(IGP) GS Paper 1 - Indian Polity & Governance - "Parliament of India"

Integrated Guidance Programme of General Studies for IAS (Pre)

Subject - Indian Polity & Governance
Chapter : Parliament of India

Parliament of India

  • Indian democracy is based on the Westminster model (British model of democracy is referred to as the Westminster model) where the importance of Parliament in the political system is central.

  • Art. 79 says that there shall be a Parliament for the Union which shall consist of the President and two Houses to be known as the Rajya Sabha or the federal chamber or Council of States or Upper House and the Lok Sabha or the popular chamber or Lower House or House of the People.

Rajya Sabha

  • It is the federal house representing the States.

  • Maximum strength (sanctioned strength) of Rajya Sabha is two hundred and fifty (250), of which 238 are to be elected and 12 are nominated by the President of India. The actual strength of Rajya Sabha is two hundred and forty five (245), of which 233 are elected and 12 are nominated by the President.

  • The allocation of seats in Rajya Sabha is contained in the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution.

  • The elected members of the (233 Members) Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of the Assemblies of States and the two Union Territories of Delhi and Puducheri in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.


A candidate for election to Rajya Sabha:-

  • Should be a citizen of India

  • Above 30 years of age and

  • Possessing such other qualifications as may be prescribed by law of Parliament

Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution

One-third of its members retire every two years. Thus, it is a permanent body. Normally a member is elected for six years but a member elected against a mid-term vacancy (casual vacancy), serves only for the remaining period.

Chairman of the Rajya Sabha

  • The Vice-President is the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha (Art.64).

  • As the Presiding Officer, the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is the guardian of the prestige and dignity of the House. He safeguards the privileges and immunities of the members individually and the House collectively. He issues warrants to execute the orders of the House, where necessary. For example, to punish any one who commits contempt of House.

  • The Chairman’s rulings cannot be questioned or criticised and to protest against - the ruling of the Chairman is a contempt of the House and the Chairman.

Deputy Chairman

The Deputy Chairman is elected by the members of Rajya Sabha from among themselves. While the office of Chairman is vacant, or during any period when the Vice-President is acting as, or discharging the functions of the President, the duties of the office of the Chairman are performed by the Deputy Chairman.

Chairman Protem

When the offices of both the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman are vacant, the duties of the office of the Chairman are performed by such member of the Rajya Sabha as the President may appoint for the purpose (Art.91) The member so appointed is known as the Chairman protem.

Casting Vote

Casting vote is the vote cast to break a tie when there is equality of votes. Under the Constitution, the Chairman exercises only a casting vote in the case of equality of votes.

Utility of Rajya Sabha

  • It is the permanent House and so has benefits like it can ratify proclamation of Emergency when the Lok Sabha is not in session and cannot be called into session immediately. It means the proclamation can continue.

  • Constitution can not be amended unless Rajya Sabha, sitting independently of the Lok Sabha passes the Bill. That is, there is no joint session in case of deadlock. Thus, the national and states’ interests are protected.

  • It has 12 nominated members who add to the quality of parliamentary proceedings and policy making.

  • It enables law making to become more sober when the representatives of the people are carried away by emotional issues

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Lok Sabha

Lok Sabha is composed of representatives of the people chosen by direct election on the basis of universal adult suffrage. The maximum strength of the House envisaged by the Constitution is 552-upto 530 members to represent the States, up to 20 members to represent the Union Territories and not more than two members of the Anglo-Indian Community to be nominated by the President, if, in his opinion, the community is not adequately represented in the House.

Presiding Officers

  • Lok Sabha elects one of its own members as its Presiding Officer and he is called the Speaker. He is assisted by the Deputy Speaker who is also elected by Lok Sabha, The conduct of business in Lok Sabha is the responsibility of the Speaker.
  • The Speaker protem (sworn in by the President to swear in the newly elected members of House) presides over the sitting in which the Speaker is elected, if it is a newly constituted House. If the election falls later in the life of a Lok Sabha the Deputy Speaker presides.

Term of Office

The Speaker holds office from the date of his election till, immediately before the first meeting of the Lok Sabha which is newly constituted after the dissolution of the one to which he was elected. He is eligible for re-election


The Speaker may, at any time resign from office by writing under his hand to the Deputy Speaker.


The Speaker can be removed from office only on a resolution of the House passed by a majority of all the then members of the House. It is mandatory to give a minimum of 14 days notice of the intention to move the resolution.

Functions of the Speaker

  • Under the Constitution, the Speaker enjoys a special position
  • He certifies Money Bills and is final (Art. 110)
  • Presides over joint sittings which are summoned to resolve a disagreement between the two Houses
  • Decides on granting recognition to the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha
  • Following the 52nd Constitution amendment 1985, the Speaker is vested with the power relating to the disqualification of a member of the Lok Sabha on grounds of defection.

Motions and Resolutions

A motion is a proposal for eliciting decision or expressing the opinion of the house on a matter of public importance. Every question to be decided by the House must be proposed as ‘Motion’.Motions fall into three principal categories:

  • Substantive Motions
  • Substitute Motions
  • Subsidiary Motions.


A Resolution is a procedural means to initiate a discussion on any matters of general public interest. A Resolution is actually a Substantive Motion.

Difference between a motion and a resolution.

  • All Resolutions fall in the category of Substantive Motions. But all motions need not necessarily be substantive.
  • Further, all motions are not necessarily put to vote of the House, whereas all the resolutions are required to be voted upon. For example, the resolution to impeach the President of India.

Equality Between The Two Houses

  • The Constitution requires the laying of a number of papers on the Table in both the Houses, notably amongst them are the Budget, supplementary demands for grants, Ordinances and Proclamations issued by the President, reports of Constitutional and statutory functionaries such as the Comptroller and Auditor-General, the Finance Commission, the Commissioners for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the Backward Classes Commission, the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities and the Union Finance Commission
  • Both Houses also participate in matters of elections of the President and the Vice-President
  • Both participate in impeachment of the President, a Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court and CAG

Differences between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha

  • Members of Lok Sabha are directly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise. Members of Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of State Assemblies in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote
  • The normal life of every Lok Sabha is 5 years while Rajya Sabha is a permanent body
  • Rajya Sabha has a nominated component- 12 members of intelligentsia-which Lok Sabha does not have

Sessions of Parliament

  • A session is the period of time between the meeting of a Parliament and its prorogation.
  • Normally Parliament meets, in three sessions in a year, namely Budget session in the months of February-March, April and May; Monsoon session in the months of July-August and Winter session in the months of November-December.

Effect of dissolution of Lok Sabha

All business pending before Lok Sabha lapses on its dissolution. However, the dissolution of LS also affects the business pending before the Rajya Sabha to a certain extent, as indicated below:

  • Bill pending in the Rajya Sabha which has not been passed by the Lok Sabha shall not lapse
  • Bill which is pending in the Lok Sabha lapses
  • Bill passed by the Lok Sabha and is pending in the Rajya Sabha lapses
  • Under Article 108(5), a Joint Sitting of both Houses to resolve a deadlock on a Bill will be held notwithstanding the fact that dissolution of the Lok Sabha has intervened since the President has notified his intention to summon the Houses to meet in a Joint Sitting etc.

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