- Part-V (Article 79 – 122) of the Constitution deals with the organization, composition, duration, officers, procedures, privileges and powers of the Parliament.
- The Union Legislature of India is not only the lawmaking body, but the center of all democratic political process.
- The Parliament is the central legislature and the legislature of the state is known as ‘State Legislature.’
- The Parliament of India is bicameral (i.e. consists of two houses) namely Rajya Sabha (the Council of States) and Lok Sabha (the House of the People).
- Indian states also have the option to have either bicameral or unicameral; however, at present, there are seven states, which have bicameral legislature namely −
- Jammu & Kashmir,
- Uttar Pradesh,
- Andhra Pradesh, and
- Article 79 provides for a Parliament consisting of the President and the two houses:
- Lower House is called the House of the People (Lok Sabha). Lok Sabha (LS) represents the people of India as a whole.
- Upper House is called the Council of States (Rajya Sabha). The Rajya Sabha (RS) represents the states and union territories of the Indian Union.
- The President is a part of the Legislature but he is not a member of either House of Parliament.
- Since GoI Act, 1919, the central legislature has been a bi-cameral body consisting of lower House (Lok Sabha) and an upper House (Rajya Sabha).
Qualifications and disqualifications for being a Member of Parliament
- To be qualified to become a Member of Parliament a person must be:
- A citizen of India;
- Not less than 30 years of age in the case of the Rajya Sabha and not less than 25 years in the case of the Lok Sabha
- 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. In 2006, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of this change.
Session of Parliament, Summoning Prorogation and Dissolution
- The President shall from time to time summon each House of Parliament to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit, but six months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its sitting in the next session.
- The President may from time to time :
- Prorogue the Houses or either House
- Dissolve the House of the People.
Sessions of the Parliament
- A session of Indian Parliament is the time period during which a House meets almost every day continuously to transact business.
- There are usually three sessions in a year.
- the Budget Session (February to May)
- the Monsoon Session (July to September)and
- the Winter Session (November to December).
- A session contains many meetings. Each meeting has two sittings – morning sitting from 11 am to 1 pm and post-lunch sitting from 2 pm to 6 pm.
- A sitting of Parliament can be terminated by adjournment, adjournment sine die, prorogation or dissolution.
- The period between the prorogation of a House and its reassembly in a new session is called ‘recess’.
- Summoning is the process of calling all members of the Parliament to meet.
- It is the duty of Indian President to summon each House of the Parliament from time to time.
- 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.
- An adjournment suspends the work in a sitting for a specified time, which may be hours, days or weeks.
- In this case, the time of reassembly is specified.
- An adjournment only terminates a sitting and not a session of the House.
- The power of adjournment lies with the presiding officer of the House.
Adjournment Sine Die
- Adjournment sine die means terminating a sitting of Parliament for an indefinite period.
- In other words, when the House is adjourned without naming a day for reassembly, it is called adjournment sine die.
- The power of adjournment sine die lies with the presiding officer of the House.
- 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.
- Prorogation terminates both the sitting and session of the House.
- Usually, within a few days after the House is adjourned sine die by the presiding officer, the President issues a notification for the prorogation of the session.
- However, the President can also prorogue the House while in session.
- Dissolution ends the very life of the existing House, and a new House is constituted after general elections are held.
- Rajya Sabha, being a permanent House, is not subject to dissolution. Only the Lok Sabha is subject to dissolution.
- The dissolution of the Lok Sabha may take place in either of two ways:
- Automatic dissolution: On the expiry of its tenure – five years or the terms as extended during a national emergency.
- Order of President: If President is authorized by CoM, he can dissolve Lok Sabha, even before the end of the term. He may also dissolve Lok Sabha if CoM loses confidence and no party is able to form the government. Once the Lok Sabha is dissolved before the completion of its normal tenure, the dissolution is irrevocable.
- When the Lok Sabha is dissolved, all business including bills, motions, resolutions, notices, petitions and so on pending before it or its committees lapse.
Other Terms Related To the Parliamentary Functioning
- It is the minimum number of members whose presence is essential to transact the business of the House.
- Article 100 provides the quorum of either House shall be one tenth of the total number of members of the House.
- The day’s business normally begins with the Question Hour during which question asked by the members are answered by the Minister. The different types of questions are:
- Starred Question: It is one for which an oral answer is required to be given by the Minister on the floor of the House. Supplementary question may be asked based on the Minister’s reply.
- Unstarred Question: It is one for which the Minister lays on the table a written answer. A 15 day notice has to be given to ask such question and no supplementary questions can be asked with regard to such questions.
- Short Notice Question: This type of question which can be asked by members on matters of public importance of an urgent nature. A short notice question is one that is asked by giving a notice of less than
ten days. It is answered orally. It is for the speaker to decide whether the matter is of urgent nature or not. The member has also may be requested to state reasons for asking the question while serving notice.
- This period follows the ‘Question Hour’ and it normally begins at noon. Usually, the members use this period to raise various issues for discussion.
- A motion that seeks reduction in the amount of a demand presented by the govt. is known as a Cut Motion.
- Such motions are admitted at the speakers’ discretion. It is a device through which members can draw the attention of the government to a specific grievance or problem.
- There are three types of cut motions –
- Policy Cut Motion – which is to express disapproval of the policy underlying a particular demand, says that ‘the amount of the demand be reduced to Re. 1″.
- Economy Cut Motion– Economy Cut refers to a cut motion which seeks to reduce the demand by a specific sum with a view to affecting the economy in the expenditure.
- Token cut Motion– is a device to ventilate specific grievances within the sphere of the government’s responsibility. The grievance has to be specified. Usually, the motion is in the form, “The amount of the demand is reduced by Rs. 100”.
Calling Attention Motion
- With prior permission of the speaker; a member may call the attention of a Minister to any matter of urgent public importance. The Minister may make a brief statement regarding the matter or ask for time to make a statement. However, unlike the zero
hour, it is mentioned in the Rules of Procedure.
- It is motion moved by a member if he feels that a minister has committed a breach of privilege of the House or of any one or more of its members by with-holding facts of a case or by giving a distorted version of acts. Its purpose is to censure the concerned minister.
Vote on account
- As there is usually gap between the presentation of the budget and its approval, the vote on account enables the govt. to draw some amount from the consolidated fund of India to meet the expenses in the intervening period.
- On the last of the allotted days at the appointed time, the speaker puts every question necessary to dispose all the outstanding matters in connection with the demands for grants. This is known as guillotine. The guillotine concludes the discussion and demands for grants.
- Censure Motion differs from a no-confidence motion in that the latter does not specify any ground on which it is based, while the former has to state the reason for which it is being moved.
- A censure motion can be moved against the Council of Minister or an individual minister for failing to act or for some policy. Reason for the censure must be precisely enumerated.
- The speaker decides whether or not the motion is in order and no leave of the House is required for moving it.
- The Govt. may at its discretion fix a date for the discussion of the motion. If the motion is passed in the Lok Sabha the Council of Minister is expected to resign.
Functions of the Parliament
- The Parliament has legislative (law making) and financial functions (money bill and budgetary function); besides, it also controls the Executive and ensures its accountability.
- The Parliament is the highest forum of debate in the country and hence, there is no limitation on its power of discussion.
- The Parliament has the power of discussing and enacting changes to the Constitution (i.e. amendment power).
- The Parliament also performs some electoral functions, as it elects the President and the Vice President of India.
- The Parliament has also judicial functions, as it considers and decides the proposals for the removal of President, Vice-President, and Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.
- Following are the some distinct powers of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha −
- Lok Sabha makes ‘Laws’ on matters included in Union List and Concurrent List and can introduce and enact money and non-money bills.
- Rajya Sabha considers and approves non-money bills and suggests amendments to money bills.
- Lok Sabha approves proposals for taxation, budgets, and annual financial statements.
- Rajya Sabha approves constitutional amendments.
- Lok Sabha establishes committees and commissions and considers their reports.
- Rajya Sabha can give the Union parliament power to make laws on matters included in the State list.
Special Powers of Rajya Sabha
- Rajya Sabha has some special powers. If the Union Parliament wishes to remove a matter from the State list (over which only the State Legislature can make law) to either the Union List or Concurrent List in the interest of the nation, the approval of the Rajya Sabha is essential.
Special Powers of Lok Sabha
- Regarding Money Bills, the Lok Sabha has the exclusive power and hence, the Rajya Sabha cannot initiate, reject, or amend money bills.
- Amendment/s made by the Rajya Sabha to the Money Bill may or may not be accepted by the Lok Sabha.
- A bill proposed by a minister is described as Government Bill; however, if a bill proposed by a non-minister member, it is known as private member’s Bill.
- If there is disagreement between the two Houses on a proposed Bill, then it is resolved through the Joint Session of Parliament.
- Regarding the Money Bill, if the Rajya Sabha does not take any action within 14 days, the bill is deemed to have been passed.
Prime Minister and Council of Ministers
- The Council of Ministers is one the most powerful political institutions in the country. Prime Minister is the head of the Council of Ministers (as well as the central government).
- There is no direct election to the post of the Prime Minister (PM), but the Prime Minister is chosen normally from the elected MPs.
- The Prime Minister is appointed by the President of India. The President appoints a person as Prime Minister who is the leader of the party having the majority in the Lok Sabha.
- The Prime Minister continues in power for five-year term OR so long as he commands the majority party or coalition.
- The President appoints other ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister.
- The Prime Minister is free to choose his ministers from the members of Parliament.
- A person who is not a Member of Parliament can also become a minister. But such a person has to get elected to one of the Houses of the Parliament within six months of appointment as minister.
- All the Ministers collectively in a group are officially called as Council of Ministers; however, the Ministers have different ranks and portfolio.
- The different categories of the ministers are −
- Cabinet Ministers are the most experienced and top-level leaders of the ruling party. They usually hold the charge of the major ministries like Finance, Defense, Home, External Affairs, Food and Supply, etc. The decisions of the government are generally taken up in the meeting of the Cabinet Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. Thus the Cabinet is the core group of ministers within the Council of Ministers.
- Ministers of State with independent charge usually hold independent charge of smaller Ministries. They generally do not participate in the Cabinet meetings but may participate when specially invited.
- Ministers of State are generally appointed to assist Cabinet Ministers.