Legislative Branch of Indian Government

In India, the legislative branch of government is known as Parliament. It is a bicameral legislature consisting of two houses: the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). Both houses of Parliament have specific roles in the legislative process.

Parliament is responsible for making laws, controlling the budget, and overseeing the actions of the executive branch of government. Parliament plays a crucial role in India’s system of government and serves as a critical forum for debate and decision-making.

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This article discusses the constitution and composition of Parliament, as well as its legislative duties and different roles.

Constitution of the Parliament

In India, the Parliament consists of:

  1. The President; and
  2. Two Houses, i.e. the Council of States and the House of People

The President

The President is the head of state and the highest highest formal executive authority.

The Indian President is elected by an Electoral College. The Electoral College consists of elected members of the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative assemblies, including elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the National Capital Territory of Delhi and Puducherry.

The President holds office for five years and is eligible for re-election.

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The Council of States

The Council of States, generally known as the Rajya Sabha or the upper house of Parliament, has 250 members. Twelve members are nominated by the President, and 238 members are representatives of the States and the Union Territories.

The members nominated by the President must have special knowledge or practical experience in either:

  1. Literature; or
  2. Science; or
  3. Art; or
  4. Social service; or

The members who represent the states must be elected by the elected member of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) of such state. The members who represent the Union Territories are chosen in the manner that the Parliament, by law, determines.

The House of People

The House of People, generally known as the Lok Sabha or the lower house of Parliament, has 550 members. Of these, 530 represent the states, and 20 represent the Union Territories.

The representatives of the states are chosen from territorial constituencies by direct election, and the representatives of the Union Territories are selected in the manner as the Parliament by law determines.

Duration of the Houses of the Indian Parliament

The Council of States is a permanent body and does not dissolve. However, one-third of the members of the Council of States retire after every two years.

Unlike the Council of States, the House of People is a temporary body, and its duration is five years from its first meeting, meaning that the House of People dissolves after five years. However, the President may dissolve the Lok Sabha before the completion of its five-year term on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The duration of the House of People can also be increased to one year when the emergency is in operation and to six months after it ceases to operate.

Duties and Responsibilities of the Parliament

The legislative duties of the Indian Parliament include the following.

1. Introducing, Debating and Passing Bills

Any bill, including proposals for new laws or amendments to existing laws, can be introduced by any member of the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha, with the permission of the Speaker or the Chairman, respectively. However, the money and finance bills can only be introduced in the House of People.

The bills must be passed by both houses of Parliament before they are sent to the President for assent. It is important to note that different bills require different kinds of majorities, which include simple majority, absolute majority, effective majority, and special majority. For example, bills that amend the Constitution require a special majority of two-thirds in both houses of Parliament, while other bills require only a simple majority.

2. Scrutinising the Budget

Just before the end of every financial year specifically in the month of February, the Finance Minister presents a statement to the House of People that includes the estimated revenue or expenditure of the Government of India for the coming financial year. Once the budget is presented, it is scrutinised by the Parliament’s Standing Committees on Finance and Public Accounts.

Once the Lok Sabha passes the budget, it is sent to the Rajya Sabha for its recommendations. The Rajya Sabha may either pass the budget or return it to the Lok Sabha with its recommendations. Then, the budget is sent to the President for his assent.

3. Overseeing the Executive Government

In India’s parliamentary system of government, the executive branch is collectively responsible for the legislative, which means that Parliament has the power to oversee the actions of the executive branch of government and hold it accountable for its actions.

The Prime Minister heads the executive branch of government in India, which includes the Cabinet of Ministers and the various departments and agencies of the government. It is responsible for implementing the policies and laws passed by Parliament.

Parliament has several mechanisms for overseeing the actions of the executive branch. One key mechanism is Question Hour. During Question Hour, members of Parliament can ask Ministers questions about their policies and actions and hold them accountable for their decisions.

Parliament has several standing committees that oversee the work of various government departments and agencies. Lok Sabha has the power to pass a motion of no confidence if it is dissatisfied with the government. A vote of no confidence can lead to the government’s resignation and the calling of new elections.

4. Ratifying Treaties and Agreements

Parliament in India has the power to ratify international treaties and agreements.

Under the Indian Constitution, the President can make treaties and agreements with foreign countries. He acts on the advice of the Council of Ministers. However, before a treaty or agreement can become binding on India, it must be ratified by Parliament.

Role of Parliament in Impeachment Processes

In India, the Parliament has a crucial role in the impeachment process of the President, Vice President, and judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.

In the case of the President, the impeachment motion must be passed by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the total membership (two-thirds absolute majority) of both Houses of Parliament.

In the case of the Vice President or a judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court, the impeachment motion must be passed by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting (two-thirds simple majority).

After the impeachment motion is passed, the President, Vice President, or Judge is deemed to have been removed from office with effect from the date on which the motion is passed.

Subhashini Parihar
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