Paraliament and Parliamentary Committees the highest legislative authority at the union level in India is the Indian Parliament. Articles 79 to 122 in Part V of the Indian Constitution comprehensively address various aspects of the Indian Parliament, including its organization, composition, tenure, officials, procedures, powers, and privileges.
The Indian Parliament operates as a bicameral legislature, comprising two distinct houses: the Lok Sabha, also known as the House of the People, and the Rajya Sabha, referred to as the Council of States. In the Lok Sabha, members are directly elected by the Indian citizens through the voting process. Conversely, in the Rajya Sabha, members are elected by the respective legislative assemblies of the states. Additionally, the President of India is an integral part of the Parliament’s composition.
The Functions of the Indian Parliament
The functions of the Indian Parliament are outlined in Chapter II of Part V of the Indian Constitution. These functions can be categorized into several key areas:
– The Parliament has the authority to legislate on matters specified in the Union List and the Concurrent List.
– In the case of the Concurrent List, where both the state legislatures and the Parliament have jurisdiction, Union laws take precedence unless the state law has received prior presidential assent. The Parliament can amend or repeal state laws.
– The Parliament can also enact laws pertaining to items in the State List under specific circumstances:
– During a state of Emergency or when a state is under President’s Rule (Article 356), the Parliament can legislate on State List matters.
– Under Article 249, the Parliament can legislate on State List items if the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution with a two-thirds majority, deeming it necessary in the national interest.
– According to Article 253, the Parliament can pass laws on State List items if required for the implementation of international agreements or treaties with foreign powers.
– Article 252 allows the Parliament to make laws for multiple states if their legislatures pass a resolution requesting a parliamentary law on a State List item.
Executive Functions (Control over the Executive)
– In the parliamentary system, the Parliament exercises control over the executive branch through various means.
– It can remove the Cabinet (executive) from power through a vote of no-confidence or by rejecting budget proposals or bills presented by the Cabinet.
– Members of Parliament (MPs) can question ministers about their actions and decisions, providing a forum for exposing government lapses.
– Special parliamentary tools, such as adjournment motions, can be used in the Lok Sabha to draw attention to urgent public issues.
– The Parliament appoints a Committee on Ministerial Assurances to ensure that promises made by ministers to the Parliament are fulfilled.
– A censure motion can be moved in the Lok Sabha by opposition party members to strongly disapprove of government policies, leading to a vote of confidence.
– Cut motions are used to oppose financial demands in government bills.
– The Parliament holds ultimate authority over finances, and the executive cannot spend public funds without parliamentary approval.
– The Union Budget, prepared by the Cabinet, must be submitted to the Parliament for approval, including any proposals to impose taxes.
– Two standing committees, the Public Accounts Committee and the Estimates Committee, oversee how the executive utilizes allocated funds.
– Money Bills, a distinct category of bills, are subject to specific parliamentary procedures.
The Parliament possesses the authority to amend the Constitution of India, with both houses having equal amending powers. Amendments require approval from both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
– The Parliament participates in the election of the President and Vice President of India. The President can be removed through a resolution passed by the Rajya Sabha and agreed upon by the Lok Sabha.
– The Parliament has punitive powers to address breaches of privilege by its members, which occur when parliamentary privileges are violated.
– Privilege motions can be moved by members to address such breaches.
– In the parliamentary system, legislative privileges are generally beyond judicial control.
– The power of the Parliament to penalize its members is typically not subject to judicial review.
– Additional judicial functions include the authority to impeach the President, Vice President, judges of the Supreme Court, High Courts, and the Auditor-General.
– The Parliament discusses issues of national and international significance, allowing for the expression of diverse viewpoints.
– It is often regarded as a microcosm of the nation.
– The Parliament has the power to alter state and union territory boundaries.
– It functions as an information organ, with ministers obligated to provide information when requested by members.
The Integral Components of the Indian Parliament
The Indian Constitution delineates the composition of the Parliament of India, which consists of three distinct components: the President, the Council of States (Rajya Sabha), and the House of the People (Lok Sabha).
The Role of the President within the Parliament
The President occupies a pivotal role within the Indian Parliament, despite not being a member of either house. The President’s significance arises from several key functions:
Assent to Bills
The President plays a crucial role in the legislative process. A bill passed by both houses of Parliament cannot become law without the President’s assent. This ensures that legislation aligns with the broader national interest and constitutional principles.
Summoning and Proroguing Houses
The President possesses the authority to summon or prorogue both houses of Parliament, regulating their functioning. This power helps in maintaining the parliamentary calendar and ensuring the orderly conduct of business.
The President addresses Parliament during significant sessions. This includes delivering speeches at the commencement of the first session following a general election and at the outset of each new year. These addresses provide a broader perspective on the nation’s priorities and direction.
When Parliament is not in session, the President has the prerogative to issue ordinances, which are temporary legislative measures. This enables the government to address urgent matters or emergencies promptly.
Significance of a Bicameral Legislature in India
The concept of a bicameral legislature holds significant importance in India, primarily due to the nation’s vast diversity and complex governance challenges. Indian bicameralism divides the Parliament into two houses: the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha). This structure serves several critical purposes:
The bicameral system allows for a more comprehensive representation of diverse regional, cultural, and social interests. The Rajya Sabha represents the states and union territories, ensuring their voices are heard at the federal level.
Deliberation and Review
The presence of two houses facilitates in-depth deliberations and reviews of proposed legislation. It allows for a thorough examination of bills, leading to more well-rounded and considered laws.
Checks and Balances
The two houses serve as checks on each other’s powers, promoting accountability and preventing hasty or unilateral decisions.
Expertise and Perspective
Members of the Rajya Sabha often bring specialized knowledge and perspectives to the legislative process, enriching discussions and decision-making.
Indian Parliament: Constitutional Articles
Article 79: Constitution of Parliament
– The Indian Parliament comprises the President and two Houses: the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha).
Article 80: Composition of the Council of States
– The Rajya Sabha consists of twelve members nominated by the President and not more than two hundred and thirty-eight representatives from States and Union territories. Nominees must possess special knowledge or practical experience in areas like literature, science, art, and social service. State representatives are elected members of their respective Legislative Assemblies using proportional representation.
Article 81: Composition of the House of the People
– The Lok Sabha consists of members chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the States (up to five hundred and thirty) and representatives from Union territories (up to twenty). Seats in the Lok Sabha are allocated to States based on population, ensuring equitable representation.
Article 82: Readjustment after Each Census
– After each census, the allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha to States and the division of constituencies within States are readjusted according to laws enacted by Parliament.
Article 83: Duration of Houses of Parliament
– The Rajya Sabha is not dissolved entirely but sees one-third of its members retiring every two years. The Lok Sabha, unless dissolved earlier, has a five-year term. Parliament may extend this term during a state of Emergency, but such extensions are temporary.
Article 84: Qualification for Membership of Parliament
– To be eligible for Parliament, a person must be an Indian citizen, take an oath or affirmation, and meet age and other qualifications specified by law.
Article 85: Sessions of Parliament, Prorogation, and Dissolution
– The President summons each House of Parliament and may prorogue or dissolve them under specific conditions, ensuring that no more than six months elapse between sessions.
Article 86: Right of President to Address and Send Messages to Houses
– The President can address and send messages to either or both Houses of Parliament on various matters, including pending bills.
Article 87: Special Address by the President
– At the commencement of each new session or year, the President addresses both Houses of Parliament, providing insights into the reasons for the parliamentary summons. Rules govern the allocation of time for discussion on matters raised in this address.
Article 88: Rights of Ministers and Attorney-General in Parliament
– Ministers and the Attorney-General have the right to speak and participate in parliamentary proceedings but cannot vote solely based on this right.
Parliamentary Committees in India
In India, Parliamentary committees play a pivotal role in the legislative process. These committees consist of Members of Parliament (MPs) who are either elected, appointed from among the house members, or nominated by the Speaker (Lok Sabha) or Chairman (Rajya Sabha). The concept of parliamentary committees draws its roots from the British Parliament, and they function under the guidance of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. These committees diligently conduct inquiries and present their findings and recommendations to the respective houses of Parliament.
The authority and establishment of parliamentary committees are rooted in the Indian Constitution:
This article outlines the powers, privileges, and functions of both houses of Parliament and their members and committees. It provides the foundational framework for parliamentary committees to carry out their duties effectively.
Each house of Parliament has the prerogative to create rules and regulations, subject to the provisions of the Constitution. These rules govern the procedure and conduct of the house’s business, including the functioning of parliamentary committees.
Types of Parliamentary Committees
|Types of Committees
|Categories of Committees
|Sub-Categories of Committees
|Public Accounts CommitteeEstimates CommitteeCommittee on Public Undertakings
|Departmental Standing Committees
|Total-24 (Read the article below to know the names of the departmental committees)
|Committees to Inquire
|Committee on PetitionsCommittee of PrivilegeEthics Committee
|Committees to Scrutinise and Control
|Committee on Government AssurancesCommittee on Subordinate LegislationCommittee on Papers Laid on the TableCommittee on Welfare of SCs and STsCommittee on Empowerment of WomenJoint Committee on Offices of Profit
|Committees Relating to the Day-to-Day Business of the House
|Business Advisory CommitteeCommittee on Private Members’ Bills and ResolutionsRules CommitteeCommittee on Absence of Members from Sittings of the House
|House-Keeping Committees or Service Committees
|General Purposes CommitteeHouse CommitteeLibrary CommitteeJoint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members
|Ad Hoc Committees
|These committees can be proposed by either house or can also be appointed by the speaker/chairman of the respective house. Few examples of Inquire Committees are:
Joint Committee on Bofors ContractJoint Committee on Fertilizer PricingJoint Committee to Enquire into Irregularities in Securities and Banking TransactionsJoint Committee on Stock Market Scam, etc.
|These committees are select or joint committees appointed for the matters of bills. They report on particular bills. They are different from the inquiry committees as the procedure that they follow are laid down in the Rules of Procedure and also are directed by the Lok Sabha speaker or Rajya Sabha chairman.
Whenever a bill is introduced in either house, they refer it to the select committee which scrutinizes it clause-by-clause
Types of Permanent Standing Committees in India
In India, there exist six distinct types of standing committees, characterized by their permanent nature. These committees serve essential roles in the parliamentary system. Below are the details of these standing committees:
The Financial Committees encompass three categories:
– Public Accounts Committee
This committee examines the annual reports of the government and scrutinizes the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General presented in Parliament by the President. For a more in-depth look at the Public Accounts Committee, refer to the linked article.
– Estimates Committee
Responsible for assessing the expenditure estimates proposed by the government in the budget and suggesting ways to achieve fiscal efficiency in public expenditure. For further information about the Estimates Committee, refer to the linked article.
– Committee on Public Undertakings
This committee evaluates the reports and accounts of public undertakings. More details on the Committee on Public Undertakings can be found in the linked article.
Department Standing Committees
There are a total of 24 Departmental Standing Committees, comprising 8 under the Rajya Sabha and 16 under the Lok Sabha. The table below provides a comprehensive list of these committees:
|Standing Committees – Departmental Committees
|Committees under Lok Sabha
|Committees under Rajya Sabha
|Committee on Agriculture
|AgricultureFood Processing Industries
|Committee on Commerce
|Commerce and Industry
|Committee on Information Technology
|Communications and Information TechnologyInformation & Broadcasting
|Committee on Home Affairs
|Home AffairsDevelopment of NorthEastern Region
|Committee on Defence
|Committee on Human Resource Development
|Human Resource DevelopmentYouth Affairs and Sports
|Committee on Energy
|New and Renewable EnergyPower
|Committee on Industry
|Heavy Industries and Public EnterprisesSmall Scale IndustriesAgro and Rural Industries
|Committee on External Affairs
|External AffairsNon-Resident Indians Affairs
|Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests
|Science and TechnologySpaceEarth SciencesAtomic EnergyEnvironment & Forests
|Committee on Finance
|FinanceCompany AffairsPlanningStatistics and Programme Implementation
|Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture
|Civil AviationShipping, Road Transport and HighwaysCultureTourism
|Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution
|Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
|Committee on Health and Family Welfare
|Health and Family Welfare
|Committee on Labour
|Labour and EmploymentTextiles
|Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice
|Law and JusticePersonnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
|Committee on Petroleum & Natural
|Gas Petroleum and Natural Gas
|Committee on Railways
|Committee on Urban Development
|Urban DevelopmentHousing and Urban Poverty Alleviation
|Committee on Water Resources
|Committee on Chemicals and Fertilizers
|Chemicals and Fertilizers
|Committee on Rural Development
|Rural DevelopmentPanchayati Raj
|Committee on Coal and Steel
|Coal and MinesSteel
|Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment
|Social Justice and EmpowermentTribal Affairs
Functions of the 24 Departmental Standing Committees
The 24 Departmental Standing Committees perform several vital functions within the Indian parliamentary system:
Examination of Demand for Grants
These committees meticulously review the demand for grants associated with the respective ministries. Importantly, they do not propose any cut-motions but focus on assessing the financial aspects of these demands.
Scrutiny of Ministry Bills
Departmental Standing Committees thoroughly examine bills and legislation related to the concerned ministries. They assess the content, implications, and suitability of these bills before they are presented to both houses of Parliament.
Review of Annual Reports
These committees are responsible for scrutinizing the annual reports of the ministries. They assess the performance, achievements, and utilization of resources outlined in these reports.
Consideration of Policy Documents
Departmental Standing Committees also engage in the evaluation of policy documents presented by the ministries to both houses of Parliament. They analyze the proposed policies, their impact, and their alignment with the government’s objectives.
Additional Information about Various Parliamentary Committees in India
Committees to Inquire:
–Committee on Petitions
Examines petitions related to bills or matters of public importance.
–Committee of Privileges
Addresses breaches of the parliamentary code and suggests appropriate actions. It operates in a semi-judicial capacity, with 15 members in Lok Sabha and 10 in Rajya Sabha
– Ethics Committee
Addresses instances of misconduct and indiscipline by members of the house, determining suitable actions.
Committees to Scrutinize and Control
– Committee on Government Assurance
Evaluates the extent to which promises, assurances, and undertakings made by ministers in Lok Sabha are fulfilled. Comprises 15 members in Lok Sabha and 10 in Rajya Sabha.
– Committee on Subordinate Legislation
Examines whether executive bodies are appropriately exercising their powers to create regulations, rules, sub-rules, and bye-laws delegated by Parliament or conferred by the Constitution. Includes 15 members in both houses.
– Committee on Papers laid on the table
Scrutinizes the credibility of papers presented by ministers and their compliance with constitutional provisions. Consists of 15 members in Lok Sabha and 10 in Rajya Sabha.
– Committee on Welfare of SCs & STs
Comprises 30 members, with 20 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha. It considers reports from the National Commission for SCs and STs.
– Committee on Empowerment of Women
Examines reports from the National Commission for Women.
– Joint Committee on Offices of Profit
Evaluates the composition and character of committees and bodies appointed by central, state, and union territory governments. Recommends whether individuals holding these offices should be disqualified from serving as members of Parliament.
Committees relating to the day-to-day business of the house
– Business Advisory Committee
Manages the house’s timetable.
– Committee on Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions
Classifies bills and allocates time for discussions on bills and resolutions introduced by private members.
– Rules Committee
Proposes amendments to the house’s rules when necessary.
– Committee on Absence of Members
Deals with leave applications submitted by house members.
– General Purposes Committee
Addresses matters that do not fall within the jurisdiction of other parliamentary committees. Its members include the presiding officer (Speaker/Chairman), Deputy Speaker/Chairman (Rajya Sabha), panel members, chairpersons of all departmental standing committees, leaders of recognized parties and groups in the house, and other members nominated by the presiding officer.
– House Committee
Oversees facilities provided to house members, such as residences, food, and medical aid.
– Library Committee
Manages the library of the house and associated amenities.
1. What is Parliament in India?
Parliament in India refers to the supreme legislative body responsible for making and passing laws for the entire country. It consists of two houses: the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and the Rajya Sabha (Council of States).
2. What are the functions of Parliament in India?
The functions of Parliament in India include legislating on various matters, exercising control over the executive, dealing with financial matters, amending the Constitution, participating in the election of the President and Vice President, and handling judicial functions related to privilege breaches.
3. What are Parliamentary Committees, and what is their role?
Parliamentary Committees are groups of Members of Parliament (MPs) responsible for examining and analyzing various aspects of parliamentary business, including legislation, policy matters, and government functioning. They provide recommendations and reports to the respective houses.
4. How many types of Parliamentary Committees are there in India?
There are six main types of Parliamentary Committees in India, each with its specific functions: Financial Committees, Departmental Standing Committees, Committees to Inquire, Committees to Scrutinize and Control, Committees relating to the day-to-day business of the house, and House-Keeping Committees.
5. What is the role of Financial Committees in Parliament?
Financial Committees, including the Public Accounts Committee, Estimates Committee, and Committee on Public Undertakings, examine financial matters, government expenditure, and audit reports to ensure transparency and accountability.