India has a federal system of government, and its legislative structure consists of two levels: the Parliament) and the State Legislature at the central and state level respectively. Both levels of government have the authority to make laws within their respective jurisdictions. Read here to understand the difference in structure and functioning of the two levels of legislature.
Our Constitution has adopted the Parliamentary System of Government, also known as the Westminster Model of Government. The Parliament has occupied a pre-eminent and central position in the Indian democratic political system.
The Constitution provides for a federal government, having a separate system of administration for the Union and the States. Part V of the Indian Constitution deals with the provisions related to the Parliament and Part VI deals with Power, Procedure, Composition, and so on of the State Legislature.
Under the Constitution, the Parliament of India consists of the President and two houses i.e., the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha).
In the case of the State legislature, there is no uniformity in the organization/structure of the State Legislature. At present, only 6 States have bicameral legislation (two houses). These are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.
The structure of the two houses of the Parliament are:
Lok Sabha (House of People): The maximum strength of Lok Sabha is fixed at 552, out of which 530 members are the Representatives of the States and 20 are Representatives of Union Territories. At present, the Lok Sabha has 545 members.
Rajya Sabha ( Council of States): The Council of States shall be composed of not more than 250 members, out of which 12 should be nominated by the President and the remainder shall be the representatives of States and Union Territories elected by the method of indirect election.
The State Legislature is a law-making body at the state level. Only 6 states in our country have bicameral legislature i.e., two houses namely, Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council, and the rest of the States just have one house which is known as the Legislative Assembly.
The Indian states with bicameral legislature include Odisha, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh.
Functions are assigned to the Ministry under the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 made by the President under Article 77(3) of the Constitution of India.
The Parliament has the power to make laws on the Union List, and Concurrent List, and the power to make laws over subjects under the Residuary List. The functions and powers of the Indian Parliament can be divided into legislative, executive, financial, and other categories.
The President of India is an integral part of the Parliament and plays a key role in the legislative process, including giving assent to bills passed by both houses.
In simpler terms, the functions of Parliament are:
- Making and passing laws on various subjects.
- Discussing and debating important national issues.
- Scrutinizing the work of the government through questions, debates, and discussions.
- Approving the government’s budget and expenditures.
- Amending the Constitution and other important legislation.
- Representing the interests of the people and states.
The primary function of the State Legislature, like the Union Parliament, is law-making. The State Legislature is empowered to make laws on the State List and Concurrent List. The State Legislature performs financial functions, Control over the Executive, Electoral Functions, Constitutional Functions, etc.
- Making and passing laws on state-specific subjects.
- Debating and discussing issues relevant to the state.
- Scrutinizing the work of the state government through questions, debates, and discussions.
- Approving the state’s budget and expenditures.
- Amending the state’s Constitution and other important legislation.
Conduct of Business
Article 118(1) of the Constitution empowers each House of Parliament to make rules for regulating its Procedure and the Conduct of its business.
Article 208(i) of the Constitution empowers State Legislatures to make rules for regulating its procedure and Conduct of Business.
According to Art 118(3), the president, after consultation with the chairman of the Council of States and the speaker of the House of the People, may make rules as to the procedure concerning joint sittings of, and communications between the two houses.
All executive action of the Government of a State shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the Governor. The Governor shall make rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the Government of the State, and for the allocation among Ministers of the said business in so far as it is not business concerning which the Governor is by or under this Constitution required to act in his discretion.
Powers and privileges
Parliamentary Privileges are a sum of special rights, immunities, and exemptions enjoyed by the two houses of the Parliament, the State Legislature, their committees, and their members. Privileges are necessary to secure the independence and effectiveness of their actions.
The Constitution of India has extended parliamentary Privileges to those persons who are entitled to speak and take part in the proceedings of the House of Parliament or its committees. That means the Attorney General of India and the Union Ministers are entitled to such privileges.
Note that the Parliamentary Privileges do not extend to the president.
Also Read: COM, Prime Minister, and Attorney General
The Constitution of India has also extended the Privileges of the State Legislature to those persons who are entitled to speak and take part in the proceedings of the House of the State Legislature or its committees. These include the Advocate General of the State and State Ministers.
Recent years have seen considerable thought and discussion regarding the demise of Parliament, the devaluation of parliamentary authority, declining standards of discussion, deterioration in the conduct and quality of Members, low levels of participation, and similar issues. Unsettling trends include a general skepticism about parliamentary institutions, a decline regarding customary parliamentary procedures, and disrespect for members.
Parliament faces several challenges including the Criminalisation of Politics, the Decline of Representative Democracy, the Evil of Anti-Defection Law, Lowering Standards of Parliamentary Scrutiny, the Curb on Freedom of Speech, Weakened Opposition, etc.
If there is a sense of unease with the way the State legislatures are functioning, it may be due to a decline in recent years in both the quantity and quality of work done by them. Over the years the number of days on which the houses sit to transact legislative and other business has come down very significantly including the use of force to intimidate opponents, shouting, and shutting out of debate and discussion resulting in frequent adjournments.
There is increasing concern about the decline of the State legislature, falling standards of debate, and erosion of the moral authority, and prestige of the supreme tribune of the people. Also, it is of the utmost importance for the survival of democracy that Parliament and State Legislature continue to occupy a position of the highest esteem in the minds and hearts of the people.
In summary, the Parliament and State Legislature in India serve as the primary legislative bodies at the central and state levels, respectively. They play a crucial role in the lawmaking process, representing the interests of the people, discussing important issues, and holding the government accountable for its actions.
Also read: Motions in Parliament
Article Written By: Priti Raj