Rajya Sabha


Membership and Election—

Rajya Sabha or the Upper House of the Parliament is a permanent body as it cannot be dissolved.

The membership of the Rajya Sabha cannot exceed 250.

At present its total membership is 245.

Of these, 229 members represent the states, 4 members represent the union territories and 12 members on the basis of their excellence in literature, science, art and social service are nominated by the president.

Rajya Sabha is the body representing States in Indian Union.

The elected members of the States’ Legislative Assemblies elect the members of the Rajya Sabha on the basis of proportional representation through the single transferable vote system.

But all the States do not send equal number of members to the Rajya Sabha.

Their representation is decided on the basis of population of respective States.

Thus the bigger State gets bigger representation and the smaller ones have lesser representation.

While the big State like UP has been assigned 31 seats, the smaller states like Sikkim and Tripura send only one member each.

Delhi Assembly elects three members of Rajya Sabha and Pondichery sends one member.

Other Union Territories are not represented in the Rajya Sabha.

 

Qualifications—

The qualifications for becoming a Rajya Sabha member are as follows:

[1] He/she should be a citizen of India and at least 30 years of age.

[2] He/she should make an oath or affirmation stating that he will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India.

[3] Thus according to the Representation of People Act 1951, he/she should be registered as a voter in the State from which he is seeking election to the Rajya Sabha.

But in 2003, two provisions have been made regarding the elections to Rajya Sabha-

(1) Any Indian citizen can contest the Rajya Sabha elections irrespective of the State in which he resides; (2) elections are to be conducted through open voting system.

Tenure—

The Constitution has not fixed the term of office of members of the Rajya Sabha and left it to the Parliament.

Accordingly, the Parliament in the Representation of the People Act (1951) provided that the term of office of a member of the Rajya Sabha shall be six years.

The act also empowered the president of India to curtail the term of members chosen in the first Rajya Sabha.

The act also authorised the President to make provisions to govern the order of retirement of the members of the Rajya Sabha.

One-third of its members retire after every two years.

They are entitled to contest again for the membership.

But a member elected against a mid-term vacancy serves the remaining period only.

This system of election ensures continuity in the working of Rajya Sabha.

 

Chairman of Rajya Sabha—

The presiding officer of the Rajya Sabha is known as the Chairman.

The vice-president of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

During any period when the Vice-President acts as President or discharges the functions of the President, he/she does not perform the duties of the office of the Chairman of Rajya Sabha.

During any period when the Vice-President acts as President or discharges the functions of the President, he is not entitled to any salary or allowance payable to the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. But he is paid the salary and allowance of the President during such a time.

In his/her absence the Deputy Chairman, who is elected by its members from amongst themselves, presides over the meeting of the House.

The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha can be removed from his office only if he/she is removed from the office of the Vice-President.

The Vice-President cannot preside over a sitting of the Rajya Sabha as its Chairman when a resolution for his/her removal is under consideration.

As the Vice-President is an ex-officio Chairman and not a member of Rajya Sabha, he/she is normally not entitled to vote.

He/she can vote only in case of a tie.

The salaries and allowances of the Chairman are also fixed by the Parliament. They are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India and thus are not subject to the annual vote of Parliament.

 

 

Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha—

The Deputy Chairman is elected by the Rajya Sabha itself from amongst its members.

Whenever the office of the Deputy Chairman falls vacant, the Rajya Sabha elects another member to fill the vacancy.

The Deputy Chairman vacates his office in any of the following three cases:

[1] If he/she ceases to be a member of the Rajya Sabha;

[2] If he/she resigns by writing to the Chairman; and

[3] If he/she is removed by a resolution passed by a majority of all the members of the Rajya Sabha.

Such a resolution can be moved only after giving 14 days advance notice.

The Deputy Chairman performs the duties of the Chairman’s office when it is vacant or when the Vice-President acts as President or discharges the functions of the President.

He/she is directly responsible to the Rajya Sabha.

While presiding over the House, he/she cannot vote in the first instance; he/she can only exercise a casting vote in the case of a tie.

When a resolution for the removal of the Deputy Chairman is under consideration of the House, he/she cannot preside over a sitting of the House, though he may be present.

He/she is entitled to a regular salary and allowance. They are fixed by Parliament and are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.

 

Special Powers of Rajya Sabha—

The Rajya Sabha has been given two exclusive powers that are not enjoyed by the Lok Sabha:

It can authorise the Parliament to make a law on a subject enumerated in the State List (Article 249).

It can authorise the Parliament to create new All-India Services common to both the Centre and states (Article 312).