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Parliament

Study Material > Polity
  • Parliament is the people’s institution par excellence through which the sovereign will of the people finds its expression.
  • The Parliament is the legislative organ of the Union government.
  • Articles 79 to 122 in Part V of the Constitution deals with Parliament.
  • According to Article 79, our Parliament consists of the President and the two Houses-Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
  • The Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary form of Government, both at the Centre and in the states. Articles 74 and 75 deal with the parliamentary system at the Centre and Articles 163 and 164 in the states.
  • Under the Constitution, the Parliament of India consists of three parts viz, the President, the Council of States and the House of the People.
  • The Rajya Sabha is the Upper House (Second Chamber or House of Elders) and the Lok Sabha is the Lower House (First Chamber or Popular House).
  • Though the President of India is not a member of either House of Parliament and does not sit in the Parliament to attend its meetings, he is an integral part of the Parliament.
  • This is because a bill passed by both the Houses of Parliament cannot become law without the President’s assent. He also performs certain functions relating to the proceedings of the Parliament, for example, he summons and pro-rogues both the Houses, dissolves the Lok Sabha, addresses both the Houses, issues ordinances when they are not in session, and so on.

MEMBERSHIP OF PARLIAMENT

  • Qualifications: The Constitution lays down the following qualifications for a person to be chosen a member of the Parliament:
    1. He must be a citizen of India.
    2. He must make and subscribe to an oath or affirmation before the person authorised by the election commission for this purpose.
    3. He must be not less than 30 years of age in the case of the Rajya Sabha and not less than 25 years of age in the case of the Lok Sabha.
    4. He must posses other qualifications prescribed by Parliament. The Parliament has laid down the following additional qualifications in the Representation of People Act (1951).
    5. He must be registered as an elector for a parliamentary constituency. This is same in the case of both, the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha. The requirement that a candidate contesting an election to the Rajya Sabha from a particular state should be an elector in that particular state was dispensed with in 2003.
    6. He must be a member of a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe in any state or union territory, if he wants to contest a seat reserved for them. However, a member of scheduled castes or scheduled tribes can also contest a seat not reserved for them.

Disqualifications

  • Under the Constitution, a person shall be disqualified for being elected as a member of Parliament:
    1. If he/she holds any office of profit under the Union or state government (except that of a minister or any other office exempted by Parliament).
    2. If he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a court. 3. If he is an undischarged insolvent.
    3. If he is not a citizen of India or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign state or is under any acknowledgement of allegiance to a foreign state; and
    4. If he is so disqualified under any law made by Parliament.
  • The members may be disqualified under the X Schedule for defections.
  • The Parliament has laid down the following additional disqualifications in the Representation of People Act (1951):
    1. He must not have been found guilty of certain election offences or corrupt practices in the elections.
    2. He must not have been convicted for any offence resulting in imprisonment for two or more years. But, the detention of a person under a preventive detention law is not a disqualification.
    3. He must not have failed to lodge an account of his election expenses within the time.
    4. He must not have any interest in government contracts, works or services. 5. He must not be a director or managing agent nor hold an office of profit in a corporation in which the government has at least 25 per cent share.
    5. He must not have been dismissed from government service for corruption or disloyalty to the State.
    6. He must not have been convicted for promoting enmity between different groups or for the offence of bribery.
    7. He must not have been punished for preaching and practising social crimes such as untouchability, dowry and sati.
  • On the question whether a member is subject to any of the above disqualifications, the president’s decision is final. However, he should obtain the opinion of the election commission and act accordingly.

Disqualification on Ground of Defection

  • The Constitution also lays down that a person shall be disqualified from being a member of Parliament if he is so disqualified on the ground of defection under the provisions of the Tenth Schedule.
  • A member incurs disqualification under the defection law:
    1. if he voluntary gives up the membership of the political party on whose ticket he is elected to the House;
    2. if he votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction given by his political party; 3. if any independently elected member joins any political party; and
    3. if any nominated member joins any political party after the expiry of six months.
  • If one-third of the members of the party split from the parent party and join another party, they are disqualified, however, if two-thirds of the members of the party merge with another party then they are not disqalified.
  • The question of disqualification under the Tenth Schedule is decided by the Chairman in the case of Rajya Sabha and Speaker in the case of Lok Sabha (and not by the president of India).
  • In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that the decision of the Chairman/Speaker in this regard is subject to judicial review.

Oath or Affirmation

  • Every member of either House of Parliament, before taking his seat in the House, has to make and subscribe to an oath or affirmation before the President or some person appointed by him for this purpose. In his oath or affirmation, a member of Parliament swears:
    1. To bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India;
    2. To uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India; and
    3. To faithfully discharge the duty upon which he is about to enter. Unless a member takes the oath, he cannot vote and participate in the proceedings of the House and does not become eligible to parliame-ntary privileges and immunities.
  • A person is liable to a penalty of Rs 500 for each day he sits or votes as a member in a House in the following conditions:
    1. Before taking and subscribing to the prescribed oath or affirmation; or
    2. When he knows that he is not qualified or that he is disqualified for its membership; or
    3. When he knows that he is prohibited from sitting or voting in the House by virtue of any parliamentary law.

Salaries and Allowances

  • Members of either House of Parliament are entitled to receive such salaries and allowances as may be determined by Parliament.
  • Originally there was no provision of pension in the Constitution. However, Parliament has provided pension to its members.

President a part of Parliament

  • The President is a part of parliament because:-
    1. Unlike the Presidential political System, parliamentary system does not entail the separation of powers between Executive and Legislature;
    2. The Government of India originates from within the Parliament;
    3. The President has legislative powers including ordinance powers;
    4. All bills passed by Parliament has to receive the assent of the President to become laws;
    5. The President himself is elected by an electoral college comprising of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies.

The Office of Profit

  • The term office of profit has not been defined in the Constitution  or the Representation of the People Act of 1951. Office of Profit has been mentioned in the Constitution in the 102 (1) and 191 (1). These provisions barred an MP or MLA from holding an office of profit as it can put them in a position to gain a financial benefit. Any violation attracts disqualification of MPs or MLAs, as the case may be.
  • An office sponsored and funded by the State, i.e., the government, is deemed to be an office of profit if the members receive pecuniary gain in discharge of their duties, this means that the office members are able to make private profits not only in monetary terms but other benefits too using public funds. This has been prohibited under Constitution provision or under statutory laws.
  • However, certain offices are exempted under the definiton of office of profit. For example: ministers and governors.
  • Parliament decides these exemptions.
  • Decisions on questions of disqualification of a member is decided by President. This provision is being mentioned in Article 103 of the Constitution which reads as :
  • Decision on questions as to disqualifications of members:
    1. If any question arises as to whether a member of either House of Parliament has become subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in clause ( 1 ) of Article 102, the question shall be referred for the decision of the President and his decision shall be final
    2. Before giving any decision on any such question, the President shall obtain the opinion of the Election Commission and shall act according to such opinion

Composition of Rajya Sabha

  • The maximum strength of the Rajya Sabha is fixed at 250, out of which, 238 are to be the representatives of the states and union territories (elected indirectly) and 12 are nominated by the president.
  • At present, the Rajya Sabha has 245 members. Of these, 229 members represent the states, 4 members represent the union territories and 12 members are nominated by the president.
  • The States are given proportionate representation according to their population. Thus, the State of Uttar Pradesh has 31 seats in the Rajya Sabha while the State of Nagaland has only a single seat.
  • The Fourth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the allocation of seats in the Rajya Sabha to the states and union territories.
  • Besides 29 states only Delhi and Puducherry participates in Rajya Sabha elections.
  • Representation of States: The representatives of states in the Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of state legislative assemblies. The election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. The seats are allotted to the states in the Rajya Sabha on the basis of population. Hence, the number of representatives varies from state to state.
  • Representation of Union Territories: Out of the seven union territories, only two (Delhi and Puducherry) have representation in Rajya Sabha. The populations of other five union territories are too small to have any representative in the Rajya Sabha.
  • Nominated Members: The president nominates 12 persons having special knowledge in art, literature, science and social service to the Rajya Sabha. 

Duration of Rajya Sabha

  • The Rajya Sabha was first constituted in 1952 and it held its first sitting on May 13, that year.
  • The Rajya Sabha first constituted in 1952 is a permanent body and is not subjected to dissolution. However, one-third of its members retire every second year.
  • The retiring members are eligible for re-election and re-nomination any number of times. The Constitution has not fixed the term of office of members of the Rajya Sabha and left it to the Parliament. The Parliament in the Representation of the People Act (1951) provided that the term of office of a member of the Rajya Sabha shall be six years.

Chairman of Rajya Sabha

  • 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.
  • During any period when the Vice-President acts as President or discharges the functions of the President, he does not perform the duties of the office of the Chairman of Rajya Sabha.
  • The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha can be removed from his office only if he is removed from the office of the Vice-President.
  • As a presiding officer, the powers and functions of the Chairman in the Rajya Sabha are similar to those of the Speaker in the Lok Sabha. However, the Speaker has two special powers which are not enjoyed by the Chairman:
    1. The Speaker of Lok Sabha decides whether a bill is a money bill or not and his decision on this question is final.
    2. The Speaker of Lok Sabha presides over a joint sitting of two Houses of Parliament.
  • Unlike the Speaker of Lok Sabha (who is a member of the House), the Chairman of rajya Sabha is not a member of the House. But like the Speakerof Lok sabha, the Chairman of Rajya Sabha also cannot participate in voting of the Rajya Sabha. However he can cast a vote in the case of an equality of votes.
  • The Vice-President cannot preside over a sitting of the Rajya Sabha as its Chairman when a resolution for his removal is under consideration. However, he can be present and speak in the House and can take part in its proceedings, without voting, even at such a time (while the Speaker can vote in the first instance when a resolution for his removal is under consideration of the Lok Sabha).
  • As in case of the Speaker of Lok sabha, the salaries and allowances of the Chairman of Rajya Sabha are also fixed by the Parliament. They are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India and thus are not subject to the annual vote of Parliament.
  • During any period when the Vice-President acts as President or discharges the functions of the President, he is entitled to the salary and allowance of the President during such a time.

Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha

  • The Deputy Chairman is elected by the Rajya Sabha itself from amongst its members. Whenever the office of the Deputy Chairman falls vacant, the Rajya Sabha elects another member to fill the vacancy. The Deputy Chairman vacates his office in any of the following three cases:
    1. if he ceases to be a member of the Rajya Sabha;
    2. if he resigns by writing to the Chairman; and
    3. if he is removed by a resolution passed by a majority of all the members of the Rajya Sabha. Such a resolution can be moved only after giving 14 days’ advance notice.
  • The Deputy Chairman performs the duties of the Chairman’s office when it is vacant or when the Vice-President acts as President or discharges the functions of the President. He also acts as the Chairman when the latter is absent from the sitting of the House. In both the cases, he has all the powers of the Chairman.
  • Like the Chairman, the Deputy Chairman is also entitled to a regular salary and allowance. They are fixed by Parliament and are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.

Panel of Vice-Chairpersons of Rajya Sabha

  • The Chairman of Rajya Sabha, from time to time, nominates from amongst the members of the House, a panel of not more than six Vice-Chairmen. In the absence of the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman, one of them presides over the House.
  • He has the same powers as the Chairman when so presiding. He holds office until a new panel of vice-chairpersons is nominated. When a member of the panel of vice-chairpersons is also not present, any other person as determined by the House acts as the Chairman. The elections are held, as soon as possible, to fill the vacant posts.

Special Powers of Rajya Sabha

  • Rajya Sabha being a federal chamber enjoys certain special powers under the Constitution. These are contained in Arts. 67, 249 and 312.
    1. Under Art. 67, a resolution seeking the removal of the Vice-President can originate only in the Rajya Sabha. After the Rajya Sabha passes such a resolution by a majority of the then members of the House, it goes for approval of the Lok Sabha.
    2. If Rajya Sabha passes a resolution by a majority of not less than two thirds of the members present and voting declaring that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest to create one or more all India Services common to the Union and the States, Parliament becomes empowered to create by law such services (Article 312).
    3. All the subjects/areas regarding legislation have been divided into three Lists-Union List, State List and Concurrent List. Union and State Lists are mutually exclusive. And one cannot legislate on a matter placed in the sphere of the other. However, if Rajya Sabha passes a resolution by a majority of not less than two-thirds of members present and voting saying that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest that Parliament should make a law on a matter enumerated in the State List, parliament becomes empowered to make a law on the subject specified in the resolution for the Whole or any part of the territory of India (Article 249).
    4. President is empowered to issue proclamations in the event of national emergency, in the event of failure of constitutional machinery in a State, or in the case of financial emergency. Every such proclamation has to be approved by both Houses of Parliament within a stipulated period. Under certain circumstances, however, Rajya Sabha enjoys special powers in this regard. If a proclamation is issued at a time when Lok Sabha has been dissolved or the dissolution of Lok Sabha takes place within the period allowed for its approval, then the proclamation remains effective, if the resolution approving it is passed by Rajya Sabha within the period specified in the Constitution under Articles 352, 356 and 360.
  • Election Procedure of Rajya Sabha: The members of the Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of the respective state legislative assembly in accordance with the principle of proportional representation by the means of single transferable vote. Formula for election to Rajya Sabha is as follows:

 Accordding to this formula if Bihar Legislative Assembly has a strength of 100 and if there are 4 vacancies for Rajya Sabha   seats in Bihar, then a candidate has to get atleast 21 votes.

  • Controversies Regarding Rajya Sabha Elections: In election of Rajya Sabha Candidates generally not being a resident or domicile of a particular state are given tickets and get elected. This has invited criticism that the fundamental federal purpose of representing state interest has been diluted after an amendment to the Representative of People’s Act allowed this provision in 2003. Thus, even a resident of Tamil Nadu might get elected through the Punjab Assembly.

Composition of Lok Sabha

  • Members of Lok Sabha are representatives of the people chosen by direct election on the basis of the adult suffrage.
  • The maximum strength of the Lok Sabha is fixed at 552. Out of this, 530 members are to be the representatives of the states, 20 members are to be the representatives of the union territories and 2 Anglo-Indian members are nominated by the President, if, in his/her opinion, that community is not adequately represented in the House. At present, the Lok Sabha has 545 members.
  • Nominated Members: The president can nominate two members from the Anglo-Indian community if the community is not adequately represented in the Lok Sabha. Originally, this provision was to operate till 1960 but has been extended till 2020 by the 95th Amendment Act, 2009.
  • All the provisions related to the elections to the Lok Sabha, including the preparation of electoral rolls, the delemitation of constitutencies are being made by Parliament.
  • 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, 1957.
  • Bye-election: When the seat of a member elected to the House becomes vacant or is declared vacant, or his/her election is declared void, the same is filled through bye-election.

Functions of Lok Sabha And Rajya Sabha

  • Main function of both the houses of Parliament is to pass the law. Every bill has to be passed by both the houses and assented to by the President before becomes law.
  • The subjects over which Parliament and State Legislature can legislate are mentioned under the Union List in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. There are 100 items in Union Lists, 61 items in the State List and 52 items in the concurrent list.

Duration of Lok Sabha

  • The life of the Lok Sabha unlike sooner dissolved by the President continues for five years from the date appointed for its first meeting.
  • The normal term of Lok Sabha is five years from the date appointed for its first meeting. However, the President is authorised to dissolve the Lok Sabha at any time even before the completion of five years and this cannot be challenged in a court of law.
  • During emergency the term of the Lok Sabha can be extended by Parliament by law for a period not exceeding one year at a time for any length of time and not exceeding in any case beyond a period of six months after the Proclamation has ceased to operate.

Quorum of Lok Sabha

  • The quorum to constitute a sitting of the House is one-tenth of the total number of members of the House under Article 100(3) of the Constitution.

Speaker of Lok Sabha

  • Election and Tenure: The Speaker is elected by the Lok Sabha from amongst its members (as soon as may be, after its first sitting). Whenever the office of the Speaker falls vacant, the Lok Sabha elects another member to fill the vacancy.
  • The date of election of the Speaker is fixed by the President. Usually, the Speaker remains in office during the life of the Lok Sabha. However, he has to vacate his office earlier in any of the following three cases:
    1. if he ceases to be a member of the Lok Sabha;
    2. if he resigns by writing to the Deputy Speaker; and
    3. if he is removed by a resolution passed by a majority of all the members of the Lok Sabha. Such a resolution can be moved only after giving 14 days’ advance notice.
  • The Speaker holds office from the date of his/her election till the first sitting of the Lok Sabha after the dissolution of the one to which he/she was elected.
  • When a resolution for the removal of the Speaker is under consideration of the House, he cannot preside at the sitting of the House, though he may be present. However, he can speak and take part in the proceedings of the House at such a time and vote in the first instance, though not in the case of an equality of votes.
  • It should be noted here that, whenever the Lok Sabha is dissolved, the Speaker does not vacate his office and continues till the newly- elected Lok Sabha meets.

Role, Powers and Functions of the Speaker of Lok Sabha

  • The Speaker is the head of the Lok Sabha, and its representative. He is the guardian of powers and privileges of the members, the House as a whole and its committees.
  • He is the principal spokesman of the House, and his decision in all Parliamentary matters is final.
  • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha derives his powers and duties from three sources, that is, the Constitution of India, the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of Lok Sabha, and Parliamentary Conventions (residuary powers that are unwritten or unspecified in the Rules).
  • He maintains order and decorum in the House for conducting its business and regulating its proceedings. This is his primary respon-sibility and he has final power in this regard.
  • He is the final interpreter of the provisions of
    1. the Constitution of India,
    2. the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of Lok Sabha, and
    3. the parliamentary precedents, within the House.
  • He adjourns the House or suspends the meeting in absence of a quorum. The quorum to constitute a meeting of the House is one-tenth of the total strength of the House.
  • He does not vote in the first instance. But he can exercise a casting vote in the case of a tie.
  • He presides over a joint setting of the two Houses of Parliament.
  • He can allow a ‘secret’ sitting of the House at the request of the Leader of the House. When the House sits in secret, no stranger can be present in the chamber, lobby or galleries except with the permission of the Speaker.
  • He decides whether a bill is a money bill or not and his decision on this question is final.
  • He decides the questions of disqualification of a member of the Lok Sabha, arising on the ground of defection under the provisions of the Tenth Schedule.
  • He acts as the ex-officio chairman of the Indian Parliamentary Group of the Inter- Parliamentary Union. He also acts as the ex-officio chairman of the conference of presiding officers of legislative bodies in the country.
  • He appoints the chairman of all the parliamentary committees of the Lok Sabha and supervises their functioning.
  • He himself is the chairman of the Business Advisory Committee, the Rules Committee and the General Purpose Committee.

Independence and Impartiality

  • As the office of the Speaker is vested with great prestige, position and authority, independence and impartiality becomes its sine qua non. The following provisions ensure the independence and impartiality of the office of the Speaker:
    1. He is provided with a security of tenure. He can be removed only by a resolution passed by the Lok Sabha by an absolute majority (ie, a majority of the total members of the House) and not by an ordinary majority (ie, a majority of the members present and voting in the House). This motion of removal can be considered and discussed only when it has the support of at least 50 members.
    2. His salaries and allowances are fixed by Parliament. They are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India and thus are not subject to the annual vote of Parliament.
    3. His work and conduct cannot be discussed and criticised in the Lok Sabha except on a substantive motion.
    4. His powers of regulating procedure or conducting business or maintaining order in the House are not subject to the jurisdiction of any Court.
    5. He cannot vote in the first instance. He can only exercise a casting vote in the event of a tie. This makes the position of Speaker impartial.
    6. He is given a very high position in the order of precedence. He is placed at seventh rank, along with the Chief Justice of India. This means, he has a higher rank than all cabinet ministers, except the Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister.

Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha

  • Like the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker is also elected by the Lok Sabha itself from amongst its members. He is elected after the election of the Speaker has taken place. The date of election of the Deputy Speaker is fixed by the Speaker. Whenever the office of the Deputy Speaker falls vacant, the Lok Sabha elects another member to fill the vacancy. Like the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker remains in office usually during the life of the Lok Sabha. However, he may vacate his office earlier in any of the following three cases:
    1. if he ceases to be a member of the Lok Sabha;
    2. if he resigns by writing to the Speaker; and
    3. if he is removed by a resolution passed by a majority of all the members of the Lok Sabha.
  • Such a resolution can be moved only after giving 14 days’ advance notice. The Deputy Speaker performs the duties of the Speaker’s office when it is vacant. He also acts as the Speaker when the latter is absent from the sitting of the House. In both the cases, he assumes all the powers of the Speaker. He also presides over the joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament, in case the Speaker is absent from such a sitting.
  • It should be noted here that the Deputy Speaker is not subordinate to the Speaker. He is directly responsible to the House. The Deputy Speaker has one special privilege, that is, whenever he is appointed as a member of a parliamentary committee, he automatically becomes its chairman.
  • The Deputy Speaker is entitled to a regular salary and allowance fixed by Parliament, and charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • Upto the 10th Lok Sabha, both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker were usually from the ruling party. Since the 11th Lok Sabha, there has been a consensus that the Speaker comes from the ruling party (or ruling alliance) and the post of Deputy Speaker goes to the main opposition party. The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, while assuming their offices, do not make and subscribe any separate oath or affirmation.
  • The institutions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker originated in India in 1921 under the provisions of the Government of India Act of 1919 (Montague–Chelmsford Reforms). At that time, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker were called the President and Deputy President respectively and the same nomenclature continued till 1947.
  • Before 1921, the Governor- General of India used to preside over the meetings of the Central Legislative Council.
  • In 1921, the Frederick Whyte and Sachidanand Sinha were appointed by the Governor-General of India as the first Speaker and the first Deputy Speaker (respectively) of the central legislative assembly. In
  • 1925, Vithalbhai J. Patel became the first Indian and the first elected Speaker of the central legislative assembly.
  • The Government of India Act of 1935 changed the nomenclatures of President and Deputy President of the Central Legislative Assembly to the Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively. However, the old nomenclature continued till 1947 as the federal part of the 1935 Act was not implemented.
  • G V Mavalankar and Ananthasayanam Ayyangar had the distinction of being the first Speaker and the first Deputy Speaker (respectively) of the Lok Sabha. G V Mavalankar also held the post of Speaker in the Constituent Assembly (Legislative) as well as the provisional Parliament. He held the post of Speaker of Lok Sabha continuously for one decade from 1946 to 1956.

Panel of Chairpersons of Lok Sabha

  • Under the Rules of Lok Sabha, the Speaker nominates from amongst the members a panel of not more than ten chairpersons. Any of them can preside over the House in the absence of the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker.
  • He has the same powers as the Speaker when so presiding. He holds office until a new panel of chairpersons is nominated. When a member of the panel of chairpersons is also not present, any other person as determined by House acts as the Speaker.

Pro-tem Speaker and Speaker Pro-tem

  • Pro-tem Speaker: After each general elections, the elected representatives are to take oath of office before they become the Member of Parliament. This special session for according oath of office is presided by a elected representative appointed for such purpose. He/She is called the pro-tem Speaker and is appointed by the President. The person is appointed conventionally the senior most of elected representatives.
  • Speaker Pro-tem: The Deputy speaker presides over the Lok Sabha when the Speaker is absent from the sitting of the House. When the offices of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker fall vacant, the duties of the office of the Speaker are performed by such member of the Lok Sabha as the President may appoint for the purpose. The person so appointed is known as the Speaker pro-tem.

Opening of Parliament by the President

  • According to Article 87 (1) of the Constitution “At the commencement of the first session after each general election to the House of the People and at the commencement of the first session of each year the President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together and inform Parliament of the causes of its summons”.
  • No other business is transacted till the president has addressed both Houses of Parliament assembled together.
  • In the case of the first session after each general election to Lok Sabha, the President addresses both Houses of Parliament assembled together after the Members have made and subscribed the oath or affirmation and the Speaker has been elected. It takes generally two days to complete these preliminaries.

Comparison between the members of two houses

  • Ministers may belong to either House of Parliament.
  • Every Minister has the right to speak and take part in the proceedings of either House but he is entitled to vote only in the House of which, he is a member.
  • Similarly, with regard to powers, privileges and immunities of the Houses of Parliament, their members and committees thereof, the two Houses are placed absolutely on equal footing by the Constitution.

Leader of the House

  • Under the Rules of Lok Sabha, the ‘Leader of the House’ means the prime minister, if he is a member of the Lok Sabha, or a minister who is a member of the Lok Sabha and is nominated by the prime minister to function as the Leader of the House.
  • There is also a ‘Leader of the House’ in the Rajya Sabha. He is a minister and a member of the Rajya Sabha and is nominated by the prime minister to function as such.
  • The leader of the house in either House is an important functionary and exercises direct influence on the conduct of business. He can also nominate a deputy leader of the House.

Leader of the Opposition

  • In each House of Parliament, there is the ‘Leader of the Opposition’. The leader of the largest Opposition party having not less than one-tenth seats of the total strength of the House is recognised as the leader of the Opposition in that House.
  • They provides a constructive criticism of the policies of the government and keeps the government on track.
  • The leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were accorded statutory recognition in 1977.
  • They are entitled to the salary, allowances and other facilities equivalent to that of a cabinet minister.
  • In 1969 an official leader of the opposition was recognised for the first time.

Whip

  • Though the offices of the leader of the House and the leader of the Opposition are not mentioned in the Constitution of India, they are mentioned in the Rules of the House and Parliamentary Statute respectively.
  • The office of ‘whip’, on the other hand, is mentioned neither in the Constitution of India nor in the Rules of the House nor in a Parliamentary Statute. It is based on the conventions of the parliamentary govern-ment.
  • Every political party, whether ruling or Opposition has its own whip in the Parliament.
  • He is appointed by the political party to serve as an assistant floor leader.
  • He is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the attendance of his party members in large numbers and securing their support in favour of or against a particular issue.
  • He regulates and monitors their behaviour in the Parliament. The members are supposed to follow the directives given by the whip. Otherwise, disciplinary action can be taken.

Comparison of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha

  • Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha is having equal power in following conditions:
    1. Normal legislations relating to anything in Union List or Concurrent List or other items.
    2. Constitutional Amendment Bill.
    3. Election of President
    4. Impeachment of President
    5. Approval of emergency proclamation
    6. Selection of Ministers for Council of Ministers
    7. Financial Bills except Money Bills
  • Supremacy of Lok Sabha in cases of
    1. According to Article 75 (3) of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to Lok Sabha which means Rajya Sabha cannot make or unmake the Government. It can, however, exercise control over the Government. However, Rajya Sabha can exercise control over the Government.
    2. Money Bill has to be introduced in Lok Sabha. It is certified as Money Bill by Speaker of Lok Sabha. If Rajya Sabha does not pass it in 14 days it is deemed as passed and if it rejects it or introduces amendments, it goes back to the Lok Sabha which if passes it by a simple majority the bill is deemed to be passed.
    3. In cases of disagreement on legislations a joint session is held of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha where the presiding officer is the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
    4. Also Strength of Lok Sabha is numerically greater so it can dominate in the joint session.
    5. Rajya Sabha has no power to vote money for public expenditure and demands for grants are not submitted for the vote of Rajya Sabha.

Parliamentary Privileges

  • Certain rights and immunities are enjoyed by each House of Parliament and Committees of each House collectively, and by members of each House individually, without which they cannot discharge their functions efficiently and effectively, this rights are called ‘parliamentary privilege’. The objective of parliamentary privileges is to safeguard the freedom, the authority and the dignity of Parliament.
  • The House has the power to punish any person who commits contempt of the House or a breach of any of its privileges.
  • The powers, privileges and imuunities of either House of Parliament and of its Committees and members have been laid down in Article 105 of the Constitution.
  • Under Article 105 certain privileges are granted for the Mps, they are:
    1. They have freedom of speech in Parliament. No member is liable to any proceedings in any court for defamation cases in respect to anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament or its committees.
    2. They cannot be arrested during the session of Parliament and 40 days before the beginning and 40 days after the end of a session. This privilege is available only in civil cases and not in criminal cases or preventive detention cases.
    3. They have freedom of attendance as witness when Parliament is in session.

Summoning

  • Summoning is the process of calling all members of the Parliament to meet. The president from time to time summons each House of Parliament to meet.

Sessions of the Parliament

  • The maximum gap between two sessions of Parliament cannot be more than six months. In other words, the Parliament should meet at least twice a year. Usually three sessions of the Lok Sabha are held in a year. They are:
    1. the Budget Session (February to May);
    2. the Monsoon Session (July to September); and
    3. the Winter Session (November to December).

Adjournment

  • Adjournment is a postponement of the sittings or proceedings of the House from one time to another, specified for the reassembling of the House. During the course of a Session, the Lok Sabha may be adjourned from day to day or for more than a day. It may also be adjourned sine die which means the termination of a sitting of the House without any definite date being fixed for its next sitting.

prorogation

  • Prorogation means the termination of a session of the House by an order made by the President under article 85(2)(a) of the Constitution. The Prorogation of the House may take place any time, even while the House is sitting. Usually, prorogation follows the adjournment of the sitting of the House sine die

Dissolutiom

  • Dissolution of the House means the end of the life of the Lok Sabha either by an order made by the President under article 85 (2) (b) of the Constitution or on the expiration of the period of five years from the date appointed for its first meeting. Rajya Sabha, being a permanent House, is not subject to dissolution. The dissolution of the Lok Sabha may take place in either of two ways:
    1. Automatic dissolution, that is, on the expiry of its tenure of five years from the date appointed for its first meeting or
    2. By an order made by the President under Article 85 (2) (b) of the Constitution.
  • Dissolution puts an end to the representative character of the individuals who at the time compose the Lok Sabha.
  • When the Lok Sabha is dissolved, all business including bills, motions, resolutions, notices, petitions and so on pending before it or its committees lapse. The position with respect to lapsing of bills is as follows:
    1. Bills originating in Rajya Sabha which are still pending in that House, do not lapse on the dissolution of Lok Sabha.
    2. Bills originating in Rajya Sabha which having been passed by the House and transmitted to Lok Sabha and pending there lapse on the dissolution of Lok Sabha.
    3. Bills originating in Lok Sabha which having been passed by that House and transmitted to Rajya Sabha and still pending there on the date of dissolution of Lok Sabha, lapse.
    4. Bills originating in Rajya Sabha and returned to that House by Lok Sabha with amendments and still pending there on the date of its dissolution, lapse.
    5. A Bill upon which the Houses have disagreed and the President has notified his intention to summon a Joint Sitting of the Houses to consider the Bill prior to dissolution does not lapse on dissolution of Lok Sabha.
    6. A Bill passed by the two Houses of Parliament and sent to the President for assent does not lapse on the dissolution of Lok Sabha.
    7. A Bill passed by both Houses but returned by the President for reconsideration to Rajya Sabha does not lapse if the dissolution of Lok Sabha takes place without the Houses having considered the Bill.

Parliamentary Control Over Executive: The Legislature controls over the Executive in three aspects. One, over the Confidence of the House; two, over finances and three through asking questions. Some of the instruments enforcing the accountability of the government is as follows:-

Question Hour

  • Generally, the first hour of a sitting of Lok Sabha is devoted to Questions and that hour is called the Question Hour. During the Question Hour members can ask questions on every aspect of administration and Government activity and the ministers usually give answers.
  • Through the Question Hour the Government is able to quickly feel the pulse of the nation and adopt its policies and actions accordingly.
  • Questions enable Ministers to gauge the popular reaction to their policy and administration. Questions bring to the notice of the Ministers many abuse which otherwise would have gone unnoticed.
  • There are four types of Questions 
    1. Starred: A Starred Question is one to which a member desires an oral answer in the House and which is distinguished by an asterik mark. When a question is answered orally, supplementary quesyions can be asked thereon. Only 20 questions can be listed for oral answere on a day.
    2. Unstarred: An Unstarred Question is one which requires a written answere and hence no supplementary questions can consequently be asked. Only 230 questions can be listed for written answer on a day.
    3. Short notice: A Short Notice Question is one which relates to a matter of urgent public importance and can be asked with shorter notice of less than ten days. It is answered orally followed by supplementary questions.
    4. Questions addressed to Private Members: The Question to a Private Members is addressed to the Member himself/herself and it is asked when the subject matter of it pertains to any Bill, Resolution or any matter relating to the Business of the House for which that Member is responsible.
  • Admissibility of questions is governed by Rules, Directions by the Speaker.

Zero Hour

  • The time immediately following the Question Hour and laying of papers and before any listed business is taken up in the House has come to be popularly known as the 'Zero Hour', as it starts around 12 noon, this period is euphemistically termed as 'Zero Hour'.
  • In other words, the time gap between the question hour and the agenda is known as zero hour.
  • The term 'Zero Hour' is not formally recognised in our parliamentary procedure. It is an Indian innovation in the field of parliamentary procedures and has been in existence since 1962.
  • Unlike the question hour, the zero hour is not mentioned in the Rules of Procedure.

Short Duration Discussion

  • In order to provide opportunities to members to discuss matters of urgent public importance, a convention was established in 1953, i.e., Short Duration Discussion. 
  • It is also known as two-hour discussion as the time alloted for such a discussion should not exceed two hours.

Half-an Hour Discussion

  • It is meant for discussing a matter of sufficient public importance, which has been subjected to a lot of debate and the answere to which needs elucidation on a matter of fact, any member can table a notice for raising Half-an-Hour Discussion thereon.
  • Normally, such discussions are held on three days in a week, viz, Monday, Wednesday and Friday except in Budget Session.

Motion

  • The term motion in parliamentary parlance means any proposal made for the purpose of eliciting a decision of the House. It is phrased in such a way that, if passed, it will purport to express the Will of the House.

Calling attention Motion

  • Under this procedural device, a member may, with the prior permission of the Speaker, call the attention of a Minister to any matter of urgent public importance 
  • Minister may make a brief statement or ask for time to make a statement later.
  • Only those matters which are primarily the concern of the union Government can be raised through a calling Attention notice.
  • The Calling Attention procedure is an Indian innovation which combines asking a question with supplementaries and making brief comments.
  • The calling attention motion is not subject to the vote of the House.
  • Like the zero hour, it is also an Indian innovation in the parliamentary procedure and has been in existence since 1954. However, unlike the zero hour, it is mentioned in the Rules of Procedure.

Adjournment Motion

  • Adjournment Motion is introduced in the Parliament to draw attention of the House to a definite matter of urgent public importance, and needs the support of 50 members to be admitted.
  • The Adjournment Motion, if admitted, leads to setting aside of the normal business of the House for discussing the matter mentioned in the motion. As it interrupts the normal business of the House, it is regarded as an extraordinary device.
  • Its adoption is regarded as a sort of censure of the Government. It involves an element of censure against the government and hence Rajya Sabha is not permitted to make use of this device.
  • The Adjournment motion is voted upon after the discussion.

No Confidence Motion

  • The ministry stays in office so long as it enjoys confidence of the majority of the members of the Lok Sabha. In other words, the Lok Sabha can remove the ministry from office by passing a no-confidence motion. The motion needs the support of 50 members to be admitted.
  • A Motion of No-Confidence need not set out any grounds on which it is based.
  • No Confidence is allowed only in Lok Sabha.

Censure Motion

  • Censure Motion can be moved only in Lok Sabha. A Censure motion is moved against an individual minister or whole of the Council of Ministers for a deriliction of duties or breach of privilege.
  • The grounds for moving a censure have to be tabled before the Speaker. Speaker can also disallow a censure motion. The motion is voted upon after a debate.

Point of Order

  • A member can raise a point of order when the proceedings of the House do not follow the normal rules of procedure. A point of order should relate to the interpretation or enforcement of the Rules of the House or such articles of the Constitution that regulate the business of the House and should raise a question that is within the cognizance of the Speaker.
  • It is usually raised by an opposition member in order to control the government. It is an extraordinary device as it suspends the proceedings before the House. No debate is allowed on a point of order. 

Matters under Rule 377

  • A matter which is not a point of order or which cannot be raised during question hour, half-an hour discussion, short duration discussion or under adjournment motion, calling attention notice or under any rule of the House can be raised under the special mention in the Rajya Sabha. Its equivalent procedural device in the Lok Sabha is known as ‘Notice (Mention) Under Rule 377’. 
  • This procedural devise is framed in 1954, and provides oppurtunity to the members to raise matters of general public interest.

Voting in parliament

  • The procedure regarding Voting and Divisions in the House is governed by article 100(1) of the Constitution. The various methods adopted for voting in the Lok Sabha are:
    1. Voice Vote: It is a simple method for deciding a question put by the chair on a motion made by a member. Under this method, the question before the House is determined by the 'Ayes' or the 'Noes', as the case may be. A voice vote can only be held with the consent of all the members in the house, Even if one member doesn't give his or her consent in favour of a voice vote, then the house cannot proceed with a voice vote but it has to go for a division vote.
    2. Division: There are three methods of holding a Division, i.e.
      1. By operating the Automatic Vote Recording Equipment;
      2. by distributing ` Ayes' and ` Noes' slips in the House; and
      3. by members going into the Lobbies. The Speaker directs the members for "Ayes" to go to the right Lobby and those for "Noes" to the left Lobby where their votes are recorded. However, the method of recording of votes in the Lobbies has become obsolete ever since the installation of the Automatic Vote Recording Machine.
    3. Secret Ballot: This are being done now by electronic machines installed in the Parliament.
    4. Recording of votes by distribution of slips: The method of recording of votes by members on ` Aye' and ` No' slips is generally resorted to in the eventuality of 
      1. sudden failure of the working of the Automatic Vote Recording Equipment; and
      2. at the commencement of the new Lok Sabha, before the seats/division numbers have been allotted to members.
    5. Physical count of Members in their places instead of a formal division: If in the opinion of the Chair, a Division is unnecessarily claimed, he/she may ask the members who are for ` Aye' and those for ` No', respectively, to rise in their places and on a count being taken, he/she may declare the determination of the House. In such a case, the particulars of voting of the members are not recorded.
    6. Casting Vote: If in a Division the number of ` Ayes' and ` Noes' is equal, the question is decided by the casting vote of the Chair. Under the Constitution, the Speaker or the person acting as such cannot vote in a Division; he/she has only a casting vote which he/she must exercise in the case of equality of votes.

Quorum

  • A minimum number of members is required to be present in the House before it can transact any business.
  • The quorum to constitute a sitting of the House is one-tenth of the total number of members of the House under Article 100(3) of the Constitution.
  • It means that there must be at least 55 members present in the Lok Sabha and 25 members present in the Rajya Sabha, if any business is to be conducted.
  • If there is no quorum during a meeting of the House, it is the duty of the presiding officer either to adjourn the House or to suspend the meeting until there is a quorum.

Language to be used in Parliament

  • According to article 120 Hindi and English is to be used as the languages for transacting business in the Parliament. However, the presiding officer can permit a member to address the House in his mothertongue.
  • Provided that the Chairman of the Council of States or Speaker of the House of the People, or person acting as such, as the case may be, may permit any member who cannot adequately express himself in Hindi or in English to address the House in his mother-tongue. In both the Houses, arrangements are made for simultaneous translation.

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