What is the composition of the Rajya Sabha? What do you mean by a system of proportional representation? Read further to know more.
Rajya Sabha i.e., the Upper House (Second Chamber or House of Elders) is also known as the Council of States.
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).
Even though the President does not sit in Parliament, he is a part of the Legislature as a bill cannot become a law without President’s assent.
Composition of Rajya Sabha
The fourth schedule of the Constitution deals with the allocation of seats in the Rajya Sabha to the states and Union Territories.
The maximum strength of the Council of States shall not be more than 250 members.
Out of all 238 are representatives of the State and Union Territories elected by the method of indirect election and 12 are nominated by the President (Article 80).
At present, Rajya Sabha has 245 members. Out of that, 229 members represent the States, 4 members represent the Union Territories, and 12 are nominated by the President.
The constitution adopted the principle of nomination for giving distinguished persons a place in the upper chamber without going through the process of election. The 12 members nominated by the President must be chosen from the persons having ‘Special Knowledge or practical experience in Literature, Science, Art, and Social Service’.
Representation of States
The representative of each state in the Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of the legislative assembly of the States. The election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.
The seat allocation in Rajya Sabha is on the basis of population, hence, the number of representatives varies from state to state.
Representation of Union Territories
The representation of the Union Territories shall be chosen in such manner as Parliament may prescribe [Article 80(5)]. Under this power, Parliament has prescribed that the representative of each Union Territory in the Rajya Sabha is indirectly elected by the members of the electoral college specially constituted for this purpose.
This election is also held in accordance with the system of Proportional Representation by means of a Single Transferable Vote.
Out of 8 Union Territories, only Delhi, Puducherry, and Jammu & Kashmir have representation in Rajya Sabha.
System of Proportional Representation
While the system of Separate Electorates was abandoned by the constitution, the system of proportional representation was partially adopted for the second chamber in the Union and State Legislatures.
Under the system of Proportional Representation, all sections of people get representation in proportion to their number. Even the smallest section of the population gets its due share of representation in the legislature.
The proportional Representation system is of two types, namely:
- Single Transferable Vote System, and
- List System
In India, the first kind i.e., Single Transferable Vote System is adopted for the election of members of the Rajya Sabha.
Election to the Rajya Sabha
The representatives of the States and of the Union Territories in the Rajya Sabha are elected by the method of indirect election.
The representatives of each State and two Union territories are elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of that State and by the members of the Electoral College for that Union Territory, as the case may be, in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
Read to know more about the election to the Rajya Sabha.
Duration of Rajya Sabha
The Council of States which was first constituted in 1952, is not subject to dissolution. It is a permanent body but one-third of its members retire on the expiration of every second year, in accordance with the provisions made by the Parliament on this behalf.
The order of retirement of members of the Rajya Sabha is governed by the Council of States (Terms of Office of Members) Order, 1952, made by the President in accordance with the power conferred upon him by the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
So, according to the Representation of People Act, 1951, the term of office of a member of the Rajya Sabha shall be six years.
The Vice-President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and shall function as the Presiding officer of the House so long as he does not officiate as the President of India during a casual vacancy in that office.
When the Chairman acts as the President of India, the Office of Chairman of the Council of States falls vacant and the duties of the office of Chairman shall be performed by the Deputy Chairman.
Special Powers of Rajya Sabha
The Rajya Sabha has been given four exclusive or special powers over Lok Sabha that are not enjoyed by the Lok Sabha:
Article 249: Rajya Sabha can authorize the Parliament to make a law on a subject enumerated in the State List.
Article 312: Rajya Sabha can authorize the Parliament to create new All-India Services common to both the Centre and states.
Article 67: Rajya Sabha alone can initiate a move for the removal of the vice-president. In other words, a resolution for the removal of the vice president can be introduced only in the Rajya Sabha and not in the Lok Sabha.
Articles 352, 356, and 360: If a proclamation is issued by the President for a national emergency or president’s rule or financial emergency at a time when the Lok Sabha has been dissolved or the dissolution of the Lok Sabha takes place within the period allowed for its approval, then the proclamation can remain effective even if it is approved by the Rajya Sabha alone.
The Hindi name of Rajya Sabha was adopted by the Council of States in 1954. The status of the Rajya Sabha in our constitutional system is neither as weak as the House of Lords in the British constitutional system nor as strong as the Senate in the American constitutional system. The Rajya Sabha’s power and position in all other areas are approximately equivalent to and coordinated with those of the Lok Sabha, except in terms of financial matters and control over the council of ministers.
Article Written By: Priti Raj