RAJYA SABHA – Members, Chairman and Deputy Chairman
- The Rajya Sabha (RS) is also called ‘Council of States’ (as consist of representatives of different states/UTs at union level) or ‘Upper House’ (Generally consist of most experienced members of political parties) or ‘Second Chamber’ (members are not directly elected) of the Parliament.
- The maximum strength of Rajya Sabha is fixed at 250 and 238 out of it is indirectly elected by electoral college consist of elected members of LA of state/UT by way of proportional representation and remaining 12 are nominated by President from area Art, Literature, Science and social service. At present RS consist of 245 members (States – 229, UT – 4, Nominated -12).
- The Rajya Sabha is a continuous chamber (permanent body) and can’t be dissolved. But after every 2 yrs, 1/3rd of its member retire and seats filled by fresh election. The term of office of a member of Rajya Sabha is 6yrs.
Membership of Rajya Sabha
- Minimum Age – 30 yrs; Citizen of India;
- Any other qualification as prescribed by Parliament such as registered as an elector and member of SC/ST if contesting election from reserved seats of SC/STs.
- If holds any office of profit under Govt of India or under Govt of any state/UT (other than office exempted by Parliament such as a Minister);
- If he is of unsound mind and he is an undischarged solvent;
- Any other prescribed by Parliament in any law such as convicted for an offence of punishment more than 2 yrs, dismissed in any corruption or disloyalty case while holding govt office etc.
- Anti Defection Law – a) An independent elected member joins any political party; b) Voted against decision of his party; c) Give up membership of political party from whose ticket contest and won election; d) Any nominated member joins political party after expiry of 6 months.
- The question of disqualification of a member is decided by President and his decision is final except disqualification on provisions of anti defection law which is decided by Chairman of Rajya Sabha and decision is final. In 1992, the SC held that decision of Speaker is subjected to judicial review.
- Vacancy – If member disqualifies or resigns or remains absent for a period of 60days from all meetings of the house without permission of house then house may declare his seats vacant.
Chairman of RS
- The Vice President of India is Ex-officio chairman of Rajya Sabha.
- The Chairman of Rajya Sabha can be removed from office if he is removed from office of Vice President.
- Unlike Speaker of LS, he is not a member of the House (Rajya Sabha).
- Powers – The Chairman has same powers & functions as of Speaker of LS in their respective house but the only difference in powers are as follows:-
- The Speaker of LS preside over joint sitting of both houses;
- The Speaker of LS decides whether a bill is Money bill or not;
Deputy Chairman of RS
- The Deputy Chairman is elected by Rajya Sabha from amongst its members.
- The Deputy Chairman office may vacate his office if cease to be member of RS or resigns or removed by resolution passed by absolute majority of Rajya Sabha with giving 14 days prior notice to him.
- He performs duties of Chairman in his absence or when office fall vacant and enjoys such powers as conferred by virtue of office of Chairman of Rajya Sabha.
- As a Deputy Chairman, he is not a subordinate to Chairman but directly responsible to Rajya Sabha.
Panel of Vice Chairpersons of RS
- The Chairman nominates a Panel of Vice Chairpersons amongst member of Rajya Sabha. Any of them can preside over sitting of house only in absence of Chairman and Deputy Chairman.
- They can’t preside over house when office of Chairman/deputy Chairman is vacant. In that case, President can appoint any member to preside over house.
Special Powers of RS
Rajya Sabha being a federal chamber (as consists of representatives of States and UTs) enjoys certain special powers under the Constitution and these are:-
- State List – The Parliament is not empowered to make law on State list of 7th Schedule. But if Rajya Sabha passes a resolution by special majority (>2/3rd of members present & voting), saying that necessary in National Interest, then Parliament is empowered to make law on State list for whole or any part of India and this will remain in force for 1 year (can be extended by same resolution).
- All India Service – If Rajya Sabha passes a resolution by a majority of not less than 2/3rd of the members present and voting, by declaring necessary in the national interest to create one or more All India Services common to the Union and the States, Parliament becomes empowered to create by law such services.
- Emergency – if proclamation by President is done at time when LS has dissolved or dissolution take place during period of approval then proclamation remain effective if resolution passed by Rajya Sabha within period as specified under Article 352, 356 and 360.