Functions of Legislature

The Legislature in Indian Democracy plays the a democratic country seeks to give shape to and fulfills the people’s aspirations, necessities and ideals and the requirements of the state. It also shapes laws and formulates fiscal measures.

Legislature may be of two types :- Unicameral or Bicameral. A system in which there is only one House of the Legislature, it is called Unicameralism, while if there are two Houses of the Legislature, it is known as Bicameralism. Most national Legislatures arc bicameral is having two Houses.

The Union Legislature of India, called Parliament, is bicameral i.e., composed of two Houses. Only five state assemblies in India are bicameral. Legislatures of West Bengal, Tripura and many other States are unicameral.

Functions of the Legislature

The Legislature discharges various functions in the political system:

1. Making of the Laws: The primary function of the legislature is legislation. According to the doctrine of the separation of powers the chief function of the legislative body is to enact laws. The legislature not only enacts new law, it also abolishes old and vexatious laws.

2. Control of Finance: The financial functions of the legislature are very important. The legislature controls the finance of the country. It discusses and determines the government’s revenues and expenditures; it lays down the principles of taxation; it authorizes the imposition of taxes and the modes of raising them. In other words, it passes budget and financial bills.

3. Public Appointments in High Places: Sometimes the legislature performs certain executive functions as well. For example, in the U.S.A, the President appoints highly placed government officials with the approval of the Senate, the Upper House of the legislature. In certain states judges of the higher courts are appointed by the legislature.

4. Control over the Ministry: In the cabinet form of government the ministers are individually and collectively responsible and accountable to the legislature. The legislature controls the council of ministers by discussion, debates and deliberations, and, if necessary, can even force the cabinet to resign by passing a motion of no-confidence against it.

5. Election of the Head of State: In some countries the Head of State is elected by the legislature. In India, for example, the President is elected by the elected members of both the Houses of Parliament and the elected members of all state legislatures. The vice-President of India is also elected by the members of both the Houses of Parliament. The Indian Parliament also reserves the right of removing the President and the vice-President from their offices.

6. Judicial Functions: The legislature performs certain judicial functions also. The British House of Lords acts as the highest court of appeal with regard to certain cases and the American Senate has the right, like that of the Indian Parliament, to impeach the highest executive, the President.

7. Amendment of the Constitution: The legislature of certain countries enjoys the exclusive right of amending the constitution. Parliament of the Indian Union can amend the Indian constitution. Parliament of Switzerland is the supreme and final interpreter of the federal constitution.

8. Role in Developing Political Consciousness and Public Opinion: The debates and discussions on various issues and policies in the legislature by the members are conducive to the growth of political consciousness and public opinion. But if the legislative deliberations are made from the view point of the interest of political parties instead of national interest, then such deliberations fail to play constructive role.

9. Committee and Commission: Legislature forms different committees and commissions on different burning political, social and economic issues from time to time. The legislature also considers different reports submitted by various commissions and committees formed under the constitution.

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