In this article, we will discuss the Powers and Functions of Parliament in a simple and easy way, and try to understand its various important aspects;
So to understand well, definitely read the article till the end as well as read other related articles as well. [ Visit the given link to understand Parliament from zero level]
If Parliament is popular for one thing, it is to make laws. Of course, this is one of its main functions, but in the current politico-administrative system, apart from making laws, Parliament also performs many other important tasks. To understand its multifunctional role, its functions and powers can be classified under the following headings:-
1. Legislative powers of Parliament
2. Executive powers of Parliament
3. Financial powers of Parliament
4. Constitutional powers of Parliament
5. Judicial powers of Parliament
6. Electoral powers of Parliament
7. Other powers of Parliament
1. Legislative Functions and Powers of Parliament
As we all know the primary function of the Parliament is to make laws for the running of the country. Generally, Parliament spends 1/5th of its total time on legislative work. It has the power to make laws on the subjects of the Union List, on the residual subjects (which are not included in any of the three lists) and on the subjects of the Concurrent List. Before any law is made, it is in the form of a bill and there are four types of bills which are introduced in the Parliament-
1. Ordinary Bills – Bills relating to all subjects other than financial matters are called ordinary bills. [Click here to know more]
2. Money Bills – These bills are related to financial matters such as taxation, public expenditure etc.
3. Finance Bills – These bills also deal with financial matters but are different from money bills. [Read Money Bill and Finance Bill to know in detail]
4. Constitution Amendment Bill – The constitution is amended through this bill. [Read the process of constitutional amendment to know in detail ]
Along with this, the Constitution also empowers the Parliament to make laws on the subjects of the State List. However, this can happen under the following five unusual circumstances:-
1. When the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution for this,
2. When a national emergency is in force,
3. When two or more states make such a joint request to the Parliament,
4. When it is necessary to do so under international agreements, treaties and agreements,
5. When President’s rule is in force in the state. [Read this to understand why this happens – Parliamentary Legislation in the Territory ]
Parliament prepares the laws and authorizes the executive to make detailed rules and regulations within the framework of the same basic law. It is called delegated legislation or executive legislation or subordinate legislation. Such rules and regulations are placed before the Parliament for examination.
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2. Executive Functions and Powers of Parliament
The Constitution in India has established a parliamentary form of government. In which the executive is responsible to the Parliament for its policies and actions. That is, the executive remains in power only as long as the confidence of the Lok Sabha is there. The Lok Sabha can dissolve the government at any time by majority vote if it so desires. This means that the Council of Ministers can be removed by passing a no-confidence motion. The Lok Sabha can move a motion of lack of confidence in the government in the following manner:-
1. By not passing the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Inaugural Address,
2. By rejecting the Money Bill,
3. By passing the Condemnation Motion or Adjournment Motion,
4. Defeating the Government on an urgent policy issue,
5. Passing the Cut Motion.
Parliament usually exercises control over the executive through question hour, zero hour, half-hour discussion, short duration discussion, calling attention motion, adjournment motion, censure motion and other discussions.
The House supervises the work of the executive through its own committees like Committee on Government Assurances, Committee on Subordinate Legislation, Petitions Committee etc.
3. Financial Functions and Powers of Parliament
The executive has the right to prepare the budget, but without the consent of the parliament, the executive can neither collect any tax, nor levy any tax, nor can it spend any kind of expenditure. That is why the budget is placed before the Parliament for approval.
Through the budget, the Parliament allows the government to generate income and expenditure in the coming financial year. Apart from this, Parliament also examines and controls the expenditure of the government through various financial committees. These committees include – Public Accounts Committee, Estimates Committee and Committee on Public Undertakings. It also brings to the fore cases of illegal, irregular, invalid, unfair uses and misuse of public expenditure.
The control of the Parliament over the financial matters of the executive is possible in the following two ways:-
1. Budgetary control, which is in the form of demands for grants before the budget comes into force. and,
2. Post budgetary control , which is established through three financial committees after the demands for grants are approved.
The budget is based on the principle of annuity. In which Parliament provides money to the government to spend in a year. If the sanctioned funds are not spent by the end of the year, the rest of the money becomes ‘Chaas’ and goes to the Consolidated Fund of India. This process is called ‘Theory of Chaas‘.
This establishes effective financial control of the Parliament and no reserve fund can be created without its permission. However, this principle can lead to heavy expenditures at the end of the financial year, known as the ‘ March Rush ‘.
4. Constitutional Functions and Powers of Parliament
Under Article 368 , the Parliament is vested with the powers to amend the Constitution so that it can amend any provision in the Constitution by adding, eliminating or amending it.
Some parts of the constitution can be changed by special majority and some other parts by simple majority. This majority is decided by the members available in the Parliament. There are also some such arrangements, which can be amended only after a special majority of Parliament and the consent of about half of the state legislatures.
If we look at something together, Parliament can amend the Constitution in three ways: – 1. By simple majority, 2. By special majority and 3. By special majority, but with the approval of the legislatures of half the states.
[Read from here – What are the types of majority]
The point to be remembered here is that this power of the Parliament is not unlimited, it is subject to the basic structure of the Constitution. In other words, Parliament can amend any arrangement other than the basic structure of the Constitution. This decision was given by the Supreme Court in the Kesavananda Bharati case 1973.
5. Judicial Functions and Powers of Parliament
The following provisions come under the judicial functions and powers of the Parliament:
1. It can remove the President from office on violation of the Constitution. For this, there is a provision for impeachment in Article 61.
2. It can remove the Vice President from his office.
3. It can recommend to the President the removal of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, the Chief Election Commissioner, the Comptroller and Auditor General.
4. It can punish its members or outsiders for its contempt or breach of privilege.
6. Electoral Functions and Powers of Parliament
Parliament participates in the election of the President and elects the Vice-President. The Lok Sabha chooses its Speaker and Deputy Speaker, while the Rajya Sabha chooses the Deputy Speaker as the Chairman is the Vice-President.
Parliament also has the power to make or amend rules relating to the election of the President and the Vice-President. It can make or amend rules relating to elections to both the Houses of Parliament and the State Legislature. On this basis, Parliament has made Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election Act 1952, Representation of the People Act 1950 and Representation of the People Act 1951 etc.
7. Other Powers of Parliament
Right to get information – Information is of great importance to the Parliament. Although Parliament receives information from various sources in many ways, but since the government is the biggest source of information, Parliament and its members have to depend on government departments for their needs of information.
However, it is the duty of the government itself to provide complete, accurate and clear information to the Parliament on time. The government also places information on the table of the Parliament through the question-and-answer system of Parliament.
Resolving conflicts and ensuring national unity – Conflict of ideas and interests is a natural aspect of human life. Parliamentary democracy is considered to be a better and more civilized system of governance because the conflicts arising out of conflicts are replaced by debates and discussions in the Parliament. This brings to light the tension and dissatisfaction within the society and makes it easier to compromise due to parliamentary rules and procedures.
Recruitment and Training – Parliament acts as a national reserve of talent from which political leaders emerge. While working on various parliamentary committees, members acquire considerable knowledge and expertise in specific areas and they usually prove to be capable ministers.
Apart from this, there are many other functions and powers of the Parliament, such as
1. It is the highest unit of deliberation in the country. It debates on issues of national and international importance.
2. It recommends all three types of emergency.
3. It can abolish or constitute the Legislative Council with the approval of the State Legislative Assembly concerned.
4. It can change the area, boundary and name of the states.
5. It regulates the constitution and jurisdiction of the Supreme and High Courts and can establish common courts between two or more states.