The primary function of Parliament is to make laws for the governance of the country. It has exclusive power to make laws on the subjects enumerated in the Union List (which at present has 100 subjects, originally 97 subjects) and on the residuary subjects (that is, subjects not enumerated in any of the three lists). With regard to Concurrent List (which has at present 52 subjects, originally 47 subjects), the Parliament has overriding powers, that is, the law of Parliament prevails over the law of the state legislature in case of a conflict between the two.
The Constitution also empowers the Parliament to make laws on the subjects enumerated in the State List (which at present has 61 subjects, originally 66 subjects) under the following five abnormal circumstances:
- when Rajya Sabha passes a resolution to that effect.
- when a proclamation of National Emergency is in operation.
- when two or more states make a joint request to the Parliament.
- when necessary to give effect to international agreements, treaties and conventions.
- when President’s Rule is in operation in the state.
All the ordinances issued by the president (during the recess of the Parliament) must be approved by the Parliament within six weeks after its reassembly. An ordinance becomes inoperative if it is not approved by the parliament within that period.
The Parliament makes laws in a skeleton form and authorises the Executive to make detailed rules and regulations within the framework of the parent law. This is known as delegated legislation or executive legislation or subordinate legislation. Such rules and regulations are placed before the Parliament for its examination.