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Parliament Part 3- Duration of Two Houses and Membership of Parliament

Duration of Rajya Sabha | Parliament Part 3- Duration of Two Houses and Membership of Parliament

  • The Rajya Sabha (first constituted in 1952) is a continuing chamber, that is, it is a permanent body and not subject to dissolution. However, one-third of its members retire every second year. Their seats are filled up by fresh elections and presidential nominations at the beginning of every third year. The retiring
  • members are eligible for re-election and renomination any number of times. The Constitution has not fixed the term of office of members of the Rajya Sabha and left it to the Parliament. Accordingly, the Parliament in the Representation of the People Act (1951) provided that the term of office of a member of the Rajya Sabha shall be six years. The act also empowered the president of India to curtail the term of members chosen in the first Rajya Sabha. In the first batch, it was decided by lottery as to who should retire.
  • Further, the act also authorised the President to make provisions to govern the order of retirement of the members of the Rajya Sabha.

Duration of Lok Sabha

  • Unlike the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha is not a continuing chamber. Its normal term is five years from the date of its first meeting after the general elections, after which it automatically dissolves. However, the President is authorised to dissolve the Lok Sabha at any time even before the completion of five years and this cannot be challenged in a court of law.
  • Further, the term of the Lok Sabha can be extended during the period of national emergency be a law of Parliament for one year at a time for any length of time. However, this extension cannot continue beyond a period of six months after the emergency has ceased to operate.

Membership of parliament

Qualifications

Rajya Sabha Qualifications

  • Must be citizen of India & have attained 30 years of age
  • Must be a registered voter in parliamentary constituency in any of the state
  • Subscribe before election commission an oath, as prescribed by 3rd schedule

Lok Sabha Qualifications

  • Must be a citizen of India & must have attained age of 25 years
  • Must be a registered voter in parliamentary constituency of India
  • Must subscribe by an oath administered by Election commission as mentioned in 3rd schedule

Disqualifications | Parliament Part 3- Duration of Two Houses and Membership of Parliament

Under the Constitution, a person shall be disqualified for being elected as a member of Parliament:

  • if he holds any office of profit under the Union or state government (except that of a minister or any other office exempted by Parliament).
  • if he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a court.
  • if he is an undischarged insolvent.
  • if he is not a citizen of India or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign state or is under any acknowledgement of allegiance to a foreign state; and
  • if he is so disqualified under any law made by Parliament.

The Parliament has laid down the following additional disqualifications in the Representation of People Act (1951):

  • He must not have been found guilty of certain election offences or corrupt practices in the elections.
  • He must not have been convicted for any offence resulting in imprisonment for two or more years. But, the detention of a person under a preventive detention law is not a disqualification.
  • He must not have failed to lodge an account of his election expenses within the time.
  • He must not have any interest in government contracts, works or services.
  • He must not be a director or managing agent nor hold an office of profit in a corporation in which the government has at least 25 per cent share.
  • He must not have been dismissed from government service for corruption or disloyalty to the State.
  • He must not have been convicted for promoting enmity between different groups or for the offence of bribery.
  • He must not have been punished for preaching and practising social crimes such as untouchability, dowry and sati.
  • On the question whether a member is subject to any of the above disqualifications, the president’s decision is final. However, he should obtain the opinion of the election commission and act accordingly.

Vacating of seat | Parliament Part 3- Duration of Two Houses and Membership of Parliament

Absence

  • A House can declare the seat of a member vacant if he is absent from all its meetings for a period of sixty days without its permission. In computing the period of sixty days, no account shall be taken of any period during which the House is prorogued or adjourned for more than four consecutive days.

Resignation (RS & LS)

  • May submit resignation to the speaker of Lok Sabha / Chairman of Rajya Sabha respectively
  • Disqualified if absent for 60 days without the permission of the house
  • Penalty of Rs. 500 / Day as a debt to Union for sitting & voting when a person is not qualified or has been disqualified or not affirmed by oath

Disqualification

  • If a member of Parliament becomes subject to any of the disqualifications specified in the Constitution, his seat becomes vacant. Here, the list of disqualifications also include the disqualification on the grounds of defection under the provisions of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.

Double Membership

A person cannot be a member of both Houses of Parliament at the same time. Thus, the Representation of People Act (1951) provides for the following:

  • If a person is elected to both the Houses of Parliament, he must intimate within 10 days in which House he desires to serve. In default of such intimation, his seat in the Rajya Sabha becomes vacant.
  • If a sitting member of one House is also elected to the other House, his seat in the first House becomes vacant.
  • If a person is elected to two seats in a House, he should exercise his option for one. Otherwise, both seats become vacant.

Similarly, a person cannot be a member of both the Parliament and the state legislature at the same time. If a person is so elected, his seat in  parliament becomes vacant if he does not resign his seat in the state legislature within 14 days.

Oath or Affirmation | Parliament Part 3- Duration of Two Houses and Membership of Parliament

Every member of either House of Parliament, before taking his seat in the House, has to make and subscribe to an oath or affirmation before the President or some person appointed by him for this purpose. In his oath or affirmation, a member of Parliament swears:

  • to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India;
  • to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India; and
  • to faithfully discharge the duty upon which he is about to enter.

Unless a member takes the oath, he cannot vote and participate in the proceedings of the House and does not become eligible to parliamentary privileges and immunities.

A person is liable to a penalty of INR 500 for each day he sits or votes as a member in a House in the following conditions:

  • Before taking and subscribing to the prescribed oath or affirmation; or
  • When he knows that he is not qualified or that he is disqualified for its membership; or
  • When he knows that he is prohibited from sitting or voting in the House by virtue of any parliamentary law.

Privileges & Immunities of Parliament

  • Freedom of speech to each MP which means no action shall be taken on any words or speech spoken by him during the proceedings of the house
  • No action for any public speech
  • Absolute immunity from any action & for anything stated within the house
  • Protected from any disclosure that one makes in parliament

Freedom from arrest

  • Cannot be arrested & put in prison for any civil action within a period of “40 days before & after the commencement & termination of a session of the house”
  • Immunity does not extend to arrest in criminal proceedings or contempt of court or preventive detention
  • Right to refuse to give evidence & appear as a witness in a case pending in court of law when parliament is in session

ALSO READ: https://www.brainyias.com/election-commission-of-india-eci-polity/

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