Parliament in India

Indian Parliament

The Parliament is the supreme legislative body of a country. Our Parliament comprises of the President and the two Houses, Lok Sabha (House of the People) and Rajya Sabha (Council of States). The President has the power to summon and prorogue either House of Parliament or to dissolve Lok Sabha. The Constitution of India came into force on January 26, 1950. The first general elections under the new Constitution were held during the year 1951-52 and the first elected Parliament came into being in April, 1952.

Lok Sabha

The Lok Sabha is also called as the “House of the People” or the lower house. The citizens of India directly chose almost all of its members. It is more influential between two houses and can even forego or overthrow the Rajya Sabha in particular matters.

The Lok Sabha have got 552 members as conceived in the Article 81 of the Constitution of India. It has a term of 5 years. In case of some special situations arise, where no party acquires majority, the President has the right to nullify the Lok Sabha preceding.

The eligibility criteria of Lok Sabha are significant, highlighting the uniqueness of Indian Parliament. A person should be a citizen of India and be not less than 25 years of age. Up to 530 members can be elected from the states, up to 20 members from the Union territories and no more than two members can be nominated by the President of India. Presently, the total number of members in Lok Sabha is 545. Out of which 530 members are from the states, 13 members from the Union territories and 2 nominated members representing the Anglo Indian community. Some seats are also conserved for representatives of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The people directly elect the representatives from States and Union Territories on the basis of universal adult suffrage. Every citizen, regardless of gender, caste, religion or race is eligible to vote. However he should be at least eighteen years of age.

Rajya Sabha

The Rajya Sabha is an integral part of Indian Parliament. It is also called “Council of States” or the upper house. Members of legislative bodies of the States indirectly elect its members. The minimum age for a person to become a member of Rajya Sabha is 30 years. The procedure of electing members, its composition is unique and is an integral part of the Indian Parliament. It is specially mentioned in Article 80 of the Constitution of India. The Rajya Sabha has a total membership of 250. What is interesting is that the elections procedure of rajya sabha is fixed and it cannot be dismissed under any circumstances. Each member has tenure of six years and elections are held for one-third of the seats after every 2 years.

The President appoints 12 members from people having particular knowledge or experience in literature, science, art or social services. The representatives of the Indian states are chosen by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of the State, following the system of ‘proportional representation by means of single transferable vote’. Representatives of Union Territories are also indirectly elected by members of an electoral college for that territory as per the system of ‘proportional representation’. The Council of States is also designed to conserve the federal character of the country. The number of members from a state depends on the population of the state.

The main function of both the Houses is to pass laws. Every Bill has to be passed by both the Houses and assented to by the President before it becomes law. The subjects over, which Parliament can legislate, are the subjects mentioned under the Union List in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. The principal Union subjects are Defense, Foreign Affairs, Railways, Transport and Communications, Currency and Coinage, Banking, Customs and Excise Duties. Besides passing laws, India’s Bicameral Parliament can deal with certain affairs like passing of resolutions, motions for adjournment, discussions etc.

Indian Parliament is located in New Delhi at Sansad Marg. The Central Hall of the Parliament is used for combined sittings of the lower and upper houses and is of great historical significance.

The Indian Parliament embodies authentic proof of India’s success as being the largest democratic nation in the world.

Source: Jupiter Informedia

Functions of the Indian Parliament

Parliament of India is a multi-functional institution performing a variety of roles that are inter-related and often meshing into one another.

Some of the cardinal roles and functions of the Parliament may be described as follows:

  • To form or end the Government
  • To represent the Electorate
  • To legislate
  • To hold the government accountable for its actions
  • To monitor the expenditure of public funds
  • To be a forum for debate
  • To be a forum for the expression of grievances
  • To call for information

To Form or To End Government

The Indian Parliament, like all parliamentary democracies, forms the government. This is particularly due to the fusion of powers between the legislative and the executive branches of the Government. Members of Parliament, from the largest party in the Lok Sabha or of late from the largest coalition, form the Government at the centre.

At the same time if the ruling party loses the support of the majority of the members of the House, its Government goes. No grounds, arguments, proofs or justifications are necessary. When the House clearly and conclusively pronounces that the government of the day does not command its support, it must resign.

Representation of the Electorate

The primary function of the Parliament is to represent the people. It is the supreme forum through which people seek to realise their aspirations, urges and expectations. The Members of Parliament are the elected representatives of the people and they act as the chief communication channel between the people, Parliament and the Government. Multiplicity of political parties in Parliament represents the multi-cultural and plural society of India.


The process of legislating, making laws is the most basic day-to-day function of parliament. Under Articles 245 and 246 Parliament can make laws for the whole or any part of India within its area of competence as defined and delimited under the distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the States vide the Seventh Schedule. In regard to the Union List, the Parliament’s jurisdiction is exclusive. Both the Union and the States have concurrent power to legislate in respect of entries in the concurrent list. In case of conflict between the Union and the State laws, the former prevails.

Parliament may by law change the name, the boundaries, area etc. of the States or establish new States, increase the number of judges of the Supreme Court or establish additional courts.

Governmental Accountability

Under our system, after a policy is laid down, a law is passed or money is sanctioned, it is the administration which is required to execute and implement. Since Parliament embodies the will of the people, it must be able to oversee the way in which public policy is carried out so as to ensure that it keeps in step with the objectives of socio-economic progress, efficient administration and aspirations of the people as a whole.

The various procedural devices like the system of Parliamentary Committees, Questions, Calling Attention Notices, Half-an-Hour discussions, etc. through which the Parliament gets informed, also constitute very potent instruments for effecting parliamentary surveillance over administrative action. Significant occasions for the review of administration are provided by the discussions on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address, the Budget demands, and particular aspects of governmental policy or situations. These apart, specific matters may be discussed through motions on matters of urgent public importance, private members’ resolutions and other substantive motions.

Monitoring the Expenditure of Public Funds

Parliamentary control over public finance – the power to levy or modify taxes and the voting of supplies and grants – is one of the most important checks against the Executive assuming arbitrary powers. No taxes can be legally levied and no expenditure incurred from the public exchequer without specific parliamentary authorization by law (articles 114 116 and 265). The Constitution of India also provides for an annual statement of the estimated receipts and expenditure-budget-to be placed before Parliament. Other means by which Parliament exercises control over the public exchequer is through Public Accounts Committee, Committee on Public Undertakings, Estimates Committee and the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

A Forum for Debate

During debate and discussion on legislative proposals or Finance Bills, motion to consider and approve government policies, motion of thanks on the President’s Address, Budget, etc. members are free to express themselves and to say what is good for the country and what modifications in the existing policy are required.

A Forum for Expression of Grievances

Parliament acts as a forum for ventilation of the grievances of the people, their difficulties and their passions, anxieties and frustrations. Various grievances, needs and aspirations of the people are discussed in the Parliament and necessary legislation is taken up in this regard. In recent decades, emphasis has shifted more and more representational and grievance ventilation role of the Parliament. It is the peoples’ institution par excellence.

Informational Role

Information is vital to Parliament. It is the first essential requisite for effective discharge of any of its functions. To call for information is perhaps the greatest power of the Parliament. Parliament’s right to be informed is unlimited except that if divulging of certain information is likely to prejudice vital national interest or the security of the State, it may not be insisted upon. So far as the activities of the Government are concerned, it is the duty of the Government itself to feed the Parliament with information which is full, truthful, and precise and supplied in time.

Other Functions

Besides, Parliament exercises multifarious functions, for example, in matters like the amendment of the Constitution, the impeachment of the President, removal of Supreme Court and High Court judges, Comptroller and Auditor General, Chief Election Commissioner, Presiding Officers of the two Houses etc.

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