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Legislature

Legislature of the Union, which is called Parliament, consists of the President and two Houses, known as Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and House of the People (Lok Sabha). Each House has to meet within six months of its previous sitting. A joint sitting of two Houses can be held in certain cases.

Rajya Sabha (External website that opens in a new window)

The Constitution provides that the Rajya Sabha shall consist of 250 members, of which 12 members shall be nominated by the President from amongst persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service; and not more than 238 representatives of the States and of the Union Territories.


Rajya Sabha Chamber

Elections to the Rajya Sabha are indirect; members representing States are elected by elected members of legislative assemblies of the States in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote, and those representing Union Territories are chosen in such manner as Parliament may by law prescribe. The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution; one-third of its members retire every second year.

Rajya Sabha, at present, has 245 seats. Of these, 233 members represent the States and the Union Territories, and 12 members are nominated by the President.

Lok Sabha (External website that opens in a new window)

The Lok Sabha is composed of representatives of people chosen by direct election on the basis of adult suffrage. The maximum strength of the House envisaged by the Constitution is now 552 (530 members to represent States, 20 to represent Union Territories, and not more than two members of the Anglo-Indian community to be nominated by the President, if, in his opinion, that community is not adequately represented in the House). The total elective membership of the Lok Sabha is distributed among States in such a way that the ratio between the number of seats allotted to each State and population of the State is, as far as practicable, the same for all States. The Lok Sabha at present consists of 545 members. Of these, 530 members are directly elected from the States and 13 from Union Territories, while two are nominated by the President to represent the Anglo-Indian community. Following the Constitution 84th Amendment Act, the total number of existing seats as allocated to various States in the Lok Sabha on the basis of the 1971 census, shall remain unaltered till the first census to be taken after the year 2026.


Lok Sabha Chamber

The term of the Lok Sabha, unless dissolved earlier, is five years from the date appointed for its first meeting. However, while a proclamation of emergency is in operation, this period may be extended by Parliament by law for a period not exceeding one year at a time, and not extending in any case, beyond a period of six months after the proclamation has ceased to operate. Fourteen Lok Sabhas have been constituted so far.

Qualification for Membership of Parliament

In order to be chosen a member of Parliament, a person must be a citizen of India and not less than 30 years of age in the case of Rajya Sabha and not less than 25 years of age in the case of Lok Sabha. Additional qualifications may be prescribed by Parliament by law.

Functions and Powers of Parliament

As in other parliamentary democracies, the Parliament in India has the cardinal functions of legislation, overseeing of administration, passing of the Budget, ventilation of public grievances and discussing various subjects like development plans, national policies and international relations. The distribution of powers between the Union and the States, followed in the Constitution, emphasises in many ways the general predominance of Parliament in the legislative field. Apart from a wide-range of subjects, even in normal times, the Parliament can, under certain circumstances, assume legislative power with respect to a subject falling within the sphere exclusively reserved for the States. The Parliament is also vested with powers to impeach the President and to remove the Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts, the Chief Election Commissioner and the Comptroller and Auditor General in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Constitution.

All legislation require consent of both the Houses of Parliament. In the case of money bills, however, the will of the Lok Sabha prevails. Delegated legislation is also subject to review and control by Parliament. Besides the power to legislate, the Constitution vests in Parliament the power to initiate amendment of the Constitution.

Source: India Book - A Reference Annual