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Rajya Sabha’s role part of Basic Structure of Constitution: SC


Why is it in the news?

  • In the Sita Soren vs. Union of India case, the Supreme Court affirmed that the role of Rajya Sabha is integral to the Basic Structure of the Constitution.

 

·       Rajya Sabha elections are governed by Article 194(2), which addresses the powers and privileges of members of the legislature of a state.

·       The Basic Structure doctrine, established by the Supreme Court, stipulates that certain core features of the Constitution are immune from amendment or abrogation by Parliament.

·       As the upper house of Parliament, Rajya Sabha is constituted under Article 79 and 80, representing the interests of states in the federal structure.

 

 

Significance of Rajya Sabha

  • It serves as a crucial check on the legislative process by providing a platform for the scrutiny of proposed bills, preventing hasty and ill-considered legislation.
  • Rajya Sabha embodies federal bicameralism, facilitating the participation of states in the legislative process and promoting principles of democratic decentralization and cooperative federalism.
  • Additionally, Rajya Sabha holds special powers, including the authority to legislate on state subjects listed under Schedule VII (Article 249) and the creation of new All India Services (Article 312).

Issues with Rajya Sabha Representation

  • Concerns have arisen regarding the representation in Rajya Sabha, particularly with the removal of state domicile criteria for election to the house in 2003, which has impacted the equitable representation of states.
  • Legislative bypassing of Rajya Sabha, such as the classification of bills as Money Bills to circumvent Rajya Sabha scrutiny, raises questions about the effectiveness of its role as a legislative check.
  • Unlike the Lok Sabha, certain accountability mechanisms such as ‘No-Confidence motion’ and ‘Adjournment motion’ are not available to Rajya Sabha.
·       The Punchhi Commission (2010) proposed recommendations aimed at strengthening Rajya Sabha, including the equal representation of states in the house regardless of population size and the restoration of the territorial link between Rajya Sabha members and the states they represent.

 

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