Among the most famous buildings in New Delhi is the Parliament House, the circular structure near the North Secretariat Building. Here the new Constitution of the Republic of India was formulated. Sir Edwin Lutyens was generally responsible for the architecture of New Delhi. However, Parliament House is a structure designed by Sir Herbert Baker: it has a continuous open portico half a mile in circumference.
How did Parliament have its own security personnel: The British government introduced the Public Safety Bill, 1929 with the aim of curbing the communist movement in India. It grants broad powers to the government, including detaining individuals deemed a threat to public safety without trial for up to two years. Legislative Assembly Speaker Vithalbhai Patel said any discussion on the bill in the Assembly could affect the trial in Meerut where 31 alleged communists, including three Englishmen, are on trial for organizing a railway strike. The British government challenged his position, and a lengthy debate ensued over whether Patel, as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, had the power to filibuster the bill. At 8y In April 1929, as he rose to give his final ruling on the matter, two bombs were dropped from the visitors’ hall. They exploded between the official seats, injuring a few members. No one died. After the bombings, there was a barrage of red leaflets with the message written on them, meaning, “Only the sound of the explosion is expected to reach the deaf.” The bombers were Bhagat Singh and Bakushwar Dutt. The bombing, for the first time, shed light on the security of the assembly headquarters. The question was who is responsible for this? The Government of India and the Chief Commissioner of Delhi emphasized that they are the sole arbiters of the adequacy of protective measures in the House. Patel, on the other hand, maintained that power and control over the Society’s campuses should revert to the President and ordered on 20 January 1930 that the galleries (press, visitors, etc.) be closed until such time as settlement came. The matter has been reached. After negotiations, an agreement was reached a month later which laid the foundation for the current surveillance and ward staff of Parliament House. The current situation is that all security arrangements on the Council campus are under the control of the Chairman of the Council who exercises his authority through officers whom he directly appoints.
The imposing 560-foot-diameter circular structure of Parliament House sits on an area of about 2.5 hectares. Designed by British architects Sir Edward Lutyens and Sir Ernest Becker and built in the 1920s, it is a mixture of East and West. | Image source: special arrangement
Was the Baker Building large enough to accommodate the Indian Parliament? The simple answer is no. The chamber where the Central Legislative Council sat and which was converted into the Lok Sabha, was originally designed with a floor area of 3,688 sq ft and a seating arrangement for 148 members. After the first general election in 1951-52, the chamber was remodeled and the floor area increased to 4,804 square feet to provide housing for 450 members. The wall of the room was smashed to include part of the outer hallway in the room. The original wall was replaced with twelve marble columns. As the Lok Sabha’s power grew, the need for space increased, forcing some MPs to sit behind columns.
The Parliament Building was the first seat of the Indian Supreme Court: The Princes’ Chamber built by Baker for the Council of Rulers of Indian States in the pre-independence period was also available to the Federal Court of India for use as a courtroom when the Council of Princes was in session. After independence, the chamber was used regularly by the Supreme Court for over ten years, until in 1958 it finally moved to its own building. The room was then redesigned into the library hall. It still bears 102 emblems of the former Indian states.
Honorable Representative: The first session of the elected Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha was on the 13thy May 1952. Parliament was still fine-tuning many operational details. One such detail, which the Constitution’s framers and early parliamentarians may have forgotten to consider, is who exactly deserves the title “Respectable.” On 20 December 1952, while the Lok Sabha was sitting for the day, the Marshal, announcing the entry of the Speaker into the House, shouted “Sabhasadhu-mananiya adhikyash ji” (Members, Honorable Speaker). Now, one MP took it as an insult and protested. Having deemed his objection valid, the Speaker immediately decided that every member, regardless of his party or parliamentary position, should be called “honourable.”