Rajya Sabha: Eligibility, Functions, Elections

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Rajya Sabha

Rajya Sabha is one of the most prominent functioning bodies of the Indian Parliament. Also known as the Upper House of the nation, the Rajya Sabha along with the Lok Sabha and the President of India works collectively towards the smooth functioning of the country. Moreover, the Upper House consists of its own set of rules which are followed by all the elected members. Additionally, to understand the functioning of the Parliament of India or to crack any competitive exams, it is necessary to get a hold of the functioning of this House of Parliament. Let’s understand the functions and importance of Rajya Sabha with this blog!

Note: Rajya Sabha is referred to as RS in some places in this article.

What is Rajya Sabha?

Rajya Sabha or ‘Council of States’ is the upper house of the Indian Parliament.

  • The Montague- Chelmsford Report 1918 Records the establishment of RS for the first time in the year 1921.
  • After independence, RS was convened for the first time in 1952.
  • As per the 80th article of the Indian Constitution, the maximum strength of Rajya Sabha is 250 members of which 238 members will be representing the States. Whereas Union Territories will be represented by 12 nominated members by the president.
  • Rajya Sabha is a permanent body which is independent of dissolution. Out of all the members, 1/3rd members retire after every two years and are replaced by new members. 

Out of the total seats in RS, Uttar Pradesh (31), Maharashtra (19) and Tamil Nadu (18) have the maximum number of seats in Rajya Sabha whereas union territories like Delhi (3) and Pondicherry (1) have the least number of seats.

  • The term of each member in RS is 6 years.
  • The entire house together elects the Deputy Chairman amongst all the members whereas there is a special panel which works for the selection of vice-chairman in RS. 
  • The Vice President of India is known as the ex-officio Chairman of RS. 

Eligibility to Become a Member of Rajya Sabha 

Now that we have understood what is Rajya Sabha and various important details about it, let us now take a look at what is necessary for one to become a member of RS. As stated in the 84th article of the Constitution, the necessary details for becoming a member of  RS are:  

  • The person must be a citizen of India.
  • And we can subscribe before a person authorised on that behalf by the Election Commission an oath or affirmation as per the set format of the purpose in the 3rd Schedule to the Indian Constitution.
  • Candidate must not be less than 30 years of age
  • Candidate must possess such qualifications as described in that behalf by or under the law made by the parliament

How are Rajya Sabha Members Elected?

All the Rajya Sabha members are elected by the method of Proportional Representation through the elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies. Moreover, here candidates must note that the representation of states in RS is not equal. It mainly depends on the population of the area. 

Elections in Rajya Sabha

There are 3 Types of Representations through which elections can be organised in Rajya Sabha. Let us understand them one by one:

Representation of States

  • The members of a particular state are elected by the elected members of State Legislative Assemblies.
  • Only proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote is used.
  • To decide Rajya Sabha seats State-wise, the population of the state is put into consideration.

Representation of Union Territories

  • Those who belong to the Union Territories are indirectly elected by the members of the Electoral College to get selected as a member of the Rajya Sabha 
  • Only the proportional representation by the means of a single transferable vote is used

Representation of Nominated Members

The President of India nominates 12 members of Rajya Sabha as per their influential contribution in diverse fields. Popular fields put into consideration are:

  •  Literature
  •  Science
  •  Social Science
  •  Art

Powers of Rajya Sabha

Being an important functioning body of the Indian Parliament, RS possesses a bunch of powers for its regulation such as financial powers, executive powers, legislative powers and so on. It is important to understand these powers in detail so that candidates can ace this topic for their scholastic and competitive exams. 

Legislative Powers

Legislative powers of the Rajya Sabha are given below-

  • When it comes to ordinary law-making, RS enjoys equal powers as Lok Sabha. 
  • An ordinary bill can be introduced in RS but it cannot become a law until it is passed by the authority
  • Whenever the members of Rajya Sabha are not able to achieve a particular decision over a bill and it remains pending for 6 months. Then the president will organise a joint sitting for both the Houses so that they can come to a conclusion
  • This sitting is led by the speaker of Lok Sabha. If both the Houses can come to a conclusion during the drying sitting, then, the bill is forwarded to the president for final signatures but if they are unable to do so the bill is declared to be killed. 

Executive Powers

The executive powers of Rajya Sabha-

  • Unlike Lok Sabha, RS can not cause the fall of the Council of Ministers by granting a vote of no confidence
  • RS members can not remove the Council of Ministers from their office but they can cross-question their functioning.  This can be done by criticizing the policy made by them, asking supplementary questions, etc.  

Financial Powers 

Here are the financial powers of Rajya Sabha-

  • Rajya Sabha is not that powerful when it comes to drafting decisions in terms of financial bills. The Financial bill made in Lok Sabha is only presented in RS for consideration. 
  • Even if RS does not approve of the bill in a period of 14 days. The bill is further promoted to Parliament irrespective of Rajya Sabha decision. 
  • On the other hand,  if RS proposes some changes in the bill; then,  the bell goes back to Lok Sabha and it is up to this authority that they want to consider the amendments or not. 

Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha 

The Vice President of India is the ex officio Chairman of RS whereas the Deputy Chairman of the house is selected among the members of RS. Tabulated below are the basic details pertaining to the role of chairman as well as Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha-

Category Chairman Deputy Chairman
Role He or she presided the upper house– He takes over the upper house whenever
– The seat of the chairman false vacant
– The chairman is absent from the sitting
– Chairman or vice
– Chairman has to act as president
Removal The chairman can be removed from the seat only when he or she is being removed as the Vice President of India The Deputy Chairman can be removed when a resolution by a majority of RS members is passed
Membership in the HouseNoYes
In House VotingChairman is not permitted to vote in the first instanceWhenever he or she is proceeding as a chairman,  he/she can vote In the first instance but can only exercise casting vote in  a situation of a tie
SalaryFixed by parliamentFixed by parliament

Can Rajya Sabha get Dissolved? 

The answer to this question will be no.  RS is a permanent body that is also known as a continuing chamber which means that it cannot be dissolved. RS has no specific term for tenure for its renewal.  It is the Lok Sabha that is renewed every five years through fresh elections but Rajya Sabha continues to run without any interruption. Thus,  we can say that RS never dissolves. Here students must know that every second year, one-third of the members of Rajya Sabha retires so that fresh members can join true elections. 

Practice Questions

Now that we have thoroughly understood what is Rajya Sabha and its major role in the Indian government,  let us now go through some questions-

  1.  Who is the leader of RS?
  2. List two qualifications of members of RS.
  3. What is the role of RS when it comes to passing a money bill?
  4. Name the principle of election of RS.
  5. Who is known as the ex officio Chairman of RS?
  6.  Which state has the maximum number of seats allocated in RS?
  7.  How many members are nominated by the president in RS?
  8. What is the minimum prescribed age to become a member of RS?
  9. RS was first convened in the year?
  10.  What is the maximum term of an elected member in RS?

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