- First bicameral legislature in India was constituted as a consequence of the Montagu-Chelmsford reform.
Why we need Upper house?
- The Rajya Sabha is more immune to electoral interests. If a legislation that originates from the Lok Sabha is driven by popular will and brute majority, then Rajya Sabha can subject it to the broader test of rationality, practicality, relevance and reasonableness.
- It gives the constituent States of the Union a say in running the country’s affairs. Members of Rajya Sabha are directly elected by state legislatures and not by the people.
- Since it has continuity, it can carry out some administrative functions even when the lower house is dissolved.
- It provides space for experts. Governments in the past have taken advantage of the Upper House to hire lateral talent. Individuals of repute who were either talented or had private sector experience were inducted so they could bring fresh ideas and knowledge in various ministries that desperately needed them
Some evidences in favour of RS:
- RS das been able to suggest, incorporate important amendments into Bills, e.g. in Dowry Prohibition, Prevention of Terrorism, FRBM etc.
- RS represents the states’ interests and has been able to incorporate their concerns into legislations like Land Acquisition Bill (2015), GST, Food Security Act etc.
- Prevent hasty legislations- sent Bills to Parliamentary Committees for deeper deliberations e.g. Enemy Property Bill, Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill.
- Important National issues taken into account through Calling Attention Motions, amendment to Vote of Thanks etc.
Why we do not need Upper house?
- Sometimes deliberations in Rajya Sabha can slow down legislation or eventually kill it. The Rajya Sabha’s delay and intransigence can also become counter-productive. For ex. Current issue on GST Bill
- With our polity becoming increasingly fragmented, regions and states are well represented in the Lower House by various parties. The fear of states not having enough representation in Parliament is not true anymore.
- The Upper House has become a paradise for party fund-raisers, losers in elections, crony capitalists, journalists, retired CEOs and civil servants.
- It has become a platform for parties to further their political agenda than to debate and improve legislation. Important legislations that are passed in the Lok Sabha are scuttled in Rajya Sabha for political reasons.
- It has also increased the financial burden of the exchequer. Savings from elimination of the Upper House can be more gainfully deployed for either building infrastructure or enhancing social development or other meaningful projects
Some evidences in against of RS:
- State Domicile no longer a criteria for Candidates
- Unethical/illegal practices during election procedure like “cash-for-votes”, candidates with dubious intentions/interests, countermanding of 2 RS seats from Jharkhand
- RS becoming seats for politician stalwarts who lost general elections.
- Very less legislative business carried out in RS due to disruptions rather than debates, changing its perception to “obstructionist.”
- Important legislations regarding Aadhaar, Monetary Policy Committee, passed as Money Bills, has prompted allegations ofdeliberate bypassing of RS.