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The Importance of Parliament

  • Last Updated : 23 Dec, 2021

The legislative wing of a government is headed by the Parliament. It is the pivot of any democratic country, in it rests the interests of the citizens of the country. A Parliament entitles its citizens to participate in the decision-making process of the government and offers them the instrument to control the government. It is a representative institution. Parliaments can be classified as bicameral or unicameral, and as ‘active’ or ‘deliberative’ based on the system of governance in a country.

The Indian Parliament is bicameral in the structure; it consists of the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and the President of India (Article 79). The Indian Parliament is an articulation of the belief that the people of India have in the principles of democracy. The Parliament in our country has been bestowed with immense powers, as it is the representative of the people.

The Constitution of India has empowered the Parliament of India with several functions in Chapter II of Part V which can be grouped under the following heads:

A. Legislative Functions:

Union List and Concurrent List

  • The Parliament has the authority to legislate on all matters mentioned in the Union List and Concurrent List. In the Concurrent List, the matters that involve joint jurisdiction of both the center and the state, the Union law prevails over the State law.
  • However, the state law may prevail if they have received prior Presidential assent to that law earlier, but the Parliament has the power to amend, repeal any law made by the State legislature.

State List

  • The Union Parliament can make laws on matters in the state list when an emergency is imposed in a particular state or the state is placed under President’s Rule (Article 356).
  • The Parliament is also empowered to make laws in the state list if the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution by a 2/3rd majority of members present and voting that a particular matter in the state list is of national interest (Article 249).
  • It can also make laws on the state list if it is required for the implementation of international treaties with foreign powers (Article 253)
  • The Parliament can make laws on matters in the state list if the legislatures of two or more states pass a resolution in favor of a matter stated in the state list on which they want parliamentary attention, thereby empowering the Parliament to make laws on the concerned subject. (Article 252).

B. Executive Functions:

In a parliamentary form of governance, the executive is accountable to the legislature and the legislature has also been given many instruments by the constitution through which it can fulfill this duty effectively.

  • No confidence motion: The Parliament can remove a cabinet by expressing a loss of confidence in the government in power. They can do so by rejecting a budget proposal or any bill introduced by the Cabinet.
  • Adjournment motion: This motion can only be introduced only in the Lok Sabha, and to make the House consider a matter of urgent public importance, it must be ensured that the matter must be definite, factual, urgent and of public importance. It is an extraordinary tool in the hands of the Parliament as it disrupts the normal business of the House.
  • Censure Motion: A censure motion is initiated only in the Lok Sabha, it is moved to censure the council of ministers for specific policies and actions by the opposition party members of the House. After a censure motion has been moved the government has to seek the confidence of the House.
  • Cut Motion: This is also a special power that can be used to oppose any demand in a financial bill introduced by the government. It also results in a no-confidence motion where a government is obliged to prove its majority in the lower house failing to do which results in the government resigning from its position of power.

C. Financial Functions:

The parliament of India has also been given a major share of responsibility and power by the constitution. It is the final authority in respect of finances. The executive cannot spend a shelling without prior parliamentary approval.

  • The Union Budget, which is prepared by the Cabinet, is submitted before the Parliament for its approval.
  • There are also two important Parliamentary standing committees (Public Accounts Committee and Estimates Committee) who exercise effective control over the executive in respect of the rightful spending of finances allotted by the Parliament.

D. Amending Powers:

The Parliament is also granted amending powers under the Constitution (Article 368). Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have equal powers with respect to amending the Constitution of India. An amendment proposal initiated in one house should be passed by the other House as well to be effective.

E. Electoral Powers:

The Parliament takes part in the election process of the President and the Vice President, the Electoral College consists of elected members of both the Houses of the Parliament.  

F. Judicial Functions:

  • The Parliament has been empowered with punishing powers against members of the House who disobey the rules. While, the power of the Parliament, to punish its members is not generally subject to judicial review.
  • The Parliament also has important powers to impeach the President, the Vice President, the judges of the Supreme Court, the High Court, and the Auditor General of India etc.

A Parliament is often referred to as a nation in miniature; it is the basis of democracy in a Parliamentary form of government. The Parliament provides representation to the people of the country and makes their voices heard. They also act as an effective check against the arbitration of the executive through the varied functions granted to it by the Constitution of India. Without a Parliament, a democracy cannot thrive; every democratic country needs a Parliament for the smooth conduct of its governance and to give meaning to democracy in the true sense.

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