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- Prelims – Polity & Governance
- Mains – GS 2 (Polity & Governance)
Context: Rajya Sabha plays a crucial role in strengthening the fundamentals of our parliamentary democracy.
- The genesis of the Rajya Sabha can be traced to the Montague-Chelmsford report of 1918 and, consequently, the Government of India Act, 1919, which provided for a second federal chamber or the Council of States
- Rajya Sabha as the second chamber of the parliament intended to play certain roles as a permanent house revisionary house and offers a degree of continuity in the underlying policies of laws passed by parliament.
Role of Rajya Sabha
Safety Valve of India’s Federal Polity
- Bicameralism is necessary for a federal constitution to give representation to the units of the federation.
- While checks and balances usually operate between the executive, legislature and judiciary, the Council of States acts as a safety valve within the legislature itself, easing federal tensions.
Review and Revaluation Role
- Indian constitution framers wanted to create a house that would act as a revisionary house to keep a check on the hasty legislation that could be passed by the lower house under populist pressures.
- Also, when the ruling dispensation has a brute majority in the Lok Sabha, Rajya sabha can prevent the government of the day exercising authoritarianism.
A Deliberative Body
- Parliament is not only a legislative body but also a deliberative one which enables the members to debate major issues of public importance.
- It also empowers its members to voice resistance, dissent, or any disagreement, even if the Lok Sabha dominates as the primary stakeholder in the law-making process
Representing the Vulnerable Sections
- Women, religious, ethnic and linguistic minority groups are not adequately represented in the Lok Sabha
- An indirect form of election to the Rajya Sabha, therefore, would give them a chance to get involved in the nation’s law-making process.
- Thus, Rajya Sabha can make a place for people who may not be able to win a popular mandate.
Issues Related to Rajya Sabha
No equal Representation of states
- In Rajya Sabha, states are represented proportionally to their relative populations.
- For example, the number of seats allocated in Rajya Sabha to Uttar Pradesh alone is significantly higher than that of combined north-eastern states.
Bypassing the Rajya Sabha
- In some cases, ordinary bills are being passed in the form of a Money Bill, circumventing the Rajya Sabha and giving rise to the question about the very efficacy of the upper house of Parliament.
Undermining of Federal character of Rajya Sabha
- A person who does not belong to a state can contest the Rajya Sabha elections from that state of which they are neither a resident nor a domicile.
- Thus seats in the Rajya Sabha have been used by the ruling party to get their defeated candidate in Lok Sabha, elected in Rajya Sabha.
Low Participation of Nominated Members
- The sincerity of nominated members has been questioned in multiple instances.
- Once nominated, they rarely participate in the working of the house.
- A federal arrangement can be devised to enable equal representation for each state, so that large states do not dominate the proceedings in the House.
- There is a need for a better procedure of nomination to improve the quality of discussion in the House.
- A cue in this regard can be taken from the UK.
- Checks by legislature against government circumventing Rajya Sabha under ambit of Money Bill.
The Rajya Sabha has remained a vanguard for political and social values, a melting pot of cultural diversity. With Lok sabha, it is a flag-bearer of the sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic called India. Efforts should be made to enable Rajya Sabha to retain its significant role in Indian democracy.
Special Powers of Rajya Sabha
- Power to transfer a subject from the State List to Union List for a specified period (Article 249).
- To create additional All-India Services (Article 312).
- To endorse Emergency under Article 352 for a limited period when the Lok Sabha remains dissolved.
Source: Indian Express
Previous Year Question
Q.1) Rajya Sabha has equal powers with Lok Sabha in: (2020)
- the matter of creating new All India Services
- amending the Constitution
- the removal of the government
- making cut motion
Q.2) Consider the following statements: (2015)
- The Rajya Sabha has no power either to reject or to amend a Money Bill.
- The Rajya Sabha cannot vote on the Demands for Grants.
- The Rajya Sabha cannot discuss the Annual Financial Statement.
Which of the statements given above is/ are correct?
- 1 only
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3