Our constitution has adopted a Parliamentary System of Government. Under such a system there is a curious mixture of the legislative and executive organs of the state. While discussing the functions of Parliament this aspect should always be borne in mind. To begin with the Parliament provides the Council of Ministers to run the administration of the State and holds it responsible. The membership, of the Council of Ministers is drawn from the two chambers of the Parliament.
1. Controlling the Executive :
A very significant function of Parliament is to exercise its control on the Council of Ministers by way of holding it responsible for its acts of omissions and commissions. Article 75(3) expressly states that the Council of Minister remains in office, so long as it enjoys the confidence of the Lok Sabha. Parliament exercise the control by asking question to the ministers through its members, by raising adjournment motions, cut motions, censure motions or debates. More importantly the Lok Sabha can pass a vote of no confidence against the Council of Ministers which compels it to resign collectively. Thus the parliament holds the ministers responsible individually and collectively. This critical function of the Parliament ensures a responsive and responsible government.
2. Law Making :
Law making is the primary function of any legislature. The Parliament of India makes law on all matter included in the Union list and concurrent list of course the state legislatures share with the parliament the power to make law from the concurrent list with its prior permission.
However under certain special circumstances the Parliament can make law for the states also. For examples the special circumstances are a) Promulgation of Emergency, b) A resolution passed by Rajya Sabha with special majority asking to make law for the states in the national interest which can remain valid for one year, c) A resolution by two or three states urging upon the Parliament to make law for them on certain items of the State list, d) If there is any international treaty or agreement is to be executed.
An ordinary bill is initiated in either House of Parliament. When it is passed by both the Houses of Parliament it becomes law after getting the assent of the President. In case of disagreement by both the chambers of Parliament over an ordinary bill, the President of India summons a joint session of both the chambers presided over by the Speaker of Lok Sabha which decides the fate of the bill.
3. Controlling the Finance :
The Parliament, particularly, the Lok Sabha exercises substantial functions in the domain of finance. The legislature of any responsible system of Government has to ensure that public funds are raised and spent with its consent and control. The Constitution of India has armed the union Parliament more particularly the Lok Sabha to exercise greater control over the National finance. The executive or the Government of the nation has no authority to spend any money on its own without the approval of the Parliament. Every financial year, the budget prepared by the Finance Minister is presented in the Lok Sabha for its approval.
Any proposal for levying new taxes or any proposal for expenditure needs the sanction of the Parliament. There are also two very important Committee of the Parliament known as Public Accounts Committee and the Public Estimates Committee, and Comptroller and Auditor General, a Constitutional authority appointed by the President who examine the legality of expenditure and place a report for discussion in the Parliament.
However it may be noted that Lok Sabha enjoys the exclusive power to control the national finances. The Rajya Sabha has no role to play in such a field. A Money Bill can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha. After it is passed there it is sent to the Rajya Sabha who has to return the Bill within fourteen days with or without its recommendations. However these recommendations may or may not be accepted by the Lok sabha. If the bill is not returned within the specified time of 14 days it is deemed to be approved by the Rajya Sabha.
4. Raising Deliberations :
As an organ of information the Parliament has a formidable role to play. All the important administrative policies are discussed on the floors of the Parliament. So that not only the Cabinets gets the advice of the Parliament and learns about its lapses but the nation as a whole is enlightened about serious matters of public importance. This undoubtedly contributes to the growth of political conscious on the part of the people.
5. Constituent Functions :
Parliament is the only body, under the constitution, to initiate any proposal for amendment of the constitution. A proposal for amendment can be initiated in either House of Parliament. The bulk of such proposal are approved finally when passed by both the chambers with special majority of two-thirds of its members. However some provisions require the approval of at least half of the states after they are passed by the Parliament with required majority.
6. Electoral Functions :
The Parliament has some electoral functions to perform. It takes part in the election of the President and the Vice-President of India. It also elects various members to its committees, and the presiding officers and Deputy presiding officers.
7. Judicial Functions :
The judicial functions of the Parliament are no less significant. It has the power to impeach the President, the Vice-President, the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court. The Chairman and members of the Public Service Commission’s of the Union and the States as well, the Comptroller and Auditor General. Impeachment is a judicial trial of the legislature to remove high Constitutional authorities after such a proposal is passed with required majority. It can also punish its members and officials for its contempt’s. This power is not subject to review of the court.