Changed Rajya Sabha Look After Recent Elections

Recent elections of Rajya Sabha changed the distribution of seats in the house while adding familiar faces to the Upper House of India. It has also brought the NDA near to having majority in the Upper House as well.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Elections
On 19 June, 2020, elections took place for 19 seats out of the 61 vacant ones, with the rest 42 being filled unopposed. BJP won 8 seats, while the Congress secured 4 seats.

BJP has now 83 seats in the Rajya Sabha, while its coalition NDA including JDU, SAD, and other parties now has 100+ seats. The NDA now constitutes ~50% of the total 245 seats in the Upper House of Parliament.

Scindia Defection Pays Off
Jyotiraditya Scindia was among the winners of BJP in Madhya Pradesh. In March 2020, he quit the Congress party and joined BJP. In the process, several of his supporting MLAs defected with him, which resulted in the fall of Congress government in Madhya Pradesh.

About RS
Rajya Sabha is also known as the Upper House of the Parliament. It can have a maximum of 250 members, out of which 12 would be appointed by the President of India. The elected members serve for a tenure of 6 years, and 1/3rd of the total members retire every 2nd year.

Members of the Upper House are elected by the Legislative Representatives of the concerned State or Union Territory. By-elections take place when a vacancy is created before the end of the tenure of the respective seat, with the elected member serving for the remaining term.

Curiopedia
  • The Leader of the House is a Rajya Sabha member who is either a cabinet minister or another nominated minister. The Leader has a seat next to the Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha in the front row. Thaawar Chand Gehlot is currently the leader of the upper house of Indian Parliament.
  • Besides the Leader of the House, who is leading the majority, there is also a Leader of the Opposition (LOP) – leading the opposition parties. The function was only recognized in the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of the Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977. This is commonly the leader of the largest non-government party and is recognized by the Chairman.
  • Rajya Sabha Television (RSTV) is a 24×7 parliamentary TV channel owned and operated by the body. The channel aims to provide in-depth coverage and analysis of parliamentary affairs, especially its functioning and policy development. During sessions, RSTV provides live coverage and presents an analysis of the proceedings of the House.

Ex-CJI Gogoi Nominated to RS: Confluence of Judiciary and Politics

Ranjan Gogoi

President Ramnath Kovind has nominated Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to Rajya Sabha. Congress criticized the move and said that it might affect the reputation of the judiciary.

Crux of the Matter

Ranjan Gogoi served as the Chief Justice of India from October 3rd, 2018 to November 17th, 2019. After nearly 5 months of his retirement, in an unprecedented move, he has been nominated to be a member of the Upper House of the Parliament. The opposition was of the opinion that the move would jeopardize the ‘impartiality’ of the judiciary.

Yashwant Sinha, former BJP leader, hoped that ‘the CJI would say no to the offer, otherwise it would do incalculable damage to the reputation of the judiciary.’

Case of Judiciary and the Government
This is the first time a judiciary member is crossing the line of the legislature for a Rajya Sabha seat, but few members have crossed that line in the past for other positions.

  • MC Chagla served as Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court from 1947 to 1958. In 1958, he was appointed as India’s ambassador to the US. He was also the High Commissioner to the UK, Minister of Education, and Minister of External Affairs, in his later years. Gap post-retirement – 0 years.
  • Justice Baharul Islam, formerly a Rajya Sabha member between 1962 to 1972, served the apex court from 1980 to 1983. He became a Rajya Sabha member again in 1983 and served till 1989. Gap post-retirement – 0 years.
  • Justice KS Hegde served the judiciary from 1967-1973. In 1977, he was elected for the Lok Sabha seat from Bangalore. He served as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha from 1977 to 1980. Gap post-retirement – 4 years.
  • In 1979, former CJI Hidayatullah became the Vice President of India. However, he had retired as CJI in 1970. Gap post-retirement – 9 years.
  • After his retirement in 1991, former CJI Ranganath Mishra had joined the Congress in 1998. Gap post-retirement – 7 years
  • In 2014, former CJI P. Sathasivam was appointed as the Governor of Kerala after his retirement in 2013. Gap post-retirement – 1 year.
  • In 2017, CJI TS Thakur was offered Rajya Sabha seat by the Aam Aadmi Party. He denied the offer.

Former BJP leader, late Arun Jaitley at a conference said that there should be an adequate cooling period – preferably 2 years – before a retired judge is offered a position. He said, “For two years after retirement there should be a gap (before appointment), because otherwise the government can directly or indirectly influence the courts and the dream to have an independent, impartial and fair judiciary in the country would never actualize. I say this with a lot of responsibility that even before they retire, it is decided for the Supreme Court and High Court judges as to which Commission they will go and join.”

Curiopedia

Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi is the son of politician Kesab Chandra Gogoi. His brother Retired Air Marshal Anjan Gogoi was appointed as a full-time non-official member of the North Eastern Council in January. He is known for leading the 5-judge Supreme Court Bench that gave a verdict on Ayodhya Temple-Babri Masjid Land Dispute case. He, along with three other SC judges, held a press conference in which he and other judges had said that ‘the judiciary needs to be protected, else democracy will not survive in this country.’ They also raised the issue of the allocation of cases in the court. In April 2019, he was accused of sexual harassment by a co-working woman. He was given a clean chit by a 3-judge SC bench. More Info

With High Productivity Comes More Amendments: Winter Session of Parliament Concludes

Concluding the Winter session of the Parliament, Lok Sabha saw introduction of 18 Bills. Lok Sabha passed 14 Bills, while the Rajya Sabha passed 15 Bills. Lok Sabha functioned at 116% productivity and Rajya Sabha with 100% productivity.

Crux of the Matter
  • Decisive Bills passed in the area of Social and Justice and Reforms were: The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Bill, 2019, The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, The Arms Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Transgender Persons Bill delineates the definition of a transgender person and regulations for protecting their rights and welfare
  • Important Bills passed in the Administrative Sector Reforms were: The National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Bill, 2019, The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2019. The 126th Constitution amendment extends the SC-ST reservation for 10 years, till 25th January 2030.
  • Bills passed in the economic sector were: The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, The Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019, The International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019.
  • Lok Sabha, under Rule 193, had discussed on ‘air pollution and climate change’ and ‘crop loss and its impact on farmers’.
  • A Special Discussion was held in Rajya Sabha on ‘The Role of RS in Indian Polity and way forward’. RS also discussed issues of air pollution, WhatsApp spyware Pegasus, and timely completion National Irrigation Project.
Curiopedia

Sessions of Parliament – The period during which the House meets to conduct its business is called a session. The Constitution empowers the President to summon each House at such intervals that there should not be more than a six-month gap between the two sessions. Hence the Parliament must meet at least twice a year. In India, the Parliament conducts three sessions each year:
– Budget session: February to May
– Monsoon session: July to September
– Winter session: November to December
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