An analysis of the powers of the both the chambers of Indian Parliament brings out the marked superiority of the Lok Sabha over the powers of the Rajya Sabha. Particularly in the field of controlling the finance, making the laws and controlling the executive the Lok Sabha has adequate edge over the Rajya Sabha.
In the field of finance the Rajya Sabha has no powers at all as Lok Sabha does not take in to consideration the approval or views of the other chamber Besides the Upper chamber has no powers to initiate money bills.
In matters of law making although both the chambers of parliament has coequal powers the superiority of Lok Sabha is clearly established because of its numerical superiority. In case of disagreements over an ordinary bill the matter is referenced to the Joint session of parliament. The fate of the bill is decided by majorities of votes after discussion. The membership, being more than double the member of the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha is placed on an advantageous footing.
Similarly in matters of controlling the executive it is clearly stated in the Constitution [Art 75 (3)] that the Council of Ministers shall remain responsible to the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha being the House of the people exercise the ultimate control over the Council of Ministers. As it enjoys the power to pass a vote of no confidence which compels the Council of Ministers to resign, such a resolution is accepted in the Lok Sabha. But if on the other hand such proposal is passed in the Rajya Sabha it has no effect on the Government, In spite of the fact that the Lok Sabha enjoys greater power compared to the Rajya Sabha, it should not be viewed that Rajya Sabha is a superfluous body. It has certain exclusive functions not granted to the Lok Sabha.
Parliament cannot ignore its request to make law for the states from the State list in the greater interest of the nation. Besides Rajya Sabha through its proposals can take steps to create all India services to bring about uniformity in administration between the Centre and the States. Rajya Sabha alone can initiate the impeachment motion of the Vice-President of India. Besides the delaying power of Rajya Sabha while giving its consent to the bills passed in the Lok Sabha has great significance. Thereby it checks the passage of legislations taken up in haste and in the process educates and moulds the public opinion. Therefore Rajya Sabha has been created to assist and enlighten the Lok Sabha. It is not created to compete with Lok Sabha and thus obstruct the functioning of the legislative body. On more than one occasion in the past Rajya Sabha has made its presence felt.
The Legislative Procedure
Articles 107 to 122 of the Constitution of India deal with the provisions relating to passing of bills in the Parliament. A bill travels through various stages to become an Act. The proposed law which is presented to the Parliament is known as a bill. Bills are of two types, Ordinary bills and Money Bills. Separate procedures are followed to the pass these two types of bills.
An ordinary bill can be initiated in either House of the Parliament. But a Money Bill can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha. The ordinary bill in order to become an Act has to be passed in both the chambers of the Parliament. In case of any difference between the two chambers over the bill, the matter is referred to the joint sitting of both the chambers of the Parliament. Such a session of the Parliament is summoned by the President of India where the bill is put to vote and approved by majority votes. The President of India extends his assent to the bill passed by the Parliament after which it becomes an Act. The consent of the President is not automatic. He may sometimes return the bill back to the originating chamber with or without his observation, to reconsider the bill. In that case the parliament may pass the bill again with or without considering the views of the President. When it is submitted to the President for the second time the President is bound to give his assent to make it an Act.
Every bill has to move through three stages of readings in both the chambers of Parliament before it is finally passed. These stages are known as First Reading Stage, Second Reading Stage and Third Reading Stage.
The first reading stage is a formal one allowing an ordinary bill to be introduced in any House of the Parliament. A bill may be introduced either by a minister or by a Private Member. In case of the later he has to give one month notice and ask for the permission of the House to introduce it. At first the bill is submitted in the concerned Secretariat where it is introduced. The speaker includes the bill in the agenda and fixes up a date for introduction of the bill. On the specified day the mover moves the motion for leave to introduce the bill and only reads out the title. Usually at this stage there is no objection raised and the speaker allows the motion. But in case opposition is raised to introduce the bill, the speaker allows the move to make his points in favour of the bill at the end of which the motion is put to vote. If the majority favour the bill the same is considered to be introduced in the House and is immediately sent for publication in the Gazette of India.
The Second Reading Stage is really important. The mover of the bill may propose three alternatives either to a) take the Bill into consideration immediately or b) to refer the bill to a select committee or a Joint Select Committee of both the Houses or c) to circulate it for the purpose of eliciting public opinion. Normally the bill is sent to a committee appointed by the Speaker or the Chairman as the case may be for detailed consideration. However before it is sent to the committee the underlying principles behind the bill and the general provisions of it are discussed.
This practice saves the time of the House besides providing proper atmosphere to delink politics from discussion. The committee usually consists of interested members of various political parties in the House. The assistance of officials and technical persons is taken to consider the different aspects of the bill. The committee examines the bill in all its aspects and submits a report to the speaker along with it suggestions. The report of the committee and the suggestions are discussed in the House and necessary amendments if any are taken up clause by clause. The clauses are incorporated in the bill after getting majority support.
The Third reading stage is a formal stage like the first reading stage. Here no discussion on the bill takes place. Only minor technical errors if any are looked in to. The entire bill is put to vote and is deemed to be accepted if it receives the majority support in the House.
The Financial Procedure
The Parliament under any responsible system of Government has to ensure that public funds are raised and spent with its consent. The basic principle of the financial provisions are that there shall be no taxation or expenditure without the authority of the Parliament and the executive alone can place demands for taxation and expenditure. No private member can initiate such proposals. In matters of finance the Lok Sabha is Supreme to the extent that even the President cannot withhold his assent from a Money Bill passed by Parliament
Under Article 112 of the Constitution of India a detailed financial procedure is laid down. Every year the budget is placed by the finance minister. It shows the estimated receipts and expenditure for that financial year. Normally on the day of presentation of the budget no discussion takes place.
The expenditure part of the budget consists of two parts; the expenditure changed upon the consolidated Fund of India, which are non-votable and the sums required to meet the other expenditure from the consolidated Fund of India which are votable. The salary and allowances of the President of India, the Presiding Officers of both the chambers of Parliament, the judges of the Supreme and High Courts of India, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and certain other matters come under the scope of non-votable items. But discussion on the matter can always take place. So far as votable items are concerned they are presented in form of demands for grants to the House of People. The House has the powers to either grant or reduce or reject these demands, but it cannot increase the demands.
Procedurally separate demands are made Ministry-wise over which detailed discussions take place. At the end of the discussion by the members of various political parties, the Finance Minister makes a statement to meet the observations made by members earlier. Before voting the members have a right to move cut motions, through which they express their resentment against the government. A cut motion has the effect of throwing the government out of power, if passed.
After voting on demands two financial legislations the Appropriation Act and the Finance Act are passed. The Appropriation* Act sanctions the amount which can be drawn from the consolidated Fund of India. For meeting the expenditure against each grant and the Finance Act authorises the raising of Funds through taxation.