Chapters :
  • Powers and Functions of Parliament
  • Parliamentary Sovereignty


Powers and Functions of Parliament

1.Financial Powers and Functions:

The financial powers and functions of the Parliament include the following.

      a)The budget of the union government needs the approval of the Parliament.

       b)The Parliament exercises control over the spending of government through Public Accounts Committee, Estimates Committee and Committee on Public Undertakings.

       c)No tax can be either levied or collected without the approval of the Parliament.

2.Judicial Powers and Functions:

The Parliament enjoys the following judicial and semi-judicial powers and functions.

       a)It can impeachment the President on violating the constitution.

       b)It can remove the Vice President from his office.

       c)It can recommend the removal of the judges of Supreme Court, High Courts, Chief Election Commissioner and Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

        d)It can punish members of Parliament and outsiders for the breach of its privileges and its contempt.

3.Constituent Powers and Functions:

The parliament has the exclusive authority to amend the constitution. It can amend the constitution in three ways such as with simple majority, special majority and a special majority along with the consent of at least half of the states. However, the amending powers of the Parliament are not unlimited. The Parliament can amend the provisions of the constitution without affecting its basic principles or basic structure.

4.Electoral Powers and Functions:

     a)The Parliament takes part in the Presidential election along with the State Legislative Assemblies.

     b)It elects the Vice President.

     c)It is authorised to enact laws to regulate elections to the offices of President and Vice President.

     d)It is authorised to enact laws to regulate elections to both the houses of Parliament and the State legislatures.

     e)It elects the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of LokSabha and the Deputy Chairman of RajyaSabha.

5.Other Powers and Functions:

     a)It can alter the boundaries of the states and the union territories.

      b)It can regulate the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.

      c)It can change the names of states.

     d)It approves all three types of emergencies such as the National Emergency, State Emergency and Financial Emergency proclaimed by the President.

     e)It approves or rejects the ordinances promulgated by the President.

8.1.Parliamentary Sovereignty

Sovereignty is the power of any governing authority to function without outside interferences. ‘Parliamentary Sovereignty’ means the power of the legislature to function without the interferences of the executive and the judiciary. The laws enacted by the legislature cannot be tested for its constitutional validity in any court of law. The Parliament is free to enact, amend and repeal constitutional laws. In India, the Parliament is not a sovereign body. The laws enacted by it can be declared void by the judiciary if it finds them unconstitutional. The power of the Parliament to amend the constitution is also limited as the amendments should not affect the basic structure of the constitution.

The following are the factors that limit the sovereignty of Indian Parliament.

  1. Written Constitution: The written nature of the Indian constitution makes it rigid to amendments. An extensive procedure is prescribed in the constitution itself for amending its provisions.
  2. Fundamental Rights: The scope of the Parliament to amend the constitution is heavily limited by the codification of fundamental rights under Part III of the constitution. Any law violating these rights will be declared void.
  3. Judicial Review: Both the Supreme Court and the High Courts can declare the laws enacted by the Parliament as unconstitutional and void if they violate the provisions of constitution.
  4. Federal System of Government: The lawmaking authority is not exclusive to the Parliament. The State legislatures can also enact laws within their legal and territorial jurisdiction.

The role of judiciary is imperative in a Parliamentary democracy to prevent the concentration of powers and make the executives accountable to the legislature. The principle of ‘Separation of Powers’ is upheld by the judiciary. The Indian constitution provides for an independent and integrated judiciary with the Supreme Court at the apex. Articles 124 to 147 under Part V discusses in detail the organisation, powers, functions and so on of the Supreme Court.

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