In all democratic nations, an assembly of elected representatives exercises supreme political authority on behalf of the people of that nation. In India such a national assembly of elected representatives is called Parliament.
- Parliament is the legislature, one of the three organs of the government, the others being the executive and the judiciary. At the State or provincial level, such assembly is called Legislative Assembly.
- The main function of Parliament is to formulate and pass laws for the nation, which are executed or enforced by the executive.
- It is where the debate and discussion on the laws of the nation take place and then formulated.
The need for a Parliament
- Parliament is the final authority for making laws in any country. Parliaments all over the world can make new laws, change existing laws, or abolish existing laws.
- Parliament of India has control over the executive, those who actually run the government. In India it is direct and powerful. The elected government can enjoy power as long as they have the support from the Parliament.
- The elected government spend money with the approval of the Parliament. Their money is controlled by the Parliament.
- Parliament is the highest forum of discussion and debate on public issues and national policy in any country.
Two Houses of the Parliament
- In most of the democracies, the legislature is divided into two parts and their responsibility and functions are also divided. The parts are called chambers or houses.
- One house consists of representatives directly elected by people and another one represents members indirectly elected or nominated.
- In India, the Parliament is divided into two Houses.
- The two Houses are known as the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha).
- The Rajya Sabha consists of members indirectly elected and don’t hold the major power. Lok Sabha consists of representatives directly elected by the people in the elections and hold the real power.
- The President of India also is a part of the Parliament although he or she is not a member of any house. Therefore, laws are considered as passed only after the assent of the President.
Rajya Sabha Vs. Lok Sabha
- Lok Sabha, the ‘lower chamber’, enjoys more power than Rajya Sabha, the ‘upper house’.
- Any ordinary law needs to be passed by both the Houses. But if there is a difference between the two Houses, the final decision is taken in a joint session in which members of both the Houses sit together. Because of the larger number of members, the view of the Lok Sabha is likely to prevail in such a meeting.
- Once the Lok Sabha passes the budget of the government or any other money related law, the Rajya Sabha cannot reject it. The Rajya Sabha can only delay it by 14 days or suggest changes in it.
- Most importantly, the Lok Sabha controls the Council of Ministers. The ministers of the government including the Prime Minister can remain in power as long as the Lok Sabha has confidence on them. Rajya Sabha does not have the power.