The Rajya Sabha (Hindi: राज्य सभा; meaning the "Council of States") is the upper house of the Parliament of India. Membership is limited to 250 members, 12 of whom are chosen by the President of India for their expertise in specific fields of art, literature, science, and social services. These members are known as nominated members. The remainder of the body is elected by state and territorial legislatures. Terms of office are for six years, with one third of the members retiring every two years.
The Rajya Sabha meets in continuous session and, unlike the lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, is not subject to dissolution. The Rajya Sabha shares legislative powers with the Lok Sabha, except in the area of supply, where the Lok Sabha has overriding powers. In the case of conflicting legislation, a joint sitting of the two houses is held. However, since the Lok Sabha has more than twice as many members than the Rajya Sabha, it holds de facto veto power in such joint sessions. Only three joint session have been held. The last one was for the passage of the anti-terror law POTA.
The Vice-President of India (currently, Hamid Ansari) is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, who is elected from amongst its members, takes care of the day-to-day matters of the house in the absence of the Chairman.
The Rajya Sabha held its first sitting on 13 May 1952.