Class VIII - Civics

Chapter 3 - Why do we need a Parliament?

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    • The farmers of our constitution benefited from the experience of other countries. They adopted the British model of the Cabinet system and aspects of Fundamental Rights from the U.S. Constitution.
    • The Constitution Committee presided over by Nehru, favourably recommended the parliamentary form, on the ground that it best suited Indian conditions as it would lead to the rule of majority in the Centre.
    • When the Constitution of India was written, India already had some experience of running the parliamentary system under the acts of 1919 and 1935.
    • Finally, after several rounds of discussions and arguments the farmers of the Constitution adopted the parliamentary form of government.
    • It consists of the President of India and the two houses - the Rajya Sabha (upper house)  and the Lok Sabha (lower house). The members of the two houses are called Members of Parliament or MPs.
  4. Legislative Role

    • The President addresses the first joint session of Parliament after elections.
    • The President has the power to summon or prorogue the session of Parliament.
    • He can dissolve Parliament on the advice of the Council of Ministers.
    • No bill can become law until president gives his assent.
    • If the two houses fail to agree on a bill, the President can call a joint session to resolve the deadlock.
    • The President can issue or promulgate ordinance when Parliament is not in session.

    Executive Role

    • The President appoints the Prime Minister and, on the latter’s advice, the Council of Minister.
    • The President also appoints the Chief Justice of India, the Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, the Governors of the states and all other high officials.
    • As the supreme commander of the armed forces, the President appoints the Chiefs of the three wings of the armed forces.

    Judicial Role

    • The President, on a mercy petition, can reduce the sentence of – or grant pardon to - any person sentenced by the Civil or military courts.
  6. Rajya Sabha

    • The upper house of Parliament is called the Rajya Sabha, also referred as the Council of States.
    • It constitutes 250 members. Of these, 238 members represent the state and union territories and 12 members are nominated by the President.
    • The elected members of the state Legislative Assemblies elect the members representing their states in accordance with the method of Proportional representation
    • To be a member of the Rajya Sabha a person should be a citizen of India and 30 years of age. He/She should not be a lunatic or bankrupt.
    • The Rajya Sabha is a permanent body, which through its members exercise a moderating influence on law-making processes.
    • One-third of its members retire after every two years and fresh elections are held for the vacant seats biennially.

    Lok Sabha

    • Lok Sabha is referred to as the lower house or House of the People, since it is directly elected by the people.
    • The Lok Sabha is composed of 552 members but at present it consists of 545 members. Of these, 530 members are directly elected from different states, and not more than 20 members are elected from the Constituencies of Union Territories.
    • The term of the Lok Sabha is five years. However, the president may dissolve it before the completion of its term, or extend it for a period of one year during an emergency.
    • To contest an election to the Lok Sabha, a person should be a citizen of India, at least 25 years if age; and should not hold any government office. He/She should be mentally sound. Lok Sabha elections are held on the basis of universal adult franchise.
    • The Lok Sabha exercises exclusive powers in money matters.
    • The Lok Sabha controls the council of Ministers.
    • Introduction or First Reading Stage : A bill gets introduced in parliament by a member of either house. A draft of the proposed Bill has to be sent to the Secretariat of the House. On the appointed day and time, the Minister introduces the bill and explains the purpose and importance of the bill.
    • Second Reading Stage : At the second Reading stage, the House may decide to discuss the bill in detail. Alternatively, the House may also decide to circulate the bill for eliciting public opinion: by publishing it in the Government Gazette, inviting public reactions, etc.
    • Committee and Report Stage :The presiding officer constitutes such Committee which then makes a through scrutiny of the bill and suggests various changes, if any, and then submit its report to the House. The House considers the report and then discuss and votes the bill in detail clause by clause. If the House approves it, it is supposed to have crossed the report stage.
    • Third Reading Stage: After a few days, the bill is again put before the House for final or Third Reading. At this stage, there is only a general discussion. The bill then goes to the Upper House. There also, the bill has to undergo all the stages as discussed above. If the upper House also approves, it goes to the president for his assent.
    • The Parliament not only makes new laws and amends them but also abolishes existing laws.
    • It also exercises a degree of control over those who run the government.
    • In passing the budget, Parliament exercises control over the executing its expenditure.
    • It provides a platform for all the elected members to discuss public and national issues and sort them out in the best possible manner.
    • The Prime Minister is the constitutional head of the state and works as head of the Union government.
    • Although, the president of India is vested with many executive powers, actual power vests with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, making the Prime Minister the real head of State.
    • The Prime Minister selects the ministers, allocates their departments and coordinates their work.
    • He presides over the meetings of the Cabinet and decides on the policies of the government.
    • The Prime Minister acts like a link between the Cabinet and the President.
    • He is the chief spokesman of the government. In international relations, the Prime Minister speaks for the Nation.
    • The Prime Minister is also the ex officio chairman of the Planning Commission.
    • Cabinet Ministers are the senior-most leaders of the party, holding charge of major ministers such as home, defence, finance, etc. They form the Cabinet.
    • Ministers of State with independent charge are in-charge of comparatively small ministers. They are not a part of the Cabinet and attend its meetings only when invited.
    • Deputy Ministers are young ministers attached to the Cabinet Ministers to assist them.
    • Legislative functions : The Council Ministers formulates the policies, submits and explains them to Parliament, its policies get acceptance easily except when its own members are not in favour of that policy.
    • Financial functions : The Cabinet controls the financial policy of the Union. It is Finance Minister who submits the budget to the Parliament. The budget is government’s financial plan.
    • Executive functions : The Cabinet formulates different policies for the Nation and executes the Five-year Plans. In principle, the council of Ministers is the chief governing body in India. It tenders advice to the President and provides Legislative leadership in parliament.
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