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Role of Rajya Sabha

  • IASbaba
  • July 25, 2022
  • 0
Governance, Indian Polity & Constitution
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Context: Rajya Sabha plays a crucial role in strengthening the fundamentals of our parliamentary democracy.

Origin

  • 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.

Way Forward

  • 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.

Note:

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)

  1. the matter of creating new All India Services
  2. amending the Constitution
  3. the removal of the government
  4. making cut motion

Q.2) Consider the following statements: (2015)

  1. The Rajya Sabha has no power either to reject or to amend a Money Bill.
  2. The Rajya Sabha cannot vote on the Demands for Grants.
  3. The Rajya Sabha cannot discuss the Annual Financial Statement.

Which of the statements given above is/ are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 2 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

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