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1. Parliamentary Committees

1.1. The work in the parliament requires in-depth study of the issue under consideration. This is done by standing committees for various departments. Composition of the committee is determined by the Speaker and the Chief whip. 1) Parliamentary committees help to expedite Parliamentary business and to scrutinize the government activities. 2) Parliamentary committees act as watchdogs in the Parliament to ensure culture of accountability. The financial committees, particularly, are regarded as the most important ones as they unearth ‘scams’ and the convention requires that their recommendations be implemented There are four broad groups: - those concerned with the organization and powers of the House eg: rules committee; - those that assist the House in their legislative functions, for example select committee; - those that assist the House in making government departments more accountable, for example various standing committees; - those that assist the House in their financial functions such as Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Estimates Committee (EC) etc.

2. Functions of Parliament

2.1. Legislation

2.1.1. Legislation - Proposals are 'introduced' by the government (parliament plays limited role in 'initiating' legislature*). But it's the Parliament that gives final approval without which bill cannot enter the statute book.

2.1.2. * The actual task of drafting the bill is performed by the bureaucracy under the supervision of the minister concerned. The substance and even the timing of the bill are decided by the Cabinet. No major bill is introduced in the Parliament without the approval of the Cabinet.

2.2. Control over Executive

2.2.1. Control over Executive - Council of ministers is responsible to Lok Sabha, which can remove the government by a no-confidence motion.

2.3. Control over Budget

2.3.1. Control over budget - Parliament approves budget after discussion and voting. Lok Sabha has the power accept/refuse/reduce the amount of a grant.

2.4. Representation

2.4.1. Representation: Parliament represents the divergent views of members from different regional, social, economic, religious groups of different parts of the country. High lighting people's grievances - members make use of question hour, sort discussions etc.

2.5. Debating Function

2.5.1. Debating Function: Highest forum of debate in the country. No limitation on its power of discussion. Members are free to speak on any matter without fear. Parliamentary Privilege: No action can be taken against a member for whatever he may have said in the legislature.

2.6. Constituent Function

2.6.1. Constituent Function: Discussing and enacting changes to the constitution.

2.7. Electing

2.7.1. Electing - President and Vice President. Removal of President & Vice President

2.8. Judicial

2.8.1. Judicial - Considering proposals for removing High court and Supreme court judges.

3. Bicameral

3.1. A bicameral legislature is a system of government where the legislature is divided into two separate chambers/ assemblies/ houses. It is necessary for the following reasons: 1) Adequate representation to - all sections of society, all geographical areas. (Rajya sabha gives representation to the states.) 2) Provision to reconsider decisions. Double check on every policy/bill.

4. Legislative Process

4.1. Introduction

4.1.1. The first reading consists of the bill being introduced along with an explanation of its aim and purposes

4.2. Consideration

4.2.1. 1) After the second reading, a bill may be referred to - select committee, - circulated for public response or - taken up for immediate consideration. The last course is rare and reserved for urgent and uncontroversial items. The second course is the most frequent. 2) The select committee reports back either unanimously or with a majority recommendation and a minority note of dissent. 3) The bill is then considered in the House clause by clause, with members being able to introduce amendments. Once all clauses have been dealt with, the bill has crossed the report stage, and is listed for its third and final reading, which is tidying-up amendments and then the bill is put to vote. 4) If the speaker authenticates its passing, the bill is sent to the second house, where the entire procedure is repeated.

4.3. Enactment

4.3.1. When both Houses of Parliament have passed an identical version of a bill, it is presented to the President for formal assent, and becomes law on receiving his assent.

5. President

5.1. The President is head of the state. Has mostly nominal and cermonial powers.

5.2. Electon

5.2.1. The president is not elected directly by the ordinary citizens, but by MLAs and MPs. That way, though he's not directly elected, he's seen as representative of the whole nation. Period: 5 years Can be removed by impeachment

5.3. Functions

5.3.1. Executive - executive powers are vested in him. Executive decision are taken in his name. - Appoints PM and the Council of Ministers (on PM's advice) - Appoints Attorney General, Comptroller and Auditor General, Supreme court & High court judges, Governors, members of UPSC. Military - supreme commander of the defence forces Diplomatic - appoints Ambassador. All international treaties and agreements are in the name of the President. Judicial - power to grant pardon/reduce punishment in case of court martial/death sentence. Legislative - summon and programme the Parliament - nominates 12 members to Parliament - has to consent money bill

5.4. Powers

5.4.1. Emergency A state of Emergency can be declared only by the President (on the advice of PM and cabinet) minister in case of - War or External Aggression (Article 352) - Constitutional Emergency - National or state (Article 356) - Financial emergency (Article 360)

5.4.2. Discretionary 1) Reconsideration of Decision - A bill can be sent back to the Parliament for reconsideration. His opinion carries weightage 2) Veto Power - Other than money bill, President can withhold a bill, by not sending it for re-consideration. No time limit set by Constitution for sending back bill. 3) Selection of Prime Minister - If no party get majority, or if there are 2 or 3 claimants for majority in Lok Sabha, it's the President's prerogative to select PM.

6. 2 Houses

6.1. Lok Sabha/House of People

6.1.1. Election Direct by universal adult suffrage. First past the post system.

6.1.2. Members and Term Not more than 552 members. 530 from states, 20 from UTs, 2 Anglo-Indians. Meets twice or thrice a year. Term: 5 years, but may be dissolved earlier - no confidence or early elections for political gains. In case of emergency, it can be extended 1 year at a time, indefinitely.

6.1.3. Powers - Government can enjoy power only in the confidence of the Lok Sabha. - A no-confidence motion that can remove the government can be moved and passed only by Lok Sabha. - Money bills and demands for grants can be moved and passed only by Lok Sabha.

6.1.4. Opposition

6.2. Rajya Sabha/Council of States

6.2.1. Elections Members of State Legislative Assembly elect the Rajya Sabha on a proportional representative basis.

6.2.2. Members and Term The Opposition in Parliament is formed by all the political parties that oppose the majority party/coalition formed. The opposition in a Parliamentary democracy is expected to play the role of an alternative government. Because of the multiplicity of political parties in India, the status of the leader of the opposition can be conferred only on the leader of a party with at least fifty seats in the Lok Sabha. Regardless of the capacity or numbers to form an alternative government, opposition parties do register and express the diversity of opinions in a country as large and varied as India. The debate between the government and the opposition can, in effect, serve to structure the internal debate within the ruling party. 250 members: 238 from states & UTs, 12 by President. Representation of states is proportional to their population. Fixed by the 4th schedule of the constitution It is a permanent house. One-third members retire every two years. Elections are held biennially. Term of office: 6 years

6.2.3. Powers - May enable parliament to legislate on any subject in the state list. (article 249) - May declare creation of new All-India services in the interest of the nation. - In the event of declaration of an emergency, when the Lok Sabha has been dissolved, Rajya Sabha can approve.

6.2.4. Presiding Officers Chairman: Vice president of India is the ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha. Vice Chairman is elected by the members. Panel of Vice Chairmen: 6 members nominated by the Chairman, to preside over the house in the absence of the chairman and vice-chairman.

7. Why do we need Parliament?

7.1. 1) To legislate. It is the supreme power of legislature - makes, amends and abolishes laws. 2) Centre of democratic process - debates & discussions, protests, unanimity, walk-outs, demonstrations. 3) Basis of representative democracy. Most representative organ of a democracy. 4) Exercises control over the Executive - the PM and his Cabinet. Government can run only with people's majority in the people's houses. 5) Budget is decided in Parliament. Sanction on expenditure of public money. 6) Forum to ventilate people's grievances. Forum to seek information.

8. How does the Parliament control the Government?

8.1. When the Executive has majority in the Lok Sabha, they have almost absolute and unlimited power. In such a situation, parliamentary democracy may become a 'Cabinet Dictatorship', where the Cabinet leads and the house merely follows. In order to prevent that, there are provisions to make the Executive accountable to the Parliament.

8.2. Discussion and Deliberation

8.2.1. The members of the Parliament get the opportunity to discuss and deliberate on policies and bills. Apart from discussions, 'Question Hour' (where Ministers have to respond to questions by members) and 'Zero Hour' (where members are free to raise issues that they are important) are some instruments of control. Question Hour is one of the most effective. Maximum attendance is usually recorded in Parliament as these questions are are aimed to elicit information from ministers on issues of public interest.

8.3. Approval/Ratification of Laws

8.3.1. A bill can become a law only with the approval of the Parliament. If may not be difficult for a government which has a majority in the Legislature. With the arrival of coalition politics in India, such approvals are a result of intense bargaining and negotiations among the members of ruling party or coalition of parties and even government and opposition.

8.4. Financial Control

8.4.1. Preparation and presentation of budget for the approval of the legislature is a constitutional obligation of the government. This allows legislature to exercise control over the spending of the government. The legislature may refuse
 to grant resources to the government. This rarely happens because the government usually has the support of the majority. But before granting money, the Lok
Sabha can discuss the reasons for which the government requires
money. It can enquire into cases of misuse of funds on the basis of
the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Public
Accounts committees.

8.5. No Confidence Motion

8.5.1. The most powerful weapon that enables the Parliament to ensure executive accountability is the no-confidence motion. If the Executive fails to enjoy the support of even one coalition partner, it could lose power. A Motion of No Confidence can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha. The motion is admitted for discussion when a minimum of fifty members of the house supports the motion. If the motion carries, the house debates and votes on the motion. If majority of the members of the house vote in favour of the motion, the motion is passed and the Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers are bound to vacate the office.

8.6. Parliamentary Privelege

8.6.1. No legal action may be taken against a member for anything that he/she may have said in the Legislature. Any matters of breach of privilege are decided only by the Presiding officer. This privilege gives the MPs who represent the people effective control over the Executive.

9. What is a Parliament?

9.1. It is a democratic government's legislature. A legislature is a decision making organisation/a group of people who have the power to make or change laws. Parliament comes from the old french word 'Parlement' which means speech, discussion.

10. State Legislature

10.1. A state legislature that has two houses known as State Legislative Assembly and State Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad), is a bicameral legislature. The Vidhan Sabha is the lower house and corresponds to the Lok Sabha, the Vidhan Parishad is the upper house and corresponds to the Rajya Sabha of Indian Parliament.

11. Panchayat System

11.1. The Panchayati Raj System is a process through which people participate in their own government. The Panchayati Raj System is the first tier or level of democratic government. It extends to two other levels. One is the Block level, which is called the Janpad Panchayat or the Panchayat Samiti.