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Parliament of India: Members, Functions and Sessions

Parliament of India consists of the President and the two Houses: Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Let us look in details about its members, functions and sessions of Parliament of India

Parliament (also known as Sansad or Bhartiya Sansad) is the supreme legislative authority of India. Parliament of India consists of the President and is divided into two Houses – Lok Sabha (House of the People) and Rajya Sabha (Council of States). The President of India holds the power to summon and prorogue either House of Parliament or to dissolve Lok Sabha. A Bill becomes an Act only after it is passed by both Houses of Parliament. Indian Parliament house was designed by British architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker in 1912-1913. It was opened in 1927 to house the Central Legislative Assembly, Council of States, and the Chamber of Princes.

Members of Parliament India

Rajya Sabha

The maximum allowed capacity of Rajya Sabha is 250. 238 members are elected by the State and 12 members are nominated by the President for their contribution in the fields of art, literature, science and social services. Rajya Sabha is a permanent body and is not subject to dissolution. However, one-third of the total Rajya Sabha members retire every second year, and are replaced by the newly elected members. Each member in Rajya Sabha is elected for a term of six years.

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Lok Sabha

The Lok Sabha or the lower house of Parliament is composed of representatives of people that chosen after the direct election on the basis of Universal Adult Suffrage. The maximum strength of Lok Sabha members is 552 members – 530 members to represent the States, 20 members to represent the Union Territories, and 2 members to be nominated by the President from the Anglo-Indian Community. The current strength of Lok Sabha is 545. Members of Lok Sabha hold their seat for 5 years or until the body is dissolved by the President on the advice of the council of ministers.

Functions of Parliament of India

The functions of the Parliament can be classified under several categories like Legislative Functions, Executive Functions, Financial Functions, etc.

Legislative Functions

  1. Parliament legislates on all matters that are mentioned in the Union and the Concurrent List.
  2. In case of the Concurrent List, where the state legislatures and the Parliament have joint jurisdiction, the union law will prevail over the states unless the state law had received the earlier presidential assent. However, Parliament can any time, make a law adding to, amending, varying or repealing a law made by a state legislature.
  3. The Parliament can even pass laws on items in the State List under the following circumstances:
    • If an emergency has been placed, or any state is placed under Presidential Rule, then Parliament can enact laws on items in the State List as well.
    • Parliament can make laws on items in the State List if the upper house of parliament passes a resolution by a two-third majority of its present members and voting, which is necessary for the Parliament to make laws on any item enumerated in the State List, in the national interest.
    • Parliament can pass laws on the State List items if it is required for the implementation of international agreements or treaties with foreign powers.
    • If the legislatures of two or more states pass a resolution to the effect that it is desirable to have a parliamentary law on any item listed in the State List, then Parliament can make laws for those states.

Executive Functions (Control over the Executive)

In the parliamentary form of government, the executive is responsible to the legislature. Therefore, the Parliament exercises control over the executive by several measures.

  1. By a vote of no-confidence, Parliament can remove the Cabinet (executive) out of power. It can also reject a budget or any other bill proposal that has been presented by the Cabinet.
  2. Members of Parliament can ask questions to the ministers on their ommissions and commissions. Any kind of lapse on the part of the government can be exposed in the Parliament.
  3. Parliament appoints a Committee on Ministerial Assurances that look after the promises made by the ministers to the Parliament are fulfilled or not.
  4. Censure Motion: A censure motion is moved by the members of the opposition party in the House to strongly disapprove any policy of the government. It can be moved only in the Lok Sabha. Immediately after a censure motion is passed, the government has to seek the confidence of the House. Unlike in the case of the no-confidence motion, the Council of Ministers need not resign if the censure motion is passed.
  5. Cut Motion: This motion is used to oppose any demand in the financial bill that has been brought by the government.

Financial Functions

Parliament has the ultimate afuthority when it comes to finances. The Executives cannot spend a single pie without the approval from the parliament.

  1. The Union Budget that is prepared by the Cabinet is submitted for approval by the Parliament. All proposals to impose taxes must also be approved by the Parliament.
  2. There are two standing committees (Public Accounts Committee and Estimates Committee) of the Parliament that keeps a check on how the money granted has been spent to it by the legislature.

Amending Powers

The Parliament has the power to amend the Constitution of India. Both the Houses of the Parliament have equal powers Amendments will have to be passed in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha for them to be effective.

Electoral Functions

The Parliament also takes part in the election of the President and the Vice President. The electoral that elects the President comprises of, among others, the elected members of both Houses. The President can be removed by a resolution passed by the Rajya Sabha and agreed to by the Lok Sabha.

  • Judicial Functions

In case of breach of privilege by members of the House, the Parliament has the powers to punish them. A breach of privilege is an infringement of any of the privileges enjoyed by the MPs.

  1. A privilege motion is moved by a member when he/she feels a member/minister has committed a breach of privilege of the House.
  2. The power of the Parliament to punish its members is usually not a subject to judicial review.
  3. Other judicial functions of the Parliament include the power to impeach the President, the Vice President, the judges of the Supreme Court, High Courts, Auditor-General, etc.

Sessions of Parliament

A parliament session of the Indian Parliament is the period during which a House meets almost every day to manage the country. There are generally 3 sessions in a year. The process of calling all members of Parliament for parliament session is called Summoning of Parliament. President is the one who summons the Parliament.

  1. Budget session of Parliament (February to May)
  2. Monsoon session of Parliament (July to September)
  3. Winter session of Parliament (November to December)

Parliament Budget Session 

  1. The budget session of Parliament is held from February to May.
  2. Since 2017, the Union Budget is being presented on the first of February, every year. Before that, it used to be presented on the last day of February.
  3. All the members discuss the various provisions of the budget and matters concerning taxation after the Finance Minister presents the budget.
  4. The budget session is mostly split into two periods with a gap of one month between them.
  5. The session starts with the President’s Address to both Houses.

Parliament Monsoon Session

  1. The monsoon session of parliament is held from July to September every year.
  2. It starts after a break of two months after the budget session.
  3. Matters of public interest are discussed.

Parliament Winter Session

  1. The winter session of Parliament is held from mid-November to mid-December.
  2. It is the shortest session of all the three sessions
  3. The Session takes up the matters that could not be considered earlier and makes up for the absence of legislative business during the second session of the Parliament.

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