The Rajya Sabha


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The Rajya Sabha consists of a maximum of 250 members including members nominated as well as elected. The number of elected members is not to exceed 238 representing the States and the Union Territories. The President nominates 12 members having exceptional qualities and experiences in diverse fields like art, literature, science, and social service. India Upper House is different from the U.S. counterpart as this House is not functioning truly for giving balanced representation to the smaller States. The members are elected indirectly by the members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote. The Rajya Sabha is a permanent body and cannot be dissolved. However, one-third of the members retire at the end of every second year. This way the members enjoy a six-years term in the House. A member must have the basic requirement of being an Indian and not less than 30 years of age. The member must also not hold any office of profit, if he is chosen. If a member remains absent from the House for more than 60 days, the seat may be declared vacant. The constitution has given equal power to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha except in certain matters like those for the executive and the money bills. This is primarly because of the parliamentary system of government which intentionally has made Rajya Sabha less influential than the Lok Sabha that is having members who are directly elected by the people. There is no denying the fact that the Rajya Sabha has the right of information. It does from time to time criticise actions and policies of the government but it cannot cause a fall of the Governments as the defeat of the Government in the Rajya Sabha does not lead to the resignation of the Council of Ministers. However, Rajya Sabha does enjoy the exclusive powers with regard to the creation of All-India Services and in respect of legislation on State List in the national interest.

DEFECTION AS A GROUND FOR DISQUALIFICATION By the 52nd Amendment Act passed in 1985, a person is disqualified if he attracts disqualification under the Tenth Schedule. A person incurs disqualification under the Tenth Schedule—   1. If he voluntarily gives up the membership of the party on whose ticket he was elected.   2. If he votes or abstains from voting contrary to any direction issued by his political party, without obtaining the permission of such party and the party has not condoned such voting or abstention within 15 days from the date of such voting or abstention.   3. If any nominated member joins a party after the expiry of six months from the date he takes his seat.   4. A member who has been elected as an independent member shall be disqualified if he joins any political party.

Exceptions to the Rule of Defection The disqualification as a consequence of defection does not apply—   1. If a person leaves a party as a result of the split in the original party. The split takes place when not less than one-third of the members form a new group and party in the House.   2. If the original party or a member merges with another party and he either changes his political party as a consequence of the merger or does not accept merger and opts to function as a separate group. A merger is deemed to take place only if not less than two third of the members of the legislative party agree to such merger.

Question of disqualification under the 10th Schedule If any question arises whether a member has become disqualified under the Tenth Schedule (defection) the question has to be decided by the Chairman or the Speaker of the appropriate House.

Validity of Para-7 of the 10th Schedule Para-7 of the 10th Schedule states that no court shall have any jurisdiction in respect of any matter connected with disqualification of a member under that Schedule. In Kihota Hollohon the Supreme Court has expressed the view that while applying and interpreting the anti-defection law the Speaker functions as a tribunal and his decision is open to judicial review. The court held the Para-7 of the 10th Schedule is invalid on the ground that it seeks to take away the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the High Courts. Hence, the question of disqualification under the 10th Schedule, though to be decided by the Presiding officer, is subject to judicial review.

Decision on other disqualifications The Presiding officer under 10th Schedule decides whether a member has become disqualified on any one or more of the grounds mentioned in the 10th Schedule. But in regard to other disqualifications, the question is to be referred to the President. Article 103(2) lays down that the President shall obtain the opinion of the Election Commission, and shall give the decision based on the opinion.

  • After every census, a readjustment is to be made in ( a) allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha to the states, and (b) division of each state into territorial constituencies.
  • Parliament is empow¬ered to determine the authority and the manner in which it is to be made. Accordingly, the Parliament has enacted the Delimitation Com¬mission Acts in 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002 for this purpose.
  • The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 froze the allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha to the states and the division of each state into terri¬torial constituencies till the year 2000 at the 1971 level.
  • This ban on readjustment was ex¬tended for another 25 years (ie, up to the year 2026) by the 84th Amendment Act of 2001, with the same objective of encouraging population lim¬iting measures.
  • The 84th Amendment Act of 2001 also em¬powered the government to undertake readjust¬ment and rationa1isation of territorial constituencies in the states on the basis of the population figures of 1991 census.
  • Later, the 87th Amendment Act of 2003 provided for the delimitation of constituencies on the basis of 2001 census and not 1991 census. However, this can be done without altering the number of seats allotted to each state in the Lok Sabha.
  • Though the Constitution has abandoned the system of communal representation, it provides for the reservation of seats for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the Lok Sabha on the basis of population ratios. Originally, this reservation was to operate for ten years (ie, up to 1960), but it has been extended continuously since then by 10 years each time. Now, under the 79th Amendment Act of 1999, this reservation is to last until 2010.
  • Though seats are reserved for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, they are elected by all the voters in a constituency, without any separate electorate. A member of sched¬uled castes and scheduled tribes is also not debarred from contesting a general (non-re¬served) seat.
  • The 84th Amendment Act of 2001 provided for refixing of the reserved seats on the basis of the population figures of 1991 census as applied to rationa1isation of the general seats. Later, the 87th Amendment Act of 2003 pro¬vided for the refixing of the reserved seats on the basis of 2001 census and not 1991 census.

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