Everything About the Rajya Sabha
- Our Parliament comprises of the President and the two Houses—Lok Sabha (House of the People) and Rajya Sabha (Council of States).
- The origin of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) can be traced to the Montague-Chelmsford Report of 1918.
- The Government of India Act, 1919 provided for the creation of a ‘Council of State’ as a second chamber of the then legislature with a restricted franchise which actually came into existence in 1921. The Governor-General was the ex-officio President of the then Council of State.
- The Government of India Act, 1935, hardly made any changes in its composition.
- The Constituent Assembly, which first met on 9 December 1946, also acted as the Central Legislature till 1950, when it was converted as ‘Provisional Parliament’.
- During this period, the Central Legislature which was known as Constituent Assembly (Legislative) and later Provisional Parliament was unicameral till the first elections were held in 1952.
- Extensive debate took place in the Constituent Assembly regarding the utility or otherwise of a Second Chamber in Independent India and ultimately, it was decided to have a bicameral legislature for independent India mainly because a federal system was considered to be most feasible form of Government for such a vast country with immense diversities.
- A single directly elected House, in fact, was considered inadequate to meet the challenges before free India.
- A second chamber known as the ‘Council of States’, therefore, was created with altogether different composition and method of election from that of the directly elected House of the People.
- It was conceived as another Chamber, with smaller membership than the Lok Sabha (House of the People).
- It was meant to be the federal chamber i.e., a House elected by the elected members of Assemblies of the States and two Union Territories in which States were not given equal representation.
- Apart from the elected members, provision was also made for the nomination of twelve members to the House by the President.
- The minimum age of thirty years was fixed for membership as against twenty-five years for the Lower House.
- The element of dignity and prestige was added to the Council of State House by making the Vice-President of India ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha who presides over its sittings.
- Article 80 of the Constitution lays down the maximum strength of Rajya Sabha as 250, out of which 12 members are nominated by the President and 238 are representatives of the States and of the two Union Territories.
- The present strength of Rajya Sabha, however, is 245, out of which 233 are representatives of the States and Union territories of Delhi and Puducherry and 12 are nominated by the President.
- The members nominated by the President are persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service.
- The Fourth Schedule to the Constitution provides for allocation of seats to the States and Union Territories in Rajya Sabha.
- The allocation of seats is made on the basis of the population of each State.
- Consequent on the reorganization of States and formation of new States, the number of elected seats in the Rajya Sabha allotted to States and Union Territories has changed from time to time since 1952.
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