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Rajya Sabha
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This HANDBOOK is intended to serve as a guide on various Parliamentary Practices and Procedures, amenities to members and certain other miscellaneous items of interest to and use of members of Rajya Sabha, particularly new members.

For facility, the Handbook explains the rules and procedures in simple language. Members are requested that for the purpose of quoting as an authority, they may consult the relevant provisions of the Constitution, the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Rajya Sabha and the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954 and the Rules made thereunder. The term "House" is used in this publication for the "Rajya Sabha" unlike, its definition in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Rajya Sabha.

The Handbook has been published after completely revising and updating the earlier version published in 1996.

New Delhi
April, 2002



  1. Composition

    1. According to article 79 of the Constitution, Parliament consists of the President and two Houses to be known as the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha). Article 80 inter alia provides that the Rajya Sabha shall consist of :

      1. twelve members nominated by the President from amongst persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature. science, art and social service; and

      2. not more than two hundred and thirty-eight representatives of the States and of the Union Territories. The allocation of these seats is in accordance with the provisions in that behalf contained in the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution.

    2. The present strength of the Rajya Sabha is 245, of whom 233 are representatives of the States/Union Territories and 12 are nominated by the President.

    3. The allocation of seats to be filled by the representatives of the States/Union Territories as laid down in the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution is as follows:

      1. Andhra Pradesh 18
      2. Arunachal Pradesh 1
      3. Assam 7
      4. Bihar 16
      5. Chhattisgarh 5
      6. Goa 1
      7. Gujarat 11
      8. Haryana 5
      9. Himachal Pradesh 3
      10. Jammu and Kashmir 4
      11. Jharkhand 6
      12. Karnataka 12
      13. Kerala 9
      14. Madhya Pradesh 11
      15. Maharashtra 19
      16. Manipur 1
      17. Meghalaya 1
      18. Mizoram 1
      19. Nagaland 1
      20. Orissa 10
      21. Punjab 7
      22. Rajasthan 10
      23. Sikkim 1
      24. Tamil Nadu 18
      25. Tripura 1
      26. Uttaranchal 3
      27. Uttar Pradesh 31
      28. West Bengal 16
      29. The National Capital Territory of Delhi 3
      30. Pondicherry 1
        Total: 233

  2. Sessions of the Rajya Sabha

    Each Session of Rajya Sabha starts from the date of commencement of its first sitting and concludes when the House is prorogued by the President.    The Sessions are given consecutive numbers e.g. the Budget Session of 2002 was session no. 195 and next Session in monsoon will be no. 196.   Generally during a year three sessions of the Rajya Sabha are held, as follows:

    1. First Session (Budget Session) held between mid or late February to mid May has a Budget break from mid March to mid April to enable Department-related Committees to consider and report on Demands for Grants of the various Ministries.

    2. Second Session (Monsoon Session) is generally held in mid July to end of August

    3. Third Session (Winter Session) is held from end of November to end of December

    When on the recommendation of the Government the President calls the Rajya Sabha into Session, a Summons is sent to each Member under the authority of the Secretary-General.  The Provisional Calendar of Sittings, chart showing dates of draw of lots and last dates of receipt of notice of questions and a Bulletin Part-II containing information in respect of various matters connected with the business for the session is also issued to each member along with the Summons.

  3. Address by the President and Motion of Thanks thereon (Rules 14-21 of the Rules of Procedure)

    1. At the commencement of the first session after each general election to the Lok Sabha and at the commencement of the first session of each calendar  year,  the President addresses both Houses of Parliament assembled together in the Central Hall and informs Parliament of the achievements, policies and programmes of his Government.

    2. On the date of the Address, the President arrives in the Central Hall in procession along with the Chairman, Rajya Sabha, the Speaker, Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs,  the Secretary-General, Rajya Sabha and the Secretary-General, Lok Sabha. Members take their seats in the Central Hall at least five minutes before the President arrives. On the entry of the President, Members   rise in their places and remain standing until the President  has taken his seat at the dais. Immediately thereafter, the national anthem is played by a band from one of the lobbies of the Central Hall. The President then addresses the members. After the President's Address, its other version (i.e.Hindi or English) is read by the  Vice-President. Members do not leave the Central Hall when the President addresses or the  Vice-President reads the Address. The national anthem is again played at the end of the Address.

    3. After the national anthem, the President leaves the Central Hall in procession. Members rise and remain standing till the procession leaves the Central Hall.

    4. Members who have not already made and subscribed the oath or affirmation are admitted to the Central Hall on the occasion of the Address on production of either the certificate of election granted to them by the Returning Officer or the Summons for the session issued to them.

    5. The President's Address to both Houses of Parliament assembled together is a solemn and formal act under the Constitution. Utmost dignity and decorum befitting the occasion is maintained during the Address. The House, therefore, expects that no member should do anything by words or action which will mar the solemnity or dignity of the occasion.

    6. Half-an-hour after the conclusion of the President's Address, the Rajya Sabha holds a separate brief  sitting in its own Chamber when a copy of the Address is laid on the Table of the House by the Secretary-General. Thereafter copies of the English and Hindi versions of the Address are made available to members in the Lobby. Members who do not collect their copies from the Lobby can obtain them from the Publications Counter later on.

    7. The President's Address is discussed on a Motion of Thanks moved by a member and seconded   by another member.  The  motion is generally worded  as follows “That the Members of the Rajya Sabha assembled in this session are deeply grateful to  the President for the Address which he has been pleased to deliver to both Houses of Parliament assembled together on  ……”.  The mover and the seconder of the Motion of Thanks are selected by the Prime Minister. The notice of such a motion is therefore, received from the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs. Allotment of time for the purpose is made by the Chairman in consultation with the  Business Advisory Committee. The scope of discussion on the Address is very wide and members are free to speak on a variety of issues ranging from national to international problems.

    8. Members may give notices of amendments to the Motion of Thanks (it may be noted that the amendment proposed  is  to be in respect  of the Motion of Thanks and not the address itself).   There is no prescribed form for this purpose.  Members  can use their letter heads for sending  their amendments to the Secretary General. An  amendment to the Motion of Thanks is generally worded as follows:-

      That at the end of the Motion, the following be added namely:-

      “but regret that the Address does not mention/fails to mention about the ….” etc.

      Those  amendments found admissible under the rules are numbered and printed and circulated in advance and after the Motion is moved and seconded, they are moved by members concerned  as soon as the Chair calls out the amendment numbers. 

    9. The Business Advisory Committee allots time for  discussing the Motion of Thanks and the time is proportionately  allotted to the various political parties.  The Leaders of the Parties give the list of  speakers to the Secretary General in respect of the Party and a record is maintained during the discussion of the time taken by each speaker.

    10. The Prime Minister or any other Minister, whether he has previously taken part in the discussion or not, has a general right of explaining the position of the Government   by way of reply at the end of the discussion.  As a convention the Prime Minister gives the reply and in his absence, the Leader of the House may do so.   Thereafter, amendments are disposed of and the Motion of Thanks  is  put to vote and adopted.
  4. Oath or Affirmation by Members (Rule 5 of the Rules of Procedure)

    1. As required under article 99 of the Constitution, every member, before taking his seat in the Rajya Sabha has to make and subscribe an oath or affirmation in the following form:

      "I, A.B., having been elected (or nominated) a member of the Council of States do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India and that I will faithfully discharge the duty upon which I am about to enter."

    2. Members may make oath or affirmation in Hindi or in English or in any of the languages specified in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. A member has to make such oath or affirmation at the commencement of a sitting of the Council or at such other time of the sitting as the Chairman may direct. Newly elected Members may also, in exceptional cases, make and subscribe oath/affirmation in Chairman's Room in Parliament House, when the House is not in Session, if permitted by the Chairman.

    3. A Member, when he comes to make oath or affirmation, has to furnish to the Secretary-General the following:

      1. The certificate of election granted to him by the Returning Officer under rule 85 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 or if he is a nominated member, a certified copy of the notification nominating him as a member. An hour before the commencement of the sitting of the House, he may contact an officer in the Table Office (Room No. 33), Parliament House, and indicate the language in which he/she wishes to make the oath or affirmation so that form of oath/affirmation in that language can be made available to him;

      2. A statement of particulars and declaration in Form III under rule 4 of the Members of Rajya Sabha (Disqualification on ground of Defection) Rules, 1985 (available in Table Office).

    4. Oath/affirmation is administered as the first item of business of the day.  On the name of the member being called by the Secretary-General, the member proceeds from the place he is occupying, to the right hand side of the Secretary-General's Table, where a microphone is installed. A copy of the form of oath or affirmation, as the case may be, in the language in which the member desires to make the oath/affirmation is then handed over to him. The member faces the Chair while making the oath/ affirmation, then goes up to the Chair, shakes hands with or greets the Chairman and then passes behind the Chair to the other side of the Secretary-General's Table, where he signs the 'Roll of Members'. After signing the Roll, he takes his seat in the House.

  5. Seating of Members ( Rule 4  of the Rules of Procedure)

    The members have to sit in such order as the Chairman determines from time to time. For the purpose of Divisions (voting) in the Rajya Sabha, each member has been assigned a particular seat in the Chamber and the Division Number allotted to the member is the same as his/ her seat number.  The Treasury  Benches are on the right hand side of the chamber, while the Opposition Benches are on the left hand side and in between other parties are assigned seats as per their numerical strength in Rajya Sabha from right to left of the chamber. The allotment of vacant seats to Members is made by the Secretary-General keeping in view the seniority of Members, requests received from Party Leaders/Whips and need for contiguity of seats of a party.

  1. (A). Attendance

    Before entering the Council Chamber a member has to record his presence in the Attendance Register which remains placed  in the Inner Lobby and he has to sign it every day to mark his presence at the sittings of the House. For the convenience of members the Attendance Register has been split up into four parts containing the following Division Numbers :

    1. Division Nos.-1 to 61

    2. Division Nos.-62 to 127

    3. Division Nos.-128 to 195

    4. Division Nos.-196 to 250

    and each part is kept on a separate rostrum in the Lobby.
    Members should be present in the House a few minutes before the scheduled time, which is ordinarily 11.00 a.m. At the appointed time in the House the Marshal announces the arrival of the Chairman, whereupon the Chairman immediately enters the Chamber. Members should stop all conversation, be in their seats and rise in their places. Members who enter the House at that time should stand silently in the gangway, till the Chairman takes the Chair and thereafter they should go to their seats.

  2. Time of Sittings (Rules 11 and 13 of the Rules of Procedure)

    Rules 11 and 13 of the Rules of Procedure has empowered the Chairman to fix the time of the sittings of the Council. The Rajya Sabha normally sits from 11.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. and from 2.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m. Between 1.00 p.m. and 2.00 p.m. the House generally adjourns for lunch. Decisions to sit beyond 5:00 pm are taken at the Business Advisory Committee meetings keeping in view the state of the business.

  3. Government Business

    Before the commencement of each session, a statement showing Government Legislative and other business expected to be taken up during that session; as received from the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs is published in Bulletin-Part II for the information of Members.

  4. Private Members' Business (Rule 24 of the Rules of Procedure)

    Private Members’ Business (Bills and Resolutions) is normally taken up on Fridays falling during the session and for this purpose two and a half hours of  a sitting on  Fridays  are allotted. Alternate Fridays are allotted for Bills and Resolutions. The Chairman may, however, in consultation with the Leader of the House, allot any day other than a Friday for the transaction of Private Members' business.  If there is no sitting of the Council on a Friday, the Chairman may direct that two and a half hours of a sitting on any other day in the same week may be allotted for Private Members' Business.  In such an eventuality generally  Thursday is allotted for the purpose.

  5. Quorum

    Under article 100 of the Constitution, the quorum to constitute a meeting of either House of Parliament is one-tenth of the total number of members of the House. If at anytime during a meeting of a House there is no quorum, it shall be the duty of the Chairman or person acting as such, either to adjourn the House or to suspend the meeting until there is a quorum.

    The total membership of the Rajya Sabha is 245, therefore, the presence of 25 members is the quorum sufficient to constitute its meeting.

    Before the Rajya Sabha commences its sitting in the morning and after the lunch break the Marshal ascertains that there is quorum. After he has reported to the Chairman that the required number of members are present in the House, the Chairman takes the Chair. Thereafter, the Chairman presumes that there is quorum in the House at all times unless he suo moto notices the lack of quorum or his attention is invited to the lack of quorum. In either case, the quorum bell is rung and if the quorum is made within the first ringing of the bell. or if necessary, within the second ringing of the bell, as the Chairman may direct, the business of the House proceeds. Otherwise, the Chairman may adjourn the House for a short while till the quorum is made or for the rest of the day depending on the circumstances.

    If at the hour appointed for commencement/reassembly of the sitting of the House, there is no quorum even after ringing of the bell twice, the hour for commencement/reassembly of the sitting may be postponed under orders of Presiding Officer and members present in the House informed through an announcement by the Secretary General. 

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