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The Parliament of India

The Parliament in India consists of the President and two Houses. They are called Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Though the President is not a member of either House of Parliament, he is a part of the Parliament. Let us now proceed to read about the composition of the two Houses of Parliament. The Lok Sabha is also called House of the People. Its membership cannot be more than 550. Of these, not more than 530 members are elected from the states and not more than 20 from the union territories. In addition, not more than two members may be nominated by the President from the Anglo-Indian community, if the President feels that the Anglo-Indians have not got adequate representation in Parliament. Let us now read how members of both the houses are elected.

Members of Lok Sabha are directly elected by the people. Each State and union territory is allowed to elect as many members as are on the basis at its imputation. Each state is divided into constituencies, which are roughly of the same size in terms of population. One member is elected from one constituency. This means that there will be as many constituencies in India as there are members to be elected to the Lok Sabha. The members are elected on the basis of universal adult franchise-You have read earlier that this means all Indian citizens who are above the age of 18 years have the right to vote and elect their representatives.

The Rajya Sabha consists-of not more than 250 members. Of these 250 members not more than 238 are elected indirectly by state Legislative Assemblies arid. 12 are nominated by the President. These 12 are eminent people such as writers, artistes, scientists etc. The 238 elected members of the Rajya Sabba are elected by the 'elected' members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States in accordance with the method of proportional representation through a single transferable vote system.


The term of the Lok Sabha is five years. But the Lok Sabha may be dissolved even earlier by the President on the advice of the Council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister. During an emergency however the tem of the Lok Sabha may be extended by six months at a time by a law passed by the Parliament.

Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, is a permanent House and it cannot be dissolved by the President. But, its members are elected for a term of 6 years with 1/3rd members retiring after every two years. Elections are held ay two years for 1/3rd seats of the Rajya Sabha.

Qualifications of Members

The following qualifications are necessary to be elected to the Lok Sabha:
1. The candidate should be a citizen of India.
2. He or She should be at least 25 years of age.
3. He or She should possess such other qualification as may be specified by Parliament from time to time.

To become the member of the Rajya Sabha, a person should be a citizen of India and above 30 years of age. The other qualifications are:

1. He or. She should be of a sound mind;
2. He or She should not hold any office of profit, and
3. He or She should not be a bankrupt.

Office of Profit

This means any post directly under the central or state Government. Thus, no government servant can become a member of Parliament.

The only difference is that to be elected to the Lok Sabha, a citizen should be a voter from any constituency in the country. In order to be elected to the Rajya Sabha, a citizen should be a registered voter in the State that he/ she seeks to represent.

Sessions and presiding officers of the Parliament

At least two sessions of the Parliament are held every year. The time gap between the last day of the previous session and the first day of the next session should not be more than six months. In practice, however, normally three sessions are held every year. Sessions of the Parliament are summoned and prorogued by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The Lok Sabha is presided over by the Speaker. He/she is elected from among its members by the House itself. In the Speaker's absence, the Deputy Speaker presides over the sittings of the Lok Sabha. He is also elected by the House from amongst its members. The Speaker is an important official of the Lok Sabha. He conducts the proceedings of the Lok Sabha and presides over its meetings. He fixes the time table for the House. Without his permission, no member can speak in the House. If any member is behaving in an unruly manner, the Speaker can ask him to leave the House. He regulates the entry of visitors into House. He protects the privileges of members of the House. When there is disorder in the House, he can adjourn its meetings. The Speaker presides over the joint sittings of both Houses of Parliament. He decides whether a bill is a money bill or not. In short, his authority is supreme within the House. He may vote in the House, but in practice he does not cast his vote. He only exercises a casting vote.

The presiding officer of the Rajya Sabha is known as the Chairman. The Vice President of India is the ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha. In his absence, the Deputy Chairman presides over the meetings of the Rajya Sabha. The Deputy Chairman is elected by the Rajya Sabha from amongst in members. The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha performs the work of presiding over the meetings of the Rajya Sabha. But, he cannot vote as he is not a member of the House. He can only exercise a casting vote.

Casting Vote

When an equal number of members have voted both in favour and against a bill, it is called a tie. The presiding officer may cast their vote so that a decision may be taken. Such a vote is called a Casting Vote.

Functions of Parliament

The Parliament performs a variety of functions. The foremost of these is law-making.. Let us see these in detail.

1. Law making

The Parliament makes laws for the whole country taking into account the crucial subjects and issues of India such as defense, communications, airways, foreign affairs etc. It passes both money bills and ordinary bills.


A draft of a proposed law is called a bill. It is normally drafted by the Law Ministry. When a bill is passed it becomes a Law and is known as an Act.

A bill is considered a money bill if it is concerned with income or expenditure of the government. If it proposes to impose a new tax or lift a tax or wants to change any of the existing taxes, it is a money bill. Similarly, a bill that provides a permit for expenditure of certain funds is a money bill. It is the Speaker of the Lok Sabha who decides wether a bill is a money bill or not. And his decision is final, that means, no one can question his decision.

All other bills are called ordinary bills or a non-money bill.

Money bills can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha, whereas non-money bills or ordinary bills can be introduced in any House of Parliament. After a bill is passed by both the Houses it is sent to the President for his signature. Only after the bill receives the assent of the President does it become a law. President can send an ordinary bill back for reconsideration once. After the two Houses have reconsidered the bill on his recommendation, it goes back to the President and the second time, the President must sign the bill. However, the President has no power to refuse to sign a Money Bill. He must sign it the first time that it comes to him.

2. Electoral Functions

The members of Parliament perform certain electoral functions. Firstly, the elected members of both Houses of Parliament along with the elected members of the state Legislative Assemblies form the electoral college which elects the President of India. Besides this, all the members of Parliament also elect the Vice President of India.

3. The Power of Removal

The Parliament has the power of removing the President through a process of impeachment.

The Vice President of India can be removed by a resolution of the Rajya- Sabha passed by a majority of its members and agreed upon to it by the Lok Sabha. Parliament also has the power of removing the Chief Justice and judges of the Supreme Court on grounds of proven misbehavior.

4. Control over the Executive

The Parliament keeps a check on the functioning of the Council of Ministers which is the real executive. The most important devise is the “No Confidence Motion”. When the opposition feels that the government deserves to be removed from power it may move a vote of no-confidence in the Lok Sabha. If it is passed by the Lok Sabha, the government has to resign. You may be aware that in 1993 a vote of no confidence was proposed by Lok Sabha against the Narsimha Rao government but it was not be passed. Hence the government continued to remain in power. The other method of keeping a check on the government is by asking questions. The members of Parliament can ask questions from any minister and the latter must reply. This will keep the ministers alert about how their departments are functioning. Besides the main questions, the members of the Parliament can also ask the minister supplementary questions. These are questions which are related to the main question. In some cases the normal business of the House can be suspended or adjourned to discuss some urgent matter. This is done by moving a motion, which is called an Adjournment Motion. The government is also kept under check through measures such as debate on the purposed budget and cuts in the proposed expenditure. It may be mentioned that if the Parliament does not pass the proposed budget, it is considered a vote of no-confidence against the government.

It is through these devises that the Parliament keeps a check on the functioning of our ministers and the Prime Minister.

5. Amendment of the Constitution

There are times when the conditions and situations in the country have changed and it is not possible to meet the new or changed conditions with the existing provisions of the Constitution. So, the Constitution may need to be suitably changed to meet the demands of time. This can be done by amendment of the Constitution. Parliament of India has the power to amend the Constitution. Some of the parts of the Constitution can be amended by Parliament only if legislatures of half of the states also agree.

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