Composition of Parliament
Parliament of India consists of three organs. The President, the Council of States and the House of the People. Though President is not a member of either House of Parliament yet, like the British Crown, he is an integral part of the Parliament and performs certain functions relating to its proceedings.
The Rajya Sabha
The Rajya Sabha or the Council of States is the Upper House of the Union Parliament. The maximum membership of the Rajya Sabha is fixed at of whom shall be nominated by the President, and the remainder shall be representatives of States and the Union Territories.
The representatives of States are elected by the members of the Legislative Assembles in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
The representatives from the Union Territories are chosen in such a manner as Parliament may by law determine.
The 12 nominated persons are chosen by the President from amongst the persons having special knowledge or practical experience in Literature, Science, Art and Social Service.
The nominated members do not participate in the election of the President of India.
Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha
The Vice-President of India shall be the ex officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The Rajya Sabha shall also elect a member of the House to be Deputy Chairman.
When the office of Chairman is vacant or he is acting as the Vice-President or discharging the function of President, his duties shall be performed by the Deputy Chairman.
The office of the Deputy Chairman is also vacant the duties shall be performed by such member of the Rajya Sabha as the President may appoint for that purpose.
Utility of the Rajya Sabha
The Rajya Sabha is a permanent body but in respect of power it enjoys inferior position the Lok Sabha.
A money bill can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha has no powers in respect of a money bill. A vote of no-confidence cannot by passed against the Government by the Rajya Sabha.
Even in case of ordinary bill if a deadlock is created between the two Houses and the joint Session is held then by virtue of the numerical strength the Lok Sabha will also to pass that bill.
The Lok Sabha
The Lok Sabha is a popular House. Its members are directly elected by the People. The number of its membership as provided under Article 81(1)
The provisions of Article 81(1) are subject to the provisions of Article 331 under which the President may nominated nor more than two members of the Anglo-Indian community if in his opinion that community is not adequately represented in the Lok Sabha.
The actual strength of the Lok Sabha may be 550 or maximum 552 depending on such opinion of the President and nominated by him.
The representatives of the Union territories shall be elected in the manner prescribed by Parliament by law.
The Purposes of elections to the Lok Sabha each State is divided into territorial constituencies in such manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it, as fas as practicable, is the same throughout the State.
Each State is allotted a number of seats in the Lok Sabha in such manner that ratio between that number and its populations so far as practicable is the same for all States.
Tenure of Lok Sabha
The Lok Sabha shall continue for five years from the commencement of its first session. The President may, however, dissolve it even earlier. But while a proclamation of emergency is in operation the life of the House of People may be extended by law of Parliament for one year at a time.
The Lok Sabha, whose life has been so extended, cannot continue beyond a period of six months after the proclamation of emergency has ceased to operate.
Qualification for membership of Parliament
A person for being chosen as a member for Parliament must be
a citizen of India
- not less than 30 years of age in the case of the Council of States and not less than 25 years of age in the case of House of the People.
- Possessing such other qualification as may be prescribed by Parliament
- taken an oath before some person authorised in that behalf by the Election Commission according to from set out for the purpose.
Office of Profit
The expression ‘office of profit’ has not been defined in the Constitution or in the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The Courts have however, laid down certain test to determine as to which office is an office of profit.
The object to this provision is to secure the independence of the member of Parliament from the benefits of the Executive which may be under influence and there may be conflict between duty and self interest among the members of Parliament.
The “office of profit” must be under the Central or any State Governments. For deciding this there are five tests:
- Whether government has power of appointment
- Whether government has the right to remove or dismiss the holder of office.
- Whether the government pays the remuneration
- Whether the functions which the holder performs are for government.
- Whether the government exercises control over the performance of those functions.
Disqualification under the Representation of Peoples Act
- Corrupt practice at an election.
- Conviction for an offence resulting in imprisonment for two or more years.
- Failure to lodge an account for election expense.
- Having an interest or share in the contract for supply of goods or execution of any work or performance of a service to the Government.
- Being a director or managing agent or holding an office of profit in Corporation in which the Government has 25% share
- Dismissal from Government service for corruption or disloyalty to the State.
Disqualification on ground of defection
The 25nd amendment amended Articles 101, 102, 190 and 191. It substituted explanation to clause (1) in Articles 102 and 191 and also inserted clause (2), in Articles 102 and 191 and Tenth Schedule in the Constitution providing that “a person shall be disqualified for being a member of either House of Parliament if he is so disqualified under tenth Schedule on the ground of defection.
The amendment that a member shall be disqualified for being a member of wither House of Parliament or of State Legislatures if he incurs the disqualification specified in the Tenth Schedule
If he voluntarily gives up the membership of the political party on whose ticket he is elected to the House
If he votes or abstains from voting in the House against any directions of the political party or by any person or authority authorised by it in this behalf, without the prior permission, of such party and unless it has been condoned by the party within 15 days from the date of voting or abstention
If any nominated member joins any political party after the expiry of six months form the date on which he takes his seat in the House.
Vacation of seats
A members of either House of Parliament may resign his sear by writing to the Chairman or the Speaker, as the case may be. His seat then shall become vacant [Art. 101(3)(b)].
If a member of either House of Parliament without the permission of the Houses, absents himself from all meetings of the Houses for a period of sixty days the Houses may declare his seat vacant [Art. 101(4)]
A declaration to this effect is necessary otherwise that seat will not become vacant.
Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha
The Lok Sabha elects two of its members as Speaker and Deputy Speaker. When the Office of Speaker is vacant the Deputy Speaker performs the duties the Speaker’s office [Art. 93]
If the office of Deputy Speaker also vacant, the duties of the Speaker shall be performed by such member or the House as the President may appoint for the purpose.[Art. 95(1)]
The Deputy Speaker also acts as the Speaker when the Speaker is absent from any sitting of the House.
Sessions of Parliament, Prorogation, and Dissolution:
Sessions of Parliament
The President shall be from time to time summon each House of the Parliament to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit. But the right of the President to summon the House is subject to the condition that six months should not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its sitting in the next session. [Art. 85(1)]
Prorogation merely ends a session. Prorogation does not ends the life of the House. The House meets again after prorogation. The power to prorogue the House is vested in the President [Art. 85(2)(a)].
In England prorogation brings to an end all Bills or business then pending before the House. But in India a pending Bill or business does not lapse on the prorogation of a session. It only means that the House ceases to do a business at a particular time.
It takes up pending business for consideration when it meets after prorogation.
A dissolution ends the very life of the House and general elections then must be held to elect a new Lok Sabha. It is to be noted that it is the Lok Sabha which is subject to dissolution.
The Rajya Sabha is a permanent body and no subject to dissolution.
A dissolution ends the very life of the House while a prorogation ends a session.
Function Of The Parliament
The most important function of the Parliament is the making of the laws. The legislative procedure is initiated in the form of a Bill.
An ordinary Bill, Bill other than money Bill and Financial Bills may originate in either House of the Parliament. The Bill must be passed by both the Houses of Parliament and then only it can be sent for Presidents’s assent.
It becomes a law when it is assented to by the president. Each Houses has laid down a procedure for the passage of a Bill.
Joint Sitting of Houses
According to Article 108 when a Bill passed by one House and sent to other House
- Is rejected by the House
- The House disagrees as the amendment to be made in the Bill
- The other House does not pass the Bill and more than six months have passed the President may summon a joint sitting of both the Houses.
No Bill can become law without the assent of the President even if it has been passed by both Houses of Parliament. Article 111 says that when a Bill has been passed by both Houses of Parliament, it is sent to the President for his assent.
The President may either
- give his assent to the Bill
- he may withhold his assent
- he may return a Bill if it is not a Money Bill, to the House for reconsideration with or without a message suggesting such amendments as he may recommend.
Article 110(1) defines that a Money Bill is a Bill which contains only provisions with respect to all or any of the following matters
- the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulations of any tax
- the regulation of the borrowing of money or the giving of any guarantee by the Government of India
- the custody of the Consolidated Fund or the Contingency Fund, the payment or withdrawal of money from such Fund.
- the appropriation of money out of the Consolidated Fund of India
- the declaring of any expenditure to be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India
- any matter incidental to any of the matters specified in sub-clauses (a) to (f). But a Bill is not money Bill by reason only that it provides for
- the imposition of fines or other pecuniary penalties
- the payment of fees for license or service rendered
- imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax by any local authority or body for local purposes. [Art. 110(2)].
Financial Bills are of three kinds:
Money Bills – Articles 110(1)
Other Financial Bills – Articles 117(1)
Bills involving expenditure – Articles 117(3)
Annual Financial Statement – Budget [Article 112]:
According to Article 112 the President shall in respect of every financial year cause to be laid before both the Houses of Parliament an annual financial statement commonly known as the Budget.
The following expenditures are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India:
- The Salary and allowances of the President and other expenditure relating to his office.
- Salaries and allowances of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
- Debt charges for which the Government of India is liable.
- Salaries, allowances and pensions payable to Judges of the Supreme Court, the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India, Judges of the High courts and Federal Court.
- Any sums required to satisfy any judgement, decree or award of any court or tribunal.
- Any other expenditure declared by this Constitution or by Parliament by law to be so charged.
- Supplementary Additional or Excess Grants [Art. 115]
- If the amount authorised by the Appropriation Act to be expended for a particular service is found to be insufficient for the purposes of that years or when a need has arisen during the current financial year upon some new service not contemplated for that year, for any additional expenditure, a supplementary grant is made by Parliament.
General Rules of Procedure
Article 118 empowers each House of Parliament to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of its business. This rule-making power of the Houses is, however, subject to the provisions of this Constitution.
Parliament may for the purpose of the timely completion of financial business, regulate by law the procedure and conduct of business, in each Houses of Parliament in relation to any Money Bill (Art. 119).
Parliament Control Over Financial Matters
In Financial matters Parliament has effective control. The Annual Budget is presented to Parliament and passed by it. The appropriation Bill and the Finance Bill is also passed by Parliament. Unless the appropriation Bill is passed no money can be withdrawn by the government from the Consolidated Fund of India.
It also exercises control over financial matters through the Public Accounts Committee and the Estimate Committee.
The Public Accounts Committee consists of fifteen members of Parliament including a Minister.
To have effective control over the governmental activity on a regular and continuing basis various Parliamentary Committees are established so that grants for various ministries are scrutinised by the elected representatives well before they are presented to the Parliament for its approval.
The committees system is expected to remove this glaring drawback. It is time consuming process if the entire House gets involved in the scrutiny process.
Language To Be Used In Parliament
The proceedings in Parliament shall be conducted in Hindi or in English. But the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha or the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, 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.
Restriction on discussion in Parliament
Article 121 prohibits any discussion in Parliament with respect to the conduct of any Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court in the discharge of his duties except when resolution is presented to the Parliament for the removal of a Judge. The object of this Article is to ensure the independence of Judicial.
Courts Not To Inquire Into Proceedings Of Parliament
Article 122 lays down that the validity of any proceedings in Parliament cannot be called in question in any Court on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure.
No officer or member of Parliament who has authority to regulate the procedure or the conduct of business or for maintaining order in the House is subject to the jurisdiction of any Court in respect of the exercise by him of those powers.
The Comptroller And Auditor-General Of India (Arts. 148-151)
There shall be a Comptroller and Auditor-General in India. He is appointed by the President of India. He has to take oath before entering upon his office before the President or some other person appointed by the President for that purpose.
His salary is charged on the Consolidated Fund of India and cannot be varied to his disadvantages. After he has ceased to hold his office, he shall not be eligible to hold any office under Central or State Government.
Duties And Powers
The Comptroller and Auditor-General is to perform such duties and exercise such powers in relation to the accounts of the Union and of States as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament.
Until such a law is passes, he shall perform such duties and exercise powers as were exercisable by the Auditor-General of India immediately before the commencement of the Constitution [Art. 149].
Author: R. Shanmuga Sundaram,
Student - Chettinad School of Law