The basics of the Indian Parliamentary system

  • PTI
  • |
  • Updated: Aug 08, 2002 18:12 IST

- Suman Tarafdar

The supreme legislative body under the Indian Constitution, the Parliament, home to the representatives of the one of the world’s largest electorates, is a bicameral body. While most of the members, currently 545, are directly elected by universal adult franchise and constitute the Lok Sabha, 243 more are elected by the states and comprise the Rajya Sabha.

The first elected Parliament came intobeing in April, 1952, after the first general elections held in 1951-52. Since then, 12 Lok Sabhas have been constituted. The Rajya Sabha, being a permanent house, is not subject to dissolution.

As the top legislative body, the Parliament is responsible for providing a Cabinet and holding it responsible. Members of the council of ministers are drawn from both the houses. While the Cabinet is responsible for formulating policy, it is the Parliament that provides a forum for discussion and passing of the policy to transform it into law. 

The Parliament has a wide range of powers and functions. A primary function is making laws for the nation. For an act to become law, the Parliament has an elaborate system through which it has to pass before it becomes a law. The Parliament considers bills under two categories - Money bills and non -Money bills.

he strength of the Lok Sabha has varied from the time of the first house. The Constitution provides for not more than 530 members elected from the state and not more than 20 from the Union territories.

Each member of the Lok Sabha represents a constituency. While the boundaries of the constituencies were changed in the earlier elections, it has been frozen since 1971. Certain seats are reserved under the Constitution. 

The Parliament usually meets in three sessions in a year - Budget, Monsoon and Winter. Within each session, there are daily sittings. The sitting of a house may end by adjournment, dissolution or prorogation.

  Number of Houses: 2

Lok Sabha or House of the People

Rajya Sabha or Council of States

Rajya Sabha

Number of members: 245, of which 233 are elected and 12 nominated

Tenure: Permanent house; one-third of members retire every 2 years

Chairperson: The Vice President of India

Term of a member: 6 years

Mode of member's election: Indirect, by electoral college determined by states


Lok Sabha

Number of members: 545, of which 543 are elected and 2 nominated

Tenure: Every five years, or whenever the house is dissolved

Chairperson: The Speaker, elected from amongst its members

Term of a member: 5 years

Mode of member's election: Direct by universal adult franchise

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