Parliament

The Parliament; Legislative Branch of The Indian Government

1. Introduction

India is a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic. Its constitution has established a democratic form of government in the country. The Constitution of India can also be considered as the Grundnorm [1] as it is the inspiration for all other laws of the country and governs the country, proper distribution of power and duties of several officials, the three main pillars of Indian democracy, which helps it to function efficiently i.e. Parliament, Executive, and Judiciary, a democratic form of government is run by representatives elected by the people. General elections are held every five years, and the people choose their government. General elections are conducted by an independent election commission. The entire country is divided into constituencies, each constituency electing a representative. Each state sends a certain number of members of parliament.

2. Division of subject matters

Determination of representatives on the basis of population. India is a union of states. The constitution provides for both the central government and the state government. The powers of the Central Government and the State Governments are clearly defined by the Constitution.

India has legislatures at both the national level, as well as at the state level. The constitution has given three different lists of subjects. Only the Parliament can pass laws on the subjects given in the Union List. Laws relating to the defense of the country, railways, shipping, currency, post and telegraph, foreign affairs, etc.

Whereas, the state government can make laws on the subjects given in the state list. Among them agriculture, health, forest, irrigation, electricity, law, and order are important.

State, Police, Entertainment, etc. Both the Parliament and the State Legislatures have the power to make laws on the subjects given in the Concurrent List. The important topics under this list are civil and criminal procedure, labor welfare, factories, newspapers, education, books, etc. The central government consists of three organs, namely the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. India follows the parliamentary form of government in which the parliament is the supreme law-making body and the real executive powers are vested in the prime ministerThe Prime Minister is the leader of the party in the majority in the popularly elected Lok Sabha. He chooses his ministers and all of them collectively and is personally responsible to the Lok Sabha.

3. Where is the Indian Parliament Located?

In Delhi, there is a huge parliament building known as Sansad Bhawan in which the representatives elected by the people gather and make laws for the whole country. Every proposed law when introduced in the Parliament is called a Bill. Such a law is first introduced in the form of a bill in either house of the Parliament. After discussion and passing by one house, it is sent for the concurrence of the other house. After being passed by both houses of the parliament, the bill is sent to the other house for concurrence. After being passed by both houses of the Parliament, the bill is sent to the President for his approval and signature. The bill becomes law after the President’s signature. Thus, the President, Lok Sabha, and Rajya Sabha form the Parliament.

4. Lok Sabha

Lok Sabha is the house of the people as its members are directly elected by the people. The members are elected for five years. Every member has to take an oath of faith and allegiance to the Constitution. Lok Sabha elections are contested by political parties and hence barring a few independent members, most of the members are elected on party tickets. The political party which has a majority in the Lok Sabha elects its leader who is appointed by the President as the Prime Minister of India. The President appoints other ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The members of the Lok Sabha elect one person from amongst themselves to preside over their meetings. This person is called the speaker. The speaker conducts the proceedings of Lok Sabha impartially.

5. Rajya Sabha

Rajya Sabha is the second house of the Parliament. It is called the Council of States because it consists of the representatives of the states. Apart from the twelve members nominated by the President on the basis of their contribution to the field of literature, science, art, and social service, the rest are elected by the members of the state legislatures. Rajya Sabha never dissolves, however, One-third of its members retire at the end of every second year. The Vice President of India presides over the meetings of the Rajya Sabha, hence he is also known as the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The functions of the Parliament make laws for the whole country. It is the highest law-making body in the country.

6. Controls the Income and Expenses of the Government

The central government receives money through various taxes. This money is spent on the welfare of the people. Income and expenditure are shown in the budget prepared and presented by the government to the Parliament every year. the budget is approved by the parliament.

The government can neither impose any tax nor spend any amount without the approval of the Parliament. Thus, the Parliament exercises control over the income and expenditure of the government. The most important function of the Parliament is to exercise control over the ministers and their functions. A member of parliament can ask any minister a question about his department. Through these questions, the members keep an eye on the functioning of various departments.

7. Responsible to the Parliament

The Prime Minister and his ministers are responsible for their work to the Parliament. furthermore, bypassing a no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha against them they can be removed. A proposed law is first introduced in the parliament as a bill.

8. Money Bills and Other Than Money Bills

Bills are of two types- Money Bills and Bills other than Money Bills, any bill relating to income and expenditure is called a money bill, and the Money Bill cannot be introduced in Rajya Sabha. It should be introduced in the Lok Sabha first. After it is passed in the Lok Sabha, the money bill is sent to the Rajya Sabha for return. Any Bills other than Money Bills can be introduced in either House of the Parliament. Every Bill introduced in the Parliament has to be read thrice in each House. Copies of the Bill are given to the members in advance so that they can study and raise objections, if any, at the preamble stage. The Minister or any other member introduces the Bill. In the second reading, there is a general clause-by-clause discussion on the Bill. The members supporting the Bill argue why the Bill is important and necessary. Opposing members criticize it and suggest reforms in the bill. If desired, it can be referred to a Select Committee made up of members of the House or a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament which examines the Bill in detail. The committee reports back with or without proposals for amendments. In the third reading, the bill as a whole is finally discussed and put to vote. If the majority of the members are in favor of it, the bill is passed. This procedure is followed in both houses. When both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have passed the bill, it is sent to the President for his signature. After the President has given his assent to it by signing it, the bill is called an Act and has the force of law.

9. Are there any Checks on the Parliament?

Generally, bills are passed by a simple majority in the Parliament. This means that if 100 members are present in the house and 51 members are in favor and 49 are against, then the bill is said to have been passed by a simple majority. The constitution can be changed or amended but cannot change its basic structure (Keshavananda Bharti V/s State of Kerala (AIR 1973 SC 1461). The special majority is required to amend certain parts of the Indian Constitution. Amendments to certain articles of the Constitution require a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting in the Parliament.

If a member misbehaves in Parliament, he can be reprimanded by the Speaker of the House. Sometimes the members are expelled from the house for disorderly behavior.

Summary

Thus, the Parliament performs a very important function. These can be divided into five main functions.

i) it exercises control over the government and its income and expenditure.

ii) it makes laws on various subjects.

iii) the members of parliament express their views on various public issues. In this way, they bring many grievances of the people to the notice of the government.

iv) as we have seen, members ask questions to get information.

the Parliament elects the Vice President and participates in the Presidential election. It can also impeach the President of India and the Vice President of India and remove the judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.


[1]Brian H Bix and Brian H., ‘Kelsen, Hart, and Legal Normativity’ [2018] http://journals.openedition.org/revus <http://journals.openedition.org/revus/3984> accessed 16 August 2021.

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