Notes of Ch 5 Legislature| Class 11th Political Science

Why do we need a Parliament?

• Legislature is not merely a law making body.

• Lawmaking is but one of the functions of the legislature.

• It is the centre of all democratic political process.

• It is packed with action; walkouts, protests, demonstration, unanimity, concern and co-operation.

• Indeed, a genuine democracy is inconceivable without a representative, efficient and effective legislature.

• The legislature also helps people in holding the representatives accountable. This is indeed, the very basis of representative democracy.

Why do we need two Houses of Parliament?

• The term Parliament'refers to the national legislature.

• The legislature of the States is described as State legislature.

• The Parliament in India has two houses.

• When there are two houses of the legislature, it is called a bicameral legislature. The two Houses of the Indian Parliament are the Council of States or the Rajya Sabha and the House of the People or the Lok Sabha.

• The Constitution has given the States the option of establishing either a unicameral or bi camera legislature.

• At present (2015) only Seven States have a bicameral legislature.

States having a bicameral legislature

• Andhra Pradesh
• Telegana
• Bihar
• Jammu and Kashmir
• Karnataka
• Maharashtra
• Uttar Pradesh

Advantages of Bicameral Legislature

• Countries with large size and much diversity usually prefer to have two houses of the national legislature to give representation to all sections in the society and to give representation to all geographical regions or parts of the country.

• A bicameral legislature makes it possible to have every decision reconsidered. Every decision taken by one house goes to the other house for its decision. This means that every bill and policy would be discussed twice. This ensures a double check on every matter. Even if one house takes a decision in haste, that decision will come for discussion in the other house and reconsideration will be possible.

Rajya Sabha

• Represents the States of India.

• An indirectly elected body.

• Residents of the State elect members to State Legislative Assembly.

• The elected members of State Legislative Assembly in turn elect the members of Rajya Sabha.

Principles of representation

• Equal representation to all the parts of the country irrespective of their size or population called as symmetrical representation.

• Parts of the country may be given representation according to their population means that regions or parts having larger population would have more representatives in the second chamber than regions having less population.

• States with larger population get more representatives than States with smaller population get.

• Members are elected for a term of six years.

• Can get re-elected.

• All members of the Rajya Sabha do not complete their terms at the same time.

• Every two years, one third members of the Rajya Sabha complete their term and elections are held for those one third seats only.

• The Rajya Sabha is never fully dissolved.

• It is called the permanent House of the Parliament.

• Rajya Sabha also has twelve nominated members. The President nominates these members.

Lok Sabha

• The Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assemblies are directly elected by the people.

• For the purpose of election, the entire country (State, in case of State Legislative Assembly) is divided into territorial constituencies of roughly equal population.

• One representative is elected from each constituency through universal adult suffrage where the value of vote of every individual would be equal to another.

• At present there are 543 constituencies.

Functions of the Parliament

Legislative Function

• Enacts legislations for the country.

• The Parliament often merely approves legislations.

• The actual task of drafting the bill is performed by the bureaucracy under the supervision of the minister concerned.

• The substance and even the timing of the bill are decided by the Cabinet. No major bill is introduced in the Parliament without the approval of the Cabinet.

• Members other than ministers can also introduce bills but these have no chance of being passed without the support of the government.

Control of Executive and ensuring its accountability

• To ensure that the executive does not overstep its authority and remains responsible to the people who have elected them.

Financial Function

• In a democracy, legislature controls taxation and the way in which money is used by the government.

• If the Government of India proposes to introduce any new tax, it has to get the approval of the Lok Sabha.

• The financial powers of the Parliament involve grant of resources to the government to implement its programmes.

• The government has to give an account to the legislature about the money it has spent and resources that it wishes to raise.

• The legislature also ensures that the government does not misspend or overspend. This is done through the budget and annual financial statements.


• Parliament represents the divergent views of members from different regional, social, economic, religious groups of different parts of the country.

Debating Function

• The Parliament is the highest forum of debate in the country.

• There is no limitation on its power of discussion.

• Members are free to speak on any matter without fear. This makes it possible for the Parliament to analyze any or every issue that faces the nation.

• These discussions constitute the heart of democratic decision.

Constituent Function

• The Parliament has the power of discussing and enacting changes to the Constitution.

• The constituent powers of both the houses are similar.

• All constitutional amendments have to be approved by a special majority of both Houses.

Electoral functions

• The Parliament also performs some electoral functions.

• It elects the President and Vice President of India.

Judicial functions

• The judicial functions of the Parliament include considering the proposals for removal of President, Vice-President and Judges of High Courts and Supreme Court.

Powers of the Lok Sabha

• Makes Laws on matters included in Union List and Concurrent List.

• Can introduce and enact money and non-money bills.

• Approves proposals for taxation, budgets and annual financial statements.

• Controls the executive by asking questions, supplementary questions, resolutions and motions and through no confidence motion.

• Amends the Constitution.

• Approves the Proclamation of emergency.

• Elects the President and Vice President and removes Judges of Supreme Court and High Court.

• Establishes committees and commissions and considers their reports.

Powers of the Raiva Sabha

• Considers and approves non money bills and suggests amendments to money bills.

• Approves constitutional amendments.

• Exercises control over executive by asking questions, introducing motions and resolutions.

• Participates in the election and removal of the President, Vice President, Judges of Supreme Court and High Court.

• It can alone initiate the procedure for removal of Vice President. Can give the Union parliament power to make laws on matters included in the State list.

Special Powers of Raiva Sabha

• The Rajya Sabha is an institutional mechanism to provide representation to the States.

• Its purpose is to protect the powers of the States. Therefore, any matter that affects the States must be referred to it for its consent and approval.

• Thus, if the Union Parliament wishes to remove a matter from the State list (over which only the State Legislature can make law) to either the Union List or Concurrent List in the interest of the nation, the approval of the Rajya Sabha is necessary. This provision adds to the strength of the Rajya Sabha.

• However, experience shows that the members of the Rajya Sabha represent their parties more than they represent their States.

How does the Parliament Make Laws?

• A bill is a draft of the proposed law. There can be different types of bills.

• When a non-minister proposes a bill, it is called private member's Bill.

• A bill proposed by a minister is described as Government Bill.

When a bill is passed by both Houses, it is sent to the President for his assent. The assent of the President results in the enactment of a bill into a law.

Types of Bills

1. Government Bill
2. Private Bill
3. Non-Money Bill
(a) Ordinary Bill
(b) Constitution Amendment Bill
4. Money Bill

How Does the Parliament control the Executive?

The legislature in parliamentary system ensures executive accountability at various stages: policy making, implementation of law or policy and during and post-implementation stage. The legislature does this through the use of a variety of devices:
• Deliberation and discussion
• Approval or Refusal of laws
• Financial control
• No confidence motion

Deliberation and discussion

• During the law making process, members of the legislature get an opportunity to deliberate on the policy direction of the executive and the ways in which policies are implemented.

• Apart from deliberating on bills, control may also be exercised during the general discussions in the House. The Question Hour, which is held every day during the sessions of Parliament, where Ministers have to respond to searching questions raised by the members; Zero Hour where members are free to raise any matter that they think is important (though the ministers are not bound to reply). half-anhour discussion on matters of public importance, adjournment motion etc. are some instruments of exercising control.

• Perhaps the question hour is the most effective method of keeping vigil on the executive and the administrative agencies of the government.

• Members of Parliament have shown great interest in question hour and maximum attendance is recorded during this time.

• Most of the questions aim at eliciting information from the government on issues of public interest such as, price rise, availability of food grains, atrocities on weaker sections of the society, riots, black-marketing etc. This gives the members an opportunity to criticise the government, and
represent the problems of their constituencies.

• The discussions during the question hour are so heated that it is not uncommon to see members raise their voice, walk to the well of the house or walk out in protest to make their point. This results in considerable loss of legislative time.

• At the same time, we must remember that many of these actions are political techniques to gain concessions from government and in the process force executive accountability.

Approval and ratification of laws

• Parliamentary control is also exercised through its power of ratification. A bill can become a law only with the approval of the Parliament.

• A government that has the support of a disciplined majority may not find it difficult to get the approval of the Legislature.

• Such approvals however, cannot be taken for granted.

• They are the products of intense bargaining and negotiations amongst the members of ruling party or coalition of parties and even government and opposition. If the government has majority in Lok Sabha but not in the Rajya Sabha, as has happened during the Janata Party rule in 1977 and N.D.Arule in 2000, the government will be forced to make substantial concessions to gain the approval of both the Houses. Many bills, such as the Lok Pal Bill have failed enactment, Prevention of Terrorism bill (2002) was rejected by the Rajya Sabha.

Financial control

• As mentioned earlier, financial resources to implement the programmes of the government are granted through the budget.

• Preparation and presentation of budget for the approval of the legislature is constitutional obligation of the government. This obligation allows the legislature to exercise control over the purse strings of the government.

• The legislature may refuse to grant resources to the government. This seldom happens because the government ordinarily enjoys support of the majority in the parliamentary system.

• Nevertheless, before granting money the Lok Sabha can discuss the reasons for which the government requires money. It can enquire into cases of misuse of funds on the basis of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Public Accounts committees. But the legislative control is not only aimed at financial propriety.

• The legislature is concerned about the policies of the government that are reflected in the budget. Through financial control, the legislature controls the policy of the government.

No Confidence Motion

• The most powerful weapon that enables the Parliament to ensure executive accountability is the no-confidence motion.

• As long as the government has the support of its party or coalition of parties that have a majority in the Lok Sabha, the power of the House to dismiss the government is fictional rather than real.

• However, after 1989, several governments have been forced to resign due to lack of confidence of the house. Each of these governments lost the confidence of the Lok Sabha because they failed to retain the support of their coalition partners.

• Thus, the Parliament can effectively control the executive and ensure a more responsive government.

• It is however important for this purpose, that there is adequate time at the disposal of the House, the members are interested in discussion and participate effectively and there is willingness to compromise amongst the government and the opposition.

• In the last two decades, there has been a gradual decline in sessions of the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies and time spent on debates.

• Moreover, the Houses of the Parliament have been plagued by absence of quorum, boycott of sessions by members of opposition which deprive the house the power to control the executive through discussion.

How does the Parliament Regulate Itself?

• It is through debates that the parliament performs all its vital functions.

• Such discussions must be meaningful and orderly so that the functions of the Parliament are carried out smoothly and its dignity is intact.

• The presiding officer of the legislature is the final authority in matters of regulating the business of the legislature.

• Speaker in case of Lok Sabha and Chairman i.e. Vice-President in case of Rajya Sabha.

Anti-Defection law

• Most of the members of the legislatures are elected on the ticket of some political party. What would happen if they decide to leave the party after getting elected?

• For many years after independence, this issue was unresolved.

• Finally there was an agreement among the parties that a legislator who is elected on one party's ticket must be restricted from defecting' to another party.

• An amendment to the Constitution was made (52nd amendment act) in 1985. This is known asanti-defection amendment.

• It has also been subsequently modified by the 91st amendment.

• The presiding officer of the House is the authority who takes final decisions on all such cases.

What is defection?

• If a member remains absent in the House when asked by the party leadership to remain present or votes against the instructions of the party or voluntarily leaves the membership of the party, it is deemed as defection.
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