The Indian Parliament called Sansad comprises of a lower house called Lok Sabha, an upper house called Rajya Sabha and President of India. The Lok Sabha is a directly elected house of the people where as Rajya Sabha which represent the States in Indian Union and its members are elected by elected Members of the Legislative Assembly i.e. Vidhan Sabha. Although Lok Sabha has a fixed term of 5 years, yet it can be dissolved earlier also by the President of India. Rajya Sabha on the other hand is a permanent House whose members have a fixed term of six years. Both the Houses have their Presiding officer to conduct the proceedings of the House. The Parliament performs various functions like legislative, executive, financial, electoral functions etc.
The Constituent Assembly of India was unanimous about the necessity of Rajya Sabha to safeguard the rights and privileges of the States keeping in mind the principle of federalism. The Rajya Sabha consists of not more than 250 members. Out of them, 12 members are nominated by the President on the basis of their excellence in the field of literature, science, art, social service and sports. The rest are elected by the elected members of the State Assemblies on the basis of proportional representation through Single Transferable Vote System. Unlike the American Senate which has two members each from 50 States, Indian Council of States ie Rajya Sabha does not have equal representation. Rather the number of members from different States is proportional to the population of the States.
The qualifications for becoming a member of Rajya Sabha member are given below. He/she:
Rajya Sabha is a permanent House which never gets dissolved. Its members are elected for six years. One third of its members retire every two years. They are entitled to contest again for the membership. But, a member elected against a mid-term vacancy serves for the remaining period only. This system of election ensures continuity in the working of Rajya Sabha.
Every member of the Rajya Sabha gets a monthly salary as well as a constituency allowance. In addition, they get many other benefits like free accommodation, water, electricity, telephone and travel facilities. On retirement, the members of Rajya Sabha are entitled to a monthly pension also.
The Vice-President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha. The House also elects a Deputy Chairman from amongst its members. As the Vice-President is not a member of Rajya Sabha, he/she is normally not entitled to vote except in case of a tie. The functions of the Chairman are almost the same as those of the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
Membership and Election Lok Sabha (House of the People) which is also called the Lower House shall not consist of more than 550 members. Out of these, not more than 530 can be elected from the States and not more than 20 from the Union Territories. The present strength of Lok Sabha is 543. Before the 104th constitutional amendment, in case the Anglo-Indian community is not adequately represented, the President of India was able to nominate two Anglo-Indian members to Lok Sabha. A number of seats in Lok Sabha are reserved for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The contestants from these constituencies must be SCs/STs but voters have joint electorate which means all the eligible voters, irrespective of caste, creed or community participate in the election.
The election to the Lower House i.e. Lok Sabha is conducted on the basis of Universal Adult Franchise. For this, the voting age has been fixed at 18 years and above. The election is held through secret ballot with the help of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) based on simple majority which means that the highest vote getter is declared elected.
In order to become a member of Lok Sabha, a person should be:
The tenure of Lok Sabha is five years unless dissolved earlier by the President of India. During emergency, its tenure can be extended by one year at a time, but it will not exceed six months after emergency is over.
The Presiding Officer of Lok Sabha is known as Speaker. There is a provision for Deputy Speaker also. Both of them are elected by the members of Lok Sabha from amongst themselves. The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker can be removed from their office if the House passes a resolution to this effect. The speaker has no vote, except is case of tie.
Powers and functions of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha as well that of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha are identical. Some of them are being given below: