The Parliament
The Parliament
The Parliament: The Parliament is the union legislature of India. It consists of the President and the two houses
The Lok Sabha (House of People)
The Rajya Sabha (Council of States)
Lok Sabha
Lok Sabha: The Lok Sabha is the popular house of the Indian Parliament.
It consists of representatives elected by the people on the basis of universal adult franchise through secret ballot.
The maximum strength of the Lok Sabha has been fixed at 550, out of which 530 represent the states and 20 represent the union territories .
The President can nominate two members of the Anglo-Indian community if, in his opinion, this community is not adequately represented in the Lok Sabha.
The strength of the Lok Sabha was fixed at 543 (plus two nominated members of the Anglo Indian community) in 1976.
Delimitation of Constituencies
Delimitation of Constituencies: The task of delimiting both the parliamentary and the state legislative constituencies is carried on by a Delimitation Commission set up under the Delimitation Act.
The first Delimitation Commission was set up in 1951.
The second and the third Commissions were set up in 1961 and 1971. In 1976, the delimitation of constituencies was freezed on the basis of the 1971 Census up, to 2001.
In 2002, the eighty-fourth amendment extended the freeze for another 25 years viz. up to 2026.
To be eligible for membership of the Lok Sabha a person,
1. must be a citizen of India,
2. should be at least 25 years of age,
3. should possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed by Parliament,
4. must not hold any office of profit under the union or state government,
5. must not be of unsound mind or declared insolvent
A person is disqualified from becoming a member of Parliament,
1. if he is not a citizen of India or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign state, and
2. if he is disqualified under any law made by the Parliament.
Defection law
Under the defection law, a member is disqualified from being member of either house of Parliament
(i) if he Voluntarily gives up the membership of the political party on whose ticket he is elected to the house; or
(ii) if he votes or abstains from voting in the house against any direction given by his political party.
Contesting elections
Till recently candidates of the general category, while contesting elections, had to deposit a security of Rs 500. This has been raised to Rs 10,000 to ensure that only serious candidates contest the elections.
However, in case of the SC/ST candidates, the existing security of Rs 250 has been raised to Rs 5000.
A candidate for Lok Sabha must be proposed by at least 10 electors of the constituency,
Under the new rules, no candidate can contest elections from more than two constituencies.
Before taking seat in the house, every member of Parliament has to take an oath and affirmation before the President or some person appointed by the President for this purpose.
Unless a member takes the oath, he cannot sit in this house. If a person sits in the house without taking oath, he is liable to pay a penalty of Rs 500 for each day he sits or votes in the house.
Vacation of Seat
A member of Parliament can vacate his eat before the expiry of his term by writing to the Chairman or the Speaker as the case may be.
The seat of a member can also be declared vacant if he absents himself from the meetings of the house for 60 days without intimation.
Members of the Lok Sabha are elected for a term of five years but the term can be cut short if the President dissolves the House earlier on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
Presiding Officers
Presiding Officers: The presiding officer of the Lok Sabha is known as the Speaker. He is elected by the members of Lok Sabha from among themselves.
In addition to the Speaker, the house elects a Deputy Speaker who discharges the duties of the presiding officer in the absence of the Speaker.
The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker remain in office as long as they are members of the House.
If they cease to the members of the House they have to vacate their office.
However, the Speaker continues in office even after the dissolution of the Lok Sabha till a newly elected Lok Sabha meets.
The Speaker
The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker can render resignation from their office at any time.
They may also be removed from their office by a resolution of the House of people passed by a majority of the members of the House.
The Speaker of the Lok Sabha has been assigned important duties.
He presides over the sittings of the Lok Sabha and controls its working.
The Speaker
He upholds the dignity and privileges of the House.
Usually, after his election, the Speaker serves all connections with his party and acts in an impartial manner.
The Constitution has tried to ensure the independence of the Speaker by charging his salary on the Consolidated Fund of India and the same is not subject to the vote of the Parliament.
The Speaker can be removed from his office only after a resolution to this effect is passed in the House by majority of the members.
Secretary General
Secretary General: The Secretary General, who acts as an adviser to the Speaker of Lok Sabha, and the members of Parliament with regard to Parliamentary matters and procedures, is appointed by the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
The Secretary General is picked up from amongst persons who have served Parliament in various capacities in the Secretariat.
He holds office till he attains the age of 60 years.
His actions cannot be criticised in or outside the House.
He is answerable only to the Speaker.
Leader of Opposition
Leader of Opposition: The original constitution did not provide for the office of Opposition Leader.
This post was created through an Act of Parliament in 1977.
The Act provided that the leader of the party (other than the ruling party) with the largest number of members in the Parliament shall be recognised as Leader of Opposition, provided his party has captured atleast 10 percent of the total Lok Sabha seats.
The Leader of the Opposition enjoys Cabinet rank under the Act.
Rajya Sabha
Rajya Sabha: The Rajya Sabha is the Upper House of the Parliament. It consists of representatives of the states.
The maximum strength of the Rajya Sabha is 250.
Of these, 238 represent the states and union territories and the rest are nominated by the President.
The nominees are persons who have distinguished themselves in the field of literature, art, science, social service and so on.
Representatives of the states are elected by members of state legislative assemblies on the basis of proportional representation through a single transferable vote.
Qualifications for membership of the Rajya Sabha
It is noteworthy that in the Rajya Sabha, the states have been provided representation on the basis of their population.
As regards qualifications for membership of the Rajya Sabha, the candidate must
1. be a citizen of India
2. be 30 years of age or more
3. be a parliamentary elector in the state in which he is seeking election
4. possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed by the Parliament from time to time.
2003 - Amendment
In 2003 an amendment was carried out to the Representation of the People Act to remove the residency requirements of a candidate for Rajya Sabha.
Further, it provided for open voting instead of secret ballot.
The validity of this law was challenged in the Supreme Court, which upheld the validity of the law and eliminated the domicile clause for Rajya Sabha elections.
2003 - Amendment
The candidates seeking membership to the Rajya Sabha must not have any of the disqualifications listed for the members of the Lok Sabha.
The members of the Rajya Sabha are elected for a term of six years.
Even though the Rajya Sabha is a permanent house, one-third of the members retire every two years.
The Vice-President is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
The Rajya Sabha elects a Deputy Chairman from its members, who presides over the meetings in the absence of the Vice-President.
Sessions of Parliament
The sessions of Parliament are convened at the discretion of the President.
However, there should not be a gap of more than six months between two sessions.
Adjournment: Adjournment is a short recess within the session of the Parliament ordered by the Presiding Officer of the House.
The duration of adjournment can be few minutes or days.
The adjournment does not bring the session to an end.
It merely postpones the proceedings of the House to a future date and time.
Sometime the Presiding Officer adjourns to house without fixing any date or time of the next meeting. This is known in Parliamentary language as adjournment sine die.
Prorogation of House
Prorogation of House: The Constitution vests the power to prorogue the House in the President who uses it on the advice of the council of ministers.
Prorogation of House only ends the session of the House and not its life.
It merely implies that the house ceases to do its business at a particular time.
Dissolution of House
Dissolution of House: Dissolution ends the life of the House and a fresh House has to be reconstituted thereafter.
In India, only the Lok Sabha is subject to dissolution before the expiry of its normal term.
The Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, is a permanent house and is not subject to dissolution.
The power to dissolve the Lok Sabha vests in the President, who generally takes this action on the advice of the Prime Minister.
In the event of the dissolution of the House, any Bill pending in the Lok Sabha lapses.
Any bill passed by the Lok Sabha and pending in the Rajya Sabha also lapses, unless the President indicates his intention to call a joint sitting of the two houses.
However, in the event of dissolution of the Lok Sabha, any bill pending in the Rajya Sabha, but not passed by the Lok Sabha, does not lapse.
Language in Parliament
Language in Parliament: The business of the Parliament is transacted either in Hindi or in English.
However the presiding officers of the two houses of the Parliament viz. the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha or the Speaker of the Lok Sabha can permit any member, who cannot adequately express himself in Hindi or in English, to address the house in his mother tongue.
Joint Sessions
Joint Sessions: The President can call joint sessions (Article 108) of the two houses if a bill passed by one house is rejected by the other house or if the amendments proposed to a bill by one house are not acceptable to the other, or if the other house does not take any action on a bill remitted to it for six months.
The joint session of Parliament is presided over by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and a decision is taken by a majority of the total members present.
Since the inauguration of the constitution, joint sessions of the two Houses have been called only three times in 1961, 1978 and 2002.
The last joint session of the two Houses was called on March 26, 2002 to pass the Prevention of Terrorism Bill.
Powers of Parliament
Powers of Parliament
The Parliament legislates on subjects included in the union and concurrent lists. It can also legislate on subjects included in the state list.
(a) if the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution by two-third majority that it is in the national interest that Parliament should legislate on the state subject(Article 249)
(b) if the legislatures of two or more states recommend to Parliament to legislate(Article 252)
(c) for the implementation of treaties and agreements with foreign powers;(Article 253)
(d) during the proclamation of emergency on account of threat to the security of India or a breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state. (Article 250)
The power to legislate on residuary subjects vests with Parliament.(Article 248)
Powers of Parliament
The Parliament exercises complete control over the union finances. No taxes can be levied or expenditure incurred without its approval.
The Parliament exercises completed control over the executive.
The Parliament plays a major role in the amendment of the Constitution (Article 368). Major portions of the Constitution can be amended by Parliament alone by a simple or two-third majority.
Only in respect of a limited numbers of provision can the amendments be carried out by Parliament with the approval of the legislatures of not less than one-half of the states.
Powers of Parliament
The Parliament elects the Vice-President and initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of India. (Articles 66, 61)
The Parliament recommends the creation of All India Services. (Article 312)
The Parliament reserves the right to recommend removal of a judge of the Supreme Court and High Courts to the President. (Articles 124, 217)
Parliament's approval is essential for the continuance of proclamation of emergency made President. (Articles 352, 356, 360)
Special Powers of Lok Sabha
Lok shaba has been vested with special powers
All money bills can originate only in the Lok Sabha.
The final authority with regard to passage of a money bill rests with the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha can make certain recommendations with regard to money bill, but it is upto the Lok Sabha to accept the same or not.
Lok Sabha enjoys exclusive power with regard to money bill.
The Lok Sabha enjoys exclusive power to pass a no confidence against the Council of Ministers and oust it from office before the expiry of its term. (Article 75)
Special Powers of Rajya Sabha
Special Powers of Rajya Sabha: The Constitution has vested several special powers in the Rajya Sabha. These are as under:
(i) Resolution for the removal of the Vice-President of India can originate only in the Rajya Sabha. After the resolution is passed by majority of the members of Rajya Sabha it is sent to the Lok Sabha for approval. (Article 67)
(ii) The resolution for the creation of new All India Services can be initiated only in the Rajya Sabha (Article 312). Only after the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution to this effect by a special majority, viz two-thirds majority of members present and voting, the Parliament can enact necessary law to this effect.
(iii) Legislation on any subject of the State list can originate only in the Rajya Sabha. However, before doing so the Rajya Sabha has to satisfy itself that it is necessary or expedient in national interest to do so. (Article 249)
Sovereign Body
Is the Indian Parliament a Sovereign Body?
Though the Indian Parliament enjoys very extensive powers, it cannot be regarded as a sovereign body because
1. The Constitution provides a federal structure in which the powers have been distributed between the Centre and the states, and the Parliament can legislate only on subjects vested with the Centre.
2. The written nature of the Indian Constitution also restricts the authority of the Parliament and it has to operate within the limits prescribed by the Constitution.
3. The adoption of the doctrine of judicial review which permits the Supreme Court to declare any law passed by Parliament as unconstitutional if it contravenes the provisions of the Constitution, also restricts the authority of the Parliament.
4. The incorporation of a chapter on Fundamental Rights has restricted the authority of the Parliament because it cannot enact any law which infringes upon the Fundamental Rights of the citizens.
Privileges of Members
The members of Parliament and its committees enjoy certain privileges. Some of the privileges enjoyed by the members of the Parliament are
1. Freedom from arrest in civil cases during the sessions of the House or committee, and for a period of 40 days before and after such meetings. However, this privilege is not available in case of preventive detention under statutory authority and in criminal cases.
2. Freedom of speech in the House subject to the rules framed by the House. The members are not permitted to discuss the conduct of the judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, except when the removal of a judge is being considered by the Parliament.
3. No member can be summoned, without the leave of the House, to give evidence as a witness, while the Parliament is in session.
4. Immunity from proceedings in any court in respect of publication of any report, paper, or proceedings under the authority of either House of Parliament.
5. Exemption from liability to serve as jurors.
This quiz has been prepared with questions related to Indian Polity-Parliament and deputy Prime minister. These question were asked in various competitive exams across India. You can practice these questions to gain more knowledge.

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