The Rajya Sabha or the Council of States is the upper house of the Parliament of India, which represents the interests of the states and union territories in a federal system. It is a permanent house which does not dissolve, rather one-third of its members retire after every other year.
Role and Relevance:
Formulation of Law
The Rajya Sabha plays an active role in the legislative process along with the Lok Sabha or the lower house.
It can introduce, amend or reject any bill except a money bill, which is a special bill of the Lok Sabha. For this, it is mandatory to send the bill back to the Lok Sabha with or without its recommendations within 14 days.However, in the event of a deadlock between the two Houses on a bill, a joint sitting may be called, where the Lok Sabha has the advantage of greater numbers and its larger size.
Further, the Rajya Sabha cannot initiate or amend constitutional amendment bills, which require a special majority in both the Houses.
The Rajya Sabha keeps a check on the executive by asking questions, introducing motions, passing resolutions, demanding discussions, etc.
The Rajya Sabha has no role in the formation or dissolution of the government, the formation or dissolution of the government depends only on the support of the majority in the Lok Sabha.
The Rajya Sabha reflects the federal principle and diversity of India by representing the states and union territories in the national legislature.
It also reflects India's pluralism and diversity by accommodating various parties, groups and interests in its structure.
However, the representation of states and union territories in the Rajya Sabha is not in proportion to their population, as there is a limit of 250 elected members and a minimum of one member for each state and union territory.
Also, some states and union territories have more or less representation in the Rajya Sabha due to historical reasons or political calculations.
Major Standing Committees of Parliament
public accounts committee
It is the most important and oldest financial committee of the Parliament. It was established in 1921 under the Government of India Act 1919 and is still in existence.There are a total of 22 members in this committee, out of which 15 members are taken from the Lok Sabha and 7 members from the Rajya Sabha.
It is the largest committee among the standing committees of the Parliament. This committee is constituted only from the members of the Lok Sabha. It consists of a total of 30 members of the Lok Sabha, the members of the Rajya Sabha are not included in it.
public undertaking committee
This committee was formed in 1963 on the basis of the recommendation of the Lankasundaram Committee. The credit for bringing this committee constituted in 1964 goes to the first Lok Sabha Speaker Shri GV Mavalankar. Initially it had 15 members. 10 from Lok Sabha and 5 from Rajya Sabha. In 1974, the number of its members was increased to 22, which is in vogue till the present time.
The Rules Committee of the Lok Sabha recommended the establishment of departmental committees in 1989. In pursuance of this recommendation, three thematic committees namely Committee on Agriculture, Committee on Environment and Forests and Committee on Science and Technology were established.
ad hoc committees of parliament
select or joint select committee
The Select Committee is the most important of the Ad-hoc Committees. This committee is formed to consider a particular bill. The Select Committee has a maximum of 30 members and the Joint Select Committee has 45 members, in which 30 are from the Lok Sabha and 15 from the Rajya Sabha.
committee to investigate any specific matters
On the demand of the Members of Parliament, committees can be formed by the Speaker or the Chairman, separately or jointly, to investigate any specific matters and report.
how effective are committees
Before 1993, there was no systematic process of examining bills and select committees were constituted from time to time for important bills. Other matters and budgetary matters were also not examined in the meetings of these committees.Each Departmental Standing Committee is focused on a few ministries and that is why the members are motivated to increase their knowledge of the concerned area. Generally, a number of experts are invited while reviewing the Bills in the meetings of the Departmental Standing Committees,But this is not always the case even in the case of bills with wide implications. For example, even the Departmental Standing Committee examining the Right to Education Bill, 2008 did not call any expert to testify. This is the bill that guaranteed free education for children between the ages of six and fourteen.Secondly, not all Bills were referred to committees. While 60 and 71 percent of bills were sent to committees during the last two terms of the UPA, respectively, in 2017 only 27 percent of bills presented in Parliament were sent to committees.
Although the rule is that the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Speaker of the Rajya Sabha should send the bill to the committees, but generally it is sent only on the recommendation of the concerned minister. The structure of Rajya Sabha is such that in some cases it helps in scrutiny or investigation.The current government is in minority in the Rajya Sabha. There have been many occasions when even after being passed by the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha has constituted a Select Committee to scrutinize the Bills concerned. Not only this, an important bill like the Goods and Services Tax, which was required to amend the Constitution, was also passed by the Lok Sabha without sending it to the Departmental Standing Committee. A select committee was constituted by the Rajya Sabha and the bill could be passed only after many of its recommendations were included in the bill. Thirdly, the recommendations of these committees are also not binding. The government or any other member presents the relevant amendments on the table of the Parliament and then it is passed by voting by the House. that's the intention behind it.
That committees are only a small part of the parliament, whose job is to investigate the related issue and give recommendations. After that the whole House has the right and also its responsibility to take a final decision in this regard. In the five-year period of the UPA government, the government had accepted 54 per cent of the recommendations of the committees and the departmental standing committee had expressed satisfaction in 13 per cent cases, rejected their responses in 21 per cent cases and rejected their responses. in 12 percent of cases. Didn't get it at all.
increase in representation
Rajya Sabha should be reformed to ensure fair and equitable representation of states and union territories in proportion to their population.
Adequate representation of women, minorities, backward classes etc. should also be ensured in this.
It should also avoid nomination of persons with political affiliation or conflict of interest.