Parliament of India

The Parliament of India (Hindi: भारत संसद) is the supreme legislative body in India. Founded in 1919, the Parliament alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all political bodies in India. The Parliament of India 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.

The parliament is bicameral, with an upper house called as Council of States or Rajya Sabha, and a lower house called as House of People or Lok Sabha. The two Houses meet in separate chambers in the Sansad Bhavan (located on the Sansad Marg), in New Delhi. The Members of either house are commonly referred to as Members of Parliament or MP. The MPs of Lok Sabha are elected by direct election and the MPs of Rajya Sabha are elected by the members of the State Legislative Assemblies and Union territories of Delhi and Pondicherry only in accordance with proportional voting. The Parliament is composed of 790 MPs, who serve the largest democratic electorate in the world (714 million eligible voters in 2009).

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The parliament house originally known as 'Council Hous ', was planned at the introductory stage to be a part of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. But in 1919 according to the Montague-Chelmsford reforms, it was announced to be designed as the Indian parliament. Various designs of the building were planned from a triangular to a Roman colosseum like structure and which paved way for its present circular designed colonnaded verandah, with 144 pillars and 560 feet diameter. The foundation stone of the council House was laid on February 12, 1921 by the Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, third son of Queen Victoria. The building in pale and red Dholpur sandstone, used the same theme as neighbouring Secretariat Building. The building spread over nearly six acres was inaugurated on January 18, 1927 by then Governor-General of India, Lord Irwin. It is now commonly known as Sansad Bhavan

Lok Sabha
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 Suffrage, 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 election of Member of 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 544 members.

Up to 530 members represent the territorial constituencies in States, up to 20 members represents 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 in such a manner that the ratio between that number and the population of the State is, so far as practicable, the same for all States.

Several seats are reserved for representatives of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as per reservation quota implemented. There is currently no quota in India's parliament for participation from women; however, the Women's Reservation Bill proposes to reserve 33% of the seats in Lok Sabha for women.

Rajya Sabha
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.

Representatives of States are elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of the State in accordance with system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote.
Representatives of Union Territories are indirectly elected by members of an electoral college for that territory in accordance with system of proportional representation.

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.

President of India
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.

Working, procedures and committees
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.

Session of parliament
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:
Budget session: 20–35 days in the months of February to May.
Monsoon session: 20–35 days in the months of July to August.
Winter session: 20–34 days in the months of November to December

Lawmaking procedures
Lawmaking procedures in India are modelled after, and are thus very similar to, those followed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Parliamentary committees
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 it.

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 calmer atmosphere. In most of the Committees, public is directly or indirectly associated when memoranda containing suggestions 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.

Standing committees
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 continuous nature. The Financial Committees, DRSCs and some other Committees come under the category of Standing Committees.

These are the Committees on Subordinate Legislation, the Committee on Government Assurances, the Committee on Estimates, the Committee on Public Accounts and the Committee on Public Undertakings and Departmentally Related Standing Committees...

Ad hoc 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.

Central Hall
The Central Hall of the Parliament has been designed to be circular in shape. The dome is 98 ft. (29.87 metres) in diameter and is believed that it is one of the most magnificent domes in the world. The Central Hall is a place of historical importance in India for two reasons: The transfer of colonial power to the Provisional Government under Nehru in 1947 and the framing of the Constitution by the Constituent Assembly took place in this very hall. Originally, the Central Hall was used as the Library of the erstwhile Central Legislative Assembly and the Council of States until 1946, when it was converted and refurnished into the Constituent Assembly Hall. The Constituent Assembly met there from December 9, 1946 to November 26, 1949 to draft the constitution. At present, the Central Hall is used for holding Joint Sittings of the two Houses. At the commencement of the first session after each General Election to Lok Sabha and at the commencement of the first session of each year, the President addresses both the Houses of Parliament assembled together in the Central Hall. When the Houses are in session, the Central Hall is used by Members for informal discussions among themselves. Central Hall is also used for special occasions when the Members of Parliament are addressed by distinguished Heads of States of other countries. The Hall is also equipped with Simultaneous Interpretation System.

Functions of parliament
The main functions of parliament are : {a} legislation, within its jurisdiction; {b} amendments of the constitution; {c} approval of presidential ordinance and proclamation; {d} consideration of president addresses and messages; {e} considerations of various resolutions and motions; {f} social legislation.

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