The constitution of India has assigned a unique role to the Rajya Sabha.By performing varied roles, the rajya sabha has secured a distinct place in our polity as also in the constitutional setup. Its multifaceted role of Rajya Sabha are as under:
As a chamber of Continuity
The Rajya sabha is a permanent Chamber ,not subject to dissolution and one-third of its members retire every second year.The hallmark of the Rajya Sabha is the principle of continuity as a perpetual House,as a continuous institution in the parliamentary framework.A scheme of having a chamber of legislative continuity was needed in a parliamentary system to meet the legislative and constitutional contingency at a time when the popularly elected House may be under dissolution or in the process of reconstitution after election.As the Rajya Sabha is a permanent House ,the dissolution of Lok Sabha has limited impact on the bills pending before the Rajya Sabha . A bill which is pending in the Rajya Sabha and has not been passed by the Lok Sabha ,will not lapse on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha .Thus, the continuity of the Rajya Sabha ensures a Significant measure of legislative continuity as well.
As a federal Chamber
Another significant role of Rajya Sabha was guided by the need for giving a representation to the States in the federal Legislature .The Rajya Sabha is a federal chamber where the representatives of each state are elected by the elected members of the legislative Assembly of the state.As a federal Chamber ,it has been assigned some special powers,impacting the federal interests.The Rajya Sabha ,being the representative forum of the states,endeavors to remain ever concerned and sensitive to the aspirations of the States.In the process,it strengthens the country’s federal fabric and promotes national integration.
A Chamber not concerned with Government Formation
The government of the day is collectively responsible to the house of the people , the directly elected House.The Rajya Sabha ,being an indirectly elected House,has no role in the making or unmaking of the government .Since the government are not formed ,nor do they fall on the basis of the numerical strength of the ruling party or alliance in the Rajya Sabha , this chamber is relatively free from the compulsions of competitive party politics.Some argue that it the Rajya Sabha cannot bring down a government,its role is limited in a political perspective .But many hold that it is not so much in the actual bringing down of a government that a House of Parliament performs its most crucial role as a vibrant contributor to the discourse of the nation.As such , the role of Rajya Sabha in contributing to the national discourse in full measure is significant .
As an Effective Smaller Chamber
The Rajya Sabha is comparatively a smaller Chamber than the Lok Sabha as its Maximum strength is 250 vis-à-vis 550 in the Lok Sabha. Being a smaller house it affords opportunities for close camaraderie and greater consensus building among the members.The spirit of accommodation and adjustment among the members contribute to effectiveness of this house.It also helps in better time management of the house besides discussions on wide ranging issues.
As a Deliberative Chamber
The Rajyasabha takes pride in the quality of debates it has held ever since its inception.its deliberative role is reinforced by the provision of nomination to the rajyasabha of 12 members noted for their contribution to literature ,science etc.
As a Revising Chamber
The role of Rajya Sabha as a revising chamber as a result of second sober thought is special.An analysis of the bills revised by the Rajyasabha would reveal that in a number of cases ,the Rajyasabha had recommended changes in the bills passed by Loksabha and those changes were eventually carried out like Income Tax (amendment ) bill 1961,The National honour bill,1971,The dowry prohibition bill 1959 etc.
As a chamber securing executive accountability
The rajyasabha has been securing executive accountability through its committees.Eight department related parliamentary standing committees are working under the direction and control of chairman Rajyasabha. The constructive criticism and considered recommendations made by such committees are found to be useful by the ministries and departments concerned to tone up their functioning and to formulate realistic budgets,plans and programmes for the welfare of the people.These committees have considered some of the important legislation and presented reports thereon to both houses of the parliament.
As a chamber for ventilating public grievances
Its members being the representatives of states articulate the concerns of the respective states and their people.Through well established procedures like Questions,calling attention motion,short duration discussion etc members raises issues of public importance thus providing a forum for ventilating public grievances.Through these devices it has put pressure on the government to reorient its policies for serving larger public interest.