The Rajya Sabha is also known as the Upper House or the House of Elders. It is modelled like the House of Lords in the United Kingdom. The Constitution framers of India designed the Rajya Sabha to check the complete grip on power of the Lok Sabha. The other major duty of the Rajya Sabha is to represent the interest of the States and Union Territories at the national level.
Number of Seats in Rajya Sabha
As per Article 80 of the Constitution, the maximum strength of Upper House cannot exceed 250. The Vice President is the Chairperson of the Upper House. The tenure of the House of Elders MPs is six years, and it is a permanent body. Elections to one-third of the seats are held every two years for the Rajya Sabha.
Seat Distribution in Rajya Sabha
At present, Rajya Sabha consists of 245 members. 233 members are elected while 12 members are nominated/chosen by the President of India. These MPs must be from diverse fields, such as the film industry, economics, sports, literature, art and so on.
Frequency of Elections for Rajya Sabha
There is no direct election for electing a Rajya Sabha member. Rajya Sabha candidates are elected by the Members of the Legislative Assembly of States and Union Territories by means of single transferable vote through proportional representation. Delhi and Puducherry are the only two Union Territories which have representations in the Rajya Sabha. Delhi sends 3, while Puducherry sends 1 member to the Rajya Sabha respectively.
The political party which enjoys a majority in any state assembly is able to send the maximum MPs to the Rajya Sabha.
This formula is applied for electing a candidate for the Rajya Sabha. The formula simply is [(Number of MLAs X 100) / (Vacancies + 1)] + 1.
Article 84 of the Constitution has laid down the qualifications for the membership of Parliament. A person can be eligible for the membership of the Rajya Sabha when s/he possesses the following qualifications:
- Must be a citizen of India
- Make and subscribe before some person authorized in that behalf by the Election Commission an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule to the Constitution.
- Must not be less than 30 years old.
- Be elected by the Legislative Assembly of States and Union Territories by means of Single transferable vote through Proportional representation.
- Not be a proclaimed criminal.
- Not be a subject of insolvent i.e. s/he should not be in debt that s/he is not capable of repaying in a current manner and should have the ability to meet his/her financial expenses.
- Not hold any other office of profit under the Government of India.
- Not be of unsound mind.
- Possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed in that behalf by or under any law made by Parliament.
Responsibilities of MPs
The members of the Rajya Sabha have broad responsibilities. They have the freedom to express their views in the House for the welfare of the people of the country. Rajya Sabha members keep an eye on the government’s performance of its duties. They represent the views of the people of their State/UT in the Rajya Sabha. Rajya Sabha members can perform the duty of a prime minister or any other minister.
Form 2C has to be filled for contesting elections to the Rajya Sabha (Council of States).
Article 102 of the Constitution has laid down that a person will be disqualified for being chosen or elected as a member of either House of Parliament-
1. if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament not to disqualify its holder;
2. if he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court;
3. if he is an undischarged insolvent;
4. if he is not a citizen of India, or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign State, or is under any acknowledgment of allegiance or adherence to a foreign State;
5. if he is so disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament.
6. Salary and perks of a Rajya Sabha MP.
7. The monthly salary for a Rajya Sabha member is Rs 1,00,000 during the whole term of office as a member of the House of Elders. Apart from this, there are plenty of other allowances allotted to Rajya Sabha members.
The Vice President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, despite not being a member of the house. However, s/he conducts the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha. In the absence of the vice-president, the Deputy Chairman of the Upper House takes the responsibility to run the house smoothly. The Deputy Chairman gets elected by the Rajya Sabha MPs from amongst themselves. Article 89 of the constitution specifies that Rajya Sabha members have the power to choose one of its MPs as the Deputy Chairman.
Constitution of India has made some restrictions on the Rajya Sabha, so Lok Sabha in many aspects is superior to the Rajya Sabha. Article 110 of the Indian Constitution talks about the money bill. A money bill can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha rather than the Rajya Sabha. Rajya Sabha members have no constitutional power regarding the money bill. Likewise, a Rajya Sabha MP has no right to introduce no-confidence motion against the government. In fact, the members of the upper house do not even have the right to participate in it.
Creation of All-India Services
The Rajya Sabha, has the power to create more All-India Services common to both the Union and the States.
At the outset, it is clear that Rajya Sabha is neither a weak house like the British House of Lords nor a powerful house like the American Senate. The House of Elders is somewhat in the middle of the two. On many occasions, however, Rajya Sabha members have taken strong turns and played significant role in Indian politics.