Parliament of India
Parliament is the supreme legislative body of India. The Indian Parliament comprises of the President and the two Houses - Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and Lok Sabha (House of the People). The President has the power to summon and prorogue either House of Parliament or to dissolve Lok Sabha. The Constitution of India came into force on January 26, 1950. The first general elections under the new Constitution were held during the year 1951-52 and the first elected Parliament came into existence in April, 1952, the Second Lok Sabha in April, 1957, the Third Lok Sabha in April, 1962, the Fourth Lok Sabha in March, 1967, the Fifth Lok Sabha in March, 1971, the Sixth Lok Sabha in March, 1977, the Seventh Lok Sabha in January, 1980, the Eighth Lok Sabha in December, 1984, the Ninth Lok Sabha in December, 1989, the Tenth Lok Sabha in June, 1991, the Eleventh Lok Sabha in May, 1996, the Twelfth Lok Sabha in March, 1998, Thirteenth Lok Sabha in October, 1999, Fourteenth Lok Sabha in May, 2004, Fifteenth Lok Sabha in April, 2009 and Sixteenth Lok Sabha in May, 2014.
Architecture of Parliament of India
The parliament is one of the most magnificent buildings in New Delhi. It was designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, who were responsible for planning and construction of New Delhi. The construction of buildings took six years and the opening ceremony was performed on 18 January 1927 by the then Governor-General of India, Lord Irwin. The construction costs for the building were Rs. 8.3 million. The parliament is 570 feet (170 meters) in diameter. It covers an area of nearly six acres. The building has twelve gates among which Gate No. 1 on the Sansad Marg is the main gate.
General layout of the building -
The centre and the focus of the building is the Central Hall. It consists of chambers of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the Library Hall and between them lie garden courts. Surrounding these three chambers is the four storyed circular structure providing accommodations for Ministers, Chairmen, Parliamentary committees, Party offices, important offices of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Secretariats and also the offices of the ministry of Parliamentary affairs. The Central Hall is circular in shape and the dome is 98 feet (29.87 meters) in diameter. It is a place of historical importance. The Indian Constitution was framed in the Central Hall. The Central Hall was originally used in the library of erstwhile Central Legislative Assembly and the Council of States. In 1946, it was converted and refurbished into Constituent Assembly Hall. At present, the Central Hall is used for holding joint sittings of both the houses of parliament and also used for address by the President in the commencement of first session after each general election.
The Parliament consists of the President of Republic of India and both the Chambers. The House and the Council are equal partners in the legislative process; however, the Constitution grants the House of People some unique powers. Revenue-raising or "Money" bills must originate in the Lok Sabha. The Council of States can only make recommendations suggestions over these bills to the House, within a period of fourteen days – lapse of which the bill is assumed to have been passed by both the Chambers.
Session of parliament
The period during which the House meets to conduct its business is called a session. The Constitution empowers the President to summon each House at such intervals that there should not be more than 6-month's gap between the two sessions. Hence the Parliament must meet at least twice a year. In India, the parliament conducts three sessions each year-
Parliamentary committees play a vital role in the Parliamentary System. They create a vibrant link between the Parliament, the Executive and the general public.
The need for committees arises out of two factors – the first one being the need for vigilance on the part of the Legislature over the actions of the Executive, while the second one is that the modern Legislature these days is over-burdened with heavy volume of work with limited time at its disposal. It thus becomes impossible that every matter should be thoroughly and systematically scrutinized and considered on the floor of the House. If the work is to be done with reasonable care, some Parliamentary responsibility has to be entrusted to an agency in which the whole House has confidence. Entrusting certain functions of the House to the Committees has, therefore, become a normal practice. This has become all the more necessary, as a Committee provides the expertise on a matter which is referred to it.
In a committee, the matter is deliberated at length, views are expressed freely, the matter is considered in depth, in a business-like manner and in a calm atmosphere. In most of the Committees, public is directly or indirectly associated when memoranda containing suggestions and are received, on-the-spot studies are conducted and oral evidence is taken which helps the Committees in arriving at the conclusions. Parliamentary committees are of two kinds: ad hoc committees and the standing committees. The most powerful committee is the public accounts committee, which is headed by the leader of the opposition.
There are standing committees in the Indian Parliament. Each house of Parliament has standing committees like the Business Advisory Committee, the Committee on Petitions, the Committee of Privileges and the Rules Committee, etc.
Standing committees are permanent regular committees which are constituted from time to time in pursuance of the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Parliament. The work of these committees is of a continuing nature. The Financial Committees, DRSCs and some other committees are standing committees.
Ad hoc committees
Ad hoc committees are appointed for a specific purpose and they cease to exist when they finish the task assigned to them and submit a report. The principal ad hoc committees are the Select and Joint Committees on Bills. Others like the Railway Convention Committee, the Committees on the Draft Five Year Plans and the Hindi Equivalents Committee were appointed for specific purposes. Joint Committee on Food Management in Parliament House Complex etc. also come under the category of ad hoc committees.