The Role of the Parliament
PARLIAMENT AND THE MAKING OF LAWS
Why Should People Decide?
The decision of the people matters in a democratic country because:
1. A democratic government is run by the consent, approval, and participation of the people or citizens.
2. The people in a democracy are the citizens, and they are an integral part of any democracy.
3. The people elect a few candidates who represent their collective voices in the Parliament.
The Structure of Parliament:
India's Parliament consists of two houses: the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and the Rajya Sabha (Council of States). Members of the Lok Sabha are directly elected by the people, while members of the Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies.
The Role of the Parliament
The Indian Parliament is an expression of the faith that the people of India have in the principles of democracy. The Parliament in the Indian system has immense powers as it is the representative of the people.
- Elections to the Parliament are held in a similar manner as they are for the state legislature.
- The Lok Sabha is elected once every 5 years.
Functions of Parliament
India has numerous constituencies. Each of these constituencies elects one person to the Parliament. The candidates who contest elections usually belong to different political parties. These candidates become Members of Parliament or MPs. Once elections to the Parliament have taken place, the Parliament needs to perform the following functions:
1) To Select the National Government
The Parliament of India consists of
- The President
- The Rajya Sabha
- The Lok Sabha
After the Lok Sabha elections, a list is prepared showing how many MPs belong to each political party.
1. There are 543 elected (plus 2 Anglo-Indian nominated) members in Lok Sabha.
2. For a political party to form the government, it must have a majority of elected MPs. A majority party should have at least half the number, i.e. 272 members or more.
3. The Opposition in Parliament is formed by all the political parties that oppose the majority party/coalition formed. The largest among these parties is called the Opposition party.
One of the most important functions of the Lok Sabha is to select the executive. An executive is a group of persons who work together to implement the laws made by Parliament, for which we use the term government. The Prime Minister of India is the leader of the ruling party in the Lok Sabha. When two or more than two different political parties join together to form a government, it is known as a coalition government.
The Rajya Sabha functions primarily as the representative of the states of India in the Parliament. It has an important role in reviewing and altering the laws initiated by the Lok Sabha.
1. The Rajya Sabha can also initiate legislation.
2. A bill is required to pass through the Rajya Sabha in order to become law.
3. The members of the Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of various states.
4. There are 233 elected members plus 12 members nominated by the President.
2) To Control, Guide, and Inform the Government
The Parliament begins with a question hour. The question hour is an important mechanism through which MPs can elicit information about the working of the government. By asking questions, the government is alerted to its shortcomings. The government also comes to know the opinion of the people through their representatives in the Parliament (the MPs). In all matters dealing with finances, the Parliament’s approval is crucial for the government.
Law-making is a significant function of Parliament. You will learn about it in the next chapter.
Stages in Law-Making:
1. Introduction of a Bill: A bill is a draft of a proposed law. It can be introduced in either House of the Parliament by a Minister or a Private Member (a Member of Parliament who is not a Minister).
2. First Reading and Debate: When a bill is introduced, it is given a first reading. This is followed by a debate on the general principles of the bill.
3. Committee Stage: The bill is then referred to a committee for detailed examination. The committee may invite experts and stakeholders to submit their opinions on the bill.
4. Second Reading and Debate: After the committee submits its report, the bill is presented for second reading. This is followed by another debate on the bill, clause by clause. Amendments may be proposed and voted upon at this stage.
5. Third Reading and Passage: If the bill is approved by the House, it is presented for third reading. This is a formality, and the bill is usually passed without further debate.
6. Transmission to the Other House: The bill is then transmitted to the other House of the Parliament, where it undergoes the same process.
7. President's Assent: Once the bill is passed by both Houses of the Parliament, it is sent to the President for his assent. If the President gives his assent, the bill becomes an Act and becomes law.
Role of Parliament in Law-Making:
· Debate and Discussion: The Parliament provides a platform for debate and discussion on proposed laws. This ensures that all perspectives are considered before a law is passed.
· Amendments: The Parliament can make amendments to bills to improve them.
· Scrutiny of the Government: The Parliament can scrutinize the government's actions and hold it accountable for its policies.
Who Are the People in Parliament?
Parliament now has more and more people from different backgrounds. There has also been an increase in political participation from the Dalits and backward classes. Some seats are reserved in Parliament for SCs and STs. Similarly, there is a reservation of seats for women.