Lok Sabha: Composition, System of Elections & More

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Lok Sabha
Lok Sabha

The Lok Sabha is the cornerstone of India’s democratic governance. As the house comprising direct representatives of the people of India, it plays a pivotal role in shaping national policies, enacting laws, and representing the diverse interests and will of the citizens of India. This article aims to study in detail the Lok Sabha, its composition, structure, system of elections of its members, and other related concepts.

  • The Lok Sabha is the Lower House of India’s bicameral Parliament.
  • Literally meaning the “House of the People”, the Lok Sabha has been envisaged as the House of the Parliament, composed of directly elected representatives of the Indian populace.
  • In the Indian Constitutional Framework, it has been assigned a pivotal role in the legislative process, including the enactment of laws, the formulation of the Union budget, and the articulation of the democratic will of the people.
– The Parliament of India is the legislative organ of the Union Government.
– As per the Constitutional framework, the Parliament of India consists of three parts:
a. The President of India
b. The Council of States or the Rajya Sabha – It is the Upper House or the First Chamber or the House of Elders and represents the States and UTs of the Union of India.
c. The House of the People or the Lok Sabha – It is the Lower House or the Second Chamber or the Popular House and represents the People of India as a whole.

Read our detailed article on the Rajya Sabha and the Parliament of India.
  • The Constitution has fixed the maximum strength of the Lok Sabha at 550 members, of which
    • 530 members are to be representatives of the States, and
    • 20 members are to be representatives of the Union Territories (UTs).
  • At present, the Lok Sabha comprises 543 members, of which:
    • 524 members are representatives of the States, and
    • 19 members are representatives of the Union Territories (UTs).
  • The representatives of States in the Lok Sabha are directly elected by the people from the territorial constituencies of their respective States.
  • The election of members of the Lok Sabha is based on the principle of Universal Adult Franchise.
  • Every Indian citizen who is above 18 years of age and who is not disqualified under the provisions of the Constitution or any law is eligible to vote at such election.
Note: The voting age was reduced from 21 to 18 years by the 61st Constitutional Amendment Act of 1988. 
  • The Indian Constitution has empowered the Parliament to prescribe the manner of choosing the representatives of the Union Territories in the Lok Sabha.
  • Accordingly, the Parliament has enacted the Union Territories (Direct Election to the House of the People) Act, 1965, by which the members of Lok Sabha from the Union Territories are also chosen by the direct election.
  • As of now, there are no nominated members in Lok Sabha.
  • Before 2020, the President of India used to nominate two members from the Anglo-Indian community if the community was not adequately represented in the Lok Sabha.
  • However, the 104th Amendment Act of 2019 discontinued this provision of special representation of the Anglo-Indian community in the Lok Sabha by nomination.
    • Consequently, this provision ceased to have effect on the 25th of January, 2020.
  • The normal term of the Lok Sabha is five years from the date of its first meeting after the general elections, after which it automatically dissolves.
  • The President of India is authorised to dissolve the Lok Sabha at any time even before the completion of five years.
    • This decision of the President cannot be challenged in a court of law.
  • During a National Emergency, the term of the Lok Sabha can be extended by a law of Parliament for one year at a time, for any length of time.
    • However, this extension cannot continue beyond a period of six months after the emergency has ceased to be in effect.
Note: From the above, it is to be noted that, unlike the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha has a fixed tenure and therefore is not a continuing chamber.

The key aspects related to the system of elections to the Lok Sabha include:

  • Territorial Constituencies,
  • Readjustment after each Census,
  • Reservation of seats for SCs and STs, and
  • First-Past-The-Post System.

Each aspect has been discussed in detail in the sections that follow.

  • Each State is divided into territorial constituencies for the purpose of holding direct elections to the Lok Sabha.
  • In order to ensure that there is Uniformity of Representation between different states as well as between different constituencies in the same state, the Indian Constitution makes the following two provisions:
    • Allocation of Seats to States – Each State is allotted a number of seats in the Lok Sabha in such a manner that the ratio between that number of seats and its population is the same for all States.
      • However, this provision does not apply to a State having a population of less than six million.
    • Division into Territorial Constituencies – Each State is divided into territorial constituencies in such a manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it is the same throughout the State.
Note: The expression ‘population’ means the population as ascertained at the preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published.
  • After every Census, a readjustment is to be made in:
    • Allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha to the States, and
    • Division of each State into territorial constituencies.
  • The Constitution empowers the Indian Parliament to determine the authority and manner in which this readjustment of seats is to be made.
    • Accordingly, the Parliament enacts the Delimitation Commission Act for this purpose as and when required.
Note: Till now, the Parliament has enacted the Delimitation Commission Act 4 times – in the years 1952, 1962, 1972, and 2002.

Though the original Constitution provides for the readjustment of Lok Sabha seats after each census, some constitutional amendments have put a freeze on this readjustment exercise. The developments on this front can be seen as follows:

  • 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 froze the allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha to the states and the division of each state into territorial constituencies till the year 2000, at the 1971 Census level.
  • 84th Amendment Act of 2001 extended the above ban on readjustment for another 25 years (i.e. upto year 2026).
    • However, it empowered the government to undertake readjustment and rationalisation of territorial constituencies in the states on the basis of the population figures of the 1991 Census.
  • 87th Amendment Act of 2003 provided for the delimitation of constituencies on the basis of the 2001 Census and not the 1991 Census.
    • However, this was to be done without altering the number of scats allotted to each state in the Lok Sabha.

Thus, the present position w.r.t. freeze on readjustment of Lok Sabha seats is as follows:

  • The allocation of seats to states in the Lok Sabha is frozen till 2026 at the 1971 Census level.
  • The delimitation of states into territorial constituencies is frozen till 2026 at the 2001 Census level.
  • The Indian Constitution provides for the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the Lok Sabha on the basis of their respective population ratios. This means that:

(The number of Lok Sabha seats reserved in a State or UT for SCs/Total number of seats allocated to that State or UT in the Lok Sabha) = (Total population of SCs in that State or UT/Total population of that State or UT), and
(The number of Lok Sabha seats reserved in a State or UT for STs/Total number of seats allocated to that State or UT in the Lok Sabha) = (Total population of STs in that State or UT/Total population of that State or UT)

  • It is to be noted that:
    • Though the seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, they are elected by all the voters in a constituency, without any separate electorate.
    • A member belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is eligible to contest general (non-reserved) seats as well.
  • Originally, this reservation was to operate for ten years (i.e. up to 1960), but it has been extended continuously since then by 10 years each time.
  • As of now, under the 104th Amendment Act of 2019, this reservation is to last until 2030.
  • The 84th Amendment Act of 2001 provided for the population figures of the 1991 Census as the basis for refixing of the reserved seats.
  • However, later, the 87th Amendment Act of 2003 provided for the refixing of the reserved seats on the basis of the 2001 Census.
  • Thus, the present position is that the population figures of the 2001 Census are used as the basis for fixing the seats reserved for SCs and STs.
  • The election of the members of Lok Sabha is held through the System of Territorial Representation by the First-Past-The-Post System.
  • The System of Territorial Representation means that each constituency elects only one member of the Lok Sabha who represents the geographical area of that particular constituency in the Lok Sabha.
    • Since from each constituency, only one representative is elected, such a Constituency is known as a Single-Member Constituency.
  • The First-Past-The-Post System means that a candidate who secures the maximum number of votes is declared elected.
    • Thus, the elected candidate does not secure due representation to Minorities (small groups), and hence may not truly represent the whole electorate of his/her constituency.

The Indian Constitution provides for various qualifications for the Members of Lok Sabha. Apart from them, the Parliament has also prescribed some qualifications for members of the Lok Sabha under the Representation of People’s Act of 1951. These constitutional as well as statutory qualifications have been discussed as follows:

The Indian Constitution lays down the following qualifications for a person to be chosen as a Member of the Lok Sabha:

  • He/she must be a citizen of India.
  • He/she must make and subscribe to an oath or affirmation before the person authorised by the Election Commission of India (ECI) for this purpose.
  • He/she must not be less than 25 years of age.
  • He/she must possess other qualifications prescribed by Parliament.

The Parliament has laid down the following additional qualifications for the Member of Lok Sabha in the Representation of People Act of 1951:

  • He/she must be registered as an elector for a parliamentary constituency from which he/she is contesting an election.
  • He/she must be a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe in any State or Union Territory if he/she wants to contest a seat reserved for them.
    • However, a Member of Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes can also contest elections from a non-reserved seat.

The Indian Constitution provides for various disqualifications for the Members of the Lok Sabha. Apart from them, the Parliament has also prescribed some disqualifications for members of the Lok Sabha under the Representation of People’s Act of 1951. These constitutional as well as statutory disqualifications have been discussed as follows:

As per the Indian Constitution, a person shall be disqualified from being elected as a Member of Lok Sabha:

  • if he/she holds any office of profit under the Union or State Government (except that of a Minister or any other office exempted by Parliament).
  • if he/she is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a court.
  • if he/she is an undischarged insolvent.
  • if he/she is not a citizen of India or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign state or is under any acknowledgement of allegiance to a foreign state.
  • if he/she is so disqualified under any law made by Parliament.

The Indian Parliament has laid down the following additional disqualifications for the Members of Lok Sabha in the Representation of People Act (1951).

  • He/she must not have been found guilty of certain electoral offences or corrupt practices in the elections.
  • He/she must not have been convicted for any offence resulting in imprisonment for two or more years.
    • But, the detention of a person under a preventive detention law is not a disqualification.
  • He/she must not have failed to lodge an account of his/her election expenses within the time.
  • He/she must not have any interest in government contracts, works or services.
  • He/she must not be a Director or Managing agent nor hold an office of profit in a corporation in which the government has a share of at least 25 per cent.
  • He/she must not have been dismissed from government service for corruption or disloyalty to the State.
  • He/she must not have been convicted for promoting enmity between different groups or for the offence of bribery.
  • He/she must not have been punished for preaching and practising social crimes such as untouchability, dowry and sati.
Note: The decision of the President is final on the question of whether a member is subject to any of the above disqualifications. However, the President should obtain the opinion of the Election Commission of India and act accordingly. 
  • Apart from the above disqualifications, the Indian Constitution also lays down that a person shall be disqualified from being a Member of Lok Sabha if he/she is so disqualified on the grounds of defection under the provisions of the Tenth Schedule.
  • A member incurs disqualification under the Anti-Defection law:
    • if he/she voluntarily gives up the membership of the political party on whose ticket he/she is elected to the House,
    • if he/she votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction given by his/her political party,
    • if any independently elected member joins any political party,
    • if any nominated member joins any political party after the expiry of six months.
Note: The question of disqualification under the Tenth Schedule is decided by:The Chairman in the case of Rajya Sabha and The Speaker in the case of Lok Sabha.Thus, it is to be noted that the question of disqualification under the Tenth Schedule is not by the President of India.In the Kihoto Hollohan case (1992), the Supreme Court of India ruled that the decision of the Chairman/Speaker in this regard is subject to Judicial Review.
  • Each Member of Lok Sabha has to make and subscribe to an Oath or Affirmation before the President or some person appointed by him/her for this purpose.
  • In his/her Oath or Affirmation, a Member of Lok Sabha swears:
    • to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India,
    • to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India,
    • to faithfully discharge the duty upon which he/she is about to enter.
  • A Member of Lok Sabha cannot vote and participate in the proceedings of the House and does not become eligible for parliamentary privileges and immunities unless he/she takes the oath.
  • A person is liable to a penalty of Rs. 500 for each day he/she sits or votes as a Member in a House in the following conditions:
    • Before taking and subscribing to the prescribed Oath or Affirmation,
    • When he/she knows that he/she is not qualified or that he/she is disqualified for membership in Lok Sabha,
    • When he/she knows that he/she is prohibited from sitting or voting in the House by virtue of any parliamentary law.
  • The Members of the Lok Sabha are entitled to receive such salaries and allowances as may be determined by Parliament.
  • There is no provision of pension for the Members of Lok Sabha in the Indian Constitution.
    • However, in 1976, the Parliament has provided the provision of pension to the Members of the Lok Sabha.
  • Moreover, the Members of Lok Sabha are also provided with travelling facilities, free accommodation, telephone, vehicle advance, medical facilities and so on.

A Member of Lok Sabha vacates his/her seat in the following cases:

  • Double Membership,
  • Disqualification,
  • Resignation,
  • Absence, and
  • Other Cases
  • A person cannot be a member of both Houses of Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) at the same time. Thus, the Representation of People Act of 1951 provides for the following:
    • If a person is elected to both the Houses of Parliament, he/she must intimate within 10 days in which House he/she desires to serve.
      • In default of such intimation, his/her seat in the Rajya Sabha becomes vacant.
    • If a sitting member of one House is also elected to the other House, his/her seat in the first House becomes vacant.
    • If a person is elected to two seats in a House, he/she should exercise his/her option for one. Otherwise, both seats become vacant.
  • Similarly, a person cannot be a Member of both the Parliament and the State Legislature at the same time.
    • If a person is so elected, his/her seat in Parliament becomes vacant if he/she does not resign his/her seat in the State Legislature within 14 days.
  • The seat of the Member of Lok Sabha becomes vacant if he/she is subjected to any of the disqualifications specified in the Indian Constitution.
  • This includes the disqualification on the grounds of defection under the provisions of the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • A Member of Lok Sabha may resign his/her seat by writing to the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
  • The seat of the House falls vacant once the resignation is accepted by the Presiding Officer of the Lok Sabha.
    • However, the Speaker of Lok Sabha may not accept the resignation of the concerned Member of Lok Sabha if he/she is satisfied that it is not voluntary or genuine.
  • The Lok Sabha can declare the seat of a Member vacant if he/she is absent from all its meetings for a period of sixty days without its permission.
  • In computing the period of sixty days, no account shall be taken of any period during which the Lok Sabha is prorogued or adjourned for more than four consecutive days.
  • A Member of Lok Sabha has to vacate his/her seat in the Parliament if:
    • his/her election is declared void by the court,
    • he/she is expelled by the House,
    • he/she is elected to the office of President or Vice-President of India,
    • he/she is appointed to the office of Governor of a State.
Note: The Indian Constitution lays down no procedure to declare the election void if a disqualified person is elected to the Indian Parliament. This matter is dealt with by the Representation of the People Act of 1951, which enables the High Court to declare an election void if a disqualified candidate is elected to the Indian Parliament. The aggrieved party can appeal to the Supreme Court against the order of the High Court in this regard. 

The Lok Sabha is a foundational institution of India’s democratic system. It serves as the voice of the people, shaping the nation’s laws and policies and ensuring government accountability. Through its legislative, financial, and representative roles, the Lok Sabha ensures that the government remains accountable to the people and that the laws enacted resonate with the public’s aspirations.

Who is the head of Lok Sabha?

The Speaker is the head of the Lok Sabha.

What’s the difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha?

The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are the two houses of the Indian Parliament, each with distinct roles. The Lok Sabha, or House of the People, is composed of members directly elected by citizens, with a maximum strength of 552 members, and serves a five-year term. The Speaker is the head of the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha, or Council of States, represents the states and Union Territories, with members indirectly elected by state legislatures and a maximum strength of 250 members. The Vice President of India serves as the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

How many seats in Lok Sabha?

The total Lok Sabha seats are 550.

What are the total members of Lok Sabha?

The total members of Lok Sabha are 543.

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