Functions of Parliament of India

FUNCTIONS OF PARLIAMENT OF INDIA

INTRODUCTION:

Article 79 of the Indian constitution states that there should be a parliament for the union which consists of the president and two houses of the parliament namely Lok Sabha ( House of the people) and rajya sabha (Council of states) i.e. bicameral legislature. Here the members of Lok sabha are directly elected by the citizens through election whereas, the members of Rajya sabha are elected by the MLA’s (Members of Legislative Assemblies) of the each states.

In India, parliamentary system of government prevails where the union government is considered as the supreme legislative body in the country. Laws passed by the parliament can either be approved or rejected by the president of India.

FUNCTIONS OF THE PARLIAMENT:

Part 5 of the Indian constitution deals with the functions of the parliament. Chapter 2 of part 5 states certain functions of the parliament which are discussed below:

Legislative functions:

The parliament has the power to make laws in all the subjects as mentioned in the union list and state list.

In the case of concurrent list, the parliament has the power to over ride the laws made by the states. Here, the union law prevails over the state laws  unless it has been approved the president earlier. However the parliament can enact law adding to, amending, varying or repealing a law made by a state legislature.

Instances where parliament can make laws on the subjects of state lists are discussed below:

Article 249 of the Indian constitution states that the parliament can make laws on the matters of state list if a resolution passed by the upper house by 2/3 majority of its members present and voting. Under this, the parliament can make law if it seems to be necessary and upon national interest.

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Article 250 of the Indian constitution deals with the power of parliament to legislate laws with respect to any matter in the state list in case if a proclamation of emergency is in operation.

Article 252 of the Indian constitution states that parliament has the power to legislate for two or more states if consent and adoption of such legislation by any other state  (or) when two or more states request parliament to do so.

As per Article 253 the parliament can pass Laws on the state list items if it is necessary for the implementation of international agreements or treaties with foreign powers.

Article 356 states that  parliament can make laws on the subjects mentioned in the state list in the case of emergency or if any state is under the presidential rule.

Executive functions:

In the parliamentary form of government, the executive has the responsibility to the legislature. Here the parliament exercises control over the executive by several measures such as question hour, zero hour, calling attention motion, adjournment motion, vote of no-confidence, censure motion, cut motion, half-an-hour discussion, etc.

Members of different political parties are elected or nominated to the parliamentary committees through which the parliament controls the government. The parliament constituted the Committee on Ministerial assurance

to ensure that the assurances made by the ministries to parliament are fulfilled.

Article 75 of the constitution mentions that the council of ministers remains in office as long as it enjoys the confidence of the Lok Sabha. The ministers are responsible to the Lok Sabha individually and collectively. Lok Sabha can remove the council of ministers by passing a  no confidence motion in the Lok Sabha.

Apart from that, the Lok Sabha can also express lack of confidence in the government in the following ways:

  • By not passing a motion of thanks on the president’s inaugural address.
  • By rejecting a money bill.
  • By passing a censure censure motion or an adjournment motion.
  • By defeating the government on vital issue.
  • These powers of parliament help in making government responsive and responsible.
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Financial functions:

Parliament is the ultimate authority when it comes to finances because the executive cannot spend a single pie without the approval of the parliament.

The Union Budget prepared by the cabinet is submitted for the approval of parliament and all proposals to impose taxes should also be approved by the parliament.

Public Accounts Committee and Estimates Committee are the two standing committees of the parliament to keep a check on how the executive spends the money granted to it by the legislature.

Electoral functions:

The elected members of the parliament along with state assemblies participate in the election of president and vice-president

The Lok sabha elects its speaker and the deputy speaker.

The rajya sabha elects its deputy chairman.

Members of various parliamentary committees are also elected.

Amending powers and functions:

Parliament is empowered to amend the provisions of the constitution, here both the houses can pass the bill for the amendment and it can be initiated from either house of the parliament. Based on the resolution, the parliament can make an act for amending the constitution for that purpose..

Types of bills which requires constitution amendment are:

  1. Simple Majority: these bills need to be passed by the simple majority, that is , a             majority of members present and voting in each of the house.
  2. Special Majority: These bills need to be passed by the majority of the house and two-third of the members present and voting in each of the house.
  3. Special Majority and consent of half of the state legislatures: These bills are to be passed by the special majority in each house. Along with this , at least half of the state legislatures should give consent to the bill.
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Judicial powers and functions:

The parliament the punitive powers to punish the members of the houses in case of breach of privilege. It is said to be breach of privilege, when there is an infringement of any of the privileges enjoyed by the MPs.

The privilege motion is moved by a member when he feels that a minister or any member has committed a breach of privilege of the house or one or more of its members by withholding facts of a case or by giving wrong or distorted facts.

In the parliamentary system, legislative privileges are immune to judicial control.

The power of the parliament to punish its members is also generally not subject to judicial review.

Other judicial functions of the parliament include the power to impeach the president, the vice president, the judges of the supreme court, high courts ,auditor-general, etc.

Others functions of the parliament:

Issues of national and international importance are discussed are the parliament. The opposition plays an important role in this regard and ensures that the country is aware of alternate view points.

A parliament is sometimes talked of as a ‘nation in miniature’.

The parliament plays an important role in deliberating matters of importance before laws or resolutions are passed.

The parliament has the power to alter, decrease or increase the boundaries of States / Union Territories.

Since the ministers are bound to provide information in the houses when demanded by the members it also functions as an organ of information.

Author: sathiya v,
Dr.Ambedkar Law university, chennai

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