Rajya Sabha

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Coordinates: 28°37′0″N 77°12′30″E / 28.61667°N 77.20833°E / 28.61667; 77.20833

Rajya Sabha (Council of States)
राज्य सभा
Chamber's room
Type
Type
Leadership
Mohammad Hamid AnsariInd
since 11 August 2007 [1]
P. J. KurienINC
since 21 August 2012[2]
Arun JaitleyBJP
since July 2014[3]
Ghulam Nabi AzadINC
since July 2014 [3]
Structure
Seats

245 total

  • 232 elected
  • 12 nominated
  • 1 vacant
    A maximum of 250 allowed in the constitution[4]
Political groups

Government
National Democratic Alliance 73)

Others
United Progressive Alliance (70)

Janata Parivar parties (30)

Unaligned parties (65)

     Nominated (10)
     Ind (7)

     Vacant (1)
Elections
Single transferable vote
Meeting place
Chamber of Rajya Sabha, Sansad Bhavan,
New Delhi, India
Website
rajyasabha.nic.in

The Rajya Sabha or Council of States is the upper house of the Parliament of India. Membership of Rajya Sabha is limited by Constitution to a maximum of 250 members, and current laws have provision for 245 members. Most of the members of the House are indirectly elected by state and territorial legislatures using single transferable votes, while the President of India can appoint 12 members for their contributions to art, literature, science, and social services. Members sit for staggered six-year terms, with one third of the members retiring every two years.

The Rajya Sabha meets in continuous sessions, and unlike the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, is not subject to dissolution. The Rajya Sabha has equal footing in all areas of legislation with Lok Sabha, except in the area of supply, where the Lok Sabha has overriding powers. In the case of conflicting legislation, a joint sitting of the two houses can be held. However, since the Lok Sabha has twice as many members as the Rajya Sabha, the former would normally hold the greater power. Joint sittings of the Houses of Parliament of India are rare, and in the history of the Republic, only three such joint-sessions have been held; the latest one for the passage of the 2002 Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The Vice President of India (currently, Hamid Ansari) is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, who presides over its sessions. The Deputy Chairman, who is elected from amongst the RS's members, takes care of the day-to-day matters of the house in the absence of the Chairman. The Rajya Sabha held its first sitting on 13 May 1952.[5] The salary and other benefits for a member of Rajya Sabha are same as for a member of Lok Sabha.

Because Rajya Sabha members are elected by state legislatures rather than directly through the electorate, and also because of the STV method of election of the Rajya Sabha members, it is not uncommon for the sitting government to not to have majority in Rajya Sabha, while it must have a majority in Lok Sabha. The current government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not have a majority in Rajya Sabha.[6] Rajya Sabha sits in Rajya Sabha Chamber in Parliament House, New Delhi.

Qualifications[edit]

Article 84 of the Constitution lays down the qualifications for membership of Parliament. Members of the Rajya Sabha must:

  • Be the citizens of India
  • Make and subscribe before some person authorized in that behalf by the Election Commission an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule to the Constitution;
  • Be at least 30 years old;
  • Possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed in that behalf by or under any law made by Parliament.
  • Be elected by the Legislative Assembly of States and Union territories by means of Single transferable vote through Proportional representation.

In addition, twelve members are nominated by the President of India having special knowledge in various areas like Arts, Science etc. However they are not entitled to vote in Presidential elections as per Article 55 of Indian Constitution.

Limitations[edit]

The Constitution of India places some restrictions on Rajya Sabha which makes Lok Sabha more powerful in certain areas in comparison.

Money Bills[edit]

Money bills, as defined in the Constitution of India Art. 109, can only be introduced in Lok Sabha. If Lok Sabha passed a Money Bill, and transmitted it to Rajya Sabha, Rajya Sabha has only fourteen days to return the bill (with or without amendments) to Lok Sabha. If Rajya Sabha fails to return the bill in fourteen days, the bill is deemed to have passed by both the Houses. Also, if Lok Sabha rejects any (or all) of the amendments proposed by Rajya Sabha, the bill is deemed to have been passed by both Houses of Parliament in the form Lok Sabha finally passes it. Hence, Rajya Sabha cannot stall, or amend a Money Bill without Lok Sabha's concurrence on the same.[7]

Joint Sitting of the Parliament[edit]

Article 108 provides for a joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament in certain cases. A joint sitting can be convened by the President of India when one house has either rejected a bill passed by the other house, have not taken any action on a bill transmitted to it by the other house for six months, or has disagreed to the amendments proposed by the other house on a bill passed by it. Considering that the strength of Lok Sabha is more than twice that of Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha tends to have a greater influence in a joint sitting of Parliament. A joint session is chaired by the Speaker of Lok Sabha. Also, because the joint session is convened by the President on advice of the government, which already has a majority in Lok Sabha, the joint session is usually convened to get bills passed through a Rajya Sabha in which the government has a minority. Joint sessions of Parliament are a rarity, and have been convened 3 times in last 60 years, latest in 2002:

  • 1961: Dowry Prohibition Act, 1958
  • 1978: Banking Services Commission (Repeal) Act, 1977
  • 2002: Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002

No-Confidence Motion[edit]

Unlike Lok Sabha, it cannot pass motion of no confidence against the government.

Powers[edit]

In Indian federal structure, Rajya Sabha is a representative of the States in the Union legislature (Hence the name, Council of States). Hence, Rajya Sabha is granted powers that that protect the rights of States against the Union.

Union-States Relations[edit]

The Constitution empowers Parliament of India to make laws on the matters reserved for States (States List). However, this can only be done if Rajya Sabha first passes a resolution by two-thirds supermajority granting such a power to the Union Parliament. The union government cannot make a law on a matter reserved for states without an authorisation from Rajya Sabha.

Creation of All-India Services[edit]

Rajya Sabha, by a two-thirds supermajority can pass a resolution empowering the Government of India to create more All-India Services common to both Union and States, including a judicial service.

Membership and composition[edit]

Seats are allotted in proportion to the population of each state or union territory in such a manner that smaller states have slight advantage over more populous states.[8] In addition, smaller Union Territories which do not have legislatures do not have representation in Rajya Sabha. Hence, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli do not send any representatives to Rajya Sabha. An additional 12 members are nominated by the President.[9]

Name of State No. of Seats
Andhra Pradesh 11
Arunachal Pradesh 1
Assam 7
Bihar 16
Chhattisgarh 5
Goa 1
Gujarat 11
Haryana 5
Himachal Pradesh 3
Jammu & Kashmir 4
Jharkhand 6
Karnataka 12
Kerala 9
Madhya Pradesh 11
Maharashtra 19
Manipur 1
Meghalaya 1
Mizoram 1
Nagaland 1
National Capital Territory (Delhi) 3
Nominated 12
Odisha 10
Pondicherry 1
Punjab 7
Rajasthan 10
Sikkim 1
Tamil Nadu 18
Telangana 7
Tripura 1
Uttar Pradesh 31
Uttarakhand 3
West Bengal 16

See also List of members of the Rajya Sabha

Membership by party[edit]

Members by Party Source: Rajya Sabha Secretariat[10] (as of 20 April 2015)

Alliances Party MPs
United Progressive Alliance
Seats: 71
Indian National Congress 68
Kerala Congress (Mani) 1
Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) 1
National Democratic Alliance
Seats: 63
Bharatiya Janata Party 47
Telugu Desam Party 6
Shiromani Akali Dal 3
Shiv Sena 3
Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party 2
Nagaland People's Front 1
Republican Party of India (Athvale) 1
Janata Parivar
Seats: 30
Samajwadi Party 15
Janata Dal (United) 12
Indian National Lok Dal 1
Janata Dal (Secular) 1
Rashtriya Janata Dal 1
Other Parties
Seats: 64
All India Trinamool Congress 12
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 11
Bahujan Samaj Party 10
Communist Party of India (Marxist) 9
Biju Janata Dal 7
Nationalist Congress Party 6
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 4
Communist Party of India 1
Bodoland People's Front 1
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha 1
Sikkim Democratic Front 1
Telangana Rashtra Samithi 1
Nominated 10
Independents 7
Vacant Seats 1
Total 245

The JD(U), Samajwadi Party, RJD, INLD and JD(S) have announced the formation of a Janata Parivar group that commands 30 seats in the Rajya Sabha.

Officers[edit]

Leader of the House[edit]

Besides the Chairman (Vice-President of India) and the Deputy Chairman, there is also a function called Leader of the House. This is a cabinet minister - the prime minister if he is a member of the House, or another nominated minister. The Leader has a seat next to the Chairman, in the front row.

The following people have been the Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha:

No Name From To
1 Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar May 1952 Feb. 1953
2 Shri Charu Chandra Biswas Feb. 1953 Nov. 1954
3 Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Nov. 1954 March 1955
4 Shri Govind Ballabh Pant March 1955 Feb. 1961
5 Shri Hafiz Mohammad Ibrahim Feb. 1961 Aug. 1963
6 Shri Yashwantrao Chavan Aug. 1963 Dec. 1963
7 Shri Jaisukhlal Hathi Feb. 1964 March 1964
8 Shri Mahomadali Currim Chagla March 1964 Nov. 1967
9 Shri Jaisukhlal Hathi Nov. 1967 Nov. 1969
10 Shri Kodradas Kalidas Shah Nov. 1969 May 1971
11 Shri Uma Shankar Dikshit May 1971 Dec. 1975
12 Shri Kamlapati Tripathi Dec. 1975 March 1977
13 Shri L. K. Advani March 1977 Aug. 1979
14 Shri K.C. Pant Aug. 1979 Jan. 1980
15 Shri Pranab Mukherjee Jan. 1980 Dec. 1984
16 Shri V. P. Singh Dec. 1984 April 1987
17 Shri Narayan Dutt Tiwari April 1987 June 1988
18 Shri P. Shiv Shankar July 1988 Dec. 1989
19 Shri M. S. Gurupadaswamy Dec. 1989 Nov. 1990
20 Shri Yashwant Sinha Dec. 1990 June 1991
21 Shri Shankarrao Chavan July 1991 April 1996
22 Shri Sikander Bakht 20 May 1996 31 May 1996
23 Shri Inder Kumar Gujral June 1996 Nov. 1996
24 Shri H.D. Deve Gowda Nov. 1996 April 1997
25 Shri Inder Kumar Gujral April 1997 March 1998
26 Shri Sikander Bakht March 1998 Oct. 1999
27 Shri Jaswant Singh Oct. 1999 May 2004
28 Dr. Manmohan Singh June 2004 May 2014
29 Shri Arun Jaitley June 2014 Present

Leader of the Opposition (LOP)[edit]

Besides the Leader of the House, who is leading the majority, there is also a Leader of the Opposition - leading the minority parties. The function was only recognized in the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of the Opposition in Parliament Act 1977. This is commonly the leader of the largest minority party, and is recognized as such by the Chairman.

The following people have been the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha:

No Name From To
1 Shri Shyam Nandan Mishra December 1969 March 1971
2 Shri M. S. Gurupadaswamy March 1971 April 1972
3 Shri Kamlapati Tripathi 30.3.1977 15.2.1978
4 Shri Bhola Paswan Shastri 24.2.1978 23.3.1978
5 Shri Kamlapati Tripathi 23.3.1978 2.4.1978
6 Shri Kamlapati Tripathi 18.4.1978 8.1.1980
7 Shri Lal Krishna Advani 21.1.1980 7.4.1980
8 Shri P. Shiv Shanker 18.12.1989 2.1.1991
9 Shri M. S. Gurupadaswamy 28.6.1991 21.7.1991
10 Shri S. Jaipal Reddy 22.7.1991 29.6.1992
11 Shri Sikander Bakht 7.7.1992 10.4.1996
12 Shri Sikander Bakht 10.4.1996 23.5.1996
13 Shri S. B. Chavan 23.5.1996 1.6.1996
14 Shri Sikander Bakht 1.6.1996 19.3.1998
15 Dr. Manmohan Singh 21.3.1998 21.5.2004
16 Shri Jaswant Singh 3.6.2004 4.7.2004
17 Shri Jaswant Singh 5.7.2004 16.5.2009
18 Shri Arun Jaitley 3.6.2009 20.5.2014
19 Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad 6.5.2014 Present

Secretariat[edit]

The Secretariat of Rajya Sabha was set up pursuant to the provisions contained in Article 98 of the Constitution. The said Article, which provides for a separate secretarial staff for each House of Parliament, reads as follows:- 98. Secretariat of Parliament -Each House of Parliament shall have a separate secretarial staff: Provided that nothing in this clause shall be construed as preventing the creation of posts common to both Houses of Parliament. (2) Parliament may by law regulate the recruitment and the conditions of service of persons appointed to the secretarial staff of either House of Parliament.

The Rajya Sabha Secretariat functions under the overall guidance and control of the Chairman. The main activities of the Secretariat inter alia include the following :-

(i) providing secretarial assistance and support to the effective functioning of the Council of States (Rajya Sabha)ssible to Members of Rajya Sabha;
(iv) servicing the various Parliamentary Committees;
(v) preparing research and reference material and bringing out various publications;
(vi) recruitment of manpower in the Sabha Secretariat and attending to personnel matters; and
(vii) preparing and publishing a record of the day-to-day proceedings of the Rajya Sabha and bringing out such other publications, as may be required concerning the functioning of the Rajya Sabha and its Committees.

In the discharge of his constitutional and statutory responsibilities, the Chairman, Rajya Sabha is assisted by the Secretary-General, who holds the rank equivalent[11] to the Cabinet Secretary to the Government of India. The Secretary-General, in turn, is assisted by senior functionaries at the level of Secretary, Additional Secretary, Joint Secretary and other officers and staff of the Secretariat.

Media[edit]

Rajya Sabha Television (RSTV) is a 24*7 parliamentary TV channel fully owned and operated by the Rajya Sabha. The channel is aimed at providing in-depth coverage and analysis of parliamentary affairs especially the functioning of and developments related to Rajya Sabha. During sessions of Parliament, apart from telecasting live coverage of the proceedings of Rajya Sabha, RSTV presents incisive analysis of the proceedings of the House as well as other day-to-day parliamentary events and developments.[12]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]