Difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha: Complete Details

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In 1954, the names ‘Rajya Sabha’ and ‘Lok Sabha’ were officially adopted to refer to the Upper House (Council of States) and Lower House (House of People) of the Indian Parliament, respectively. The Rajya Sabha represents the states and union territories of India, while the Lok Sabha represents the entire populace of the country.

Despite being integral to the functioning of Parliament, the President of India does not hold membership in either house nor attend their meetings. However, the President plays a crucial constitutional role within the Parliament, including giving assent to bills passed by both houses, summoning sessions, and addressing both houses or either house separately.

Why is the Indian Parliament bicameral?

The Indian Parliament is made up of two houses: the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha. Here are the reasons why it has this structure:

Historical Reasons:

  • During British rule, India was introduced to the idea of a two-house legislature. After gaining independence in 1947, the creators of the Indian Constitution decided to keep this system.

Political Reasons:

  • The Rajya Sabha helps keep a balance by protecting the interests of the states and preventing too much control by the central government.
  • It makes sure that states have a say in national decisions and acts as a check on the power of the Lok Sabha, the lower house.

Practical Reasons:

  • India is a large and diverse country, making it hard for one house to represent all the different interests and viewpoints.
  • The Rajya Sabha also includes experts and professionals who are not elected directly. The President can nominate 12 such members to the Rajya Sabha.

This system ensures that the voices of the states and various professionals are heard in the national legislative process.

Read More: Attorney General of India: Complete Details

Difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha

ProvisionsLok Sabha Rajya Sabha
Election ProcedureMembers are directly elected through the First Past The Post (FPTP) system.Members are indirectly elected through proportional representation.
Age The speaker is the head of the house.The minimum age to become a member is 30 years.
TermIt continues for 5 years.It is a permanent body
Chair of the HouseSpeaker is the head of the house.The Vice-President is the chairman of the house.
CompositionMaximum strength is 550. 530 members represent states, and 20 members represent union territories. The current strength is 543.Maximum strength is 250. Out of which, 238 members are from states, and 12 members are nominated. The current strength is fixed at 245. 
Electoral CollegeA citizen above the age of 18 can vote.Only members of state legislative assembly and union territories with legislative assembly can vote.

Powers of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha

Equal Powers of Rajya Sabha in Relation to Lok Sabha

In certain matters, the Rajya Sabha has the same powers as the Lok Sabha:

  • Ordinary Bills, Constitutional Amendment Bills, and Financial Bills: Both houses can introduce and pass these bills, which involve expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • Election and Impeachment of the President: Both houses participate equally in these processes.
  • Judicial Recommendations: Both houses can recommend the removal of the Chief Justice and judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, Chief Election Commissioner, and Comptroller and Auditor General to the President.
  • Approval of Ordinances and Emergencies: Both houses must approve ordinances and proclamations of national emergencies issued by the President.
  • Selection of Ministers: Both houses are involved in the selection of ministers, including the Prime Minister.
  • Consideration of Reports: Both houses consider reports from constitutional bodies like the Finance Commission, Union Public Service Commission, and Comptroller and Auditor General.
  • Jurisdiction Enlargement: Both houses can agree to enlarge the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Union Public Service Commission.

Special Powers of Lok Sabha

The Lok Sabha has some unique powers that the Rajya Sabha does not share:

  • Money Bills: Only the Lok Sabha can introduce money bills. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha decides if a bill is a money bill or not.
  • Amendment or Rejection of Money Bills: The Rajya Sabha cannot amend or reject money bills. It must return the bill to the Lok Sabha within 14 days, with or without recommendations. The Lok Sabha may accept or reject these recommendations. In both cases, the money bill is considered passed by both houses.
  • Financial Bills: Financial bills not solely related to Article 110 can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha. However, both houses have equal powers regarding their passage.
  • Joint Sitting: The Speaker of the Lok Sabha presides over joint sittings of both houses.
  • Budget Discussions: The Rajya Sabha can discuss the budget but cannot vote on the demands for grants.
  • National Emergency Resolution: Only the Lok Sabha can pass a resolution to discontinue a national emergency.
  • No-Confidence Motion: The Rajya Sabha cannot remove the council of ministers by passing a no-confidence motion, as the council is collectively responsible only to the Lok Sabha.

Special Powers of Rajya Sabha

The Rajya Sabha holds some unique powers that the Lok Sabha does not possess:

  • Article 249: The Rajya Sabha can authorize the Parliament to make laws on subjects listed in the State List if it is deemed necessary in the national interest.
  • Article 312: The Rajya Sabha can authorize the creation of new All-India Services.
  • Article 67: The resolution for the removal of the Vice-President can only be introduced in the Rajya Sabha.
  • Emergency Situations: If an emergency proclamation is issued by the President when the Lok Sabha is dissolved, it can remain in effect if it is approved by the Rajya Sabha alone.

Criticisms of the Rajya Sabha

  • Just a Revising Chamber: The Rajya Sabha often functions primarily as a body that reviews and revises legislation proposed by the Lok Sabha.
  • Unequal Representation of States: Unlike federal democracies such as the USA and Australia, which ensure equal representation for all states in their upper houses, India provides unequal proportional representation for states in the Rajya Sabha.
  • Circumventing the Rajya Sabha: There have been instances where ordinary bills were passed as Money Bills, thereby bypassing the Rajya Sabha, raising concerns about its role in the legislative process.
  • Undemocratic Aspects: One criticism is that the twelve nominated members of the Rajya Sabha, who are not elected, can become ministers without seeking a public mandate, a point highlighted in the debates of the Constituent Assembly.
  • Domicile Requirement Abolished: The practice of members entering the Rajya Sabha based on domicile credentials ended in 2003 after an amendment to the Representation of the People‚Äôs Act 1952.

Relevance of the Rajya Sabha in a Parliamentary Democracy

Despite criticisms, the Rajya Sabha plays important roles:

  • Preventing Hasty Legislation: It checks and revises hasty, defective, or ill-considered legislation from the Lok Sabha, ensuring thorough consideration.
  • Representation to Regional Parties: It provides a platform for small and regional parties to express their views.
  • Safety Valve: As a body representing states, it helps ease federal tensions and gives states a voice in national legislation.
  • Permanent Body: The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution, which helps maintain continuity in public policy and representation of both past and current opinions.
  • Review and Reevaluation Role: It offers deeper review and scrutiny of laws, complementing the Lok Sabha and ensuring greater executive accountability.
  • House of Checks and Balances: It acts as a check on the Lok Sabha, which may sometimes pass legislation based on populist sentiment rather than careful judgment.

Why the Rajya Sabha is More Powerful than State Legislative Councils

The Rajya Sabha holds more power than state legislative councils for several reasons:

  • Representing Federalism: The Rajya Sabha maintains the federal spirit by protecting states’ interests, making it an effective revising body rather than just an advisory body like state councils.
  • Composition: The Rajya Sabha has a more homogeneous composition compared to the heterogeneously constituted state legislative councils, enhancing its role as an effective revising body.
  • State Legislative Council as a Dilatory Chamber: State legislative councils do not have the final say on passing ordinary bills; this power lies with the state legislative assemblies. Hence, councils are more advisory or delaying bodies rather than revising bodies like the Rajya Sabha.

FAQs on Lok Sabha vs Rajya Sabha

Q) How are members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha elected?

  • Members of the Lok Sabha are directly elected by the people of India through a process of general elections held every five years, unless the Lok Sabha is dissolved earlier by the President of India.
  • Members of the Rajya Sabha are not directly elected by the people. They are elected by the members of the Legislative Assembly of each state and Union Territory through a system of proportional representation by means of the Single Transferable Vote.

Q) What is the minimum age for being a Member of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha?

  • The minimum age for a person to be a member of the Lok Sabha is 25 years.
  • The minimum age for a person to be a member of the Rajya Sabha is 30 years.

Q) What is the Quorum for a meeting of Parliament?

  • The quorum for a meeting of either house of Parliament (Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha) is one-tenth of the total number of members of the house or fifty members, whichever is greater.
  • If the quorum is not met at the beginning of a sitting, the house may be adjourned until the quorum is met.

More Indian Polity Notes:

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