REINFORCING PEOPLE’S FAITH IN DEMOCRACY: RAJYASABHA

Posted: November 1, 2011 in Political Terminology, The NamoLeague Times
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The upper house of the Indian Parliament is better known as Rajyasabha. It is called the ‘Council of States’ as the legislatures of the states and union territories elect 238 members, and the President appoints another 12. The seats are allotted in proportion to population. The members elected by the President are called ‘Nominated Members’ and are selected for their expertise in specific fields of art, literature, science and social services. Terms of office are for six years, with one third of the members retiring every two years.

The Government of India Act, 1919 provided for the creation of a ‘Council of State’ as a second chamber of the then legislature, with a restricted franchise which actually came into existence in 1921. The name Rajyasabha was announced by the chair in the House on the 23rd August 1954. The second chamber was created because a single directly elected House was considered inadequate to meet the challenges before a free India. The minimum age of thirty years was fixed and an element of dignity was added by making the Vice-President of India the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajyasabha who presides over its sittings. The first sitting was held on 13 May 1952. The Deputy Chairman of the Rajyasabha is elected from amongst its members. His role is to look after the day-to-day matters of the house in the absence of the Chairman.

The Rajyasabha meets in continuous sessions and is not subject to dissolution. It shares its legislative powers with the Loksabha – lower house and in case of conflicts, a joint sitting of the two houses is held. However, the Loksabha has the de facto veto power, as its members are double in number as compared to the Rajyasabha.

Article 84 of the Constitution lays down the qualifications for membership of Parliament whereas Article 102 is for the conditions on which a member of any of the houses can be disqualified. Apart from the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman, the Leader of the House is another functionary who plays important role in the efficient and smooth conduct of the business in the House. The Leader of the House in Rajyasabha is normally the Prime Minister. He coordinates all the sections of the House and the Chairman consults him for all major decisions. Also, there is a Leader of Opposition whose role is more difficult as he has to criticize, find faults and present alternative proposals/policies with no power to implement them.

The present strength of Rajya Sabha is 245, out of which 233 are representatives of the States and Union territories of Delhi and Puducherry and 12 are nominated by the President. The current Chairman of the Rajyasabha is Mohammad Hamid Ansari since 2007; Majority Leader of the House is PM Manmohan Singh since 2007 whereas the Leader of Opposition (BJP) is Arun Jaitley since 2009.

Rajya Sabha has played a constructive and valuable role in the Indian polity. Its performance in the legislative field and in influencing the Government policies has been quite pro-active. It has strengthened people’s faith in the democracy, and maintained unity and integrity of the nation.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=REINFORCING%20PEOPLE%20S%20FAITH%20IN%20DEMOCRACY:%20RAJYASABHA_492

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