Chairman of Rajya Sabha

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Chairman of Rajya Sabha
Chairman of Rajya Sabha

As the Presiding Officer of the Upper House of the Parliament, the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha holds a pivotal position in the Indian parliamentary system. By upholding parliamentary rules and conventions, the Chairman plays a crucial role in the smooth functioning of the Rajya Sabha. This article of NEXT IAS aims to study in detail the Chairman of Rajya Sabha, including its election procedure, tenure, role, powers, functions, significance, and other related aspects.

  • The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is the Presiding Officer of the Upper House of the Parliament of India – the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Chairman is responsible for maintaining order and decorum in the Upper House, conducting its business, and ensuring that the legislative process is carried out smoothly.
Note: The Vice-President of India is the Ex-Officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.           

Read our detailed article on the Vice President of India. 
About Presiding Officers of Parliament

– The Presiding Officers of Parliament refer to the officials who oversee and regulate the proceedings of the Houses of Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the case of India). 
– They are responsible for upholding parliamentary rules, maintaining order, managing debates, and conducting the legislative process as per the established procedures within their respective houses of the Parliament.
– Overall, their role is to ensure that the legislative body functions smoothly and efficiently. 

Read our detailed article on Presiding Officers of Indian Parliament. 
  • The Vice President of India serves as the Chairman of Rajya Sabha in its ex-officio capacity.
  • It implies that the election of the Chairman of Rajya Sabha means the election of the Vice President of Rajya Sabha.
  • Thus, there is no separate election for the Chairman of Rajya Sabha.

It is to be noted that unlike the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, who is a member of the House, the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is not a member of the House.

  • The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, while assuming his/her office, does not make and subscribe to any separate oath or affirmation, specifically for the office of Chairman.
  • However, as the Vice President of India, he/she takes an oath of office administered by the President of India.
  • His/her oath as a Vice President of India suffices for his/her role as Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
  • The tenure of the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is co-terminus with the tenure of the Vice President of India.
  • The usual term of the Vice President and therefore the Chairman of Rajya Sabha is 5 years.
  • The Vice President can be re-elected to the post and therefore can serve multiple terms as the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha can be removed from his/her office only if he/she is removed from the office of the Vice-President of India.
  • The process for the removal of the Vice President of India/Chairman of Rajya Sabha is as follows:
    • A resolution for the removal can be introduced only in the Rajya Sabha, and not in the Lok Sabha.
    • Such a resolution can be moved only after giving 14 days’ advance notice.
    • The removal resolution should be passed in the Rajya Sabha by an Effective Majority (i.e. a majority of the then members of Rajya Sabha excluding vacant seats) and agreed to by Lok Sabha by a Simple Majority.
  • When a resolution for the removal of the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is under consideration, he/she cannot preside over a sitting of the House.
    • However, he/she can be present, speak in the House, and take part in its proceedings, but cannot vote even in the first instance.
      • It is to be noted that, unlike in the case of the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, the Speaker of Lok Sabha can vote in the first instance, though not in the case of an equality of votes, when a resolution for his/her removal is under consideration of the House.
Note: The Speaker of Lok Sabha as well as the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, while presiding over a sitting of their respective Houses, cannot vote in the first instance. Both can cast a vote only in the case of equality of votes. 
  • The Chairman of Rajya Sabha can resign from his/her office at any time by resigning as the Vice President of India.
  • The Vice President of India resigns from his/her office at any time by addressing the resignation letter to the President of India.
  • The salaries and allowances of the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha are fixed by the Parliament of India.
  • They are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India and are not subjected to the annual vote of the Parliament of India.
Note: During any period when the Vice-President acts as President or discharges the functions of the President, he/she is not entitled to the salary or allowances payable to the Chairman of Rajya Sabha, but the salary and allowance of the President of India. 
  • As a Presiding Officer, the powers and functions of the Chairman of Rajya Sabha are similar to the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
  • His/her primary responsibility involves maintaining order and decorum in the House for conducting its business and regulating its proceedings.
  • It is to be noted that during any period when the Vice President of India acts as the President or discharges the functions of the President, he/she does not perform the duties of the office of the Chairman of Rajya Sabha.
    • During such periods, the duties of the office of the Chairman of Rajya Sabha are performed by the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
Note: The Speaker of the Lok Sabha holds two special powers that are not conferred upon the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha: 
– The Speaker of Lok Sabha decides whether a bill is a Money Bill or not and his/her decision on this question is final. The Chairman does not have this power. 
– The Speaker of Lok Sabha presides over a Joint Sitting of the two Houses of the Parliament. The Chairman cannot preside over a Joint Sitting of the two Houses even if he/she is present at such a sitting. 

The Chairman of Rajya Sabha holds a position of significant constitutional importance within the Indian political system. The major significance of the Chairman of Rajya Sabha can be seen as follows:

  • Avoiding Interregnum – The Chairman of Rajya Sabha, as the Vice President of India, acts as the President of India whenever there is a vacancy in the President’s office or discharges the functions of the President of India whenever the latter is unable to discharge his/her functions. Thus, the Chairman of Rajya Sabha/Vice President of India avoids interregnum in the office of the President of India.
  • Orderly Functioning of House – The Chairman ensures orderly conduct of proceedings, maintaining decorum, and upholding the rules of the House.
  • Impartiality – The Chairman is expected to maintain impartiality and fairness while conducting the business of the house, such as giving all members an equal opportunity to express their views.
  • Decision-Making – He/she makes crucial decisions on matters of parliamentary procedure, interpretation of rules, and maintaining discipline among members.
  • Custodian of Parliamentary Privileges – The Chairman safeguards the privileges of the members and the dignity of the house, ensuring that parliamentary proceedings are conducted with respect and integrity.
  • Bridge between House and Government – He/she represents the collective voice of the Rajya Sabha, and acts as a bridge between the members and the government, ensuring that the concerns of the members are addressed.
  • Symbol of Authority – The Spea symbolizes the authority of the Rajya Sabha and is responsible for upholding the sanctity of the parliamentary institution.

The Chairman of Rajya Sabha, as the second highest constitutional authority of the nation, occupies a pivotal position in the democratic framework of the country. Despite being assigned limited functions, he/she plays a significant role in the smooth functioning of the legislature as well as maintaining the political continuity of the Indian state.

Who is the Chairman of Rajya Sabha?

Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar is the Chairman of Rajya Sabha.

Who is the Ex-Officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha?

The Vice President of India is the Ex-Officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

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