The Parliament is the legislative organ of the Union government. It occupies a preeminent and central position in the Indian democratic political system due to adoption of the parliamentary form of government, also known as ‘Westminster’ model of government.
Articles 79 to 122 in Part V of the Constitution deal with the organisation, composition,duration, officers, procedures, privileges,powers and so on of the Parliament.
ORGANISATION OF PARLIAMENT
Under the Constitution, the Parliament of India consists of three parts viz, the President, the Council of States and the House of the People. In 1954, ‘Rajya Sabha’ and ‘Lok Sabha’ were adopted by the Council of States and the House of People respectively.
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). The former represents the states and union territories of the Indian Union, while the latter represents the people of India as a whole.
It consists of not more than 250 members. Out of these, 12 are nominated by the President for their special knowledge or practical experience in the fields of literature,
science, art and social service.The remaining 238 seats are allocated to various States and Union Territories. The number of seats allocated varies from State to State in proportion to their population.Elections to the Rajya Sabha are indirect.Members representing states are elected by elected members of legislative assemblies of the states in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of
single transferable vote and those representing Union Territories are chosen in such a manner as Parliament may by law prescribe.
The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution. Its members are elected for a period of 6 years and one-third of its members retire on expiry of every second year.The Vice-President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. In addition,the House elects a Deputy Chairman from among its members. The Deputy Chairman presides over the meeting of the House in the absence of the Vice-president.
According to the constitution, the strength of Lok Sabha should not be more than 552 members – 530 members to represent States, 20 to represent Union Territories and not
more than 2 members of Anglo-Indian Community to be nominated by the President, if in his opinion, that community is not adequately represented in the House.The number of members of each State to be elected is determined on the basis of the
population. At present, the Lok Sabha consists of 545 members. Term of the LokSabha, unless dissolved is five years.However, while a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, this period may beextended by Parliament by law for a period not exceeding one year at a time and notexceeding, in any case, beyond a period of six months after the Proclamation has
ceased to operate.
The Presiding Officer of the Lok Sabha is the Speaker. He is elected by the House at its first meeting from among its own members. In addition, the House also elects a Deputy Speaker who discharges the duties of the Speaker during his absence or leave.
ELIGIBILITY FOR A MB:
In order to be chosen as a member of Parliament, a person must be a citizen of India and not less than 30 years of age in case of the Rajya Sabha and not less than 25 years of age in case of the Lok Sabha. Additional qualifications may be prescribed by Parliament by law. A person can become a member of the Lok Sabha from any of the
constituencies in the country. For the membership of the Rajya Sabha. he should be a registered voter in the State he represents.
The constitution provides for a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker for the Lok Sabha and a Chairman and a Deputy Chairman for the Rajya Sabha. The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker are chosen by the Lok Sabha from among its members. In the absence of the Speaker in the House, the Deputy Speaker discharges the functions of the Speaker.
Generally speaking, the position of the Speaker in India more or less corresponds to that of the Speaker of the House of Commons. His office is one of prestige and authority. He is the head of Lok Sabha. The smooth and orderly conduct of the business
of the House is primarily his responsibility. Within the House and in all matters connected with the House, his word is final. He does not vote in the House except when there is an equality of votes.Whenever, in the event of final disagreement between the Houses on a legislative
measure a joint sitting is called, he presides over such a joint sitting and all the rules of procedure in such a sitting operate under his directions and orders.
The Speaker or Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha vacates his office if he ceases to be a member of the House, he can resign by writing to the Deputy Speaker/Speaker and he can be removed by a resolution of the House, with 14 days’ notice, passed by a majority of all the then members of the House. Irrespective of the dissolution of the House, the
Speaker, however, continues in office until immediately before the first sitting of the new House.
PRO TEM SPEAKER
After a general election and the formation of a new government, a list of senior Lok Sabha members prepared by the Legislative Section is submitted to the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, who selects a pro tem speaker. The appointment has to be approved by the President.
SESSIONS OF PARLIAMENT
According to the constitution, the Parliament has at least two sessions every year. The President summons the Parliament in a manner that the time gap between two sessions is not more than six months. In practice, the Parliament normally meets three
times a year. These sessions are called:
(a) budget Session which is normally summoned in February to May
(b) Monsoon Session which ordinarily meets in July to September
(c) Winter Session, which commences in November to December
FUNCTIONS OF A PARLIAMENT
1. Parliament of India has the functions of legislation
2. Overseeing of administration
3. Passing of budget
4. Ventilation of public grievances
5. Discussion of various subjects like development plans. international relations and national policies.
Parliament is also vested with powers to impeach President and to remove judges of Supreme Court and High Court. Chief Election Commissioner and Comptroller and Auditor-General in accordance with the procedure laid down in the constitution.All legislations require consent of both Houses of Parliament In case of money bills,however the will of the Lok Sabha prevails. Money Bills can be delayed by the Rajya Sabha only for 14 days. Delegated legislation is also subject to review and control by
PRIME MINISTER AND THE 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.
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.
Zero hour is a special part of Question Hour where the members are free to raise any matter that they think is important; however, the ministers are not bound to reply.
An amendment to the Constitution (52nd amendment act) was made in 1985, popularly known as an anti-defection amendment.
According to anti-defection amendment, there was an agreement among the parties that a legislator who is elected on one party’s ticket must be restricted from ‘defecting’ to another party.
The presiding officer of the House is the authority who can take the final decisions on all anti-defection cases.
If a member remains absent in the House when asked by the party leadership to be present or votes against the instructions of the party or voluntarily leaves the membership of the party, it is tantamount to defection.
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
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.