Parliament of India

2019 ias preliminary exam test series

Under the Constitution, the Parliament of India consists of three parts viz, the President, the Council of States and the House of the People.

In 1954, the Hindi names ‘Rajya Sabha’ and ‘Lok Sabha’ were adopted by the Council of States and the House of People respectively.

The Rajya Sabha is the Upper House (Second Chamber or House of Elders) and the Lok Sabha is the Lower House (First Chamber or Popular House).

The former represents the states and union territories of the Indian Union, while the latter represents the people of India as a whole.

Composition of Rajya Sabha:

The maximum strength of the Rajya Sabha is fixed at 250, out of which, 238 are to be the representatives of the states and union territories (elected indirectly) and 12 are nominated by the president.

At present, the Rajya Sabha has 245 members. Of these, 229 members represent the states, 4 members represent the union territories and 12 members are nominated by the president.

The Fourth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the allocation of seats in the Rajya Sabha to the states and union territories.

The representatives of states in the Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of state legislative assemblies. The election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. The seats are allotted to the states in the Rajya Sabha on the basis of population.

The representatives of each union territory in the Rajya Sabha are indirectly elected by members of an electroral college specially constituted for the purpose. This election is also held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. Out of the seven union territories, only two (Delhi and Puducherry) have representation in Rajya Sabha.

The president nominates 12 members to the Rajya Sabha from people who have special knowledge or practical experience in art, literature, science and social service. The rationale behind this principle of nomination is to provide eminent persons a place in the Rajya Sabha without going through the process of election.

Composition of Lok Sabha:

The maximum strength of the Lok Sabha is fixed at 552. Out of this, 530 members are to be the representatives of the states, 20 members are to be the representatives of the union territories and 2 members are to be nominated by the president from the Anglo-Indian community.

At present, the Lok Sabha has 545 members. Of these, 530 members represent the states, 13 members represent the union territories and 2 Anglo-Indian members are nominated by the President.

The representatives of states in the Lok Sabha are directly elected by the people from the territorial constituencies in the states. The election is based on the principle of universal adult franchise. Every Indian citizen who is above 18 years of age and who is not disqualified under the provisions of the Constitution or any law is eligible to vote at such election. The voting age was reduced from 21 to 18 years by the 61st Constitutional Amendment Act, 1988.

The Parliament has enacted the Union Territories (Direct Election to the House of the People) Act, 1965, by which the members of Lok Sabha from the union territories are also chosen by direct election.

The president can nominate two members from the Anglo-Indian community if the community is not adequately represented in the Lok Sabha. Originally, this provision was to operate till 1960 but has been extended till 2020 by the 95th Amendment Act, 2009.

Reservation of Seats for SCs and STs:

Constitution provides for the reservation of seats for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the Lok Sabha on the basis of population ratios.

Originally, this reservation was to operate for ten years (ie, up to 1960), but it has been extended continuously since then by 10 years each time. Now, under the 95th Amendment Act of 2009, this reservation is to last until 2020.

A member of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes is also not debarred from contesting a general (non-reserved) seat.

Duration of Rajya Sabha:

The Rajya Sabha (first constituted in 1952) is a continuing chamber, that is, it is a permanent body and not subject to dissolution. However, one-third of its members retire every second year. Their seats are filled up by fresh elections and presidential nominations at the beginning of every third year. The retiring members are eligible for re-election and renomination any number of times.

The Constitution has not fixed the term of office of members of the Rajya Sabha and left it to the Parliament. Accordingly, the Parliament in the Representation of the People Act (1951) provided that the term of office of a member of the Rajya Sabha shall be six years. The act also empowered the president of India to curtail the term of members chosen in the first Rajya Sabha. In the first batch, it was decided by lottery as to who should retire.

Duration of Lok Sabha:

Unlike the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha is not a continuing chamber. Its normal term is five years from the date of its first meeting after the general elections, after which it automatically dissolves. However, the President is authorised to dissolve the Lok Sabha at any time even before the completion of five years and this cannot be challenged in a court of law.

Further, the term of the Lok Sabha can be extended during the period of national emergency be a law of Parliament for one year at a time for any length of time. However, this extension cannot continue beyond a period of six months after the emergency has ceased to operate.

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