Articles 79 to 123 of the Indian Constitution deal with the Structure of the Indian Parliament. These articles describe in detail the Structure of the Indian Parliament. The article includes its composition, tenure, sessions, prorogation, dissolution, the officers, qualification of the members, legislative and financial procedures, parliamentary privileges, etc.

Contents

THE STRUCTURE OF THE INDIAN PARLIAMENT CONSIST OF

  1. a) The President
  2. b) The Rajya Sabha
  3. c) The Lok Sabha

THE PRESIDENT

The President is the constituent part of the Structure of the Indian Parliament. But, he is not a member of the Parliament and does not sit or participate in the meetings of the two Houses. The functions he performs relate to summoning or proroguing the sessions of the Houses, to dissolve the Lok Sabha, to give his assent to bills passed by both Houses, to issue ordinances when the Parliament is not in session. He can summon the joint sittings of both Houses in case there is a disagreement between them concerning the passage of an ordinary bill. He appoints the pro-term Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the acting Chairman of the Rajya Sabha besides nominating two members to the Lok Sabha and twelve members to the Rajya Sabha.

THE RAJYA SABHA

It is the Upper House of the Indian Parliament. It consists of representatives from the units of the union not on the basis of equal representation irrespective of size, as in other federations, but on the basis of their population. The total strength of the Rajya Sabha is 250. Out of these, the state legislative assemblies elect 238 members. The President nominates the remaining 12 from amongst persons. These nominated persons are who in his opinion are experts in the fields of science, arts, literature, and social services. The Rajya Sabha is a permanent House and one-third of its members retire every two years.

The Rajya Sabha has equal powers with the Lok Sabha in matters concerning legislation and constitutional amendments. However, in matters concerning money bills and the enforcing of collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers the Rajya Sabha is subordinated to the Lok Sabha.

THE LOK SABHA

The Lok Sabha is the Lower House. Its maximum strength cannot exceed 550 members. At present, the membership stands at 545 members. These members are from territorial constituencies. Constituencies are demarcated in such a manner that the ratio between the number of seats allotted to each state is equivalent to the ratio of the population. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have a reservation in some of the constituencies. The constitution authorized the Election Commission for conducting the elections.

The normal term of the Lok Sabha is 5 years. However, its term can be extended by one year at a time during National Emergency. But fresh elections must be held within six months after the emergency has been revoked. The President can even dissolve the House before the completion of its terms.

Normally this can take place on the advice of the Prime Minister. Of the two Houses, the Lok Sabha is more important. Because the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to it and also because it has exclusive financial powers.

POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF PARLIAMENT OF INDIA

Though the Structure of the Indian Parliament functions within the parliamentary system of government, yet, it is not as powerful as the British Parliament. Firstly, because its powers are limited by the federal features of the Constitution. Secondly, because the Supreme Court can exercise the power of judicial review.

THE FOLLOWINGS ARE THE POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF PARLIAMENT OF INDIA

LEGISLATIVE FUNCTIONS OF PARLIAMENT OF INDIA

Parliament can make laws for the whole country. It can legislate from all the items listed in the Union List. Along with the state legislatures, it can legislate from the Concurrent List. But in case the union law and the state law on a concurrent subject are in conflict, the union law will prevail. All residuary subjects (subjects not mentioned in any of the three lists) come under its jurisdiction. Under certain circumstances, it can also legislate from the State List.

THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THE PARLIAMENT CAN LEGISLATE FROM THE STATE LIST ARE AS FOLLOWS

  1. If the Rajya Sabha, by a special majority, passes a resolution declaring that a subject from the State List has assumed national importance. Such a resolution is valid for one year unless renewed by the Rajya Sabha.
  2. During the proclamation of emergency, the Parliament can legislate from the State List.
  3. If the legislature of two or more states passes a resolution empowering the Parliament to legislate on a subject or subjects from the State List. Such laws will be applicable to those states only.
  4. The Parliament can encroach on the State List in order to implement any treaty or international agreement concluded with other countries.

THE PROCESS OF MAKING ORDINARY LAW

In the sphere of the making of ordinary law (non-money bill), the two Houses of the Parliament enjoy co-equal powers. Thus, a bill becomes an act only when both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have passed it. In case of disagreement between the two Houses, over a period of six months or more, the President of India can call a joint sitting of both the Houses and the matter shall be decided by a majority vote.

Further, an ordinary bill passed by both the Houses becomes an Act only after receiving the assent of the President of India. The President, however, has the power to return the bill back to the Parliament for reconsideration. in this case the Parliament will have to repass it, with or without re-consideration and the President will have to sign it.

The laws made by the Parliament are called Union Laws. The Judiciary can review the Union laws. He can declare null and void if it is unconstitutional or if the law is not in accordance with the “Procedure established by law.”

Thus, the Union Parliament enjoys vast legislative powers, but these powers are not unlimited or arbitrary.

EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS OF PARLIAMENT OF INDIA

The Prime Minister and his Council of ministers are collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha for all its acts of omission or commission. There are many ways by which the Parliament exercise control over the Council of Ministers.

Members of the Parliament have the right to seek information. Also, they can elicit facts on matters concerning the working of the administration and on matters of public importance. Thus, they can ask questions and supplementary questions from ministers in Parliament. If a member is not satisfied with the facts provided by the minister, he may demand a ‘Half Hour’ discussion on the matter. However, there are certain types of questions that are not permitted in the House. For e.g. questions making insulting reference to foreign nations with whom India has friendly relations, questions seeking information regarding cabinet discussions, advice given by the Council of Ministers to the President, or if in the opinion of the government, the question may have an adverse impact on the public or national interest.

The Parliament can move adjournment motions, cut motions, call attention motions and censure motions to keep the executive under control and to make it responsible and accountable.

The Lok Shaba has the power to dismiss the Council of Ministers from office by passing a vote of no confidence against it. The Lok Shaba can force the government to resign from office by refusing to pass a government bill.

Several committees of the Parliament perform the function of scrutinizing the work of the government. But, the Parliament has to approve the policies before the Government implements it.

Thus, the Parliament has the power and responsibility to control the Council of Ministers though it may be mentioned that in this sphere the Lok Sabha is more powerful than the Rajya Sabha.

FINANCIAL FUNCTIONS OF PARLIAMENT OF INDIA

The Parliament is the repository of Union’s Purse. The annual budget must first be passed by it or else the government cannot spend any money to run the administration. The executive cannot levy or Collect taxes or incurs any expenditure without the approval of the Parliament. The fiscal policies of the government can be enforced only after it gets the approval of the Parliament.

Through several committees, more particularly, the Public Accounts Committee, the Estimates Committee, and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the Parliament maintains a continuous financial control over the executive.

Similarly, the Parliament discusses the expenditures incurred from the consolidated fund of India. These include the emoluments and allowances of the President, Vice President, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Judges of the Supreme Court and high courts.

INTRODUCTION OF MONEY BILL

The Lok Sabha Exercise the financial powers of the Parliament. Thus, the Lok Sabha only introduces the Money Bills. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha is the final authority who can decide whether a bill is a Money Bill or not.

JUDICIAL AND IMPEACHMENT FUNCTIONS OF PARLIAMENT OF INDIA

The Parliament can take up the impeachment proceedings against the President, Vice President, Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.

AMENDMENT OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION

The Parliament according to Article 368 of the Constitution can amend any part of the Indian Constitution. Some amendments require the ratification by the legislatures of at least half of the states of the Indian Union. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that the ’Basic Structure ‘of the Constitution cannot be amended by the Parliament.

ELECTORAL FUNCTIONS OF PARLIAMENT OF INDIA

Members of the Parliament of India participate in the election of the President and the Vice President of India. The presiding officers i.e. the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha are also elected by the respective members of the two Houses.

MISCELLANEOUS FUNCTIONS OF PARLIAMENT OF INDIA

Miscellaneous functions are:

  1. To approve the proclamation of National Emergency by special majority the Lok Sabha can disapprove the continuation of emergency by passing a resolution by a simple majority to create and to admit new states to the Indian union
  2. To alter the boundaries of any state, increase or decrease the area of any state
  3. It also regulates the right of citizenship
  4. To create or abolish the Legislative Councils
  5. To extend the functions of the UPSC
  6. Besides, it enacts the required laws for effecting the enforcement of international treaties and agreements.
  7. To act as a mirror of national public opinion and to ensure the formulation of desired policies and programs by the government.
  8. To accept petitions from members of the public for redressing their grievances.

With all these powers the Union Parliament is a powerful legislative body. However, it is not a sovereign legislature like the British Parliament. It always acts within the scope given to it by the Constitution. It is a representative body whose responsibility is to formulate and shape up public opinion on all national issues and policies. Also to ensure the accountability of the government towards public opinion as represented by it.

ROLES OF THE INDIAN PARLIAMENT

The roles of the Indian Parliament are:

REPRESENTATIVE ROLE

The Parliament of India represents the different sections and regions of the country. It provides the people of India the opportunity to articulate their demands, aims, and aspirations. Its membership is from the whole country. Therefore it is a meeting place where conflicting interests coming from the whole country are voiced and synthesized. In other words, the parliament is a forum for conflict resolution and harmonization of the Indian society and thus plays a very important role in national integration. It not only reflects India’s unity in diversity but also gives legitimacy to the political system.

FORUM FOR PUBLIC GRIEVANCES

The Parliament provides a forum where people grievances are expressed and redressed demanded. Every citizen has the right to present petitions to the Parliament. The members of the Parliament, from time to time, also raise the problems of the people. In fact, all kinds of issues, big or small, have their champions in the Parliament. The alertness of the members of the Parliament in this regard keeps the government on its toes and hence we get a responsive government.

PROTECTOR OF THE SYSTEM

Given the Indian diversity, tensions and disruptive tendencies are a natural corollary. In India, there are groups championing the cause of secessionism but were later assimilated into the System in which the Parliament had a definite role. Even political parties who are fiercely into the game of power have now learned to accommodate and tolerate one another in the Parliament. In fact, the Parliament today is the legitimate arena for a power struggle and is largely responsible for not only protecting the democratic system but also to ensure its continuity.

CHANNEL OF COMMUNICATION

The Parliament of India is the channel of communication between the government and the people. It is through the Parliament that the government comes to know about the needs and requirements of the people. This, therefore, creates an atmosphere that eventually strengthens the democratic process in the country.

RECRUITMENT ROLE

The Parliament performs the function of recruiting the future rulers of the nation. According to Subhash Kashyap, “Parliament is the recruiting and training ground for ministers.” MPs can display their capabilities while serving in the Parliament. While working in the different committees, they not only sharpen their skills but attract the attention of the Prime Minister during a cabinet reshuffle. In this way, the Parliament ensures the continuity of leadership in the country.

PROVIDING POLITICAL EDUCATION

When the universal adult franchise was introduced in free India many believe that it will not work. Because the social and economic backwardness was not conducive for such elections. But the successful completion of the First Lok Sabha Elections proved them wrong. The elections compel the candidates and their supporters to visit every village. It was a tremendous task of providing political education to the masses. The electoral process and the way the Parliament work have largely contribute to helping the masses to understand and evaluate the performance of political parties and political leadership.

AGENCY OF SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The Parliament played a very important role in reforming the out-dated social and economic structures of the country. Thus, the Parliament works to eradicate social evils in the Society. Since the commencement of the constitution, the Parliament passes a number of laws to provide special considerations and benefits for the SCs, STs, and OBCs. The laws aim at the emancipation and empowerment of women. It also aims to provide for social security, minimum wages, old-age pensions, and many other laws to give protection to the weaker sections of the society.

Besides, to overcome the economic backwardness the strategy of planned economic development had been adopted. The Five-Year Plans and the agrarian policies are tabled before the Parliament to be discussed and debated, which, without a doubt influence the administration. The Parliament provides the base for evolving a process of consensus so that social and economic changes take place, without violence, in a peaceful manner.

Thus, the Structure of the Indian Parliament is an important institution. Its responsibility is to serve as an instrument for expressing and exercising the sovereign power of the people.

COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE

No parliament can work without committees. The committee system developed because modern parliaments suffer from a paucity of time. Parliamentary meetings usually concentrate on discussions of broad policies and public issues. Hence, committees go into the details and in-depth study of the issues and problems concerned.

There are two types of parliamentary committees-Ad-hoc Committees and Standing committees.

AD-HOC COMMITTEES

The House of the Parliament or by the Speaker/Chairman of the House elects these committee members. The committees are for a specific purpose like for consideration and reporting of problems or issues at hand. They cease to operate when they complete the work.

STANDING COMMITTEES

These are relatively permanent in nature. The house nominates the standing committees. If not, the speaker/Chairman nominates the Members of these committees every year or from time to time.

These committees are:

  1. Financial committees – Like committee on estimates of Lok Shaba, Public Accounts Committee, Committee on Public Undertaking, Etc.
  2. House Committees – These are related to the day to day business of the house. For e.g. like the Business Advisory Committee, Committee on Private Member’s Bill, Resolution and Rules Committee, Committee on Absence of Members from the Sittings of the House, etc.
  3. Scrutiny Committee – like committee on Government Assurances, Committee on Subordinate Legislation, Committee on Papers Laid on the Table, Committee on the Welfare of Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes, etc.
  4. Inquiry Committees – like committees on petitions, committee on privileges, etc.
  5. Service Committee – these are concerned with the provisions of various services to the members of the House like General Purpose Committee, House Committee, Library Committee, and Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of the Members of the Parliament.

QUORUM

Quorum is the minimum number of members that need to be present. To start the sessions of the House it can only begin if one-tenth of the total number of members of the respective Houses are present.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE LOK SABHA AND RAJYA SABHA

MEMBERS OF THE LOK SABHA

  1. Lok Sabha are directly elected body
  2. They represent the People
  3. Has a fixed tenure
  4. The Speaker is the Chairman of the Lok Sabha. The members elect the speaker from amongst themselves.

MEMBERS OF THE RAJYA SABHA

  1. Indirectly elected body
  2. Represent the states
  3. It is a permanent house
  4. The vice president of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the House.

HOW IS LOK SABHA  SUPERIOR TO RAJYA SABHA

  1. Lok Sabha can move the motion of no-confidence against the Council of Ministers. This motion cannot be move in the Rajya Sabha.
  2. Only the Lok Sabha can introduce the Money bills. In case of controversy as to whether a bill is a money bill or not, the decision of the speaker of the Lok Sabha is final. The Rajya Sabha cannot introduce money bills. It cannot reject the money bills sent to it by the Lok Sabha. It may give its recommendation to the bills but it is up to the Lok Sabha to accept or to reject them. Moreover, it cannot hold back the bill for more than 14 days.
  3. The Lok Sabha has the power to disapprove the continuation of emergency in the country. One-tenth of its members can give a notice to the speaker (if the House is not in session) or to the President of India (if the House is not in session) to move a resolution for disapproving the continuation of the proclamation of emergency. The Speaker or the President of India will have to summon a special sitting of the House within 14 days. If the resolution to revoke the emergency is passed by a simple majority during the sitting, the President will have to revoke it.

HOW IS RAJYA SABHA SUPERIOR TO LOK SABHA

  1. The Rajya Sabha by passing a resolution by the two-thirds majority can declare that an item from the State List has acquired national importance. Therefore it is expedient in the national interest that Parliament should have the power to legislate on it. This resolution is valid for one year.
  2. The Rajya Sabha by a special majority vote can create more All India Service if it is expedient or necessary in the national interest.
  3. The Rajya Sabha can remove the Vice President of India from office by passing a resolution by a majority of its members. But the Lok Sabha has to approve the resolution. Only the Rajya Sabha can initiate the removal of the Vice President of India from office.

THE CO-EQUAL POWER OF RAJYA SABHA AND LOK SABHA

Over non-money bills

Both Houses enjoy equal powers over non-money bills. Both Houses can introduce such bills. But both houses need to pass the bill before they send it to the President for his assent. In case of disagreement between the two Houses over the passage of a non-money bill, the President of India may call for a Joint-Session of the two Houses. Thus, the matter can be decided by a majority of the total members of both Houses, present, and voting.

Over constitutional amendment bills

Both houses enjoy co-powers over constitutional amendment bills. There is no provision for a joint sitting of both the Houses in case of disagreement over the passage of a constitutional amendment bill.

Both Houses have equal powers to ratify the continuation of emergency.

Election of President

Both Houses enjoy equal powers with regards to elections of the President and Vice President of India.

Impeachment of President, Chief Justice, and Judges

In cases of impeachment of the President, Chief Justice and judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, both Houses enjoy equal powers.

Selection of Ministries

The Prime Minister may select his ministers from both Houses. Even the Prime Minister may belong to the Rajya Sabha. However, the Council of Ministers as a body is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha only.

Though the Rajya Sabha cannot pass a vote of no-confidence against the Council of Ministers, yet it enjoys co-equal powers with the Lok Sabha to ask questions and supplementary questions from the ministers. Motions such as call attention motions or adjournment motions can also be brought in the Rajya Sabha.

In the working of the Structure of the Indian Parliament, there are occasions when the two Houses do not agree with each other and even came into open conflict. But in neither of the cases did they create a major controversy that would have affected the working of the Indian Political System.

DECLINE OF STRUCTURE OF THE INDIAN PARLIAMENT

In the early years, the Union Parliament has effectively played its role as the law-making agency, custodian of national finances, supervisor, and regulator of the executive and as representative of national public opinion. The Parliament then was a serious and business-like forum. Members came well prepared and were heard with rapt attention. But the situation has changed now.

The arena of parliament has sometimes become the battle of fists. The parliament has also become a merely rubber-stamps decision that is already advice by the party or cabinet. As a result, the Structure of the Indian has declined.

The following are the factors responsible for its decline:

THERE HAS BEEN A CHANGE IN THE COMPOSITION OF THE PARLIAMENT

Earlier lawyers, writers, educationists dominate the parliament. In other words, it was the educated elite who enjoyed dominance in Parliament. Today, most of the members are rural-based and it is an open secret that criminals have also entered the parliament thus adversely affecting the functioning of the Parliament.

THE IGNORANCE OF THE PEOPLE CONCERNS BY THE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT (MPs)

It is also a fact that the people/constituents are not interested in what the MP does in Parliament. They want that the MP make regular visits to the constituency, address local problems and issues like roads, power supply, schools, drainage, etc. without realizing that these matters fall under the ambit of the state government. As a result, MPs need to spend more time in their constituencies than in parliament. Besides, most of them do not even have time to read parliamentary papers. If MPs are to take up serious parliamentary work they must delink themselves from the nitty-gritty of village or town level and concentrate more on issues that have national importance.

NO HOMEWORK DONE BY THE MPs

The majority of the MPs do not really do their homework. Perhaps because they have no interest in the working of the Parliament. There is a definite decline in the standard of parliamentary debates. The Houses are full during the Question Time and Zero Hour. But in the afternoon the benches are empty. Only 10 MPs were present when the Education Ministry budget was passed in 1984. In 1990, only 20 members were present in the Lok Sabha when they pass the budget.

THE POLITICAL PARTY SYSTEM

The political party system is also highly liable for the decline of the Parliament. The Parliament is effective if when the members are free to express themselves and to vote according to their conscience. But this is not so. The members are elected with party support and party bosses keep very strict control over them. Every political party in the parliament has a chief whip and deputy whips. During parliamentary sessions, whips are issued, commanding the members to be present in the House at the time of voting and to vote in a particular direction. The members are not free to speak their minds out in the Parliament because it is the Chief Whip of the party who shall decide who shall speak and on what should he speak about.

THE OPPOSITE SYSTEM

In theory, the Parliament controls the Cabinet but in practice, it is just the opposite. It is the Cabinet that controls the Structure of the Indian Parliament. The Cabinet decides when to summon or to prorogue the Parliament and what should be on the agenda of the House. MPs never have enough time to study the proposed bills. For instance, copies of the Tax Amendment Bill 1987 were made available to the members of the Lok Sabha barely 24 hours before it was taken up for discussion. And then this important bill was rushed through in the House in 15 minutes.

Though it contains several drastic and radical provisions. Unfortunately, our MPs never grumbled even when the government sends them badly drafted bills usually during the near end of the parliamentary session. Nor they have taken any action against last-minute changes in the agenda of the Parliament which is made to suit the government. Besides it has become a regular feature that discussions on embarrassing issues raised by the opposition were shouted down by the majority and various devices were employed to bar inconvenient questions.

THE GROWTH OF DELEGATED LEGISLATION

The growth of delegated legislation has also led to the decline of the Structure of the Indian Parliament. Since the Parliament suffers from a paucity of time, it has no time to go into the details of the bill. Therefore, it passes the bill in broad and general terms and leaves the details for the work of the executive. Thus, the Parliament delegates to the executive the authority of making the rules, regulations, and orders to supplement the law passed by it. Hence the name delegated legislation or subordinate legislation. In theory, Parliament has the right to control such legislation, but in practice, the Parliament never has the time to do so. Delegated legislation strengthens the power of the bureaucracy who actually frames the rules leading to what is called Bureaucratic Raj.

GENERAL LOSS OF CONFIDENCE IN THE POLITICIANS

There is a general loss of confidence in the politicians of the country. Because the media exposes many times about corruption, immoral behavior, lust for power, etc. Then there is the criminal-politician nexus and MPs with a criminal background. All these have affected the moral prestige of the parliamentarians in the eyes of the people. Finally, the conduct of parliamentary meetings also shows the decline of the Structure of the Indian Parliament. The Parliament is plagued by interruptions, noises, dharnas, and unparliamentary behavior. The scenes in both the Houses are not that of a dignified one. The authority of the chairman is not always respected and the whole Parliament resembles the market place.

Thus, the decline of the Structure of the Indian Parliament is a serious development that negatively impacted. It has a huge impact not only on its law-making decision functions and control over the executives but over its overall working.

Conclusion

The President is the main structure of the Indian Parliament. Since he is not a member of the Parliament, so he does not sit and participate during the meeting of both the houses.

While the Rajya Sabha is the Upper House in the structure of the Indian Parliament. It consists of 250 members. It is a permanent house. Every year one-third of its members retire. On the other hand, the Lok Sabha is the lower house of the Indian Parliament. The members of Lok Sabha cannot exceed the limit of 550 members. Its term is of 5 years, but the term can be extended during National Emergency.

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