India: The Legislature

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India: The Legislature

Legislature of the Union which is called Parliament , consists of 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.


The Constitution provides that the Rajya Sabha shall consist of 12 members to 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.

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. The names of members of Rajya Sabha and party affiliation are given in Appendices.


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 the States, 20 members to represent the 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 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, 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, 2001 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.

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. Fifteen Lok Sabhas have been constituted so far. The term of each Lok Sabha and its Speaker(s) is given in table 3.1.

The names of members of the Fifteen Lok Sabha, their constituencies and party affiliations are given in Appendices.


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.


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.


The functions of Parliament are not only varied in nature, but considerable in volume. The time at its disposal is limited. It cannot make very detailed scrutiny of all legislative and other matters that come up before it. A good deal of Parliamentary business is, therefore, transacted in the committees.

Both Houses of Parliament have a similar committee structure, with few exceptions. Their appointment, terms of office, functions and procedure of conducting business are also more or less similar and are regulated as per rules made by the two Houses under Article 118(1) of the Constitution.

Broadly, Parliamentary Committees are of two kinds—Standing Committees and ad hoc Committees. The former are elected or appointed every year or periodically and their work goes on, more or less, on a continuous basis. The latter are appointed on an ad hoc basis as need arises and they cease to exist as soon as they complete the task assigned to them.

Standing Committees :

Among the Standing Committees, the three Financial Committees —Committees on Estimates, Public Accounts and Public Undertakings— constitute a distinct group as they keep an unremitting vigil over Government expenditure and performance. While members of the Rajya Sabha are associated with Committees on Public Accounts and Public Undertakings, the members of the Committee on Estimates are drawn entirely from the Lok Sabha.

The Estimates Committee reports on ‘what economies, improvements in organisation, efficiency or administrative reform consistent with policy underlying the estimates’ may be effected. It also examines whether the money is well laid out within limits of the policy implied in the estimates and suggests the form in which estimates shall be presented to Parliament. The Public Accounts Committee scrutinises appropriation and finance accounts of Government and reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. It ensures that public money is spent in accordance with Parliament’s decision and calls attention to cases of waste, extravagance, loss or nugatory expenditure. The Committee on Public Undertakings examines reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, if any. It also examines whether public undertakings are being run efficiently and managed in accordance with sound business principles and prudent commercial practices.

Besides these three Financial Committees, the Rules Committee of the Lok Sabha recommended setting-up of 17 Department Related Standing Committees (DRSCs). Accordingly, 17 Department Related Standing Committees were set up on 8th April 1993. In July 2004, rules were amended to provide for the constitution of seven more such committees, thus raising the number of DRSCs from 17 to 24.

The functions of these Committees are:(a) to consider the Demands for Grants of various Ministries/Departments of Government of India and make reports to the Houses; (b) to examine such Bills as are referred to the Committee by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha or the Speaker, Lok Sabha, as the case may be, and make reports thereon; (c) to consider Annual Reports of ministries/departments and make reports thereon; and (d) to consider policy documents presented to the Houses, if referred to the Committee by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha or the Speaker, Lok Sabha, as the case may be, and make reports thereon.

Other Standing Committees in each House, divided in terms of their functions, are

(i) Committees to Inquire:

(a) Committee on Petitions examines petitions on bills and on matters of general public interest and also entertains representations on matters concerning subjects in the Union List; and

(b) Committee of Privileges examines any question of privilege referred to it by the House or Speaker/Chairman;

(ii) Committees to Scrutinise:

(a) Committee on Government Assurances keeps track of all the assurances, promises, undertakings, etc., given by Ministers in the House and pursues them till they are implemented; (b) Committee on Subordinate Legislation Scrutinises and reports to the House whether the power to make regulations, rules, sub-rules, bye-laws, etc., conferred by the Constitution or Statutes is being properly exercised by the delegated authorities; and (c) Committee on Papers Laid on the Table examines all papers laid on the table of the House by Ministers, other than statutory notifications and orders which come within the purview of the Committee on Subordinate Legislation, to see whether there has been compliance with the provisions of the Constitution, Act, rule or regulation under which the paper has been laid;

(iii) Committees relating to the day-to-day business of the House:

(a) Business Advisory Committee recommends allocation of time for items of Government and other business to be brought before the Houses;

(b) Committee on Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions of the Lok Sabha classifies and allocates time to Bills introduced by private members, recommends allocation of time for discussion on private members’ resolutions and examines Constitution amendment bills before their introduction by private members in the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha does not have such a committee. It is the Business Advisory Committee of that House which recommends allocation of time for discussion on stage or stages of private members’ bills and resolutions;

(c) Rules Committee considers matters of procedure and conduct of business in the House and recommends amendments or additions to the Rules; and

(d) Committee on Absence of Members from the Sittings of the House of the Lok Sabha considers all applications from members for leave or absence from sittings of the House. There is no such Committee in the Rajya Sabha. Applications from members for leave or absence are considered by the House itself;

(iv) Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, on which members from both Houses serve, considers all matters relating to the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes which come within the purview of the Union Government and keeps a watch whether constitutional safeguards in respect of these classes are properly implemented;

(v) Committees concerned with the provision of facilities to members:(a) General Purposes Committee considers and advises Speaker/Chairman on matters concerning affairs of the House, which do not appropriately fall within the purview of any other Parliamentary Committee; and (b) House Committee deals with residential accommodation and other amenities for members;

(vi) Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament, constituted under the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954, apart from framing rules for regulating payment of salary, allowances and pension to Members of Parliament, also frames rules in respect of amenities like medical, housing, telephone, postal, constituency and secretarial facility;

(vii) Joint Committee on Offices of Profit examines the composition and character of committees and other bodies appointed by the Central and State governments and Union Territories Administrations and recommends what offices ought to or ought not to disqualify a person from being chosen as a member of either House of Parliament; (viii) The Library Committee consisting of members from both Houses, considers matters concerning the Library of Parliament; (ix) On 29 April 1997, a Committee on Empowerment of Women with members from both the Houses was constituted with a view to securing, among other things, status, dignity and equality for women in all fields; (x) On 4 March 1997, the Ethics Committee of the Rajya Sabha was constituted. The Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha was constituted on 16 May 2000.

Ad hoc Committees: Such Committees may be broadly classified under two heads:(a) committees which are constituted from time to time, either by the two Houses on a motion adopted in that behalf or by Speaker/Chairman to inquire into and report on specific subjects, (e.g., Committees on food management in Parliament House Complex, Committee on installation of portraits/statutes of National leaders and Parliamentarians in Parliament House Complex, Committee on Security in Parliament Complex, Committee on MPLADS, Committee on Railway convention, etc.) and (b) Select or Joint Committees on Bills which are appointed to consider and report on a particular Bill. These Committees are distinguishable from the other ad hoc committee as much as they are concerned with Bills and the procedure to be followed by them as laid down in the Rules of Procedure and Directions by the Speaker/Chairman.


In keeping with their important role, the Leaders of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha are accorded statutory recognition. Salary and other suitable facilities are extended to them through a separate legislation brought into force on 1st November 1977.


The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs is entrusted with the responsibility of coordinating, planning and arranging Government Business in both Houses of Parliament. In the discharge of this function, he is assisted by his Ministers of State. The Minister also keeps close and constant contact with the presiding officers, the leaders as well as chief whips and whips of various parties and groups in both the Houses of Parliament. During the period for 1 June 2010 to 3-4-2010, both Houses of Parliament passed 36 Bills.


Functioning of Consultative Committees of Members of Parliament for various Ministries is one of the functions allocated to the Ministry of Parliamentary affairs under the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961. The main objective of these committees is to provide a forum for informal discussion between Members of Parliament, on the one hand, and Ministers and senior officers of the Government, on the other hand, on the policies, principles and programmes of the Government and the manner of their implementation. The Minister/Minister of State in-charge of the Ministry concerned acts as the Chairman of the Consultative Committee attached to that Ministry.

The minimum membership of a Consultative Committee is 10 and the maximum membership is 30. The Consultative Committee stand dissolved upon dissolution of every Lok Sabha and re-constituted upon constitution of each Lok Sabha. After the Constitution of the 15th Lok Sabha, 35 Consulative Committees attached to various Ministries have been constituted on 16th September, 2009. 93 meetings of the various consultative committees were held upto 31st May 2011. ===NOMINATION OF MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT ON GOVERNMENT COMMITTEES/BODIES=== The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs nominates Members of Parliament on Committees, Councils, Boards and Commissions, etc., set-up by the Government of India in various Ministries (except in case of statutory or other bodies where the statute or the bye-laws framed thereunder provides that the Member of Parliament to be appointed thereon will be nominated by the Presiding Officers of the respective Houses or will be elected by the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha, as the case may be). The Members are nominated on such Bodies keeping in view their aptitude and special interest in the subject.


In order to develop democratic ethos in the younger generation the Ministry conducts Youth Parliament Competition in various categories of schools and colleges/ universities. The Youth Parliament Scheme was first introduced in the Schools in Delhi in 1966-67. Kendriya Vidyalayas located in and around Delhi were incorporated into the ongoing Scheme for Delhi Schools in 1978. Subsequently, as separate scheme of Youth Parliament for Kendriya Vidyalayas at the National Level was launched in 1988. Similarly, in 1997-98, two new Youth Parliament Schemes at the national level, one for Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas and the other for Universities/Colleges were launched.



The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Government of India has been organising All India Whips Conference from time to time, with the purpose of establishing suitable links among the whips of various political parties at the Centre and the States who are concerned with the practical working of the legislatures to discuss matters of common interest and to evolve high standards to strengthen the institution of Parliamentary Democracy. Fifteen All India Whips' Conferences have been organized so far since 1952. The last one was held on 10th and 11th February, 2011 at Chandigarh.


The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs takes follow-up action on matters raised under Rule 377 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha and by way of Special Mentions in Rajya Sabha. Also after ‘Question Hour’ in both the Houses of Parliament, Members raise matters of urgent public importance. Though it is not mandatory, Ministers sometimes react to the points made by the Members. In the absence of concerned Minister the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs assures the House or the individual Members that their sentiments would be conveyed to the concerned Ministers.


The Ministry culls out assurances, promises, undertakings, etc., given by Ministers in both the Houses of Parliament, from the daily proceedings and forwards them to the concerned Ministries/Departments for implementation. After due scrutiny of the implementation reports received from the various Ministries/Departments concerned, statements showing action taken by the Government in implementation of the assurances are periodically laid on the Table of the Houses by Minister/ Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs.


The Parliamentarians of a country play a significant role in determining the policy of the country and strengthening of relations with other countries. It is useful and necessary for a democratic and developing country like India to select some Members of Parliament and distinguished personalities and utilize their services in projecting our policies, programmes and achievement in different fields with their counterparts and other opinion makers in other countries and secure their support in favour of India.

With these objectives in view, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs sponsors Government Goodwill Delegation of Members of Parliament to other countries and receives similar Government sponsored delegations of parliamentarians under the exchange programme from other countries through the Ministry of External Affairs. One Goodwill delegation led by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Science and Technology and Earth Sciences comprising Minister of State for Planning, Parliamentary Affairs, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences & 9 members of parliament visited Japan from 26.12.11 to 2.2.11. During the period from 1.6.2010 to 30.4.2011, Six parliamentary Delegations from Uganda, Maxico, Spain, Albania, Austria and China called on the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs/Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and exchanged views on functions of parliament and other matters of natural interest.


The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs looks after the welfare of ailing Members of Parliament admitted for treatment in hospitals in Delhi and render any assistance required by them. Between 01.06.2010 to 30.04.2011, it has extended assistance and help to 29 Members of Parliament who were admitted to hospitals, as and when required.

In the unfortunate event of passing away of a Member of Parliament in Delhi, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs renders all necessary assistance to the bereaved family members in taking the mortal remains of the decreased Member for last rites to a place chosen by the family. During the period under report, assistance was provided on the sad demise of four Members of Parliament.



(1 Under Article 94 of the Constitution, in case of dissolution of the Lok Sabha, the Speaker does not vacate his office until immediately before the first meeting of the House after dissolution.)

Date of first meeting after of its constitution dissolution<> SPEAKER Date Name From To

First Lok Sabha 13 May 1952 4 April 1957 (Dissolved 38 days before expiry of its term.) Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar 15 May 1952 27 February 1956 (Died) M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar 8 March 1956 10 May 1957

Second Lok Sabha 10 May 1957 31 March 1962 (Dissolved 40 days before expiry of its term.) M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar 11 May 1957 16 April 1962

Third Lok Sabha 16 April 1962 3 March 1967 (Dissolved 44 days before expiry of its term.) Hukam Singh 17 April 1962 16 March 1967

Fourth Lok Sabha 16 March 1967 27 December 1970 (Dissolved one year and 79 days before expiry of its term.) Neelam Sanjiva Reddy 17 March 1967 19 July 1969 (Resigned) Gurdial Singh Dhillon 8 August 1969 19 March 1971

Fifth Lok Sabha 19 March 1971 18 January 1977 (Term of the Lok Sabha which was to expire on 18 March 1976 was extended by one year upto 18 March 1977 by the House of the People (Extension of Duration) Act, 1976. It was extended for a further period of one year upto 18 March 1978 by the House of the People (Extension of Duration) Amendment Act, 1976. However, the House was dissolved after having been in existence for a period of five years, 10 months and six days.) Gurdial Singh Dhillon 22 March 1971 1 December 1975 (Resigned) Bali Ram Bhagat 5 January 1976 25 March 1977

Sixth Lok Sabha 25 March 1977 22 August 1979 (House was dissolved after having been in existence for a period of two years, four months and 28 days.) Neelam Sanjiva Reddy 26 March 1977 13 July 1977 (Resigned.) K.S. Hegde 21 July 1977 21 January 1980

Seventh Lok Sabha 21 January 1980 31 December 1984 (Dissolved 20 days before expiry of its term.) Bal Ram Jakhar 22 January 1980 15 January 1985

Eighth Lok Sabha 15 January 1985 27 November 1989 (Dissolved 48 days before expiry of its term.) Bal Ram Jakhar 16 January 1985 18 December 1989

Ninth Lok Sabha 18 December 1989 13 March 1991 Rabi Ray 19 December 1989 9 July 1991 (Dissolved after having been in existence for a period of one year, two months and 25 days.)

Tenth Lok Sabha 9 July 1991 10 May 1996 Shivraj V. Patil 10 July 1991 22 May 1996

Eleventh Lok Sabha 22 May 1996 4 December 1997 P.A. Sangma 23 May 1996 23 March 1998 (FN) (House was dissolved after having been in existence for a period of one year, six months and 13 days.)

Twelfth Lok Sabha 23 March 1998 26 April 1999 G.M.C. Balayogi 24 March 1998 20 October 1999 (FN) (House was dissolved after having been in existence for a period of one year, one month and four days.)

Thirteenth Lok Sabha 20 October 1999 6 February 2004 (Dissolved 253 days before expiry of its term. Dissolved 253 days before expiry of its term.) G.M.C. Balayogi 22 October 1999 3 March 2002 (Died.) Manohar Gajanan Joshi 10 May 2002 2 June 2004

Fourteenth Lok Sabha 2 June 2004 18 May 2009 Somnath Chatterjee 4 June 2004 1 June 2009

Fifteenth Lok Sabha 1 June 2009 __ Meira Kumar 1st June 2009 till date


Legislature can bring laws with retrospective effect: SC

June 30, 2021: The Times of India

Holding that the legislature has powers to bring in laws with retrospective effect, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of Tamil Nadu Land Acquisition (Revival of Operation, Amendment and Validation) Act, 2019 which was to be applied retrospectively from 2013.

A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari dismissed a batch of petition filed by landowners challenging the validity of the legislation on the ground that it was brought to revive a 2013 law which was declared unconstitutional by the Madras high court and to validate all acquisitions after 2013 which were quashed by the HC.

The petitioners alleged that the legislative tool adopted by the state legislature to revive “unconstitutional enactments” was a direct attempt to overrule and nullify the high court’s July 2019 verdict, which had quashed all pending acquisition proceedings under three enactments on or after September 27, 2013, and the same was impermissible in constitutional scheme as it violates the doctrine of separation of powers.

The bench, however, said there was nothing wrong in applying a law from retrospective date. “It emanates from the basic principle that a legislature is deemed to be the main protagonist of public interest at large. For, the legislature is the bulwark of a democratic polity. It is also beyond debate that a legislature can validate an invalidated law by removing the cause for such invalidity through a legislative exercise,” the court said.

“The petitioners have advanced arguments as to how the 2019 Act is repugnant to the 2013 Act. We are constrained to observe that the whole exercise of pointing out any repugnancy after a validating Act has obtained the assent of the President is otiose,” it said.

See also

Legislative Assemblies: India

Legislative Councils: India

Parliament: India (general issues)

Parliamentary privileges: India

Parliamentary system: India

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