What are the powers and functions of Rajya Sabha?

I is bicameral. It has two chambers Lok Sabha & Rajyasabha. The Members of the Lok Sabha are directly elected by the people. The members of the Rajyasabha are elected by the members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States.

World of an Indian cartoonist!: Parliament deadlock continues...

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According to the constitution the maximum strength of the Rajyasabha has been put at 250 members. Out of 250 members 12 members are nominated by the President. These members shall consist of person having special knowledge or practical experience in Literature, Science, and Art & Social Science. The remaining 238 members represent the States & the Union Territories. The representatives of the States are elected by the elected members of their Legislative Assemblies in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. In the case of Union territories members are chosen in such a manner as Parliament may by law determine.


Though the Indian constitution establishes a federal polity, yet the federating units have not been given equal representation in the Rajyasabha. Representation of the States is on the basis of population.


The Rajyasabha is a permanent House but the tenure of the members is for six years. In every two years 2/3rd members retire.



(i) S/he must be a citizen of India.

(ii) S/he must have completed 30 years of age.

(iii) S/he must possess such other qualifications as Parliament may by law prescribe. By the Representation of the People Act 1957 a candidate for election to the Rajyasabha must be a Parliamentary elector in the State from which he seeks election.

(iv) S/he must not be mad or holding office of profit.


Chairman & Deputy Chairman of the Rajyasabha

Like the Vice – President of U.S.A the Indian Vice-President is also the ex-officio Chairman of the Upper House.

The Rajyasabha elects a Deputy Chairman from among its own members & he presides in the absence of the Chairman or during the period when the Vice-President is discharging the function of the President. The Deputy Chairman is a member of the Rajyasabha & he is to vacate the office if he ceases to be its member. The Deputy Chairman can be removed from the office if the Rajyasabha passes a resolution by an absolute majority of the total membership. But no resolution for the removal of the Deputy Chairman can be moved unless fourteen days notice has been given to that effect.


According to 42 Amendment until Parliament by law otherwise provides the quorum to constitute a meeting of either House of Parliament is one tenth of the total number of members of the House. If at any time during a meeting of a House there is no quorum, it is the duty of the Chairman either to adjourn the House or to suspend the meeting until there is quorum.

Powers of Rajya Sabha

(1) Legislative Powers

The Rajyasabha is an integral part of the Indian Parliament. Since the main responsibility of the Parliament is to make laws hence the Rajyasabha takes part in the making of laws except Money Bill all Bills can originate in the Rajyasabha. No Bill can become a law unless agreed to by both the Houses. At the time of joint sitting the Speaker of the Lok Sabha presides. The Lok Sabha by itself cannot pass a Bill & send it to the President for his assent. In case of discouragement between the two Houses on a Bill or on the amendments made in the Bill, President has been empowered to summon a joint meeting of the two Houses for the purpose of deliberating & voting on the Bills. At a joint sitting question are decided by a majority of the members of both Houses present & voting. A decision taken at a joint sitting shall mean the decision of both Houses.

Financial Powers

In financial matters it is the Lok Sabha which enjoys a pre-eminent position. The Rajyasabha has not been given by substantial power with regard to finance. No Money Bill & Financial Bill can first be introduced in the Rajyasabha. It is the privilege of the Lok Sabha to pass the Money Bill first & send it to the Rajyasabha. For its recommendation it should be noted that the Bill is transmitted to the Rajyasabha for its recommendation and not for its approval. Under Art 109 the powers of the Rajyasabha have been limited. At best the House can detain the Bill for 14 days. In total the Lok Sabha passes complete control over the purse of the nation.

Control over Executive

The Rajyasabha does not control the Executive as the constitution makes the Council of Minister collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. But this does not mean that the Rajyasabha can exert no influence over the Executive. Some of the Ministers are taken from the Rajyasabha. The members of the Rajyasabha have the right to ask questions & supplementary questions from the Ministers. They elicit information about the actions of Government & can move resolutions impressing on the Government the desirability of pursuing a particular line of polity.

Judicial Powers

Like the Upper House in other countries Rajyasabha has also been vested with some judicial functions. President can be removed from office by the process of impeachment A resolution to impeach the President may be moved in any House of Parliament. Such a resolution has to be passed by both the Houses separate by at least 2/3rd majority of the total membership of the House. Clearly the Rajyasabha enjoys co-equal powers with the Lok Sabha in the process of impeachment of the President. In the removal of the Vice-President a resolution to that effect can be moved in the Rajyasabha only. But the Lok Sabha must agree with that resolution if the Vice-President is to be removed from the office. Likewise it has identical powers with the Lok Sabha in the matter of removal of a judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court.

Constituent Powers

The Rajyasabha exercises constituent functions along with the Lok Sabha. A Bill to amend the constitution may originate in either House of Parliament. And the Bill amending the constitution is required to be passed in each House by a majority of its total membership and by a majority of two third of its members present & voting. The constitution is silent on how to remove a deadlock between the two Houses.

Miscellaneous Powers

(i) The elected members of the Rajyasabha take part in the election of the President.

(ii) All the members of the Rajyasabha take part in the election of the Vice-President.

(iii) The reports of all the commissions appointed by the President are considered both by the Rajyasabha & the Lok Sabha.

(iv) The approval of the Rajyasabha is necessary for the continuance of the proclamation of emergency beyond a period of one month.

(v) In granting amnesty the Rajyasabha has equal power with the Lok Sabha.

Position of the Rajyasabha

After having an analyzing of the powers of the Rajyasabha it becomes clear that the makers of the constitution intended to be less powerful & influential than the Lok Sabha. In matters of ordinary legislation it cannot prove to be an obstacle in the way of the Lok Sabha because of its half of strength of the Lok Sabha. At most it can delay an ordinary Bill for six months. It has absolutely no control over the power of the nation. All this however is not to suggest that the Rajyasabha is only on appendage of the Lok Sabha. According to Morris Jones – “It has three outweighing merits, it supplies additional political position for which there is demand. It provides me some additional debating opportunities for which there is occasional need & it assists in the solution of limited legislative problems.

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