Many in India are of the opinion that the institution of ‘Rajya Sabha’ should undergo a reform. However, none would agree with the idea that it must be dissolved completely. The ‘Rajya Sabha’ fortifies the federal nature of the Indian democracy. It serves the purpose of check and balance on the activities of the ‘Lok Sabha’.
‘Rajya Sabha’ or the ‘Council of States’ is the second chamber of the Indian parliament and we can trace back its origin to the Montague-Chelmsford Report published in 1918. The Constituent Assembly met for the first time on 9th December 1946. Until the first general election was held in the year 1952, the Constituent Assembly which later came to know as the Provisional Parliament was the only law-making institution of independent India.
An extensive debate was held in the Assembly on the topic whether a second chamber is necessary or not and it was unanimously decided in favour of as a bicameral legislature would be best suited to uphold the federal fabric of the country with diverse cultures and a vast geographical area. The political pundits thought that the challenges posed before the country would be best solved by the mutual functioning of the ‘Lok Sabha’ and the ‘Rajya Sabha’.
How the ‘Rajya Sabha’ is constituted?
The proceedings of the house are presided over by the Vice-President of India who is the ex-officio Chairman of the ‘Rajya Sabha’. The house elects a Deputy Chairman amongst its members. In addition, there is a Panel of Vice-Chairmen comprising of not more than 6 members. One of the members of the Vice-Chairmen panel presides over the proceedings of the House in the absence of the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman. The Chairman also appoints a Secretary-General who renders advice on critical parliamentary matters.
Current laws have the provision for a maximum of 245 members in the ‘Rajya Sabha’. The ‘Lok Sabha’ members are directly elected by the people of India whereas the ‘Rajya Sabha’ members are indirectly elected by the legislatures of the state and the union territories with the aid of single transferable votes. Around 12 members of the house are appointed by the Chairman who have exemplary contributions in the world of literature, art, science and social services.
The Relevance of the ‘Rajya Sabha’ in Indian parliament
Since the ‘Lok Sabha’ decisions may go in favour of the populist sentiment and force the members to go contrary to the best judgment, the ‘Rajya Sabha’ keeps a check and balance on it. Unlike the House of Lords in Britain, the ‘Rajya Sabha’ members do not hold the hereditary membership rights. Our leaders rejected a similar plea placed by the erstwhile kings and princes and ruled in favour of indirect elections. ‘Rajya Sabha’ also provides a platform to the small and regional parties to present their views.
The rights of the Indian citizens need to be actively protected. Hence, the relevance of the bicameral parliament structure becomes even bigger. The ‘Rajya Sabha’, the bureaucracy and the judiciary act as the 3-layered wall that sees to the upkeep of the principles of a democratic republic like India.
Source: Times Now