What are the key functions and powers of Parliament in a democracy?


Answer by Student

In a democracy, Parliament plays a crucial role in exercising political authority on behalf of the people. The key functions and powers of Parliament include:

  • Lawmaking : Parliament is the final authority for making laws in any country. It can create new laws, amend existing laws, or abolish old laws and replace them with new ones.
  • Control over the Government : Parliament exercises control over those who run the government. In many countries, including India, the government can make decisions only as long as it enjoys the support of Parliament. Parliament holds the government accountable for its actions and policies.
  • Budgetary Control : Parliaments control the money that the government possesses. In most countries, the government can spend public money only with the sanction of Parliament. Parliament scrutinizes the budget proposals and approves government spending.
  • Forum for Discussion and Debate: Parliament serves as the highest platform for discussing public issues and national policies. Members of Parliament can seek information on any matter and engage in debates to shape policies and decisions.
  • Representation of the People: Parliament consists of elected representatives who exercise political authority on behalf of the people. They represent the interests and concerns of their constituents and work towards addressing them.
  • Power Balance : While the Rajya Sabha has some special powers over states, the Lok Sabha, being the directly elected House, exercises supreme power in most matters. It has more authority in lawmaking, money matters, and controls the Council of Ministers.

Detailed Answer by Teachoo

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      PARLIAMENT - Teachoo.png

Parliament is the supreme legislative body of a democratic country. It represents the will of the people and exercises political authority on their behalf. Parliament performs various functions and powers that are essential for the functioning of democracy. Some of the key functions and powers of Parliament are:

  • Lawmaking:  One of the primary functions of Parliament is to make laws for the country. Parliament can enact new laws, amend or repeal existing laws, or introduce constitutional amendments. The process of lawmaking involves several stages, such as introduction, discussion, voting, and assent. Both Houses of Parliament participate in the lawmaking process, but the Lok Sabha has more power in case of a deadlock or disagreement.

  • Control over the Government:  Another important function of Parliament is to exercise control and oversight over the executive branch of the government. The executive branch consists of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, who are responsible for implementing the policies and programs of the government. The executive branch is accountable to Parliament for its actions and decisions. Parliament can question, criticize, or challenge the government through various means, such as motions, resolutions, adjournment motions, no-confidence motions, cut motions, etc. The government can remain in power only as long as it enjoys the confidence and support of the majority of the members of the Lok Sabha.

  • Budgetary Control:  Parliament also has the power to control the finances of the country. The government cannot spend any public money without the approval of Parliament. Every year, the government presents its annual budget before Parliament, which shows the estimated income and expenditure of the country for the next financial year. The budget is discussed and debated in both Houses of Parliament, and each demand for grants is voted upon. Parliament can approve, reduce, or reject any demand for grants. Parliament also examines how the government spends its money through various committees, such as the Public Accounts Committee, the Estimates Committee, etc.

  • Forum for Discussion and Debate:  Parliament serves as a platform for raising and discussing various issues and matters of public interest and national importance. Members of Parliament can express their views and opinions on various topics, such as policies, laws, schemes, problems, challenges, etc. They can also seek information from the government on any matter through questions, interpellations, calling attention motions, etc. Parliament also conducts special debates on important occasions or events, such as the President’s address, motion of thanks, etc.

  • Representation of the People:  Parliament consists of elected representatives who act as a link between the people and the government. They represent the interests and aspirations of their constituents and voice their grievances and demands in Parliament. They also work towards solving their problems and fulfilling their needs through various schemes and projects. They also participate in various committees and delegations that deal with different aspects of governance and administration.

  • Power Balance:  While both Houses have equal status and powers in most matters, there are some areas where one House has more authority than the other. For example:
    • In matters related to money bills (bills that deal with taxation or expenditure), only the Lok Sabha can introduce them. The Rajya Sabha can only make recommendations within 14 days, which may or may not be accepted by the Lok Sabha.
    • In matters related to ordinary bills (bills that do not deal with money matters), both Houses can introduce them. However, if there is a deadlock or disagreement between them, a joint session can be called where both Houses sit together to resolve it. In such a case, the Lok Sabha has more power because it has more members than the Rajya Sabha.
    • In matters related to state interests or federalism (the division of power between the centre and states), only the Rajya Sabha can initiate them. For example, if a constitutional amendment affects the boundaries or names of states or changes their representation in Parliament or affects their legislative powers or subjects under their jurisdiction, then it requires a special majority in both Houses as well as ratification by at least half of state legislatures.
    • In matters related to no-confidence motions (motions that express dissatisfaction with or lack of trust in the government), only the Lok Sabha can move them. If a no-confidence motion is passed by a simple majority in the Lok Sabha, then the government has to resign. The Rajya Sabha cannot move or vote on such motions.

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Davneet Singh

Davneet Singh has done his B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has been teaching from the past 14 years. He provides courses for Maths, Science, Social Science, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science at Teachoo.