Parliamentary system of India

Indian Parliament

The Parliament is any citizen’s pride. It is here that legislative proposals are brought in the form of bills and when passed by both houses of the Parliament and approved by the President becomes an Act of the Parliament. Our Parliament House or Sansad Bhavan is located in New Delhi. 

Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker were the brains behind this marvellous construction. The then Governor-general of India, Irwin declared the buildings open on January 18, 1927.  

This enormous building sprawling 6 acres was built at a total cost of 8.3mn rupees.  The Indian Parliament houses a central hall which consists of chambers of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the Library Hall.

A four-storied circular structure surrounds these chambers which provide accommodations for members apart from housing parliamentary committees, offices and the ministry of Parliamentary affairs. 

The two houses of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha along with the President of India comprises the Indian Parliament.

Indian Presidency

The elected members of both the houses of the Parliament, the Legislative Assemblies of all the states of India elect the President who serves for a period of five years. He is the Head of the State of India and also the Commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces. He is the first citizen of the country.

The executive authority of the President is exercised mostly by the Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers. Pranab Mukherjee is the 13th and current President of India. He is the first Bengali to have become the President.

Any person who is a citizen of India aged above 35 years and who is qualified to be a member of the Lok Sabha is eligible for the President’s post. He should not hold any office of profit under the Government of India or any other state.  The current Vice-President, the Governor of any state or a Union or state Minister are permitted to stand as Presidential candidates.


Powers of the President

It is the foremost duty of the Indian President to preserve and protect the constitution and the law of the land. He has the power to summon and prorogue both the Houses. He can dissolve the Lok Sabha too.

Bills can become laws only after the President gives his approval. The Union Cabinet along with the Prime Minister should advice the President in performing his functions. The President appoints the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister and other members of the Council of Ministers.

He appoints 12 eminent personalities from various fields to the Rajya Sabha  He lays the Annual Financial Statement before the Parliament. He can declare war or conclude peace, on the advice of the PM and his ministers. He has the power to grant pardon and also to declare emergencies.

Former Presidents

India has had 13 Presidents so far and these are ones who were elected after winning the Presidential election. Varahagiri Venkata Giri, Muhammad Hidayatullah and Basappa Danappa Jatti functioned as acting Presidents.  Rajendra Prasad, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Zakir Hussain, Varahagiri Venkata Giri, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, Giani Zail Singh, Ramaswamy Venkataraman, Shankar Dayal Sharma, Kocheril Raman Narayanan, AP J Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil  are the leaders who held the highest post prior to Pranab Mukherjee who is the current and 13th President of the country.

Rashtrapati Bhavan

The Rashtrapati Bhavan is the residence of the President of India. It is the largest presidential palace in the world. Located in New Delhi, it has a 340-room main building, 130-hectare Presidential estate and the residences of the staff. The main palace building was formerly called Viceroy’s House. President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated a museum inside the Rashtrapati Bhavan in 2014. Visitors can get an inside view of the grand structure, its art, architecture and also learn about the lives of the earlier presidents.


Lok Sabha

The members to the lower house or the Lok Sabha are elected directly by the people.  They hold the post for a term of five years or until the Lok Sabha is dissolved by the President. The Lok Sabha has a maximum strength of 552, out of which 530 are elected from the states, 20 from the Union territories and two from the Anglo-Indian community who are generally nominated by the President of India.

The current strength of the Lok Sabha is 545. The membership of the House is distributed among the states in proportion to their population. Any person who is a citizen of India and aged not less than 25 years and who has her/his name in the electoral rolls in any part of the country can become a member of the Lok Sabha provided he/she is selected through universal suffrage.

Lok Sabha is certainly more powerful than Rajya Sabha. A no-confidence motion against the government can be introduced and passed only in the Lok Sabha. Money bills can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha.

In case national emergency is declared and the Lok Sabha is dissolved then the Rajya Sabha becomes the Parliament. Lok Sabha has more number of members than the Rajya Sabha.  Three sessions of Lok Sabha take place in a year. They are the budget session, monsoon session and the winter session.  Sumitra Mahajan is the speaker and M Thambidurai is the deputy speaker of the current Lok Sabha.

Rajya Sabha

The members to the Rajya Sabha are indirectly elected by state and territorial legislatures using single transferable votes. 

The Constitution states that the Upper House can have a maximum of 250 members whose term lasts for six years with one third of the members retiring every two years.  The joint session of both houses are rare and there has been only three such sessions so far.

The Vice President of the country is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and he presides over the sessions. Any person who is a citizen of India aged above 30 and whose has his name enrolled in the voter’s list can become member of the Rajya Sabha.

The twelve members who are nominated by the President are not entitled to vote in the Presidential elections. Mohammad Hamid Ansari is the Chairman and P J Kurien is the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Illustration by Chidanand Sekar

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 11:37:29 AM |

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