How to Become Rajya Sabha Member

How to Become rajya sabha member

In the democratic framework of India, the Parliament is bicameral, comprising the Lok Sabha (Lower House) and the Rajya Sabha (Upper House).

While the Lok Sabha members are directly elected by the public, the Rajya Sabha members have a different pathway to their positions.

Representing states, Union territories, or being nominated by the President of India, their selection is a combination of electoral processes involving state legislative assemblies and presidential discretion.

The intricacies of this system ensure that a wide range of interests, both regional and specialized, find a voice in the nation’s legislative affairs.

Citizenship & Age Criteria for Rajya Sabha Membership

When considering the candidacy for a member of the Rajya Sabha, the foundational criteria revolve around citizenship and age.

These criteria ensure that candidates have a certain maturity and allegiance to the country.

  1. Indian Citizenship:
    • Requirement: To become a member of the Rajya Sabha, the foremost requirement is that the individual must be a citizen of India. This stipulation ensures that the person has allegiance to the country and represents its interests.
    • Proof: Typically, one would need to provide documents like an Indian passport, a certificate of naturalization, or other relevant certificates to verify citizenship status.
  2. Minimum Age:
    • Requirement: The aspirant must be at least 30 years old at the time of nomination or election. This age requirement is higher than that for the Lok Sabha, where the minimum age is 25. The rationale behind the higher age criterion for the Rajya Sabha is the belief that the Upper House benefits from members with more life and, potentially, professional or political experience.
    • Proof: Age can be confirmed through official documents like a birth certificate, educational certificates, or any other valid government document stating the date of birth.

Other Qualifications for Rajya Sabha Membership

In addition to the primary criteria of citizenship and age, there are other qualifications, as well as disqualifications, that ensure the appropriateness and integrity of the candidates.

These secondary criteria help to uphold the honor and prestige of the Rajya Sabha.

  1. Voter Registration:
    • Requirement: An aspirant for the Rajya Sabha must be registered as a voter in any state or Union territory in India. This emphasizes the individual’s active participation and stake in the democratic process of the country.
    • Proof: The Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC) or details from the electoral rolls can serve as evidence of voter registration.
  2. Mental Health:
    • Requirement: The candidate should not be of unsound mind and must not stand so declared by a competent court. This criterion ensures that members are mentally capable of performing their duties in the House.
    • Proof: If there were any previous instances where an individual was declared of unsound mind, court records would indicate such a declaration. Absence of such records generally implies compliance with this criterion.
  3. Financial Solvency:
    • Requirement: The individual must not be an undischarged insolvent. This ensures that members do not have unresolved financial liabilities, which might influence their decision-making or lead to potential conflicts of interest.
    • Proof: Relevant court records or financial documents would indicate if someone has been declared insolvent.
  4. Office of Profit:
    • Requirement: A candidate should not be holding any office of profit under the Union or state government, excluding certain posts that are specified and exempted by Parliament. The idea behind this is to avoid any potential conflicts of interest and to ensure that legislative duties in the Rajya Sabha are not compromised.
    • Clarification: An “office of profit” refers to a position that brings financial gain or advantage. Historically, this rule was incorporated to ensure that there is a clear separation between the executive and the legislature, thus preventing potential undue influence or bias in legislative matters.
    • Proof: Declarations of employment or office, salary slips, and related documentation can validate whether a candidate holds an office of profit.

Representation in the Rajya Sabha

The composition of the Rajya Sabha is designed to ensure representation from different entities within India, namely the states, Union territories, and distinguished individuals from various fields.

This unique setup provides a broad perspective in the Upper House.

  1. State Representatives:
    • Concept: The Indian federal system gives individual states the right to representation in the Rajya Sabha. This ensures that each state, regardless of its size or population, has a voice in the Upper House.
    • Selection: Members who represent states in the Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of the respective state’s Legislative Assembly. This is an indirect form of election where legislators from state assemblies (MLAs) vote for the candidates.
    • Seat Allocation: Each state is allocated a specific number of seats in the Rajya Sabha based on its population. This ensures proportional representation, and over time, as demographics change, the number of seats allocated to a state can be revised.
  2. Union Territories (UTs):
    • Concept: Union territories are regions that are directly governed by the central government. They too have representation in the Rajya Sabha to ensure their concerns and perspectives are considered.
    • Selection: The manner of selection for representatives from Union territories is determined by Parliament. Not all Union territories have Rajya Sabha representation; only those specified by the Constitution get representation.
    • Seat Allocation: The allocation for Union territories is not as extensive as for states, given their smaller size and governance structure.
  3. President’s Nomination:
    • Concept: Apart from the elected members, the Rajya Sabha also has seats for members nominated by the President of India. This provision is to ensure that experts and eminent personalities from various fields have a platform in the legislative process.
    • Selection: The President can nominate up to 12 members to the Rajya Sabha. These nominations are based on the individual’s exceptional expertise and contributions in fields such as literature, art, science, and social services.
    • Purpose: This mechanism ensures that the Rajya Sabha benefits from specialized knowledge and insights which elected representatives might not necessarily possess.

Election Process for the Rajya Sabha

The election to the Rajya Sabha is unique as it involves an indirect form of voting.

The process is designed to ensure that states and Union territories have a voice in the central legislative body, reflecting the federal structure of the Indian Constitution.

  1. Single Transferable Vote System:
    • Concept: This system allows voters (in this case, the members of the State Legislative Assembly or MLAs) to rank their preferences among the candidates. It ensures that as many votes as possible are used in determining the outcome, minimizing ‘wasted’ votes.
    • Operation: In this process, each voter marks their first preference and can also indicate subsequent preferences. The counting of votes is done in multiple rounds, ensuring that preferences are taken into account.
  2. Achieving the Quota:
    • Calculation: For a candidate to be declared a winner, they must achieve a certain quota or threshold of votes. This quota is determined based on the formula:
    • [ \text{Quota} = \frac{\text{Total number of valid votes}}{\text{Number of seats to be filled + 1}} Then, 1 is added to the result to finalize the quota.
    • Purpose: This quota ensures that only those candidates who have garnered sufficient support are elected.
  3. Counting Rounds:
    • First Preference Count: In the initial round, the first preferences marked by the voters are counted. If any candidate achieves the required quota in this round, they are declared elected.
    • Transfer of Surplus Votes: If a candidate receives votes more than the required quota, the surplus votes are transferred proportionally to the next preferred candidates. This ensures that excess votes of a popular candidate don’t go to waste but instead support other candidates.
    • Elimination: If no candidate reaches the quota in the initial count, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The votes of this eliminated candidate are then transferred to the remaining candidates based on the next preference marked by the voters.
    • Subsequent Rounds: This process of transferring votes continues in subsequent rounds – either transferring surplus votes from those who’ve crossed the quota or transferring votes from eliminated candidates – until the required number of candidates achieve the quota.
  4. Role of Political Dynamics:
    • While the process is mathematically defined, Rajya Sabha elections are also deeply influenced by political strategies and alliances. Since MLAs vote in these elections, the party or coalition with a majority in the State Legislative Assembly often has a significant advantage. However, due to the preferential system, smaller parties and coalitions can also impact the results, especially if they strategically align their preferences.

Term of a Rajya Sabha Member

The tenure or term of a Rajya Sabha member is designed to provide stability and continuity to the Upper House of the Indian Parliament.

Unlike the Lok Sabha, where the entire house can be dissolved, the Rajya Sabha is a permanent body, with only a portion of its members retiring periodically.

  1. Duration of Term:
    • Fixed Period: Once elected or nominated to the Rajya Sabha, a member serves a term of six years. This is irrespective of whether they were elected by state legislative assemblies, represented a Union territory, or were nominated by the President.
  2. Staggered Retirement:
    • One Third Retire: Unlike the Lok Sabha, which is dissolved en masse, the Rajya Sabha never dissolves entirely. Instead, one third of its members retire every two years. This system ensures that the Rajya Sabha always remains functional and provides continuity in the legislative process.
    • Purpose: The staggered retirement design ensures that the Rajya Sabha always has experienced members, which helps in maintaining institutional memory and continuity in the legislative process.
  3. Re-election & Continuous Service:
    • No Term Limit: After the completion of their six-year term, members of the Rajya Sabha are not barred from seeking re-election. They can be re-elected or re-nominated multiple times, leading to the possibility of continuous long-term service in the House.
    • Fresh Election: If a member wishes to serve again after their term concludes, they would need to go through the election process afresh and secure the required number of votes or, in the case of nominated members, receive another nomination from the President.

Filling of Vacancies in the Rajya Sabha

While Rajya Sabha members are elected for six-year terms, unforeseen circumstances, such as resignations, deaths, or disqualifications, can lead to mid-term vacancies.

To ensure that the Rajya Sabha remains adequately represented, there’s a system in place to fill these vacancies promptly.

  1. Cause of Vacancy:
    • Various situations can lead to a seat becoming vacant in the Rajya Sabha before the end of the regular six-year term. These situations include the death of a member, resignation, disqualification due to a constitutional or statutory provision, or any other reason.
  2. Election to Fill Vacancy:
    • Timely Process: When a seat becomes vacant, the election to fill the position must be held as soon as possible. This ensures that the representation of the respective state or Union territory in the Rajya Sabha is not diminished for an extended period.
    • Completion of Term: It’s crucial to note that the member elected in such a by-election serves only the remainder of the term of the member who caused the vacancy. For instance, if a member resigns after serving three years of their six-year term, the newly elected member will serve for the remaining three years and not a fresh six-year term.
  3. Nominated Members:
    • If a vacancy arises among the 12 members nominated by the President (due to reasons like resignation, death, etc.), the President nominates another person to fill the vacancy. Just like elected members in a by-election, the newly nominated member serves for the remaining term of the member they replaced.
  4. Resignations:
    • Members wishing to resign from the Rajya Sabha must submit their resignation in writing to the Vice-President of India, who is also the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The resignation becomes effective once it is accepted.
  5. Disqualifications:
    • A member may be disqualified for various reasons, including holding an office of profit, unsoundness of mind, undischarged insolvency, or defection from their political party. The process for determining such disqualifications is laid down in the Constitution and relevant statutes.

Code of Conduct for Rajya Sabha Members

The Rajya Sabha, as an integral part of the Indian Parliament, upholds certain standards of behavior and ethics for its members.

The code of conduct aims to ensure that the dignity, integrity, and honor of the House are maintained, and members carry out their duties diligently and without conflicts of interest.

  1. Origins of the Code:
    • The idea of a formalized code of conduct for members of Parliament emerged due to instances of perceived misconduct and the subsequent need to ensure the highest standards of behavior. Over time, these standards were codified to provide clear guidelines.
  2. Declaration of Interests:
    • Financial Interests: Members are required to declare their financial interests, including directorships, shareholdings, remunerative consultative work, professional engagements, etc. This is to avoid conflicts of interest when the House takes up matters related to those interests.
    • Register of Interests: A Register of Members’ Interests is maintained where all such declarations are recorded. This transparency ensures public trust and accountability.
  3. Gifts, Foreign Travel, and Hospitality:
    • Members must declare any gifts received by them in their capacity as members of the Rajya Sabha. This excludes gifts from close relatives and friends.
    • Details of foreign travel and hospitality received should also be declared, especially if they are not borne by the member or their close relatives.
  4. Ban on Professional Practice:
    • Members are discouraged from practicing any profession which might conflict with the dignity of their position as a member or might give rise to a conflict of interest in relation to their functions as such a member.
  5. Misuse of Position:
    • Members are prohibited from using their position as a member of Rajya Sabha for any direct or indirect financial gain or for any illegal purpose.
  6. Maintaining Decorum:
    • The code emphasizes the importance of maintaining the decorum of the House. This includes refraining from shouting, sloganeering, or any other behavior unbecoming of a member.
    • Members are expected to adhere to the directions given by the Chairperson (the Vice-President of India in the context of the Rajya Sabha) and respect parliamentary procedures and practices.
  7. Committee on Ethics:
    • To oversee the ethical behavior of members, a Committee on Ethics exists in the Rajya Sabha. This committee examines complaints related to the unethical conduct of members and also frames rules and procedures related to ethical standards.
  8. Penalties for Breach:
    • Breach of the code of conduct can lead to penalties, ranging from a reprimand to suspension or even expulsion from the House, depending on the severity of the breach.


The Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Indian Parliament, holds a pivotal position in the nation’s legislative framework.

The journey to becoming a member is shaped by a series of well-defined criteria, ranging from citizenship and age qualifications to more nuanced elements like representation and other qualifications.

The election process is distinctive, employing an indirect voting system involving the Single Transferable Vote, which ensures broad representation of states and Union territories.

Members serve a six-year term, but the House itself remains permanent due to its staggered retirement system, ensuring continuity and stability.

Vacancies, which may arise due to various unforeseen circumstances, are promptly filled to ensure that the representation remains intact.

Members, while holding esteemed positions, are also bound by a stringent code of conduct that mandates transparency, accountability, and the highest standards of ethical behavior.

This code safeguards the sanctity and integrity of the House, ensuring that members operate without conflicts and uphold the honor of their positions.

  1. The Constitution of India: The Constitution lays down the framework for the Rajya Sabha’s composition, eligibility criteria, election process, and more. It’s available on the official website of the Government of India and also in print format.
  2. Rajya Sabha’s Official Website: The official website provides a plethora of information, including current members, committees, proceedings, and rules.
  3. Parliament of India’s Official Website: This is an overarching site for both houses of the Parliament, offering resources, updates, and publications.
  4. The Representation of the People Act, 1951: This act provides details on the election process, qualifications, and disqualifications for Rajya Sabha members.
  5. Books:
    • “The Indian Parliament: A Democracy at Work” by B.L. Shankar and Valerian Rodrigues
    • “The Indian Parliament: Beyond the Seal and Signature of Ambedkar” by Sudha Pai and Avinash Kumar
  6. Research Institutes:
    • Institutions like the Centre for Policy Research and PRS Legislative Research frequently publish reports and analyses on parliamentary processes, including the workings of the Rajya Sabha.
  7. Libraries: The National Library in Kolkata and the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi house vast collections related to the Indian Parliament.
  8. Newspaper Archives: Leading newspapers like The Hindu, The Times of India, and Indian Express often have archived articles and editorials that provide insights into the Rajya Sabha’s proceedings and its members.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the primary difference between the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha?

The Lok Sabha, or House of the People, is the lower house of the Indian Parliament, and its members are directly elected by the people of India. The Rajya Sabha, or the Council of States, is the upper house, and its members are indirectly elected by elected members of the state legislative assemblies using a single transferable vote system. Additionally, the Rajya Sabha is a permanent body that cannot be dissolved, unlike the Lok Sabha.

2. How many members can the Rajya Sabha have at maximum?

The Rajya Sabha can have up to 250 members. Out of these, 238 members represent states and union territories, and 12 members are nominated by the President of India for their contributions in art, literature, science, and social services.

3. Who is the presiding officer of the Rajya Sabha?

The Vice-President of India serves as the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

4. Can a Rajya Sabha member become the Prime Minister of India?

Yes, a Rajya Sabha member can become the Prime Minister of India. However, he/she must enjoy the confidence of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament.

5. Why doesn’t the Rajya Sabha get dissolved like the Lok Sabha?

The Rajya Sabha is designed to be a permanent body to provide continuity in the legislative process. To maintain this continuity, one-third of its members retire every two years, ensuring that the House always remains functional.

6. How are vacancies filled in the Rajya Sabha?

Vacancies in the Rajya Sabha are filled through by-elections. Members elected in a by-election serve for the remaining term of the member who caused the vacancy. If a nominated member’s position becomes vacant, the President nominates another person.

7. What is the role of the Committee on Ethics in the Rajya Sabha?

The Committee on Ethics oversees the ethical behavior of Rajya Sabha members. It examines complaints related to unethical conduct, frames rules, and suggests actions in case of breaches of the code of conduct.

8. What happens if a Rajya Sabha member doesn’t declare their financial interests?

If a member fails to declare their financial interests, it can lead to a potential conflict of interest. Such a breach may result in reprimand, suspension, or even expulsion, based on recommendations from the Committee on Ethics.

9. How is the representation of states decided in the Rajya Sabha?

Representation in the Rajya Sabha is based on the population of states. Larger states have more representatives than smaller states. Members are elected by the elected members of the state legislative assemblies.

10. Can a bill be introduced in the Rajya Sabha first?

Yes, except for Money Bills, which can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha, other bills can be introduced in the Rajya Sabha first.

Meet Ankit Kumar holding a master's degree in Museology, Ankit Kumar brings a profound understanding of the cultural and historical significance of museums. With a passion for research and a keen interest in writing, they have not only excelled in guiding individuals in their career paths but also have a flair for creating insightful and engaging blogs on various aspects of museology as well as different professions.

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