Kriyaa Hi Vastoopahutaa Praseedati

Indian Polity, Study Materials

Union Legislature

Part-V (Article 79 – 122) of the Constitution deals with the organization, composition, duration, officers, procedures, privileges and powers of the Parliament.

  • Article 79 provides for a Parliament consisting of the President and the two houses:
    • The Lower House is called the House of the People (Lok Sabha). Lok Sabha (LS) represents the people of India as a whole.
    • The Upper House is called the Council of States (Rajya Sabha). The Rajya Sabha (RS) represents the states and union territories of the Indian Union.
  • The President is a part of the Legislature but he is not a member of either House of Parliament.
  • Since GoI Act, 1919, the central legislature has been a bi-cameral body consisting of the lower House (Lok Sabha) and an upper House (Rajya Sabha).

Qualifications and disqualifications for being a Member of Parliament

To be qualified to become a Member of Parliament a person must be:

  • A citizen of India;
  • Not less than 30 years of age in the case of the Rajya Sabha and not less than 25 years in the case of the Lok Sabha
  • He must be registered as an elector for a parliamentary constituency. This is the same in the case of both, the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha. The requirement that a candidate contesting an election to the Rajya Sabha from a particular state should be an elector in that particular state was dispensed with in 2003. In 2006, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of this change.

Session of Parliament, Summoning Prorogation and Dissolution

  • The President shall from time to time summon each House of Parliament to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit, but six months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its sitting in the next session.
  • The President may from time to time:
    • Prorogue the Houses or either House
    • Dissolve the House of the People.

Sessions of the Parliament

  • A session of Indian Parliament is the time period during which a House meets almost every day continuously to transact business.
  • There are usually three sessions in a year.
    • the Budget Session (February to May)
    • the Monsoon Session (July to September) and
    • the Winter Session (November to December).
  • A session contains many meetings. Each meeting has two sittings – morning sitting from 11 am to 1 pm and post-lunch sitting from 2 pm to 6 pm.
  • A sitting of Parliament can be terminated by adjournment, adjournment sine die, prorogation or dissolution.
  • The period between the prorogation of a House and its reassembly in a new session is called ‘recess’.

Summoning

  • Summoning is the process of calling all members of the Parliament to meet.
  • It is the duty of Indian President to summon each House of the Parliament from time to time.
  • The maximum gap between two sessions of Parliament cannot be more than six months. In other words, the Parliament should meet at least twice a year.

Adjournment

  • An adjournment suspends the work in a sitting for a specified time, which may be hours, days or weeks.
  • In this case, the time of reassembly is specified.
  • An adjournment only terminates a sitting and not a session of the House.
  • The power of adjournment lies with the presiding officer of the House.

Adjournment Sine Die

  • Adjournment sine die means terminating a sitting of Parliament for an indefinite period.
  • In other words, when the House is adjourned without naming a day for reassembly, it is called adjournment sine die.
  • The power of adjournment sine die lies with the presiding officer of the House.

Prorogation

  • Prorogation means the termination of a session of the House by an order made by the President under article 85(2)(a) of the Constitution.
  • Prorogation terminates both the sitting and session of the House.
  • Usually, within a few days after the House is adjourned sine die by the presiding officer, the President issues a notification for the prorogation of the session.
  • However, the President can also prorogue the House while in session.

Dissolution

  • Dissolution ends the very life of the existing House, and a new House is constituted after general elections are held.
  • Rajya Sabha, being a permanent House, is not subject to dissolution. Only the Lok Sabha is subject to dissolution.
  • The dissolution of the Lok Sabha may take place in either of two ways:
    • Automatic dissolution: On the expiry of its tenure – five years or the terms as extended during a national emergency.
    • Order of President: If the President is authorized by CoM, he can dissolve Lok Sabha, even before the end of the term. He may also dissolve Lok Sabha if CoM loses confidence and no party is able to form the government. Once the Lok Sabha is dissolved before the completion of its normal tenure, the dissolution is irrevocable.
  • When the Lok Sabha is dissolved, all business including bills, motions, resolutions, notices, petitions and so on pending before it or its committees lapse.

Other Terms Related to the Parliamentary Functioning

Quorum

  • It is the minimum number of members whose presence is essential to transact the business of the House.
  • Article 100 provides the quorum of either House shall be one tenth of the total number of members of the House.

Question Hour

  • The day’s business normally begins with the Question Hour during which questions asked by the members are answered by the Minister. The different types of questions are:
    • Starred Question: It is one for which an oral answer is required to be given by the Minister on the floor of the House. Supplementary question may be asked based on the Minister’s reply. 
    • Unstarred Question: It is one for which the Minister lays on the table a written answer. A 15 day notice has to be given to ask such questions and no supplementary questions can be asked with regard to such questions.
    • Short Notice Question: This type of question which can be asked by members on matters of public importance of an urgent nature. A short notice question is one that is asked by giving a notice of less than
      ten days
      . It is answered orally. It is for the speaker to decide whether the matter is of urgent nature or not. The member also may be requested to state reasons for asking the question while serving notice.

Zero Hour

  • This period follows the ‘Question Hour’ and it normally begins at noon. Usually, the members use this period to raise various issues for discussion.

Cut Motions

  • A motion that seeks reduction in the amount of a demand presented by the govt. is known as a Cut Motion.
  • Such motions are admitted at the speakers’ discretion. It is a device through which members can draw the attention of the government to a specific grievance or problem.
  • There are three types of cut motions
    • Policy Cut Motion – which is to express disapproval of the policy underlying a particular demand, says that ‘the amount of the demand be reduced to Re. 1″.
    • Economy Cut Motion– Economy Cut refers to a cut motion which seeks to reduce the demand by a specific sum with a view to affecting the economy in the expenditure.
    • Token cut Motion– is a device to ventilate specific grievances within the sphere of the government’s responsibility. The grievance has to be specified. Usually, the motion is in the form, “The amount of the demand is reduced by Rs. 100”.

Calling Attention Motion

  • With prior permission of the speaker; a member may call the attention of a Minister to any matter of urgent public importance. The Minister may make a brief statement regarding the matter or ask for time to make a statement. However, unlike the zero hour, it is mentioned in the Rules of Procedure.

Privilege Motion

  • It is a motion moved by a member if he feels that a minister has committed a breach of privilege of the House or of any one or more of its members by with-holding facts of a case or by giving a distorted version of acts. Its purpose is to censure the concerned minister.

Vote on account

  • As there is usually a gap between the presentation of the budget and its approval, the vote on account enables the govt. to draw some amount from the consolidated fund of India to meet the expenses in the intervening period.

Guillotine

  • On the last of the allotted days at the appointed time, the speaker puts every question necessary to dispose of all the outstanding matters in connection with the demands for grants. This is known as guillotine. The guillotine concludes the discussion and demands for grants.

Censure Motion

  • Censure Motion differs from a no-confidence motion in that the latter does not specify any ground on which it is based, while the former has to state the reason for which it is being moved.
  • A censure motion can be moved against the Council of Minister or an individual minister for failing to act or for some policy. Reason for the censure must be precisely enumerated.
  • The speaker decides whether or not the motion is in order and no leave of the House is required for moving it.
  • The Govt. may at its discretion fix a date for the discussion of the motion. If the motion is passed in the Lok Sabha the Council of Minister is expected to resign.

Houses of the Parliament

Rajya Sabha

  • Composition:
    • The Rajya Sabha is the permanent upper House and not subject to dissolution.
    • It is composed of not more than 250 members.
    • Out of these 238 are to be the representatives of the State and the Union Territories and 12 are to be nominated by the President.
    • Persons to be so nominated are required to have special knowledge or practical experience in respect of literature, science, art or social service.
    • The object of this nomination is to provide distinguished persons a place in the Rajya Sabha without going through the process of election.
  • Election:
    • The representatives of the States are elected indirectly by the elected members of State Legislative Assemblies in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.

Lok Sabha

Composition:

  • The maximum strength of Lok Sabha is 552 of which 530 are elected from the states, 20 from union territories and 2 are nominated from the Anglo-Indian community.
  • The Constitution prescribes the numbers of seats in the Lok Sabha to be divided between the States and the Union territories.
  • The allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha to a particular state and division of each state into territorial constituencies is done on the recommendation of the Delimitation Commission (Art. 82), which is appointed after the completion of each census.
  • By 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 the allocation and division had been frozen till the year 2000.
    • By 87th Amendment Act, 2003 it has been laid down that the allocation of seats to a State shall remain frozen till 2026.
  • The division of the State into territorial constituencies shall be done on the basis of the census figures of 2001 census.

Important Offices

Speaker

  • The House of the people is presided over by the Speaker who is elected by the House from among its own members.
  • He has to discharge his responsibilities as a presiding officer. He brings the detachment and objectivity to bear upon all his decisions.
  • He presides over the meetings of the House. He adjourns the House or suspends its meeting if there is no quorum.
  • Article 94 (c) provides for the removal of the Speaker by a resolution of the House passed by a majority of all the then members of the House. Removal of officers from their position in this manner, namely, by such special resolutions and by such special majorities is restricted to only a few officers such as the President, the Vice-President, the Presiding Officers of both House of Parliament, Judges of the Supreme Court, etc, as these officers are expected to discharge their responsibilities without political and party considerations.

Deputy Speaker

  • The Deputy Speaker who presides over the House in the absence of the Speaker is elected in the same manner in which the Speaker is elected by the House.
  • He can be removed from office also in the same manner.
  • When he sits in the seat of the Speaker, he has all the powers of the Speaker and can perform all his functions. One of his special privileges is that when he is appointed as a member of a Parliamentary Committee, he automatically becomes its Chairman.
  • By virtue of the office that he holds, he has a right to be present at any meeting of any Committee if he so chooses and can preside over its deliberations. His rulings are generally final in any case, so far as they are related to the matter under discussion, but the Speaker may give guidance in the interest of uniformity in practice. Whenever the Deputy Speaker is in doubt, he reserves the matter for the ruling of the Speaker.
  • The Deputy Speaker, however, is otherwise like any ordinary member when the Speaker presides over the House. He may speak like any other member, maintain his party affiliation and vote on propositions before the House as any ordinary member.
  • The Deputy Speaker is entitled to a regular salary.

Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Council of States

  • While presiding officers of the Lok Sabha are called the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, their opposite officers in the Council of States are called the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman respectively.
  • The Vice-President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Council of States. As the presiding officer of the Rajya Sabha, his functions and powers are the same as those of the Speaker. He is however not a member of the House.
  • Duties:
    • In the absence of the Chairman, the Council is presided over by the Deputy Chairman. He is a member of the House and is elected by the members of the House. When he ceases to be a member of the Council, he automatically vacates the office of the Deputy Chairman. He can resign his office by writing to the Chairman.
    • The Deputy Chairman is empowered to discharge all the functions and to perform all duties of the office of the Chairman, whenever the Chairman’s office is vacant or when the Vice-President is acting as the President. 
    • As a presiding officer of the Council he is also given a regular salary and other allowances that Parliament by law has fixed. The Council of States also has a panel of members, called Vice Chairman, nominated by the Chairman for the purpose of presiding over the House in the absence of both the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman.
  • Removal – He may be removed from his office by a resolution passed by a majority of all the members of the Council.

Leaders in Parliament

Leader of the House

  • Under the Rules of Lok Sabha, the Leader of the House ‘means the Prime Minister, if he is a member of the Lok Sabha, or a minister who is a member of the Lok Sabha and is nominated by the prime minister to function as the Leader of the House.
  • There is also a Leader of the House ‘in the Rajya Sabha. He is a minister and a member of the Rajya Sabha and is nominated by the Prime Minister to perform such function.

Leader of the Opposition

  • In each House of Parliament, there is the Leader of the Opposition ‘.
  • The leader of the largest Opposition party having not less than one-tenth seats of the total strength of the House is recognized as the leader of the Opposition in that House.
  • In a parliamentary system of government, the leader of the opposition has a significant role to play. His main functions are to provide a constructive criticism of the policies of the government and to provide an alternative government. Therefore, the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were accorded statutory recognition in 1977.
  • They are also entitled to the salary, allowances and other facilities equivalent to that of a Cabinet Minister. It was in 1969 that an official leader of the opposition was recognized for the first time. The same functionary in the USA is known as the minority leader.

Whip

  • The offices of the leader of the House and the leader of the Opposition are not mentioned in the Constitution of India, they are mentioned in the Rules of the House and Parliamentary Statute respectively.
  • The office of whip, on the other hand, is mentioned neither in the Constitution of India nor in the Rules of the House nor in a Parliamentary Statute.
  • It is based on the conventions of the parliamentary government.
  • Every political party, whether ruling or opposition has its own whip in the Parliament.
  • He is appointed by the political party to serve as an assistant floor leader.
  • He is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the attendance of his party members in large numbers and securing their support in favour of or against a particular issue.
  • He regulates and monitors their behavior in the Parliament.
  • The members are supposed to follow the directives given by the whip. Otherwise, disciplinary action can be taken.

Legislative Procedure in Parliament

  • The legislative procedure is identical in both the Houses of Parliament. Every bill has to pass through the same stages in each House. A bill is a proposal for legislation and it becomes an act or law when duly enacted.
  • The bills introduced in the Parliament can also be classified into four categories:
    • Ordinary Bills, which are concerned with any matter other than financial subjects and amendment to the Constitution.
    • Money Bills (Art 110), which are concerned with the financial matters like taxation, public expenditure, etc.
    • Financial Bills (Art 117), which are also concerned with financial matters (but are different from money bills).
    • Constitution amendment bills, which are concerned with the amendment of the provisions of the Constitution.

Ordinary Bill

  • A Bill other than Money Bill and Financial Bill is called an Ordinary Bill. Such a Bill may originate in either House of Parliament. When Passed by both the houses and signed by the President, it becomes a law.
  • An ordinary Bill may be introduced either by a minister or by any other member.
  • When a Bill is introduced by a member other than a minister then it is called Private Member’s Bill.
  • The prescribed period of notice is one month for a private member’s Bill. For its introduction by ministers, notice is not required.
  • Ordinary Bill passes through three stages in the originating House:
    • First reading,
    • Second reading,
    • Third reading
  • First Reading: On the day on which any of the above motions is made, the principles of the Bill and its provisions may be discussed. Generally at this stage no amendments to the Bill may be moved. This is called the first reading.
  • Second Reading (Clause by Clause Consideration): After the first reading is over the Bill is referred to a select committee or a joint select committee. When a motion for referring the Bill to a committee is carried the committee considers the Bill clause by clause and suggests omission, insertions and additions to the Bill. When the report of the committee is presented to the House, the bill is taken up for consideration of the House. After the bill has been taken into consideration the House takes up clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. At this stage, amendment to clauses of the bill is admitted. This is called the second reading of the bill.
  • Third Reading (Passing of the Bill): After the second reading the bill is ready for voting. This is called the third reading. Consideration in the second House: When a Bill is passed by one House it is transmitted to the other House for concurrence, in the second House the Bill passes through all the stages except introduction.
  • The second House may adopt any of the following courses:
    • It may pass the Bill without amendment
    • It may pass the Bill with amendment
    • If the originating House accepts the Bill as amended by the second House, it is presented to the President for assent.
    • If the originating House does not concur in the amendment and the disagreement is final, the  President may summon a joint sitting to resolve the deadlock (Art.108).
  • Joint Session: This session is presided over by the Speaker of Lok Sabha. Due to its numerical majority, the Lok Sabha has an upper hand during joint sessions.
  • Assent of the President – Once a bill has been duly passed by both the Houses, it is sent to the President for his assent. The President can give his assent, withhold his assent or return the bill to Parliament for reconsideration. If the bill is again passed by both Houses with or without amendments suggested by the President and is presented to the President again, he is obliged to give his assent (Art. 111). (This is called the second passage of the same bill).

Money Bill

  • Parliament has the sole power to authorize expenditure for specified purposes.
  • Article 110 states that a Bill is deemed to be a money bill if it contains provisions dealing with all or any of the following matters:
    • The imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax.
    • The regulation of the borrowing of money or the giving of any guarantee by the Government of India, or the amendment of the law with respect to any financial obligations.
    • The custody of the Consolidated Fund or the Contingency Fund of India, the payment of money into or the withdrawal of money from any such fund.
    • The appropriation of money out of the Consolidated Fund of India.
    • The declaring of any expenditure to be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India or the increasing of the amount of any such expenditure.
  • The receipt of money on account of the Consolidated Fund of India or the Public Accounts of India or the custody or issue of such money or the audit of the accounts of the Union or of a State.
  • Whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not, is decided by the Speaker. It shall not be open to question either in a Court of Law or in either House or even by the President.
  • Under Art 110(3), it has been specified that, if any question arises whether a bill is a money bill or not, the decision of the Speaker shall be final.
  • Whenever a money bill is transmitted to the Rajya Sabha and when it is presented to the President, a certificate by the speaker that it is a money bill is required to be given.

Procedure Followed in the passage of a Money Bill:

  • A Money Bill can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha (and not in Rajya Sabha).
  • A Money Bill can be introduced only on the prior recommendation of the President. (Speaker only decides whether it’s a Money Bill or not)
  • A Money Bill after being passed by the Lok Sabha is sent to the Rajya Sabha for recommendations.
  • The Rajya Sabha must return the Bill within a period of 14 days (with or without recommendations) from the date of the receipt of the Bill. (Rajya Sabha cannot amend the Bill). It is the discretion of the Lok Sabha whether to accept or reject recommendations made by the Rajya Sabha.
  • If the Bill is not returned within 14 days it is deemed to have been passed by both Houses
  • Assent: A Money Bill passed in the manner stated above is presented to the President for his assent. The President may either give assent or withhold assent. As the Money Bill is introduced on the prior recommendations of the President it is improbable that he will refuse to give his assent.
  • There is no provision for a joint sitting in the case of Money Bills. The Lok Sabha decision is the final say.

Financial Bills

  • Under Art. 117, a Financial Bill is defined as a Bill containing provisions of general legislation along with one or more matters mentioned in Art.110.
  • There are 3 types of Financial Bills:
    • Money Bills: It contains any of the provisions of a Money Bill mentioned in Art.110 plus some other matters.
    • Other Financial Bills: A Bill which is like an ordinary bill but which also contains provisions involving expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India is called a Financial Bill class II.
    • Bills involving Expenditure.
  • A financial bill, apart from dealing with one or more matters mentioned in Art 110(1) regarding Money Bill, deals with other matters also. Therefore all money bills are financial bills but all financial bills are not money bills.
  • Under Article 117, the Financial Bills which do not receive the Speaker’s certificate, to the effect that they are money bills are of 2 kinds:
    • A bill which contains any of the matters, specified in Art 110 but does not consist solely of those matters, for example, a bill which contains a taxation clause, but does not deal solely with taxation.
    • Any ordinary bill which contains provisions involving expenditure from the consolidated fund.

Lapsing of Bills

  • In case of lapse, it has to be introduced again and all steps are required to be taken again.
  • Article 107 enumerates the following conditions under which a Bill may lapse:
    • A bill pending in the Lok Sabha lapses (Whether originating in the Lok Sabha or transmitted to it by the Rajya Sabha).
    • A bill passed by the Lok Sabha but pending in Rajya Sabha lapses.
    • A bill not passed by the two Houses due to disagreement and if the President has notified the holding of a joint sitting before the dissolution of Lok Sabha, does not lapse.
    • A bill pending in the Rajya Sabha but not passed by the Lok Sabha does not lapse.
    • A bill passed by both the House but pending assent of the President does not lapse.
    • A bill passed by both Houses but returned by the president for reconsideration of Houses does not lapse.
    • All constitutional amendments (Except mentioned above).

Annual Financial Statement: Budget (Art. 112)

  • The term ‘Budget’ has nowhere been used in the Constitution. It is the popular name for the ‘Annual Financial Statement’ that has been dealt with in Article 112 of the Constitution.
  • The budget is a statement of the estimated receipts and expenditure of the Government of India in a financial year. Currently, the financial year begins on 1 April and ends on 31 March of the following year.

Vote on Account (VoA)

  • The Union Budget is nothing but a projected income and expenditure statement for the coming year.
  • As per the Constitution, all the revenue received and the loans raised by the Union government are placed in the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI).
  • Article 266 mandates that Parliamentary approval is required to draw money from the CFI
  • So, the Budget has to be approved by Parliament before the commencement of the new financial year.
  • But the discussion and passing of the Budget generally goes beyond the current financial year.
  • So, a special provision “Vote on Account” is used, where the government obtains the vote of Lok Sabha to withdraw money from CFI to keep the money flowing for the government’s day to day functions, until the Budget is passed. (Article 116). E.g. Salary to government employees, loan interest payments, subsidies, pension payments etc.

Demand of Grants

  • On recommendation of the President, the estimates of expenditure (other than those charged on the Consolidated Fund of India) are presented to the Lok Sabha in the forms of demands for grants.
  • Under Article 113, the Lok Sabha has the power to assent to or to reject, any demand, or to assent to any demand/subject to a reduction of the amount specified. These demands are not presented to the Rajya Sabha, though a general debate on the budget takes place there too.

Appropriation Bill

  • According to Article 114, when the demand for grants has been voted for, the Appropriation Bill authorizes the withdrawal of the funds from the Consolidated Fund of India as regards both votable and charged items. No amendments can be proposed to this bill because that would amount to altering the once decided amount.
  • The budget consists of two types of expenditure- the expenditure ‘charged’ upon the Consolidated Fund of India and the expenditure ‘made’ from the Consolidated Fund of India. The charged expenditure is non-votable by the Parliament, that is, it can only be discussed by the Parliament, while the other type has to be voted by the Parliament.

Other Grants

  • In addition to the budget that contains the ordinary estimates of income and expenditure for one financial year; various other grants are made by the Parliament under extraordinary or special circumstances:
    • Supplementary Grant: It is granted when the amount authorized by the Parliament through the appropriation act for a particular service for the current financial year is found to be insufficient for that year.
    • Additional Grant: It is granted when a need has arisen during the current financial year for additional expenditure upon some new service not contemplated in the budget for that year.
    • Excess Grant: It is granted when money has been spent on any service during a financial year in excess of the amount granted for that service in the budget for that year. It is voted by the Lok Sabha after the financial year. Before the demands for excess grants are submitted to the Lok Sabha for voting, they must be approved by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.
    • Vote of Credit: It is granted for meeting an unexpected demand upon the resources of India, when on account of the magnitude or the indefinite character of the service, the demand cannot be stated with the details ordinarily given in a budget. Hence, it is like a blank cheque given to the Executive by the Lok Sabha.
    • Exceptional Grant: It is granted for a special purpose and forms no part of the current service of any financial year.
    • Token Grant: It is granted when funds to meet the proposed expenditure on a new service can be made available by re-appropriation. A demand for the grant of a token sum (of Re 1) is submitted to the vote of the Lok Sabha and if assented, funds are made available.

Functions of Parliament

  1. Law making functions.
  2. Providing “Cabinet”: It is the Parliament which provides the Cabinet. No person can continue to be a minister for more than six months unless he is a member of either House of the Parliament.
  3. Control over the Cabinet: It is one of the most important functions and duties of the Lok Sabha to ensure that the ministry remains in power only as long as it has the support of the majority in that house [A-75(3)].
  4. Daily Answerability: In the Parliamentary system of Government, the ministers have to answer questions, reply to calling attention motions, move legislation and justify Government’s actions in both Houses of Parliament.
  5. Financial Control: An important function of Parliament is to exercise financial control over the government. Parliament also monitors spending of government money through its own committee called Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
  6. A platform for discussion on National Issues: It is the single largest platform for discussion of all important national and public issues.

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