Difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha: The Parliament of India is the foremost law-making body in the country. It consists of two houses: Lok Sabha – the lower house, and Rajya Sabha – the upper house. Both houses have similar roles, i.e. passing laws, resolutions and constitutional amendments. However, there are also a plethora of differences between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Questions relating to the similarities and differences between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are frequently asked in various competitive exams such as UPSC, PCS, NET (Political Science), etc. Thus, this article discusses the Difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in detail.
Overview of the Indian Parliamentary System
India follows a Parliamentary form of government both at the central and state level, as laid out in Articles 74 and 75 (w.r.t. the Union) and Articles 163 and 164 (w.r.t. the States). The system is borrowed from the Westminister System. The government in this system consists of a Cabinet responsible to the Parliament which is headed by the Prime Minister. The system is also often referred to as the Prime Ministerial System as the Prime Minister is the real executive. The government is nominally headed by the President who is elected by the MPs and MLAs of various states.
In this system, the States (or Provinces) are nominally headed by a Governor who is appointed by the President upon being recommended by the cabinet. The real executive power lies with the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers. They are responsible to the State Legislature of the Vidhan Sabha.
Difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha
See the list below to know the difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha
1) Election of Members
This is a major Difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Lok Sabha is the lower house of the Parliament; hence it is elected directly by the people of a constituency. The Member of Parliament of Lok Sabha is thus responsible to the people of her/his constituency. An MP of Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, is elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of the State (MLAs) according to the system of proportional representation. In addition to that, 12 MPs of the Rajya Sabha are nominated by the President for their services to the nation in various fields such as Education, Social Service, Sports etc. Rajya Sabha hence acts as a deliberative body to deliberate over any hastily passed bill from the Lok Sabha.
Another Difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha relates to the strength of both houses. The strength of the Lok Sabha currently stands at 543. The strength was fixed by the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976, freezing it to the number in accordance with the 1971 Census for 25 years. Further, the 84th Amendment of 2002 further fixed it to the same number for another 25 years. Until 2020, the strength of the Lok Sabha was 545. In 2019, the 104th Constitutional Amendment Act removed the requirement, reducing the strength to 543.
The Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, has a strength of 250 members. Out of these, 238 are elected by the Legislative Assemblies and the rest 12 members are nominated by the President. Due to the larger strength of Lok Sabha, the lower house gets an additional advantage at joint sittings of the parliament.
There is a slight difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members when it comes to their term of office. The MPs of Lok Sabha are elected for a term of five years. Thus an MP of Lok Sabha can serve a maximum term length of five years given that the Lok Sabha is not dissolved during its term. An MP of Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, serves for a period of six years. Moreover, the Rajya Sabha is a permanent house, which means that an MP of Rajya Sabha shall continue to serve his term until she/he resigns. However, one-third of its members retire every second year and are then eligible for re-election.
Moreover, during the time when National Emergency is in place, the term of Lok Sabha can be extended for one year at a time, for any number of times.
The Difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha is perhaps most pronounced in the person who is in charge of the house. The proceedings of the lower chamber are presided by its Speaker. The Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha are elected by the MPs of the house from amongst themselves. Usually, the Speaker belongs to the ruling party. In Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, the Vice President of India is its ex-officio Chairman. She/He presides over the proceedings of the house and in her/his absence, the Deputy Chairman – who is elected by the members themselves amongst them- assumes its role.
The Difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha with respect to powers enjoyed are quite pronounced. Two scenarios emerge: when Lok Sabha has special powers not enjoyed by the Rajya Sabha and when Rajya Sabha has special powers not enjoyed by the Lok Sabha. Both scenarios are discussed in detail
Special Powers of Lok Sabha
The Special Powers of the Lok Sabha are as follows:
(i) The Lok Sabha, being directly elected by the people, is the only house in which a No-confidence Motion against the government of the day can be introduced. The Rajya Sabha has absolutely no power in this respect. Neither does it have the power to remove a Minister through a No-confidence motion. This is a major difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members.
(ii) Another major Difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha is that the Lok Sabha has all the power related to the Budget. The Budget is presented and voted in the Lok Sabhaonly. Rajya Sabha can debate and suggest recommendations to the budget but cannot vote on it. The Upper House also can not vote on a demand for grants in the budget.
(iii) The Rajya Sabha also has no power over the Money Bills. The Money Bill is presented only in the Lok Sabha. The authority to decide whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not also lies with the Speaker of Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha can debate and discuss the bill, and provide recommendations, but cannot amend or reject it. The Bill must be returned to the Lok Sabha within 14 days with or without recommendations.
(iv) The Finance Bill, pertaining to Article 110 of the Constitution, can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha. However, the voting powers on Finance Bills are the same for both houses.
(v) The Difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha also pertains to the committees under them. In the case of a Joint Sitting of the Parliament, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha presides over the session. In case of his absence, the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha and in his absence, the Deputy Speaker of Rajya Sabha presides over the session. The Chairman of Rajya Sabha (i.e. The Vice President of India) never presides over the session. The rules and procedures of the proceedings are in accordance with that of Lok Sabha and not Rajya Sabha. Moreover, if a bill is introduced in the Joint Sitting, the Lok Sabha, owing to its numerical superiority (with its strength being more than double that of the upper house), is at an advantage.
(vi) Only the Lok Sabha has the power to pass a resolution demanding cessation of National Emergency.
(vii) All the members of the Estimates Committee (a major Financial Committee of the Parliament) are from Lok Sabha.
(viii) Committees that come under the Lok Sabha are Committee on Agriculture, Committee on Information Technology, Committee on Defence, Committee on Energy, Committee on External Affairs, Committee on Finance, Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution, Committee on Labour, Committee on Petroleum & Natural Gas, Committee on Railways, Committee on Urban Development, Committee on Water Resources, Committee on Chemicals & Fertilizers, Committee on Rural Development, Committee on Coal & Steel and Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment.
Special Powers of Rajya Sabha
The Special Powers of the Rajya Sabha are as follows:
(i) The removal of the Vice President of India can only be initiated from the Rajya Sabha. If initiated, the Vice President can only be removed from office with an effective majority in the Rajya Sabha followed by a simple majority in the Lok Sabha. This is also a major difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
(ii) Using Article 312 of the Constitution, the Rajya Sabha can authorise the Parliament to create an All-India Service for both the Union and the Provinces.
(iii) The Rajya Sabha can authorise the Parliament to make a law enumerated in the State List
(iv) If the Lok Sabha remains dissolved during the imposition of a National Emergency, President’s Rule, or Financial Emergency, the proclamation can be effective if it is passed by Rajya Sabha.
(v) Committees that come under the Rajya Sabha are Committee on Commerce, Committee on Home Affairs, Committee on Human Resource Development, Committee on Industry, Committee on Transport, Tourism & Culture, Committee on Science, Technology, Environment & Forests, Environment & Forests Health Family Welfare and Environment & Forests Personnel, Public Grievances, Law & Justice.
The position of the Rajya Sabha is criticised by critics for being too weak. However, the upper chamber has many powers equal to that of the lower house. The powers that are lacking in the Rajya Sabha pertain to financial matters and the confidence that the Parliament has in the Prime Minister and/or its Council of Ministers.
Except for the above differences, the power, responsibilities, privileges, etc. of members of both the houses are same. Both houses, for instance, have equal power for removing the President, and Supreme Court and High Court Justices, introduction of bills, approval of emergencies, etc.
We expect that you might have understood the Difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
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