Parliament of India

Parliament is the supreme legislative body of India. The Indian Parliament comprises of the President and the two Houses – Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and Lok Sabha (House of the People). The President has the power to summon and prorogue either House of Parliament or to dissolve Lok Sabha. The Constitution of India came into force on January 26, 1950.Constitution of India provides us a Parliamentary Democracy, the Parliament of India occupies a pre-eminent position in the governance of the country. Articles 79-122 of the Indian Constitution deal with the composition, powers and procedures of the Parliament of India.



  • Article 79 of the Constitution of India states that there shall be a Parliament for the Union, which comprises of the President and the two Houses- Rajya Sabha (the council of states) and Lok Sabha (House of the people).   
  • Article 80 of the Constitution specifies the composition of the council of states, which consists of 12 members nominated by the President and 238 representatives of the state and union territories.
    The allocation of seats in the council of states to be fulfilled by representatives of states and union territories in accordance with the provisions contained in the 4th schedule.
  • Representation from states– they shall be elected by the elected members of the legislative assembly of the state in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote. Hence from the above it can be said that the number of seats to each state varies in accordance with population of that state. Therefore larger states occupy more seats than smaller states.
    Representatives from Union Territories: By convention the representatives are indirectly elected by members of an electoral college and the election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. Among all the Union Territories only Delhi and Pondicherry have representation since all other UT’s have less population.
  • Nominated members– those persons who have special knowledge or practical experience in the fields of literature, science, art and social service are provided opportunity to enter Rajya Sabha without going through process of election. Recently this clause was in news for nomination of Sachin Tendulkar as it does not provide for sportspersons to enter Rajya Sabha through Presidential nomination but later it was accepted.    
  • Article 81 specifies the composition of the house of the people, which consists of not more than 530 members chosen by direct elections from territorial constituencies in the states; not more than 20 members representing the union territories; 2 Anglo-Indians.
  • Representation of states- they are elected by the people directly by universal adult franchise. Each state shall be allotted number of seats in the house of the people in such a manner that the ratio between the number and the population of the state is equal for all the states. There is also a provision for reservation of seats for SC/ ST communities on the basis of population ratio.
    Representation from Union Territories- According to the law prescribed by the Parliament the union territories direct election to the house of people act 1965 was passed and thereby they are also elected directly by people.
  • Nominated members- President has powers to elect 2 members from Anglo-Indian community if the President feels that their community is not adequately represented.

Role of Parliament

  • Legislative powers
  • Executive powers
  • Financial powers
  • Constituent powers
  • Judicial powers
  • Electoral powers
  • Other powers

Legislative powers

All the subjects in our constitution are divided among state, union and concurrent lists. In concurrent list Parliamentary law is over riding than state legislative law. Constitution also have powers to make law with respect to state legislature in following circumstances :
• When Rajya Sabha passes a resolution to that effect
• When national emergency is under operation
• When 2 or more states request parliament to do so
• When necessary to give effect to international agreements, treaties and conventions
• When President’s rule is in operation.

Executive powers

According to parliamentary form of government executive is responsible to the parliament for its acts and policies. Hence parliament exercises control by various measures like committees, question hour, zero hour etc. ministers are collectively responsible to the Parliament.

Financial powers

It includes enactment of budget, scrutinizing the performance of government with respect of financial spending through financial committees ( post budgetary control )

Constituent powers

To amend the constitution, to pass any laws required

Judicial Powers

  • Impeachment of President for violation of constitution
  • Removal of judges of Supreme Court and High court
  • Removal of Vice- President
  • Punish members for breach of privileges like sitting in the house when the member knows he is not an eligible member, serving as member before taking oath etc..

Electoral powers

It has its participation in the election of President and Vice-President. The members of Lok Sabha elects speaker and deputy speaker from among its members. Similarly members of Rajya Sabha elects deputy chairman.

Other powers

  • To discuss various issues of national and international importance

  • Imposing emergency

  • Increase or decrease area, change names, alter the boundary of the states

  • Create or abolish state legislature,etc. any powers can be added from time to time.

Article 245 of the constitution declares that parliament may make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India and a state legislature can make laws for the whole or any part of the state. Seventh Schedule of the constitution distributes the legislative powers between the centre and the state by putting subjects into Union List, State List and Concurrent List. The centre can make law on any of the subjects in the union list or in the concurrent list. The parliament can override the law of a state on a subject listed in concurrent list. In addition to these powers, the residuary powers are also vested with the parliament. The constitution also empowers the parliament to make law on a state subject in the following circumstances:

  • When Rajya Sabha passes a resolution supported by two-thirds of the members present and voting
  • When a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation
  • When two or more states make a joint request to the parliament
  • When it is necessary for parliament to implement any international treaty, agreement or convention
  • When President’s rule is in operation in the state

Executive Powers and Functions

In India, political executive is a part of the parliament. Parliament exerts control over the executive through procedural devices such as question hour, zero hour, calling attention motion, adjournment motion, half-an-hour discussion, etc. Members of different political parties are elected/nominated to the parliamentary committees. Through these committees, the parliament controls the government. Committee on ministerial assurances constituted by parliament seeks to ensure that the assurances made by the ministries to parliament are fulfilled.
Article 75 of the constitution mentions that the council of ministers remains in office as long as it enjoys the confidence of the Lok Sabha. The ministers are responsible to the parliament individually and collectively. Lok Sabha can remove the council of ministers by passing a no confidence motion in the Lok Sabha. Apart from that, the Lok Sabha can also express lack of confidence in the government in the following ways:

  • By not passing a motion of thanks on the President’s inaugural address.
  • By rejecting a money bill
  • By passing a censure motion or an adjournment motion
  • By passing a cut motion
  • By defeating the government on a vital issue

These powers of parliament help in making government responsive and responsible.

Financial Powers and Functions

Parliament enjoys the supreme authority in financial matters. Executive cannot spend any money without parliament’s approval. No tax can be imposed without the authority of law. The government places the budget before the parliament for approval. The passage of the budget means that the parliament has legalised the receipts and expenditure of the government. The public accounts committee and the Estimates committee keep a watch on the spending of the government. These committees scrutinize the account and bring out the cases of irregular, unauthorised or improper usage in public expenditure. In this way, parliament exerts budgetary as well as post-budgetary control on the government. If the government fails to spend the granted money in a financial year, the remaining balance is sent back to the Consolidated Fund of India. This is known as ‘rule of lapse’. This also leads to increase in expenditure by the end of the financial year.

Judicial Powers and Functions

Mentioned below are the judicial powers and functions of the parliament:

  • It has the power to impeach the President, the Vice-President, the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court.
  • It can also punish its members or outsiders for the breach of privilege or its contempt.

Electoral Powers and Functions

Mentioned below are the electoral powers and functions of the parliament:

  • The elected members of the parliament (along with state assemblies) participate in the election of the President
  • All the members of the parliament participate in the election of the Vice-President
  • The Lok Sabha elects its Speaker and Deputy Speaker
  • The Rajya Sabha elects its Deputy Chairman
  • Members of various parliamentary committees are also elected

Constituent Powers and Functions

Only parliament is empowered to initiate any proposal for amendment of the constitution. A bill for amendment can be initiated in either House of Parliament.  However, the state legislature can pass a resolution requesting the parliament for the creation or abolition of the legislative council in the state. Based on the resolution, the parliament can make an act for amending the constitution for that purpose. There are three types of bills for constitution amendment which requires:

  • Simple Majority: These bills need to be passed by simple majority, that is, a majority of members present and voting in each of the House.
  • Special Majority: These bills need to be passed by the majority of the House and two-third of the members present and voting in each of the House.
  • Special majority and consent of half of all the state legislatures: These bills are to be passed by the special majority in each house. Along with this, atleast half of the state legislatures should give consent to the bill.

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