The Parliament of India comprises Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and Lok Sabha (House of the People). Rajya Sabha (Upper House) represents the States of India while the Lok Sabha (Lower House) is also termed as the popular House because it acts on behalf of the people of India. The President is an essential part of the Parliament though he is not a member of either House. Bharatiya Sansad is another name of the Indian parliament.
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As an essential part of the Parliament, the President has been given some powers and purposes. India is a sovereign democratic republic. The President is head of state and is elected by indirect election.
The prerequisites to be elected to the office of President are
- should be a citizen of India
- should have an age of 35 years or above
- should be eligible to be chosen as a member of the Lok Sabha
- must not be a government servant
The President cannot be a member of Parliament /State Legislature simultaneously. If a member of Parliament/State Legislature is selected as President their seat will be declared to be vacant from the date they undertake the office of President of India.
The President is chosen by an Electoral College consisting of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament i.e. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies of each state. Nominated members of Parliament and members of State Legislative Councils are not included in the Electoral College. The election is held by a process known as the single transferable vote system of proportional representation. This is done by secret ballot.
At first, only first preference votes are calculated. If any of the contenders attains the quota, he/she is declared the winner. If no contender attains the required quota, then the 2nd preference votes of the candidate who got the least number of first preference votes are shifted to other nominees. Thus, the contender who got the least number of votes is removed from the list. Then votes are counted again and if a candidate reaches the quota, he/she is proclaimed elected as the President.
The President is chosen for a tenure of 5 years and is qualified for re-election, though a resolution has been set up that no President pursues election for the third term. They may resign before the expiry of the term, or the office of the President may become vacant due to death. His term starts from the date he takes the oath of office. Whenever the position of the President become vacant either due to death/resignation/impeachment, the Vice-President occupies it for not more than six months. The Constitution has made it compulsory that in such circumstances election for a new President should be held within six months. The newly elected President then occupies the position for the next five years.
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The President can be removed from power only by a procedure called impeachment. The resolution to impeach the President can be introduced in either House of Parliament. Such a movement can only be made after a notice has been given after the approval of at least one-fourth of the total number of members of the House. Such a motion accusing the President of violation of the Constitution must be approved by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of that House before it moves to the other House for investigation. The accusations aimed at the President are investigated by the second House. President has the right to defend himself when the allegations against him are being investigated. The President may defend himself on his own or he can take the aid of his counsel. If the accusations are passed by a two-thirds majority of the total membership of the second House then the president is impeached.
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Rajya Sabha/Upper House of the Parliament is a permanent body. It cannot be dissolved. The membership of the Rajya Sabha cannot be more than 250. Among them, 12 members are nominated by the President based on their brilliance in literature, science, art and social service. The rest of the members are elected. The elected members of the States’ Legislative Assemblies chose the members of the Rajya Sabha based on proportional representation through a procedure called the single transferable vote system. All the States do not have an equal number of members in the Rajya Sabha. Their representation is determined based on population. Delhi Assembly selects three members to Rajya Sabha and Pondichery sends one member. No other Union Territories are represented in the Rajya Sabha.
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The requirements for becoming a Rajya Sabha member are as follows:
- should be a citizen of India
- should be 30 years of age or above
- should make an oath or affirmation saying that he will stand true in faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India.
- by the Representation of People Act 1951, they should be registered as a voter in the State from which they are competing for election to the Rajya Sabha. But in 2003, two conditions have been made concerning the elections to Rajya Sabha
- Any Indian citizen can compete in the Rajya Sabha elections regardless of the State in which they reside
- elections should be conducted through an open voting system.
All members of the Rajya Sabha have a safe term of 6 years. One-third of its members retire toward the end of every two years. They are eligible to participate in the election again for membership. But a member elected in a mid-term vacancy serves the remaining period only.
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The position of the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is filled by The Vice-President of India. He presides over the discussions of the Rajya Sabha. If he is absent then the Deputy Chairman, who is elected by members from amongst themselves, presides over the discussions of the House. The Deputy Chairman can be removed from the position if a majority of members of the Rajya Sabha approves. But the Chairman (Vice-President) can be removed only by a resolution passed by a majority of members of Rajya Sabha and agreed to by the Lok Sabha. As the Vice-President is an ex-officio Chairman and not a member of Rajya Sabha, they are normally not entitled to vote. They can participate in voting only in case of a tie.
Lok Sabha is not a permanent body. It is elected directly by the people based on the universal adult franchise. The maximum allowed number of members of Lok Sabha is 550. Among them, 530 are directly elected from the States while 20 are elected from the Union Territories. Certain seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha. At first, this condition was made for 10 years from the beginning of the Constitution. Then it was extended time and again for additional ten years by numerous constitutional amendments.
Reserved seats for the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes means that only the individuals belonging to SC/ST category will represent that particular constituency. But we have a combined electorate and all the voters of the reserved constituencies vote regardless of their caste/tribe. During the elections to the Lok Sabha, the States are segregated into single-member constituencies based on the population.
All citizens of the nation above 18 years of age who have their names on the voters’ list are eligible to vote in the elections to Lok Sabha. Any Indian citizen can become a member of the Lok Sabha they have the below-mentioned qualifications:
- should be 25 years of age or above
- should affirm through an oath that they have true faith and allegiance in the Constitution and that he will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of
- must be registered as a voter in any constituency in India.
The usual tenure of Lok Sabha is 5 years. But the President, on the counsel of Council of Ministers, may dissolve it before they can complete the term. When there is a national emergency, its tenure can be prolonged for 1 year at a time. But this will not go beyond six months after the end of the emergency. There are several instances where Lok Sabha was dissolved before the end of its term.
The Speaker is the presiding officer of Lok Sabha. The members of the House elect him. They continue in the position of Speaker even after Lok Sabha is dissolved till the succeeding House selects a new Speaker in their place. If they are absent, a Deputy Speaker elected by the House supervises the meetings. The Speaker, as well as the Deputy Speaker, can be removed from their position by a resolution passed by a majority of all the then members of the Lok Sabha.
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