What are the Functions and Powers of the Indian Parliament?

The main Functions and Powers of the Indian Parliament are :

Functions and Powers of the Indian Parliament

The Constitution of India enumerates the powers and functions of the Indian Parliament in Chapter II of Part V of the constitution. Like the British counterpart, the Parliament of India is not a fully sovereign legislature. It does not enjoy unlimited and absolute powers like that of the British Parliament. It is a creation of the Constitution. It has no natural growth like that of the British Parliament. As it is created by the Constitution, it is bound by the provisions of the Constitution.

The powers and functions of the Indian Parliament may be generalized in the following heads. While discussing these powers it should be borne in mind that they are enjoyed and exercised by both the Houses of Parliament with a few difference

(a) Law making powers:

The Parliament of the Union Government is competent to legislate on all matters that are enumerated in the Union List and the Concurrent List of the Constitution. In the Concurrent List, the Parliament and the State Legislatures have joint jurisdiction. However, in case of conflict over any law made under the Concurrent List, the Union Law will prevail upon the State Law provided the State Law has not received the earlier assent of the President. The Union Parliament is also competent to make law over the State List under the following circumstances:-

(i) When the proclamation of Emergency is in operation the Parliament can make law in any item included in the State List. In case of the declaration of President's Rule in any State under Article 356 of the Constitution, the Parliament is competent to legislate on any matter included in the State List (Article 250).

(ii) In normal times when Rajya Sabha passes a resolution by two-thirds majority of its members present and voting that it is necessary in the national interest that Parliament should make law with regard to any matter enumerated in the State List, then Parliament is competent to make law in that matter for the whole or any part of India (Article 249).

(iii) The Parliament is competent to legislate on any matter pertaining to the State List if such legislation is deemed necessary for the implementation of international treaties or agreements concluded with foreign States (Article 253).

(iv) If the legislatures of two or more States pass a resolution to the effect that it is desirable to have a parliamentary law in any matter in the State List, then the Parliament can make law for those States (Article 252).

Except in the above-mentioned occasions, the Parliament of India is not competent to make law in the State List. If at any time, the Parliament encroaches upon the rights of the States, the Supreme Court can prevent such encroachment of the Parliament through its power of Judicial Review. The Parliament must make law in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

(b) Financial Powers:

In the financial domain the Parliament is the supreme authority. Not a single paisa can be spent by the Executive without parliamentary sanction. The budget is annually prepared by the Cabinet and it is submitted for the approval of the Parliament. The Parliament also approves all proposals of the Union Government to impose taxes.

Money Bills can originate only in the Lok Sabha. After they have been passed by the Lok Sabha, they are sent to the Rajya Sabha for approval. Within 14 days the Rajya Sabha is expected to give its consent. Thus the power of the Rajya Sabha is limited with regards to money Bills.

Further, to keep a vigil on the way the Executive spends the money granted by the legislature, there are two Standing Committees of the Parliament. They are the Public Accounts Committee and the Estimates Committee. These two Committees exercise legislative control over the Executive on behalf of the Parliament. There are certain items of expenditure included in the Budget which are not votable in the Parliament. These items include salary of the President, the Judges of the Supreme Court, and the members of the Union Public Service Commission etc. They are charged from the Consolidated Fund of India.

(c) Control over the Executive

The Parliament keeps a day-to-day watch over the activities of the Executive. As ours is a parliamentary system of Government, the Executive is responsible to the Parliament for all acts of omissions and commissions. The
Parliament may remove a Cabinet out of power by a vote of no confidence. It may reject a bill or a budget proposal of the Cabinet.

Members of the Parliament have a right to ask questions and supplementary question to the Ministers. Any lapses or mishandling on the part of the Government can be exposed in the Parliament. Adjournment motions may be moved to discuss serious administrative lapses. Through adjournment motions, matters of public importance can be brought to the notice of the Government by the members of the

Parliament. There is a Committee on ministerial assurances appointed by the Parliament to see that the promises made to the Parliament by the respective ministers are fulfilled. In this matter the Lok Sabha is more powerful than the Rajya Sabha.

(d) Amending Power:

The Parliament is competent to amend the Constitution. Both the Houses have equal powers so far amendment of the Constitution is concerned. A bill to amend the Constitution may originate either in the Rajya Sabha or in the Lok Sabha. Unless it is passed by both the Houses with the required majority, the amendment cannot be effective.

(e) Judicial Functions

The Constitution vested in the Parliament the power to impeach the President, the Vice-President, and the other High Federal Officers like the Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, Auditor-General, Members of the Public Service Commission etc. Impeachment is a judicial trial of the Parliament to remove high federal officers. While the resolution for impeachment is moved in one House, the other House sits as a Court of Trial. Approval of both the Houses is necessary for any impeachment.

Further, the Parliament possesses punitive powers to punish its members, and non-members who have broken the privileges of the House. This power is not ordinarily subject to the review of the Court. In a Parliamentary system of Government, legislative privileges are immune from judicial control.

(f) Electoral Function

The Parliament participates in the election of the President and the Vice-President. It also elects some of its members to various Committees of the Parliament. The Vice- President is elected by both the Houses of the Parliament. He is removable by a resolution of the Rajya Sabha agreed to by the Lok Sabha.

(g) Deliberative Function:

The Parliament is a forum for deliberation on questions of public importance. It also serves as a ventilating chamber of public grievances. The Parliament is a mirror of national life. Whatever happens in various parts of the country can be discussed in its forum. It is often described as "a nation in miniature". Of all the functions of the Parliament this is an important function in a democratic country. Resolutions passed by the Parliament after days of deliberation may have the force of law. The Parliament represents the consensus of public opinion in the country Churchill once described the British Parliament as "the citadel of liberty". The Parliament in India also protects the rights and liberties of the people.