Nomination to Rajya Sabha

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    • Recently, the government nominated 4 members in Rajya Sabha.
      • Soon, the Assemblies of 4 states will also elect 16 MPs to Rajya Sabha. 

    More about the news

    • Nominated members:
      • The four new nominated entrants in Rajya Sabha are:
        • Musician Ilaiyaraaja, 
        • Track-and-field icon PT Usha, 
        • Telugu screenwriter V Vijayendra Prasad, and 
        • Philanthropist and spiritual leader Veerendra Heggade.
      • These members belong to four southern states, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka.
      • The Upper House of Parliament now has nine nominated members — the other five being:
        • Lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani, dancer Sonal Mansingh, politician Ram Shakal, author and columnist Rakesh Sinha, and former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. 
      • Three nominated positions are currently vacant.
    • Elections of Rajya Sabha:
      • The elections to fill the vacant seats of Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Haryana.
      • 16 MPs will be elected in Rajya Sabha through these elections.

    Composition of Rajya Sabha

    • The maximum strength of the Rajya Sabha is fixed at 250, out of which, 238 are to be the representatives of the states and union territories (elected indirectly) and 12 are nominated by the president.
    • At present, the Rajya Sabha has 245 members. Of these, 
      • 229 members represent the states
      • 4 members represent the union territories and 
      • 12 members are nominated by the president.
    • The Fourth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the allocation of seats in the Rajya Sabha to the states and union territories
    • Representation of States: 
      • The representatives of states in the Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of state legislative assemblies
      • The election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote
      • The seats are allotted to the states in the Rajya Sabha on the basis of population
      • Hence, the number of representatives varies from state to state. 
        • For instance, there are 31 Rajya Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh and 1 in Goa. 
    • Representation of Union Territories: 
      • The representatives of each union territory in the Rajya Sabha are indirectly elected by members of an electroral college specially constituted for the purpose. 
      • This election is also held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote
      • Out of the seven union territories, only two (Delhi and Puducherry) have representation in Rajya Sabha. 
      • The populations of other five union territories are too small to have any representative in the Rajya Sabha.
    • Nominated Members: 
      • The president nominates 12 members to the Rajya Sabha from people who have special knowledge or practical experience in art, literature, science and social service

    Duration of Rajya Sabha

    • The Rajya Sabha (first constituted in 1952) is a continuing chamber, that is, it is a permanent body and not subject to dissolution. 
    • To ensure continuity, one-third of its members retire after every second year, under Article 83(1) of the Constitution. 
    • Their seats are filled up by fresh elections and presidential nominations at the beginning of every third year.
    • The Parliament in the Representation of the People Act (1951) provided that the term of office of a member of the Rajya Sabha shall be six years.

    Nominated Members in Rajya Sabha

    • Constitutional backing:
      • Article 80 of the Constitution (“Composition of the Council of States”) says 
        • “The Council of States shall consist of (a) twelve members to be nominated by the President in accordance with the provisions of clause (3); and (b) not more than two hundred and thirty-eight representatives of the States and of the Union territories.
        • Clause 3 of the article layer down the qualifications for the appointment.
    • Role of nominated members:
      • Powers and privileges:
        • Nominated members of Rajya Sabha enjoy all the powers and privileges to which the elected MPs are entitled. 
        • They can take part in the proceedings of the House in a normal manner.
      • Election of President and Vice-President:
        • Nominated members are not allowed to vote in the election of the President. 
        • However, they do have the right to vote in the election of the Vice-President.
    • Significance of nomination:
      • The rationale behind this principle of nomination is to provide eminent persons a place in the Rajya Sabha without going through the process of election. 
      • It gives an opportunity to those who might be willing to participate in the debate with an amount of learning and importance which we do not ordinarily associate with the House of the People (Lok Sabha)
    • Criticisms: 
      • Poor attendance:
        • There has been criticism that several nominated members have poor attendance and do not appear to show much interest in legislative work.
        • In this context, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, actor Rekha, and businesswoman Anu Aga have faced criticism in recent years.
      • Politicisation of the nominated category:
        • Over time, the high ideal of the nomination came to be eroded. 
        • Ruling dispensations have repeatedly used the nominated category to shore up their numbers in the House, to dispense favours, and to get their preferred individuals into Parliament.
        • While a nominated member can join a political party within six months of taking his/ her seat in the House, even those who remain technically independent are assumed to be aligned with the ruling regime.

    Way Ahead

    • Comparing with Britain and the USA:
      • Position of the Rajya Sabha in our constitutional system is not as strong as that of the Senate in the American constitutional system.
      • But, is stronger than that of the House of Lords in the British constitutional system. 
    • In conjunction with Lok Sabha:
      • Except in financial matters and control over the council of ministers, the powers and status of the Rajya Sabha in all other spheres are broadly equal and coordinate with that of the Lok Sabha.
      • It checks hasty, defective, careless and ill-considered legislation made by the Lok Sabha by making provision of revision and thought.
    • Federal equilibrium:
      • Apart from giving representation to eminent professionals and experts, Rajya Sabha maintains the federal equilibrium by protecting the interests of the states against the undue interference of the Centre.

    Source: TH