-up. It has also, over the years, carved out foritself a unique place in the esteem and affectionof the people as the forum through which theyarticulate and realize their grievances andaspirations and seek solutions to their problems.The Constitution of India provides for abicameral Parliament consisting of the Presidentand two Houses known as the Council of States(Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (LokSabha).RAJYA SABHAThe Rajya Sabha is to consist of not more than250 members. Of these 12 are nominated bythe President from amongst persons havingspecial knowledge or practical experience inrespect of such matters as literature, science,art or social service. The remaining seats areallocated to the various States and Unionterritories, roughly in proportion to theirpopulation; each State is, however, representedby at least one member. The representatives ofa State are elected by the elected members ofthe Legislative Assembly of that State inaccordance with the system of proportionalrepresentation by means of the s i n g l etransferable vote. The minimum age formembership of the House is 30 years.The Rajya Sabha was constituted for the firsttime on 3 April 1952 and had its first Session on13 May 1952. It is a permanent body and is notsubject to dissolution, but one-third of itsmembers retire every second year by rotationand are replaced by newly-elected members.The term of an individual member of RajyaSabha is six years.The Rajya Sabha at presentconsists of 245 members: 233 represent theStates and Union territories and 12 are
  2. 2. nominated members. The distribution of seatsamong the States is as under: • Andhra Pradesh 18 • Arunachal Pradesh 1 • Assam 7 • Bihar 16 • Chhattisgarh 5 • Goa 1 • Gujarat 11 • Haryana 5 • Himachal Pradesh 3 • Jammu £t Kashmir 4 • Jharkhand 6 • Karnataka 12 • Kerala 9 • Madhya Pradesh 11 • Maharashtra 19 • Manipur 1 • Meghalaya 1 • Mizoram 1 • Nagaland 1 • Orissa 10 • Punjab 7 • Rajasthan 10 • Sikkim 1 • Tamil Nadu 18 • Tripura 1 • Uttarakhand 3 • Uttar Pradesh 31 • West Bengal 16 • Delhi 3 • Puducherry 1
  3. 3. LOK SABHAThe Lok Sabha is composed of representativesof the people chosen by direct election on thebasis of adult suffrage. The maximum strengthof the House envisaged by the Constitution is552: upto 530 members to represent the States,up to 20 members to represent the Unionterritories and not more than two members ofthe Anglo-Indian community to be nominatedby the President of India if the President is ofopinion that the community is not adequatelyrepresented in the House. The total electivemembership is distributed among the States insuch manner that the ratio between the numberof seats allotted to each State and thepopulation of the State is, so far as practicable,the same for all States. The qualifying age formembership of the Lok Sabha is 25 years.The Lok Sabha, unless sooner dissolved,continues for five years from the date appointedfor its first meeting and the expiration of theperiod of five years operates as dissolution ofthe House. However, while a Proclamation ofEmergency is in operation, this period may beextended by Parliament by law for a period notexceeding one year at a time and not extendingin any case beyond a period of six months afterthe Proclamation has ceased to operate.Following the first General Elections held in thecountry in 1952, the First Lok Sabha wasconstituted on 17 April 1952 and met on 13 May1952.The Second Lok Sabha came into being in April1957; the Third Lok Sabha in April 1962; theFourth Lok Sabha in March 1967; the FifthLok Sabha in March 1971; the Sixth Lok Sabha inMarch 1977; the Seventh Lok Sabha in January1980; the Eighth Lok Sabha in December 1984;the Ninth Lok Sabha in December 1989; the TenthLok Sabha in June 1991; the Eleventh Lok Sabhain May 1996; the Twelfth Lok Sabha in March1998; the Thirteenth Lok Sabha in October 1999;and the Fourteenth Lok Sabha in May 2004.The Lok Sabha at present consists of 545members, including two nominated members.
  4. 4. The distribution of seats among the States is asunder: • Andhra Pradesh 42 • Arunachal Pradesh 2 • Assam 14 • Bihar 40 • Chhattisgarh 11 • Goa 2 • Gujarat 26 • Haryana 10 • Himachal Pradesh 4 • Jammu fr Kashmir 6 • Jharkhand 14 • Karnataka 28 • Kerala 20 • Madhya Pradesh 29 • Maharashtra 48 • Manipur 2 • Meghalaya 2 • Mizoram 1 • Nagaland 1 • Orissa 21 • Punjab 13 • Rajasthan 25 • Sikkim 1 • Tamil Nadu 39 • Tripura 2 • Uttarakhand 5 • Uttar Pradesh 80 • West Bengal 42 • Andaman & Nicobar Islands 1 • Chandigarh 1 • Dadra & Nagar Haveli 1 • Daman & Diu 1 • Delhi 7 • Lakshadweep 1 • Puducherry 1
  5. 5. SESSIONSNormally, three Sessions of Parliament are heldin a year: (i) Budget Session (February-May);( i i ) Monsoon Session ( J u l y -August); and(iii) Winter Session (November-December).With a view to ensuring that the Demands forGrants of various Ministries could be discussedby the Depart men tally- related StandingCommittees which were constituted in 1993,the Budget Session of Lok Sabha in 1994 wassplit into two periods, i.e. from 21 February1994 to 19 March 1994 and 18 April 1994 to13 May 1994. The intervening period of about amonth was utilized by the Committees forconsideration of the Demands for Grants. Suchbreaks during the Budget Session have becomea regular feature now.FunctionsAs in other parliamentary democracies, theParliament in India has the cardinal functionsof legislation, overseeing of administration,passing of the Budget, ventilation of publicgrievances, discussing national policies, etc.The scheme of distribution of powers betweenthe Union and the States, followed in theConstitution of India, emphasises in many waysthe general predominance of Parliament in thelegislative field. Apart from the wide range ofsubjects allotted to it in the Seventh Scheduleof the Constitution, even in normal timesParliament can, under certain circumstances,assume legislative power over a subject fallingwithin the sphere exclusively reserved for theStates.Further, in times of grave emergency when thesecurity of India or any part thereof isthreatened by war or external aggression orarmed rebellion, and a Proclamation ofEmergency is made by the President, Parliamentacquires the power to make Laws for the wholeor any part of the territory of India with respectto any of the matters enumerated in the StateList. Similarly, in the event of the failure of theconstitutional machinery in a State, the powersof the Legislature of that State becomeexercisable by or under the authority ofParliament.
  6. 6. Besides the power to Legislate on a very widefield, the Constitution vests in the UnionParliament the constituent power or the powerto initiate amendment of the Constitution.Under the Constitution, the Union Council ofMinisters is collectively responsible to theLok Sabha. One of the effective methods bywhich Parliament exercises check over theExecutive is through its control over finance.This financial power in the hands of Parliamenthelps in securing Executive accountability.Besides, the procedures of Parliament affordample opportunities for the enforcement ofMinisterial responsibility, for assessing andinfluencing governmental policies as well as forventilating public grievances. The procedure ofQuestions, with possibilities of supplementaries,and, in case of inconclusive or unsatisfactoryanswer, of Half-an-Hour Discussions, CallingAttentions, Motions, Short Duration Discussions,Matters Under Rule 377, etc. enable informationto be elicited and attention focussed on variousaspects of governmental activities.The more significant occasions for review ofadministration are provided by the discussionson the Motion of Thanks on the Address by thePresident, the Budget, including Demands forGrants from various Ministries and Departments,and the proposals to raise funds to meet theexpenditure. These apart, specific matters maybe discussed through motions on matters ofurgent public importance, private membersresolutions and other substantive motions. Inextreme cases, the Government can be censuredor a motion of no-confidence can be movedagainst them. Along with these, a close andcontinuous check on governmental activities isexercised through a comprehensive system ofParliamentary Committees.Relative Roles of the two HousesAs between the two Houses, the Lok Sabha hassupremacy in financial matters. It is also theHouse to which the Council of Ministers, drawnfrom both Houses, is collectively responsible.On the other hand, the Rajya Sabha has a specialrole in enabling Parliament to legislate on aState subject if it is necessary in the nationalinterest. It has a similar power in regard to the
  7. 7. creation of an All-India Service common to theUnion and the States. In other respects, theConstitution proceeds on the theory of equalityof status of the two Houses.Disagreement between the two Houses onamendments to a Bill is resolved by both theHouses meeting in a joint sitting where questionsare decided by majority vote. However, thisprovision of joint sitting does not apply to MoneyBills and Constitution Amendment Bills.The Presiding OfficersIn the Lok Sabha, both the PresidingOfficers-the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker—areelected from amongst its members. In the RajyaSabha, the Vice-President of India is the exofficio Chairman. He is elected by the membersof an electoral college consisting of the membersof both the Houses of Parliament in accordancewith the system of proportional representationby means of a single transferable vote. TheDeputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is, however,elected by the members of the Rajya Sabhafrom amongst themselves.The Constitution of India makes certain specificprovisions in regard to the office of the Speakerof Lok Sabha, laying particular emphasis on theimportance and the independent character ofthe office in the context of a parliamentarypolity. His salary and allowances are chargedon the Consolidated Fund of India.The Speaker of Lok Sabha enjoys vast authorityand powers under the Constitution and the Rules,as well as inherently. As the conventional headof the Lok Sabha and as its principal spokesman,the Speaker represents its collective voice. Heis the guardian of the rights and privileges ofthe House, its Committees and members. It isthrough the Speaker that the decisions of theHouse are communicated to outside individualsand authorities; he issues warrants to executethe orders of the House, wherever necessary,and delivers reprimands on behalf of the House.Within the precincts of the House, his authorityis supreme. His conduct cannot be discussed,except on a substantive motion.All the Committees of the House function underhis overall directions and their Chairmen arenominated by him. Any procedural problems in
  8. 8. the functioning of the Committees are referredto him for directions. Committees like theBusiness Advisory Committee, the GeneralPurposes Committee and the Rules Committee,however, work directly under his Chairmanship.The Speaker enjoys a special position insofar asthe relations between the two Houses ofParliament in certain matters are concerned.He certifies Money Bills and decides finally whatare "m oney" m atters by r eason of theLok Sabhas over-riding powers in financialmatters. It is the Lok Sabha Speaker whopresides over joint sittings called in the eventof a disagreement between the two Houses ona legislative measure.Leader of the HouseThe Prime Minister, who is the Leader of themajority party in the Lok Sabha, functions asthe Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha exceptwhen he is not a member of the Lok Sabha. Theseniormost Minister, who is a member of theRajya Sabha, is appointed by the Prime Ministeras the Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha.In 1966, 1997 and in 2004 the appointment of aPrime Minister who was a member of theRajya Sabha necessitated the appointment of aseparate Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha.In July 1991 and again in 1996, at the time ofconstitution of the Tenth and the El eventhLok Sabhas, respectively, the Prime Minister whowas not a member of either House of Parliament,nominated another Minister as the Leader ofthe House in the Lok Sabha as well as in theRajya Sabha.The Leader of the House is an importantparliamentary functionary and exercises directinfluence on the course of business. The wholepolicy of the Government, especially insofar as itis expressed in the inner life of the House andin measures dealing with the course of itsbusiness, is concentrated in his person.The arrangement of Government business is theultimate responsibility of the Leader of theHouse. He makes proposals for the dates ofsummoning and prorogation of the House forthe approval of the Speaker. He has to draw upthe programme of official business to be
  9. 9. transacted in a Session of Parliament; he alsofixes inter se priorities for various items ofbusiness to ensure their smooth passage. Besides,he deals with procedural matters relating tothe business of the House and advises the Housein case any difficulty arises. The Leader of theHouse normally occupies the first seat in theChamber at the right side of the Chair except incases when he or she is not the Prime Minister.Leader of the OppositionPrior to the 1977 General Elections to theLok Sabha, except for a brief spell of one year(December 1969-December 1970), there hadbeen no official Opposition in the sense theterm is used in the parliamentary system ofGovernment. In November 1969, for the firsttime since Independence, the Lok Sabha had arecognised Opposition party and a Leader ofthe Opposition. Similarly, in the Rajya Sabhaalso, until 1969, there was no Leader of theOpposition in the real and accepted sense ofthat expression.The Leaders of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabhaand the Lok Sabha are now accorded statutoryrecognition and given salary and certain otherfacilities and amenities under the Salary andAllowances of Leaders of Opposition inParliament Act, 1977. The Leader of theOpposition occupies a seat in the front row left tothe Chair. He/she also enjoys certainprivileges on ceremonial occasions like escortingthe Speaker-elect to the rostrum and a seat inthe front row at the time of the Address by thePresident to members of both the Houses ofParliament.WhipsIn the parliamentary form of Government, aparty has its own internal organisation insideParliament and is served by a number of officialsknown as the Whips, chosen from members ofthe party itself. The main function of the Whips isto keep members of their party within sound ofthe Division Bell whenever any importantbusiness is under consideration in the House.During sessions, the Whips of different partiessend to their supporters periodic notices, also
  10. 10. sometimes called Whips, apprising them whenimportant Divisions are expected, telling themthe hour when a vote will probably take place,and requesting them to be in attendance atthat time.Realizing the vital role played by the Chief Whipsand leaders of parties and groups in Parliamentas important party functionaries, an Act namelythe Leaders and Chief Whips of RecognizedParties and Groups in Parliament (Facilities) Act{Act 5 of 1999) was passed during the TwelfthLok Sabha. The Act inter alia provides additionalSecretarial assistance and telephone facilitiesto the Leaders and Chief Whips.Government Chief Whip: The Chief Whip ofthe Government Party in the Lok Sabha is theMinister of Parliamentary Affairs. In theRajya Sabha, the Minister of State forParliamentary Affairs holds this position. TheChief W hip is directly responsible to theLeader of the House. It is part of his duties toadvise the Government on parliamentarybusiness and to maintain a close liaison withthe Ministers in regard to parliamentary businessaffecting their Departments. The Chief Whip isassisted by one or two Ministers of State and attimes by Deputy Ministers also."Cover Photo: Parliament of India LOK SABHA SECRETARIAT NEW DELHI JUNE, 2009 LARRDIS/No.1/PPR/31/09