Parliament is the supreme legislative body of India. The Indian 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, the Second Lok Sabha in April,
1957, the Third Lok Sabha in April, 1962, the Fourth Lok Sabha in March, 1967, the
Fifth Lok Sabha in March, 1971, the Sixth Lok Sabha in March, 1977, the Seventh
Lok Sabha in January, 1980, the Eighth Lok Sabha in December, 1984, the Ninth Lok
Sabha in December, 1989, the Tenth Lok Sabha in June, 1991, the Eleventh Lok Sabha
in May, 1996, the Twelfth Lok Sabha in March, 1998, Thirteenth Lok Sabha in October,
1999, Fourteenth Lok Sabha in May, 2004 and Fifteenth Lok Sabha in April, 2009.
The origin of Rajya Sabha can be traced back to 1919, when in pursuance to the Government
of India Act, 1919, a second chamber known as the Council of States was created.
This Council of States, comprising of mostly nominated members was a deformed version
of second chamber without reflecting true federal features. The Council continued
to function till India became independent. The Rajya Sabha, its Hindi nomenclature
was adopted in 23 August, 1954.
The Rajya Sabha is to consist of not more than 250 members - 238 members representing
the States and Union Territories, and 12 members nominated by the President.
Rajya Sabha is a permanent body and is not subject to dissolution. However, one
third of the members retire every second year, and are replaced by newly elected
members. Each member is elected for a term of six years.
The Vice President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha. The House
also elects a Deputy Chairman from among its members. Besides, there is also a panel
of "Vice Chairmen" in the Rajya Sabha. The senior most Minister, who is a member
of Rajya Sabha, is appointed by the Prime Minister as Leader of the House.
Parliamentary institutions in India, with all their modern ramifications, owe their
origin to India's British connections. Until 1853, there was no legislative body
distinct from the Executive. The Charter Act of 1853, for the first time provided
some sort of a legislature in the form of a 12 member Legislative Council. The Indian
Independence Act, 1947 declared the Constituent Assembly of India to be a full sovereign
body. Apart from being a Constitution drafting body, it also assumed full powers
for the governance of the country. With the coming into force of the Constitution
on 26 January, 1950, the Constituent Assembly functioned as the Provisional Parliament
until the first Lok Sabha, then known as the House of People, and was constituted
following General Elections in 1952. Lok Sabha, the Hindi nomenclature was adopted
on 14 May, 1954.
The Lok Sabha is composed of representatives of people chosen by direct election
on the basis of Universal Adult Suffrage. The Constitution provides that the maximum
strength of the House be 552 members - 530 members to represent the States, 20 members
to represent the Union Territories, and 2 members to be nominated by the President
from the Anglo-Indian Community. At present, the strength of the House is 545 members.
The term of the Lok Sabha, unless dissolved, is five years from the date appointed
for its first meeting. However, while a proclamation of emergency is in operation,
this period may be extended by Parliament by law for a period not exceeding one
year at a time and not extending in any case, beyond a period of six months after
the proclamation has ceased to operate.
Difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha
- Members of Lok Sabha are directly elected by the eligible voters. Members of Rajya
Sabha are elected by the elected members of State Legislative Assemblies in accordance
with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote.
- The normal life of every Lok Sabha is 5 years only while Rajya Sabha is a permanent
- Lok Sabha is the House to which the Council of Ministers is responsible under the
Constitution. Money Bills can only be introduced in Lok Sabha. Also it is Lok Sabha,
which grants the money for running the administration of the country.
- Rajya Sabha has special powers to declare that it is necessary and expedient in
the national interest that Parliament may make laws with respect to a matter in
the State List or to create by law one or more all-India services common to the
Union and the States.
Functions and Powers
The cardinal functions of the Legislature include overseeing of administration,
passing of budget, ventilation of public grievances, and discussing various subjects
like development plans, international relations, and national policies. The Parliament
can, under certain circumstances, assume legislative power with respect to a subject
falling within the sphere, exclusively reserved for the states. The Parliament is
also vested with powers to impeach the President, remove judges of Supreme and High
Courts, the Chief Election Commissioner, and Comptroller and Auditor General in
accordance with the procedure laid down in the Constitution. All legislation requires
the consent of both Houses of Parliament. In the case of Money Bills, the will of
the Lok Sabha prevails. The Parliament is also vested with the power to initiate
amendments in the Constitution.