According to Article 79 of the Constitution of India, there shall be a Parliament of India which shall consist of the president and the two houses to be known respectively as the council of states and the house of the people.
Composition of Parliament of India
The president is not a member of either house of the parliament, yet he is an integral part of the Parliament and performs certain functions related to its proceedings. He summons the two houses of the parliament, dissolve the House of people and give assent to Bills.
The Rajya Sabha or the Council of states is the upper house of the Union parliament. The maximum membership of the Rajya Sabha is fixed at 250 of whom 12 shall be nominated by the president and the remainder, i.e. 238 shall be representatives of the states and the Union territories. The representatives of the states are elected by the members of the legislative assemblies in accordance with the system of proportional representation by the means of single transferable vote. There presentation from the Union Territories are chosen as parliament may by law determine. The 12 nominated members are chosen by the president from amongst the people having special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, arts and social service. Rajya Sabha is a permanent house. It is not subject to dissolution. Its members are elected for a period of six years but one-third of its members retire after every two years.
Lok Sabha is a popular house. Its members are elected directly by the people. The maximum number of membership of Lok Sabha is fixed at 550 out of whom, not more than 530 are elected by votes in the states and not more than 20 to represent the Union Territories. The Lok Sabha shall continue for 5 years from the commencement of its first session. The president may, however dissolve it earlier. The Lok Sabha, whose life cannot continue beyond a period of 6 months after the proclamation of emergency cease to operate.
Qualification for the membership of parliament
A person for being chosen as a member for parliament must be-
(a) a citizen of India;
(b) not less than 30 years of age in the case of council of states and not less than 25 years of age in case of house of the people;
(c) possessing such other qualification as may be prescribed by parliament;
(d) taken an oath before some person authorized in that behalf by the election commission according to form set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule.
Disqualification for the membership of parliament
A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either house of parliament-
(a) if he holds any office of profit under the government of India or the government of any state, other than any office declared by parliament by law not to disqualify its holder;
(b) if he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court;
(c) if he is an undischarged insolvent;
(d) if he is not a citizen of India, or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign state, or is under any acknowledgement of allegiance or adherence to a foreign state;
(e) if he is so disqualified by or under any law made by parliament.
Office of profit
The word office necessarily implies that there be existence of office apart from the person who holds it. There must be an office which exists independently of the holder of the office. The office of profit means an office to which some benefit is derived or might reasonably expressed to be made by holder of the office. The office of profit must be under the Central or any state governments. For deciding this, there are five tests-
(a) whether government has power of appointment
(b) whether government has right to remove or dismiss the holder of office.
(c) whether the government pays the remuneration.
(d) whether the functions which the holder performs are for the government.
(e) whether the government exercises control over the performance of those functions.
In Jaya Bachchan vs Union of India, Jaya Bachchan, a member of Rajya Sabha, was appointed as chairperson of the film development council. The parliament (prevention of disqualification) act did not exempt the said office of profit from the disqualification under Article 102(1)(a) of the constitution. The office carried with a monthly honorarium of Rs. 5000, entitlement expenditure of Rs. 10000, staff car with driver, telephones at office and residence, free accommodation and medical treatment facilities. The petitioner’s membership on this ground was challenged and after obtaining the opinion of the election commission she was disqualified as a member of Rajya Sabha. She claimed that the benefits and facilities given by the state government was not received by her. The court held that an office of profit is an office which is capable of yielding a profit or pecuniary gain.
Functions and powers of the parliament
The constitution of India enumerates the powers and functions of the Indian parliament. The parliament of India is not fully sovereign legislature. It is a creation of constitution and is bound by the provisions of the constitution.
The law-making power
The parliament of the Union is competent to legislate on any matter enumerated in the union list and concurrent list of the constitution. In case there is any conflict or overlapping in the provisions existing in the union and state enactment, the union law prevails. In case, when an emergency has been declared, the union parliament can also make laws on subjects that fall within the state list.
The union parliament is competent to make law over the state list under following circumstances: –
(a) Proclamation of emergency- the parliament can make law on any item included in the state list. In case of declaration of the president rule in any state under Article 356 of the constitution, the parliament is competent to legislate upon any matters included in state list
(b) In normal times, when Rajya Sabha passes resolution by 2/3rd majority of its member present and voting that it is necessary in the national interest that the parliament should make law in respect of item states in state list then parliament is competent to make law on any matter of whole or any part of India.
(c) parliament is competent to legislate on any matter pertaining to state list in such legislation is necessary for implementation of international treaties or agreement concluded with foreign state.
(d) If the legislature of two or more states passes a resolution to the effect that it is desirable to have a parliamentary law in any matter stated in the state list, the parliament can make laws for those states.
The parliament is the supreme authority. The budget is annually prepared by the cabinet and is submitted for approval of the parliament. The parliament also approves all proposals of the union government to impose taxes. Money bills can only originate in Lok Sabha after they have been passed by Lok Sabha they sent to Rajya Sabha for the approval within 14 days. The Rajya Sabha is expected to give their consent within 14 days.
Control over the executive
The parliament keeps day-to-day watch over the activity of the executive. It is responsible to the government for all acts and omission and commission. The parliament may remain a cabinet out of power. The constitution vested in the parliament the power to impeach the president, vice-president and other high-federal officers like judge of the supreme court and high court, auditor-general, member of public service commission. Approval of both the houses is necessary for any impeachment. Further, the parliament possess power to punish its member and non-members who have broken privilege of the house. This power is not ordinary subject to review of the court.
Elected members of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha constitute the Electoral college for the election of vice-president. Along with the elected members of the state legislatures they form the electoral college for the election of office of the president. The parliament can also by legislation creates new states or make changes in the existing boundaries of the state.
An organ of information
Parliament is the most powerful organ so far information about the functioning of the government is concerned. The information provided in the houses is authoritative and ministers are bound to provide information on the matters of the government when so desired by the members.
Edited by Sakshi Raje
Article 80(1), The Constitution Of India.
Article 80(4), The Constitution Of India.
Article 80(5), The Constitution Of India.
Article 80(3), The Constitution Of India.
Article 81(1), the constitution of India.
Article 84, the constitution of India.
Article 102, the constitution of India.
Deorao vs Keshav Laxman Borkar, AIR 1968 Bom 314.
AIR 2006 SC 2119.
Article 250, the constitution of India.
Article 249, the constitution of India.
Article 253, the constitution of India.
Article 252, the constitution of India.