The Council of States (Rajya Sabha) is the Upper House of our Parliament. It consists of not more than 250 members, out of which, 238 members represent the States and Union territories and 12 members are nominated by the President from amongst the persons having special knowledge and practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service. At present, the actual strength of Rajya Sabha is 245.
Special Powers of Rajya Sabha
Rajya Sabha represents the federal principle in Indian polity. Members of Rajya Sabha do not represent any constituency like the Members of Lok Sabha; they represent a particular State/ Union Territory. Being the federal chamber of Parliament of India, it enjoys the following special powers under the Constitution:
The charges against the Vice-President can be levelled only at the Rajya Sabha.
Article 249 of the Constitution
It provides that Rajya Sabha may pass a resolution, by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the Members present and voting to the effect that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest that Parliament should make a law with respect to any matter enumerated in the State List. Then, Parliament is empowered to make a law on the subject specified in the resolution for the whole or any part of the territory of India. Such a resolution remains in force for a maximum period of one year but this period can be extended by one year at a time by passing a further resolution.
Article 312 of the Constitution
If Rajya Sabha passes a resolution by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the Members present and voting declaring that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest to create one or more All India Services common to the Union and the State, Parliament has the power to create by law such services.
Under the Constitution, President is empowered to issue Proclamations in the event of the national emergency (Article 352), in the event of failure of constitutional machinery in a State (Article 356), or in the case of financial emergency (Article 360).
Normally, every such proclamation has to be approved by both Houses of Parliament within a stipulated period. Under certain circumstances, however, Rajya Sabha enjoys special powers in this regard. If a Proclamation is issued at a time when Lok Sabha takes place within the period allowed for its approval, then the Proclamation can remain effective if a resolution approving it, is passed by Rajya Sabha.