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Rajya Sabha - Rationale of Upper House

Introduction


The major reason for the founding of the upper house was to achieve the letter and spirit of federalism.


“The need has been felt for a second chamber practically all over the world wherever there are federations of importance,” Gopalaswami Ayyangar said in the Constituent Assembly.

Given that the lower house is elected based on territory and population, political scientists believe that bicameralism is necessary for a federal constitution to provide representation to the constituent units.


Our constitution's framers also sought to establish a house that would serve as a check on legislation that could be approved in the heat of the moment by the lower house. And then, there is an inevitable din and bustle with a direct form of election that would involve money and the flexing of political muscle.


In the Lok Sabha, women, religious, ethnic, and linguistic minorities could never have fully represented themselves. A method of indirect election to the Rajya Sabha would consequently afford them the opportunity to participate in the nation's legislative process. As Ayyangar said, the Rajya Sabha can make a place for people “who may not be able to win a popular mandate”.


As a result of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms, the Upper House of the Indian Parliament traces its origins directly to the first bicameral legislature created in British India in 1919.


Despite the fact that Indian states are "mere administrative units" with no constitutionally-guaranteed permanence, their persistent existence throughout the years and the constitutional separation of power have endowed them with the characteristics of autonomous units in their respective sectors.


Powers


Article 249 permits the Parliament to enact legislation on State List matters if the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution with a two-thirds majority.


Under Article 312, the Parliament is permitted to establish All India Services that are shared by the Union and the States, provided the Rajya Sabha passes the necessary resolution.


Removal of the Vice President, Only the Rajya Sabha can launch a motion to remove the Vice President. In other words, only the Rajya Sabha and not the Lok Sabha can introduce a resolution to remove the Vice-President (Article 67).


Concerns


In contrast to the United States Senate, which guarantees equal representation for all federal units (each state has two representatives), India's Rajya Sabha has a greater proportion of legislators from large states. States with higher population enjoy upper hand in the game of numbers.


Money Bills can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha, not the Rajya Sabha. A Money Bill cannot be amended or rejected by Rajya Sabha. The bill must be returned to the Lok Sabha within fourteen days, either with or without recommendations. The Lok Sabha may accept or reject all or some of the Rajya Sabha's recommendations.


Circumventing the Rajya Sabha,In certain instances, ordinary laws are enacted in the form of a Money Bill, thereby bypassing the Rajya Sabha and calling into question the entire effectiveness of the upper house of Parliament.


Concerns Regarding the Provision of Joint Session, In the event of a deadlock, the President can convene both chambers for a joint session. In such a circumstance, the session is governed by the Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha and not those of the Rajya Sabha.

Since the Lok Sabha has more members than the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha typically has the upper hand in joint sessions.


In addition, a resolution of no confidence cannot be introduced in the Rajya Sabha. Adjournment motion involves and elements of censure against the government. Therefore Rajya Sabha is not permitted to make use of this device.



Rationale


According to President Radhakrishnan, there are tasks that a revising house such as the Rajya Sabha can perform effectively. Parliament is both a legislative and deliberative institution. In terms of its deliberative functions, Rajya Sabha has often produced extremely useful contributions.


In a democracy, emotion and passion frequently trumps rational thought. Therefore, a house of revision is required to check this adrenaline rush. Rajya Sabha acts as check and balance against irrational policy making.


The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution, unlike the Lok Sabha, however one-third of its members retire every two years. This guarantees continuity and also facilitates the blending of new and old in the House. This type of setup is intended to ensure the representation of historical as well as present views and to aid in the maintenance of public policy continuity.Unlike the Lok Sabha, no one can dissolve the upper house. Thus, it has frequently performed administrative duties even when the lower house has been dissolved. It has members with extensive experience, whereas the Lok Sabha may have newcomers.


The President of India nominates twelve individuals to the Rajya Sabha for a six-year term based on their contributions to the arts, literature, sciences, and social services. This characteristic of the Rajya Sabha makes it even more democratic and inclusive, since famous individuals who have made substantial contributions to society ascend to the highest levels of Indian politics. Men and women of tremendous intellect and calibre have occupied the seats of the upper chamber and contributed greatly to the realisation of the vision of the Constitution's founders.



Restoring the Federal structure


Steps must be taken to preserve grassroots federalism. By means of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act of 2003, the word "domicile" has been eliminated from Section 3 of the Representation of the People Act of 1951. This effectively means that an individual who is neither a domicile nor a resident of a state may run for the Rajya Sabha from that state.


A representative unfamiliar with the state's ground realities cannot be relied upon to properly represent the state's interests at the federal level. The elections are indirect, and the electorate is unable to reject the "outsider." If members are not from the state itself it defeats the very purpose of representation of states' interests. According to the spirit, the Rajya Sabha is a political institution that represents the federal character of our Constitution. The essence of a state's representative body is that the individuals representing the state at the Union are well-versed on the state's affairs.


After the change, the seats in the Rajya Sabha have been exploited by the ruling party to provide their unelected candidate the luxury of being a Rajya Sabha member and holding crucial cabinet positions, including that of Prime Minister. It seems that Rajya Sabha has become back door entry room to the Parliament for candidates who fail to flex the Political muscle. In order for the Rajya Sabha to fulfil its constitutional mandate, government and civil society must reflect on what must be done to make it a powerful, effective, and representative chamber that gives a voice to the under-represented while strengthening our federal democratic structure.


Conclusion


As the upper chamber of the legislature, Rajya Sabha keeps the social-political fabric of democracy together. It ensures active involvement and representation and embodies the spirit of federalism. It has performed the role of a house of correction and check and balance, well in the past and even now. Given it’s composition it has enabled entry of experts that enriches deliberative capacity of the House. Given the country's current political climate, it is even more important to evaluate the Rajya Sabha's contributions to preserving the foundations of our parliamentary democracy.

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