India is governed by a parliamentary system. The Union Parliament is the country’s top legislative body. The legislature is divided into two houses, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha (House of the People) members are directly elected by the people through the voting process. Members of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) are elected by the legislative assemblies of the states.
By convention (i.e. not provided by the Constitution), Parliament meets for three sessions in a year to conduct business. These three Sessions of Indian Parliament include Budget Session, Monsoon Session and Winter Session.
Let’s take an overview of the parliament of India and the function it performs, which forms an important part of the polity and government segment of the UPSC syllabus.
Functions of Parliament
The functions of Parliament are outlined in Chapter II of Part V of the Indian Constitution. The functions of Parliament are grouped into numerous categories. Let’s discuss each of them in detail.
- Parliament may take legislative action on any issue included in the Union List or the Concurrent List.
- When it comes to the Concurrent List, which is where state legislatures and Parliament share authority.
- If a state declares an emergency or is placed under President’s Rule (Article 356), the Parliament has the competence to pass legislation on items on the State List.
- Article 249 states that the Parliament can make laws on items on the State List if the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution with a 2/3 majority of its members present and voting stating that passing laws on any item on the State List is necessary for the national interest.
- According to Article 253, it can establish legislation on State List items if it is necessary for the fulfilment of international agreements or treaties with foreign countries.
- Article 252 stipulates that the Parliament can make laws for those states if the legislatures of two or more states pass a resolution saying that parliamentary legislation on any issue on the State List is desirable.
- A vote of no-confidence in Parliament can remove the Cabinet (executive) from power. It has the authority to reject the budget proposal of the Cabinet or any other law. A motion of no confidence is approved to remove a government from office.
- MPs (Members of Parliament) have the authority to question ministers about their acts and omissions. Any mistakes made by the government can be exposed in Parliament.
- Adjournment Motion: The major purpose of an adjournment motion, which is only allowed in the Lok Sabha, is to draw the attention of the Parliament to any current issue of important public importance. It is recognised as a one-of-a-kind tool in Parliament since it has an impact on everyday operations.
- The Parliament appoints a Ministerial Assurances Committee to investigate whether ministers’ promises to the Parliament have been honoured.
- When it comes to money, Parliament is the final say. The Executive cannot spend a single rupee without parliamentary permission.
- The Union Budget is prepared by the Cabinet and presented to Parliament for approval. Parliament must also approve any tax-imposition schemes.
- The Parliament has two standing committees that oversee how the government spends the money it receives from the legislature (the Public Accounts Committee and the Estimates Committee).
- The President and Vice President are chosen with the assistance of Parliament.
- Members of both Houses are elected to the electoral college, which selects the President.
- The Parliament has the right to sanction members of the House who breach their privileges.
- A breach of privilege occurs when one of the MPs’ privileges is breached.
- In most situations, Parliament’s capacity to punish its members is not subject to court review.
- Parliament also has the authority to impeach the President, Vice President, Supreme Court and High Court justices, the Auditor-General, and others.