Functions of Rajya Sabha

KNC501/KNC601 Constitution of India, Law and Engineering

Chapter 3: Indian Parliament

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 5


Functions of Rajya Sabha

The functions of Rajya Sabha may broadly be categorized as:

    • Legislative
    • Financial
    • Deliberative and
    • Federal

Legislation is by far the most important business of Rajya Sabha, as indeed of Parliament and in this sphere, Rajya Sabha enjoys almost equal powers with Lok Sabha.

Legislative Functions

The Constitution has classified the subjects for legislation into three Lists, namely

    • The Union List,
    • The State List and
    • The Concurrent List.

The Union List includes those subjects over which Parliament has exclusive authority to make laws, while the Concurrent List enumerates those subjects over which it has authority along with the States. Even in regard to the State List, over which the States have exclusive jurisdiction, Parliament can assume authority, if

    • Rajya Sabha declares by a resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting that such legislation is in national interest, or
    • Two or more States mutually agree that Parliament may do so, or
    • It is necessary to implement treaties or international conventions.

Financial Functions

    • Under the Constitution, financial legislation has been divided into two categories – Money Bills and Financial Bills.
    • The former contains only and exclusively money clauses and the latter, apart from money clauses also contain other matters.
    • A Bill which, if enacted and brought into operation would involve expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India is also called a Financial Bill.
    • With respect to Money Bills, Rajya Sabha is empowered to make only recommendations.
    • If a Money Bill which is transmitted to Rajya Sabha for its recommendations is not returned to Lok Sabha within fourteen days, it is deemed to have been passed by both Houses at the expiration of the said period in the form it was passed by Lok Sabha.
    • However, in the case of Financial Bills, Rajya Sabha has full powers like an ordinary piece of legislation.

Deliberative Functions

    • One of the important functions of Rajya Sabha is to focus public attention on major problems affecting policies of the Government and administration and to provide a forum for ventilation of public grievances.
    • This responsibility is discharged through deliberations on General Budget, Railway Budget, and Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address, Five-Year Plans and working of various Ministries/Departments and on various policy statements made by the Government.

Federal Functions

    • Rajya Sabha may pass a resolution, by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting, to the effect that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest that Parliament should make a law with respect to any matter enumerated in the State List.
    • Such a resolution remains in force for a maximum period of one year but this period can be extended by one year at a time by passing a further resolution.
    • If Rajya Sabha passes a resolution by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting declaring that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest to create one or more All India Services common to the Union and the States, Parliament may then by law provide for the creation of such service or services.
    • Under the Constitution, the President is empowered to issue Proclamations in the event of a national emergency, in the event of failure of constitutional machinery in a State, or in the case of a financial emergency.
    • Normally, every such Proclamation has to be approved by both Houses of Parliament within a stipulated period. Under certain circumstances, however, Rajya Sabha enjoys special powers in this regard.
    • If a Proclamation is issued at a time when Lok Sabha has been dissolved or the dissolution of Lok Sabha takes place within the period allowed for its approval, then the Proclamation can remain effective if, a resolution approving it is passed by Rajya Sabha.

Author – Dilip Kumar Rawat

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