The Parliament Powers, Functions and Role

The two Houses of the Indian Parliament perform numerous important functions and possess significant powers. Legislative functions of the Parliament relate to making laws on subjects enumerated in the Union List, Concurrent List and Residuary items. In certain situations, the Parliament can make laws on subjects contained in the State List. �The two Houses have usually co-equal legislative powers: an ordinary bill can originate in any of the Houses, but it must be passed by both Houses. In the event of a disagreement between the two Houses on an ordinary bill, the President, under Article 108, convenes joint meeting of the two Houses which is presided over by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, and decision is taken by a majority of the total members of both Houses present and voting.

�The Council of States has the exclusive power, under Articles 249 and 312; to authorise the Parliament to make laws: (a) on a subject in the State List, (b) to create a new All-India Service. The Executive functions of the Parliament include control over the executive by asking questions, supplementary questions and passing adjournment motions. It is the Lok Sabha, which by, passing a vote of no-confidence can force the ministers to resign from their office.

A money bill originates in the Lok Sabha and after it is passed there, it goes to the Rajya Sabha which has only fourteen days to consider the bill. �The Lok Sabha may accept or reject the recommendations of the Rajya Sabha. �The electoral powers and functions of the two Houses are, by and large, equal: both participate in the elections of the President and the Vice-President, in amending the Constitution, the two Houses possess equal powers as also in approving the emergency provisions. It may be concluded that the Lok Sabha, by being the popularly elected House, has more powers as compared to Rajya Sabha, though the latter has exclusive powers with respect to Articles 249 and 312. It is important to add that the 15th Lok Sabha is the most unproductive ever. "This is clear from the table below:

Lok Sabha Year and Number of Seats

1 1952-7 333

2 1957-62 327

3 1962-7 272

4 1967-71 216

5 1971-7 487

6 1977-80 135

7 1980-4 336

8 1984-9 355

9 1989-91 63

10 1991-6 284

11 1996-8 64

12 1998-9 60

13 1999-2004 302

14 2004-9 261

15 2009-May 2014 151

16 May 2014 onwards 107

"Though the Lok Sabha enjoys more powers than the Rajya Sabha, it would be wrong to assume that the Rajya Sabha is an insignificant House. �The Rajya Sabha is important for it acts as the second chamber which helps reconsider the hasty and rashly-discussed bills, delays when it is necessary to do so, deliberates matters of national importance, represents the federating units, contributes a lot in the development of the nation, relieves the burden of the Lok Sabha by initiating and discussing relatively less important bills. On the whole, there has been decline in the powers of the Parliament. Against the delegated powers of the ministers, the powers of the ministers have considerably declined; the party discipline has been revere, the members of the party the loss of the election looms large in their head.

�The Parliament, as the legislative organ of the country, has, as Granville Austin (Working of a Democratic Constitution: A History of the Indian Experience) remarks, united the �Indians into one mass electorate having universal adult franchise, by providing for the direct representation of the voters in genuinely popular assemblies�. �The Parliament represents the mass of the people bringing them all on one platform irrespective of their diversities; it is one forum where all act as Indians. However our Parliament is not a supreme legislative body. It is not a sovereign legislative body because its laws can be declared void if they are contrary to the Constitution. �The Parliament�s authority to amend the Constitution has, of late, been admitted by the Supreme Court, and yet it cannot disturb the �basic structure� of the Constitution. �The power of judicial review �too� restricts the power of the Parliament. However, in public mind, the Parliament, Pratap Bhanu Mehta says, is �a site for adversarial combat rather than of deliberative clarity.� "That is why that there are more disruptive adjournments in the Parliament.

Relationship between the Executive and the Legislature

In any form of polity, is always important in any administration. �The Indian President, indeed, is part of the Parliament (Article 79). As such, he/she convenes the sessions of the Parliament, prorogues them and dissolves the Lok Sabha (Article 85); he/ she has the right to address and send messages to Parliament (Article 86); he/she gives assent to the bills to make them laws (Article 111) and he/she promulgates ordinances during the recess of Parliament (Article 123). But the President does not take part in the proceedings of the Parliament; he can-not stop a bill from becoming a law�at best he/she can send the bill back for reconsideration of the Parliament, but he/she has to sign the bill when it is passed again.

�The President cannot refuse his/her assent to a money bill, though his/her prior permission is necessary for the introduction of the money bill in the Lok Sabha. �The President in fact, has no real powers relating to legislation. Relationship between the real executive on the one hand and the Parliament on the other is rather important. In India, the President appoints the Prime Minister who commands or can command the majority support of the Parliament, especially the Lok Sabha, though the Prime Minister may himself not be the member of the Lok Sabha as Dr. Manmohan Singh. �The President appoints other members of the Council of Ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister. As members of the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister have collectively responsiblity to the Lok Sabha, the ministers are usually from the Parliament and those who are not members of the parliament must seek membership of either House of the Parliament within six months of assuming office; they are responsible, as a team, to the Lok Sabha, and individually, to the Prime Minister.

�The Parliament members ask questions, supplementary questions, and move and pass adjournment motions. A censure motion, cut-in-motion, a vote of no-confidence by Lok Sabha culminates in the resignation of the Council of Ministers. "us, the real executive (i.e., the Council of Ministers in India) is not only a part of the Parliament, but is also accountable to it. �The working of Parliament in India has witnessed, broadly speaking, four different phases. �The first phase, under Nehru and Indira Gandhi as prime ministers, had a parliament which worked as was demanded by the Congress Party: Parliament was Congress, and the Congress was parliament. �The second phase, under Charan Singh, Chandra Shekhar, Narasimha Rao, Deve Gowda, and I.K. Gujral as prime ministers, found the executive relatively weak and the Parliament both active and assertive.

�The third phase, under Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Dr. Manmohan Singh as prime ministers, found the executive functioning under constraints of the supporting political parties, only conciliative at times. �The fourth phase starts with the 2014, Lok Sabha elections where Prime Minister Narendra Modi commands a clear majority in the Lok Sabha and where the Rajya Sabha consisting of a considerable opposition, does not outrightly oppose the government. It is a phase of cooperation and compromise between the two houses on the one hand and between the executive and legislature on the other.

Written by princy

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