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In all democracies, an assembly of elected representatives exercises supreme political authority on behalf of the people. In India such a national assembly of elected representatives is called Parliament. At the state level this is called Legislature or Legislative Assembly. The name may vary in different countries, but such an assembly exists in every democracy. It exercises political authority on behalf of the people in many ways:

Indian Parliament

Bundesrat: Parliament of Germany

The Diet: The Japanese Parliament

Parliament: South Africa


1. Parliament is the final authority for making laws in any country. This task of law making or legislation is so crucial that these assemblies are called legislatures. Parliaments all over the world can make new laws, change existing laws, or abolish existing laws and make new ones in their place.

2. Parliaments all over the world exercise some control over those who run the government. In some countries like India this control is direct and full. Those who run the government can take decisions only so long as they enjoy support of the Parliament.

3. Parliaments control all the money that governments have. In most countries any the public money can be spent only when the Parliament sanctions it through a bad decision. That is why democratic governments insist on institutions.

4. Parliament is the highest forum of discussion and debate on public issues and national policy in any country. Parliament can seek information about any matter.

In the Example of the Office Memorandum:

1. The Report of the Mandal Commission was discussed in the union cabinet.

2. The President of India mentioned this in his address to the Parliament

3.The Prime Minister made a statement in both the Houses of Parliament.

The decision was not directly taken in the Parliament. But Parliamentary discussions on the Report influenced and shaped the decision of the government. They brought pressure on the government to act on the Mandal recommendation. If the Parliament was not in favour of this decision, the Government could not have gone ahead with it.

Since the Parliament plays a central role in modern democracies, most large countries divide the role and powers of the Parliament in two parts. They are called Chambers or Houses. One House is usually directly elected by the people and exercises the real power on behalf of the people. The second House is usually elected indirectly and performs some special functions.

The most common work for the second House is to look after the interests of various states, regions or federal units. In our country, the Parliament consists of two Houses. The two Houses are known as the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha). The President of India is a part of the Parliament, although he is not a member of either House. That is why all laws made in the Houses come into force only after they receive the assent of the President.

It might appear that the Rajya Sabha is more powerful, for sometimes it is called the ‘Upper Chamber’ and the Lok Sabha the ‘Lower Chamber’. But this does not mean that Rajya Sabha is more powerful than Lok Sabha. This is just an old style of speaking and not the language used in our Constitution. Our Constitution does give the Rajya Sabha some special powers over the states. But on most matters, the Lok Sabha exercises supreme power.

1. Any ordinary law needs to be passed by both the Houses. But if there is a difference between the two Houses, the final decision is taken in a joint session in which members of both the Houses sit together. Because of the larger number of members, the view of the Lok Sabha is likely to prevail in such a meeting.

2. Lok Sabha exercises more powers in money matters. Once the Lok Sabha passes the budget of the government or any other money related law, the Rajya Sabha cannot reject it. The Rajya Sabha can only delay it by 14 days or suggest changes in it. The Lok Sabha may or may not accept these changes.


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