Comparison between the Powers and Position of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha

The powers of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha are important concepts in the polity segment of the UPSC syllabus. Given below is a comparison of their powers for the IAS exam.

COMPARISON BETWEEN THE POWERS AND POSITION OF THE LOK SABHA AND THE RAJYA SABHA

1. The Council of States or Rajya Sabha is a permanent House and it is not subject to dissolution. After every two years, one-third of its members retire and its same numbers of seats are filled up by new members. The Lok Sabha is not a permanent House. It is dissolved after the expiry of its term of five years. But it can be dissolved before the period of five years by the President on the advice of the Council of Ministers. New Lok Sabha is elected and constituted within a period of 6 months from the date of its dissolution.

2. The total membership of the Rajya Sabha is 250. It is a representative House of States but the States are not represented equally in the Rajya Sabha. Seats in the Rajya Sabha are allocated to different States on the basis of population. Out of the total members of the House, twelve members are nominated by the President from amongst the persons having special knowledge or practical experience in the fields of literature, science, art and social service. The maximum strength of the Lok Sabha can be 552 members. Out of this, 530 members are elected from the States and 20 members are elected from the Union Territories. The remaining two members are nominated by the President from among the Anglo-Indian community.

3. The members of the Rajya Sabha are elected by the Legislative Assemblies of the respective States on the basis of proportional representation. The members of the Lok Sabha are elected by the people directly on the basis of secret vote and universal franchise. For the purpose of election, the population is divided into various constituencies.

4. The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is not a member of this House. The Vice-President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. But the Deputy-Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is elected by the members of the Rajya Sabha from amongst its members. The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha are the members of the House and are elected by the members of the Lok Sabha themselves.

5. The Money Bills cannot be introduced in the Rajya Sabha. The Money Bills can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha.

6. With respect to Money Bills, the Rajya Sabha can make only recommendations which mayor may not be accepted by the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha is given 14 days time to consider the Money Bills and if it fails to do anything within that period, the Bill is deemed to have been passed in the manner it was passed by the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha is not bound to accept the recommendations of the Rajya Sabha with respect to Money Bills. The Lok Sabha has the real and final authority in respect of Money Bills.

7. The Council of Ministers is not responsible to the Rajya Sabha. Therefore, no-confidence motion cannot be introduced in the Rajya Sabha. The Council of Ministers is in fact, responsible to the Lok Sabha. It can remove a government from office by passing a resolution of no-confidence.

8. But the Rajya Sabha exercises certain powers which are not available to the Lok Sabha. It can declare a subject included in the State List as a subject of national importance by passing a resolution supported by not less than two-third members present and voting. If a subject of State List is declared of national importance, Parliament gets power to legislate upon such a subject. The Lok Sabha does not have any such power to declare a subject of the State List of national importance.

9. The Rajya Sabha has the power to create new All India Services by passing a resolution supported by not less than two-third members present and voting. The Lok Sabha does not enjoy any such power to create new All India Services.

10. If and when the Lok Sabha is dissolved and the declaration of Emergency is in force, the Rajya Sabha approves such declaration of Emergency. The Lok Sabha does’ not get this opportunity as the Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution.

11. The proposal to remove the Vice-President is initiated only in the Rajya Sabha not in the Lok Sabha. Lok Sabha either approves or rejects such proposal to remove the Vice-President but it cannot initiate such proposal.

UTILITY OF RAJYA SABHA

We have already discussed above that the Rajya Sabha is a permanent House. It has some special functions to perform as provided in Arts. 249 and 312. In the matter of Money Bills the Rajya Sabha has very limited powers. A vote of no confidence can neither be introduced nor passed by the Rajya Sabha. In case of a joint sitting to resolve a dead-lock in case of Ordinary Bills the position of Rajya Sabha is slightly weak owing of its lack of numbers as compared to the Lok Sabha. Even though the Rajya Sabha has less powers as compared to the Lok Sabha there are certain reasons to support its continued existence which may be summed up as under—

1. In a federal Constitution, a second chamber is considered necessary.

2. Senior politicians, as well as persons who have specialized in any particular field, may get through to the Rajya Sabha by indirect election. It is not for everyone to obtain support of the masses in a direct election for the Lok Sabha.

3. Sometimes the popular house which is directly elected is tempted to take populist measures in order to please the electorate. In such cases, the Rajya Sabha may play the role of applying the brakes and delaying the matter.

SPECIAL POWERS OF RAJYA SABHA

Due to its federal character, the Rajya Sabha has been given two exclusive or special powers that are not enjoyed by the Lok Sabha:

1. It can authorise the Parliament to make a law on a subject enumerated in the State List (Article 249).

2. It can authorise the Parliament to create new All-India Services common to both the Centre and states (Article 312).

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. Even though the Rajya Sabha has been given less powers as compared with the Lok Sabha, its utility is supported on the following grounds:

1. It checks hasty, defective, careless and ill-considered legislation made by the Lok Sabha by making provision of revision and thought.

2. It facilitates giving representation to eminent professionals and experts who cannot face the direct election. The President nominates 12 such persons to the Rajya Sabha.

3. It maintains the federal equilibrium by protecting the interests of the states against the undue interference of the Centre.

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