|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Hindi Wikipedia. (September 2012)|
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|Parliament of India
भारत की संसद
Bhārat kī Sansad
|Houses||Rajya Sabha (Council of States)
Lok Sabha (House of the People)
Since 25 July 2012
|Chairman of Rajya Sabha||Mohammad Hamid Ansari
Since 25 August 2012
|Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha||P. J. Kurien, Congress
Since 21 August 2012
|Speaker of Lok Sabha||Meira Kumar, Congress
Since 3 June 2009
|Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha||Kariya Munda, BJP
Since 8 June 2009
245 Members of Rajya Sabha
545 Members of Lok Sabha
|Rajya Sabha Political groups||UPA, NDA, Third front, Others|
|Lok Sabha Political groups||UPA, NDA, Third front, Others|
|Rajya Sabha Voting system||Single transferable vote|
|Lok Sabha Voting system||First past the post|
|Lok Sabha Last election||Indian general election, 2009|
|Sansad Bhavan, New Delhi, India|
The Parliament of India is the supreme legislative body in India. It was founded in 1921. The Parliament comprises the President of India and the two Houses—Lok Sabha (House of the People) and Rajya Sabha (Council of States). The President has the power to summon and prorogue either House of Parliament or to dissolve Lok Sabha.
India's Parliament is bicameral; Rajya Sabha is the upper house and Lok Sabha is the lower house. The two Houses meet in separate chambers in the Sansad Bhavan (located on the Sansad Marg or "Parliament Street") in New Delhi. Those elected or nominated (by the President) to either house of Parliament are referred to as Members of Parliament or MPs. The MPs of Lok Sabha are directly elected by the Indian public and the MPs of Rajya Sabha are elected by the members of the State Legislative Assemblies, in accordance with proportional representation. The Parliament is composed of 790 MPs, who serve the largest democratic electorate in the world; 714 million Indians registered to vote in the 2009 general elections.
The main functions of parliament are :
Similar to most Commonwealth countries, India also includes the Head of State (the President of India in India's case) as a component of Parliament. The President of India is elected, from a group of nominees, by the elected members of the Parliament of India (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) as well as of the state legislatures (Vidhan Sabhas), and serves for a term of five years. Historically, ruling party (majority in the Lok Sabha) nominees have been elected and run largely uncontested. Incumbents are permitted to stand for re-election, but unlike the president of the United States, who can be elected just twice, incumbents can be elected for any number of terms. A formula is used to allocate votes so there is a balance between the population of each state and the number of votes assembly members from a state can cast, and to give an equal balance between State Assembly members and National Parliament members. If no candidate receives a majority of votes there is a system by which losing candidates are eliminated from the contest and votes for them transferred to other candidates, until one gains a majority. Pranab Mukherjee is the current President of India.
Lok Sabha is also known as the "House of the People" or the lower house. All of its members are directly elected by citizens of India on the basis of universal adult franchise, except two who are appointed by the President of India. Every citizen of India who is over 18 years of age, irrespective of gender, caste, religion or race, who is otherwise not disqualified, is eligible to vote for the lok sabha.
The Constitution provides that the maximum strength of the House be 552 members. It has a term of five years. To be eligible for membership in the Lok Sabha, a person must be a citizen of India and must be 25 years of age or older, mentally sound, should not be bankrupt and should not be criminally convicted. At present, the strength of the house is 545 members. The total elective membership is distributed among the States in such a way that the ratio between the number of seats allotted to each State and the population of the State is, so far as practicable, the same for all States.
Up to 530 members represent of the territorial constituencies in States, up to 20 members represent the Union Territories and no more than two members from Anglo-Indian community can be nominated by the President of India if he or she feels that the community is not adequately represented. House seats are apportioned among the states by population .
Several seats are reserved for representatives of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, known as a practice known as reservation. The Women's Reservation Bill proposes reserving 33% of the seats in Lok Sabha for women.
The Rajya Sabha is also known as "Council of States" or the upper house. Rajya Sabha is a permanent body and is not subject to dissolution. However, one third of the members retire every second year, and are replaced by newly elected members. Each member is elected for a term of six years. Its members are indirectly elected by members of legislative bodies of the States.
The Rajya Sabha can have a maximum of 250 members in all. Elections to it are scheduled and the chamber cannot be dissolved. Each member has a term of 6 years and elections are held for one-third of the seats after every 2 years. 238 members are to be elected from States and Union Territories and 12 are to be nominated by President of India and shall consist of persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as the following, namely literature, science, art and social service.
The Council of States is designed to maintain the federal character of the country. The number of members from a state depends on the population of the state (e.g. 31 from Uttar Pradesh and one from Nagaland).
The minimum age for a person to become a member of Rajya Sabha is 30 years.
The Parliament consists of the President of Republic of India and both the Chambers. The House and the Council are equal partners in the legislative process; however, the Constitution grants the House of People some unique powers. Revenue-raising or “Money” bills must originate in the House of People. The Council of States can only make recommendations suggestions over these bills to the House, within a period of fourteen days – lapse of which the bill is assumed to have been passed by both the Chambers.
The period during which the House meets to conduct its business is called a session.The Constitution empowers the President to summon each House at such intervals that there should not be more than 6 month's gap between the two sessions. Hence the Parliament must meet at least twice a year. In India,the parliament conducts three sessions each year:
Lawmaking procedures in India are modelled after, and are thus very similar to, those followed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Parliamentary committees play a vital role in the Parliamentary System. They are a vibrant link between the Parliament, the Executive and the general public.
The need for committees arises out of two factors - the first one being the need for vigilance on the part of the Legislature over the actions of the Executive, while the second one is that the modern Legislature these days is over-burdened with heavy volume of work with limited time at its disposal. It thus becomes impossible that every matter should be thoroughly and systematically scrutinised and considered on the floor of the House. If the work is to be done with reasonable care, naturally some Parliamentary responsibility has to be entrusted to an agency in which the whole House has confidence. Entrusting certain functions of the House to the Committees has, therefore, become a normal practice. This has become all the more necessary, as a Committee provides the expertise on a matter which is referred to
In a committee, the matter is deliberated at length, views are expressed freely, the matter is considered in depth, in a business-like manner and in a calm atmosphere. In most of the Committees, public is directly or indirectly associated when memoranda containing suggestions and are received, on-the-spot studies are conducted and oral evidence is taken which helps the Committees in arriving at the conclusions.
Parliamentary committees are of two kinds: ad hoc committees and the standing committees most powerful of all is public accounts committee which is headed by the leader of the opposition.
There are 45 standing committees in the Indian Parliament. Each house of Parliament has standing committees like the Business Advisory Committee, the Committee on Petitions, the Committee of Privileges and the Rules Committee, etc.
Standing committees are permanent and regular committees which are constituted from time to time in pursuance of the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Parliament. The work of these committees is of a continuing nature. The Financial Committees, DRSCs and some other committees are standing committees.
Ad hoc committees are appointed for a specific purpose and they cease to exist when they finish the task assigned to them and submit a report. The principal ad hoc committees are the Select and Joint Committees on Bills. Others like the Railway Convention Committee, the Committees on the Draft Five Year Plans and the Hindi Equivalents Committee were appointed for specific purposes.
Joint Committee on Food Management in Parliament House Complex etc. also come under the category of ad hoc committees.
On 13 December 2001, the parliament building was attacked by five Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists. In addition to all the attackers, six military personnel and one civilian were killed.
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