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Parliament Part 10- Ineffectiveness of Parliamentary Control and Position of Rajya Sabha

Ineffectiveness of Parliamentary Control

The parliamentary control over government and administration in India is more theoretical than practical. In reality, the control is not as effective as it ought to be. The following factors are responsible for this:

  • The Parliament has neither time nor expertise to control the administration which has grown in volume as well as complexity.
  • Parliament’s financial control is hindered by the technical nature of the demands for grants. The parliamentarians being laymen cannot understand them properly and fully.
  • The legislative leadership lies with the Executive and it plays a significant role in formulating policies.
  • The very size of the Parliament is too large and unmanagable to be effective.
  • The majority support enjoyed by the Executive in the Parliament reduces the possibility of effective criticism.
  • The financial committees like Public Accounts Committee examines the public expenditure after it has been incurred by the Executive. Thus, they do post mortem work.
  • The increased recourse to ‘guillotine’ reduced the scope of financial control.
  • The growth of ‘delegated legislation’ has reduced the role of Parliament in making detailed laws and has increased the powers of bureaucracy.
  • The frequent promulgation of ordinances by the president dilutes the Parliament’s power of legislation.
  • The Parliament’s control is sporadic, general and mostly political in nature.
  • Lack of strong and steady opposition in the Parliament, and a setback in the parliamentary behaviour and ethics, have also contributed to the ineffectiveness of legislative control over administration in India.

Position of Rajya Sabha

The Constitutional position of the Rajya Sabha (as compared with the Lok Sabha) can be studied from three angles:

  • Where Rajya Sabha is equal to Lok Sabha.
  • Where Rajya Sabha is unequal to Lok Sabha.
  • Where Rajya Sabha has special powers that are not at all shared with the Lok Sabha.

Equal Status with Lok Sabha

In the following matters, the powers and status of the Rajya Sabha are equal to that of the Lok Sabha:

  • Introduction and passage of financial bills involving expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • Introduction and passage of ordinary bills.
  • Introduction and passage of Constitutional amendment bills.
  • Election and removal of the Vice-President. However, Rajya Sabha alone can initiate the removal of the vice-president. He is removed by a resolution passed by the Rajya Sabha by an effective majority (which is a type of special majority) and agreed to by the Lok Sabha by a simple majority.
  • Election and impeachment of the president.
  • Making recommendation to the President for the removal of Chief Justice and judges of Supreme Court and high courts, chief election commissioner and comptroller and auditor general.
  • Approval of ordinances issued by the President.
  • Selection of ministers including the Prime Minister. Under the Constitution, the ministers including the Prime Minister can be members of either House. However, irrespective of their membership, they are responsible only to the Lok Sabha.
  • Approval of proclamation of all three types of emergencies by the President.
  • Enlargement of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Union Public Service Commission.
  • Consideration of the reports of the constitutional bodies like Finance Commission, Union Public Service Commission, comptroller and auditor general, etc.

Unequal Status with Lok Sabha

In the following matters, the powers and status of the Rajya Sabha are unequal to that of the Lok Sabha:

  • A Money Bill can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha and not in the Rajya Sabha.
  • Rajya Sabha cannot amend or reject a Money Bill. It should return the bill to the Lok Sabha within 14 days, either with recommendations or without recommendations.
  • A financial bill, not containing solely the matters of Article 110, also can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha and not in the Rajya Sabha. But, with regard to its passage, both the Houses have equal powers.
  • The Lok Sabha can either accept or reject all or any of the recommendations of the Rajya Sabha. In both the cases, the money bill is deemed to have been passed by the two Houses.
  • The Speaker of Lok Sabha presides over the joint sitting of both the Houses.
  • The final power to decide whether a particular bill is a Money Bill or not is vested in the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
  • The Lok Sabha with greater number wins the battle in a joint sitting except when the combined strength of the ruling party in both the Houses is less than that of the opposition parties.
  • A resolution for the discontinuance of the national emergency can be passed only by the Lok Sabha and not by the Rajya Sabha.
  • Rajya Sabha can only discuss the budget but cannot vote on the demands for grants (which is the exclusive privilege of the Lok Sabha).
  • The Rajya Sabha cannot remove the council of ministers by passing a no-confidence motion. This is because the Council of ministers is collectively responsible only to the Lok Sabha. But, the Rajya Sabha can discuss and criticise the policies and activities of the government

Special Powers of Rajya Sabha

The Rajya Sabha has been given four exclusive or special powers that are not enjoyed by the Lok Sabha:

  • It can authorise the Parliament to make a law on a subject enumerated in the State List (Article 249).
  • It alone can initiate a move for the removal of the vicepresident. In other words, a resolution for the removal of the vice-president can be introduced only in the Rajya Sabha and not in the Lok Sabha (Article 67).
  • It can authorise the Parliament to create new All-India Services common to both the Centre and states (Article 312).
  • If a proclamation is issued by the President for imposing national emergency or president’s rule or financial emergency at a time when the Lok Sabha has been dissolved or the dissolution of the Lok Sabha takes place within the period allowed for its approval, then the proclamation can remain effective even if it is approved by the Rajya Sabha alone (Articles 352, 356 and 360).

 

An analysis of the above points makes it clear that the position of the Rajya Sabha in our constitutional system is not as weak as that of the House of Lords in the British constitutional system nor as strong as that of the Senate in the American constitutional system. Except in financial matters and control over the council of ministers, the powers and status of the Rajya Sabha in all other spheres are broadly equal and coordinate with that of the Lok Sabha.

 

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