Short Essay on the Parliament of India

The Parliament of India consists of the President and the two Houses - the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the Peoples).

Article 79 begins by saying that there shall be a Parliament for the Union, which means that there must always be a Parliament for the Union. Of the three constituents of Parliament, only the Lok Sabha is subject to dissolution. The Rajya Sabha is a permanent or continuing House and there must always be a President or a person performing the functions of the President.

The President:

Though the President of India is a constituent part of Parliament, he does not sit or participate in the discussions in either of the two Houses. The two Houses are, however, summoned by the President to meet from time to time. He can prorogue the two Houses and dissolve the Lok Sabha. Prorogation terminates the session while dissolution puts an end to the life of the House.

The President's Assent is essential for a Bill passed by both Houses to become law. Not only that, when both the Houses of Parliament are not in session and he is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action, the President cavrpromulgate Ordinance having the same force and effect as a law passed by Parliament (Articles 85, 111 and 123).

Rajya Sabha:

The Rajya Sabha is, as its name indicates, the Council of States. It represents the people in an indirect way in as much as they are grouped into several components of the Union - the States and the Union Territories - and members of Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote (Article 80(4)).

Unlike the Lok Sabha, which has a fixed term but can be dissolved by the President at any time, the Rajya Sabha is a permanent body and is not subject to dissolution while the term of an individual member of Rajya Sabha is six years, as nearly as possible, one-third of its members with the provisions made in that behalf by Parliament by law (Article 83(1)) retire, every 2 years.

The Vice-President, who is elected by the members of both Houses of Parliament, is the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha, whereas the Deputy Chairman is elected by the members of the Rajya Sabha from amongst themselves (Article 64, 66 and 89).

Lok Sabha:

The other House - the Lok Sabha- is the House of the people. It is directly elected by the people. Every citizen of India who is not less than 18 years of age is entitled to vote in elections to Lok Sabha unless he is otherwise disqualified under law (Article 326).

The Constitution provides that the Lok Sabha shall consist of not more than 530 members chosen direct election from territorial constituencies in the States, and not more than 20 members to represent the Union territories, chosen in such manner as Parliament by law provides (Article 81(1)).

In addition the President may nominate not more than two members to represent the Anglo-Indian community (Article 331). The maximum strength of the House envisaged in the Constitution is thus 552.

The term of the House in India is five years from the date appointed for its first meeting. The expira­tion of the period of five years operates as its dissolution.

The House may be dissolved before the expiration of its full term under certain circumstances. When a proclamation of emergency is in force, the term of Lok Sabha can be extended by the Parliament for a period not exceeding one year at a time and not exceeding in any case a period of six months after the Proclamation has ceased to operate (Article 83).

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, splendour 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 maters connected with the House, his word is final.

His salary and allowances are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India - that is, they do not have to be voted by Parliament. His conduct cannot be discussed except on a substantive motion. He does not vote in the House except when there is an equality of votes (Articles 94, 96, 100(1) and 112(3)(b)).

The Constitution gives the Speaker a special position in so far as relations between the two Houses in certain matters are concerned. He determines what matters are financial matters which fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of Lok Sabha.

If he certifies a Bill to be a 'Money Bill', his decision is final (Article 110). 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 (Articles 108 and 118(4)).