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  • The government recently nominated musician Ilaiyaraaja, track-and-field icon PT Usha, Telugu screenwriter V Vijayendra Prasad, and philanthropist and spiritual leader Veerendra Heggade to Rajya Sabha.
  • The four new entrants to Rajya Sabhabelong to four southern states, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka

  • Ilaiyaraaja, Usha, Prasad, and Heggade will serve until July 2028
  • The Upper House of Parliament now has 9 nominated members — the other five being lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani, dancer Sonal Mansingh, politician Ram Shakal, author and columnist Rakesh Sinha, and former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. 3 nominated positions are currently vacant.

Constitutional Provisions

  • The Union Constitution Committee recommended that, “The Upper Chamber should also include representatives of certain important functional interests such as scientists and university teachers, and for this purpose the President should be given authority to  nominate some ten members in consultation with scientific bodies and universities.”

  • Article 80 of the Constitution (“Composition of the Council of States”) says – The Council of States shall consist of :-
    • 12 members to be nominated by the President from the fields of Literature, science, art and social service.
    • not more than 238 representatives of the States and of the Union territories.

  • In terms of gender balance, in the previous 70 years, the government has nominated 24 women (17%) to Rajya Sabha.

Why these Members are Nominated and Their Role

  • Our Constitution framers felt that Rajya Sabha should have members who might not win elections but would bring their knowledge and expertise to discussions in the upper House.

  • The first group of 12 eminent individuals nominated to Rajya Sabha in 1952 included biochemist Dr Sahib Singh Sokhey and mathematician and physicist Satyendranath Bose.
  • Sokhey had been instrumental in manufacturing plague and cholera vaccines and Bose was known for his pioneering work in quantum mechanics and collaboration with Albert Einstein.
  • Since Rajya Sabha was constituted in 1952, a total 143 individuals have been nominated as its members.
  • Nominated members of Rajya Sabha enjoy all the powers and privileges to which the elected MPs are entitled.

  • Nominated members are not allowed to vote in the election of the President. Though they have the right to vote in the election of the Vice-President.

Politicisation of the nominated category

  • Over time, the high ideal of the nomination came to be eroded.
  • Ruling dispensations have repeatedly used the nominated category to shore up their numbers in the House, to dispense favours, and to get their preferred individuals into Parliament.
  • While a nominated member can join a political party within six months of taking his/ her seat in the House, even those who remain technically independent are assumed to be aligned with the ruling regime.

Examples

  • Maragatham Chandrasekar, Congress general secretary and former minister, served 3 terms as nominated member of Rajya Sabha from 1970 to 1988 as a “social worker”.
  • Former Assam Chief Minister Anwara Taimur (who was nominated in 1988)- Congress

Close alliance with Congress

  • 3) Indira Gandhi’s close associate Nirmala Deshpande (nominated in 1997 and 2003)
  • 4) Former minister Mani Shankar Aiyyar (nominated in 2010)
  • 5) Madan Bhatia (nominated in 1982 and 1988)
  • 6) Sat Paul Mittal (nominated in 1976 and 1982)

Close alliance with BJP

  • 7) Former Union minister Subramanian Swamy in 2016 got nominated
  • 8) Journalist nominees, the late Chandan Mitra and Swapan Dasgupta
  • 9) Actor Hema Malini, nominated in 2003
  • 10) Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu
  • 11) Former Lok Sabha member Ram Shakal in 2018.

Nominated members have shaped bills

  • They can take part in the proceedings of the House in the normal manner, even though there has been criticism that several nominated members have poor attendance and do not appear to show much interest in legislative work.
  • In this context, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, actor Rekha, and businesswoman Anu Aga have faced criticism in recent years.

  • Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi, a serving nominated MP, has an attendance of 22% in the upper House against the national average of 78%.
  • He has also been missing from the meetings of the parliamentary committees on which he is a member.

Who is to blame?

Example

  • Political parties regularly disrupt parliamentary proceedings.
  • Fali Nariman, the eminent jurist, was so fed up with the interruptions in Rajya Sabha that he introduced a private member bill for docking the salary of MPs who disrupted the House.
  • And when a political party moved a motion for suspension of question hour, he opposed it vehemently and was supported by another nominated MP, former RBI Governor Bimal Jalan.
  • Late actor Prithviraj Kapoor (1952-1960) actively participated in Rajya Sabha Proceedings. His contribution and active involvement was valued so much that the collegues used to urge Presiding Officer to give him more time to speak.
  • But he failed to convince the House about doing away with the Death penalty though created ripples in the house for further Discussion and was always proud of serving the duties successfully as a “Nominated Member”.

So Far Nominated Members of the House

 

 

 

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