On May 13, 1952, the upper house of the Parliament, Rajya Sabha held its first session. To mark the occasion Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu shared, what went behind the making of the second chamber.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu recalled the churning that went on for eight days with the participation of leading members of the Constituent Assembly which led to the making of the Council of States and its mandate.
While revisiting the debates held in the constituent assembly regarding the utility or need of a Second Chamber in the Parliament, he highlighted that it was decided to have a bicameral legislature, because it was considered that a federal system was the most feasible form of government for a vast and diverse country like India.
Therefore a second chamber is known as the ‘Council of States’ was created from a different composition and method of the election than that of Lok Sabha. The second chamber had a smaller membership than Lok Sabha (House of People).
Speaking on the importance of the upper house, Chairman Naidu said that as only a third of the seats are filled every two years, therefore the upper house acts as a check against potential impetuousness of electoral majorities in the Lower House. With members mostly indirectly elected, the Upper House also ensures that individuals who might not be cut out for the rough-and-tumble of direct elections too are able to contribute to the legislative process.
Lok Sabha members are directly elected by the people, therefore are susceptible to passions of the moment and electoral considerations. Their imprint on legislation needs to be checked by the upper house whose members are expected to be sober, wise and well-informed with domain knowledge.
The mandate of the Rajya Sabha is to revise or delay legislation without proving a clog in the wheel of the progress. The upper house has to represent the interests of the States as a federal chamber and be a deliberative body holding high-quality debates on important issues.