Article 63 of the Constitution of India provides that there shall be a Vice-President of India. Articles 64 and 89 (1) provide that the Vice-President of India shall be ex-officio Chairman of the Council of States i.e., Rajya Sabha.
The role of the Vice-President of India as the chairman of the Rajya Sabha
As Presiding Officer of the House, the chairman ensures that the proceedings of the House are conducted in accordance with the relevant constitutional provisions, rules, practices and conventions and that decorum is maintained in the House. Whenever important debates or landmark discussions such as on Constitution Amendment Bills take place, he is invariably in the Chair.
As Principal Spokesman of the House, the chairman is the principal spokesman of the House and represents its collective voice to the outside world. Communications from the President to the House are made to the Chairman.
Casting of Vote by the Chairman: Under the Constitution, the Chairman exercises only a casting vote in the case of equality of votes.
Powers and Duties of the Chairman, as laid down by the Constitution of India:
Empowered to adjourn the House or to suspend its sitting in the event of absence of quorum.
Under the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution, the Chairman determines the question as to disqualification of a member of the Rajya Sabha on ground of defection.
Powers Conferred on the Chairman under the Rules of Procedure of the Rajya Sabha
The Chairman may, if he thinks fit, call a sitting of the House before the date or hour to which it has been adjourned, or at any time after the House has been adjourned sine die.
The Chairman’s consent is required to raise a question of breach of privilege in the House.
Parliamentary Committees, whether set up by the Chairman or by the House, work under his guidance. He appoints their Chairmen and issues such directions to them as may be necessary in respect of the procedure and work.
Right of the Chairman to interpret the Constitution and Rules: It is the right of the Chairman to interpret the Constitution and rules so far as matters in or relating to the House are concerned
Maintenance of Order in the House: is a fundamental duty of the Chairman and he has been invested with all the necessary disciplinary powers under the rules for the purpose, such as checking irrelevance or repetition in the speech of a member and so on.
In the constitutional set-up, the holder of the office of Vice-President is part of the Executive but as Chairman of the Rajya Sabha he is a part of Parliament. He has thus a dual capacity and holds two distinct and separate offices.