Types of Majorities in Indian Parliament

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Types of Majorities in Indian Parliament
Types of Majorities in Indian Parliament

In the parliamentary democracy of India, the concept of ‘majority’ plays a crucial role in the functioning of the democratic processes. Understanding these different types of majorities in the Indian Parliament is essential to grasp how legislative and constitutional decisions are made in India. This article of NEXT IAS aims to study in detail the types of majorities in the Indian Parliament, including Simple Majority, Special Majority, Absolute Majority, and Effective Majority, explaining their definitions, applications, and importance within the Indian parliamentary framework.

In the context of a legislature, the term ‘Majority’ refers to the minimum number of votes required to pass a decision or a law. As a concept, fundamental to parliamentary procedure, it ensures that any decision made has the support of a plurality of the members of the legislature, thus upholding the fundamental principles of democracy.

The Indian Parliament, as the apex legislative body of the nation, is entrusted with the responsibility of enacting laws and shaping the course of governance. Moreover, being the supreme legislative body of the world’s largest democracy, it has to ensure that its every decision is made in accordance with the democratic principles of plurality support. It is in this requirement that the Indian Parliament operates on various types of majorities for various types of decision-making processes.

The following four types of majorities are required to determine the various matters in the Indian Parliament:

  • Simple Majority
  • Absolute Majority
  • Effective Majority
  • Special Majority

The meaning, usage, and significance of these types of majorities are discussed in the sections that follow.

  • The ‘Simple Majority’ is also known as the Ordinary Majority, Functional Majority or Working Majority.
  • It refers to a majority of the members present and voting in the House.
    • For example, suppose 324 members are present and voting in the Lok Sabha. In this case,

      Simple Majority = [324/2 + 1] = 163.
  • Article 100 of the Indian Constitution states that except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, all questions at any sitting of either House or joint sitting of the Houses shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members present and voting.
    • This means that the simple majority is the general rule prescribed by the Constitution for the determination of questions in the Parliament.
  • The ‘Simple Majority’ is required in the following cases:
    • Passing of Ordinary Bills, Money Bills, and Financial Bills.
    • Passing of the Adjournment Motion, No Confidence Motion, Confidence Motion, Censure Motion, and Motion of Thanks.
    • Removal of the Vice-President in the Lok Sabha (Article 67).
    • Approval of the imposition of the President’s Rule (Article 356).
    • Approval of the Proclamation of Financial Emergency (Article 360).
    • Election of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha (Article 93).
    • Election of the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Article 89).
    • Passing of a resolution by the Lok Sabha for disapproving the continuance of the National Emergency (Article 352).
  • The term ‘Effective Majority’ refers to a majority of the total membership of the House excluding the vacant seats.
    • In other words, it is the majority of the then effective strength of the House
    • For example, suppose 15 seats are vacant out of the total number of seats in the Lok Sabha (i.e. 543). In this case,

Effective Majority = [(543 – 15)/2 + 1] = 265.

  • The ‘Effective Majority’ is required in the following cases:
    • Removal of the Vice President in the Rajya Sabha (Article 67).
    • Removal of the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Article 90).
    • Removal of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha (Article 94).
  • The term ‘Absolute Majority’ refers to a majority of the total membership of the House, irrespective of the fact whether there are vacant seats or absentees.
    • For example, since the total strength of the Lok Sabha is 543, the Absolute Majority for the Lok Sabha = ([543/2) + 1] = 272.
  • This ‘Absolute Majority’ is not prescribed by the Constitution for any case or purpose as a standalone single requirement. It is, rather, required in certain cases as a component of the Special Majority.
    • Thus, the Parliament or the State Legislature does not use the ‘Absolute Majority’ for normal businesses.
  • It is mainly used for the formation of government at the Centre as well as State levels.
  • There are various types of special majority, which are used for various purposes.
  • These types of special majority are discussed in the sections that follow.

The ‘Special Majority-I’ refers to the majority of the total membership of the House and a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting.

  • The ‘Special Majority-I’ is required in the following cases:
    • Amendment of the Constitution (Article 368)
    • Removal of the Judges of the Supreme Court (Article 124)
    • Removal of the Judges of the High Courts (Article 217)
    • Removal of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (Article 148)
    • Removal of the Chief Election Commissioner (Article 324)
    • Removal of the State Election Commissioner (Article 243K) Parliamentary approval of proclamation of national emergency (Article 352).

Special Majority-II refers to the two-thirds majority of the total membership of the House.

  • Special Majority-II is required for the impeachment of the President (Article 61).
    • The President can be removed from his office before the completion of his term of 5 years by the procedure of impeachment for ‘Violation of the Constitution’.
    • Both Houses of the Parliament need to pass the motion by 2/3rd of the total strength of the House.
  • Special Majority-III is used only by the Rajya Sabha.
  • It refers to a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting.
  • Special Majority-III is required in the following cases:
    • Recommendation for the creation of new All-India Services (Article 312)
    • Parliamentary legislation on matters in the State List (Article 249).
  • Ensuring Representation – Different types of majorities in the Indian Parliament ensure that decisions reflect the collective will of the elected representatives, diverse opinions, and interests of the populace.
  • Balanced Governance – By enabling to accommodate the diverse views in the decision-making process, they ensure a balanced approach to governance.
  • Upholding Democratic Principles – The requirement of various types of majorities upholds the fundamental principles of democracy. It prevents decisions from being made arbitrarily and ensures that significant legislative and constitutional changes are thoroughly debated and scrutinized.
  • Safeguarding Constitutional Integrity – Special majorities, such as those required for Constitutional Amendments, ensure that fundamental principles enshrined in the Constitution are not altered without broad consensus. This safeguards the integrity and stability of the constitutional framework.
  • Preventing Tyranny of the Majority – By stipulating different types of majorities for different types of decisions, the Indian Parliament prevents the tyranny of the majority. It ensures that minority viewpoints are considered and protects against the imposition of decisions that may disproportionately impact certain groups.
  • Enhancing Legislative Scrutiny – Different types of majorities necessitate varying levels of support, thereby enhancing legislative scrutiny. Major decisions, especially those requiring special majorities, undergo rigorous examination, debate, and evaluation, ensuring that they withstand legal and constitutional scrutiny.
  • Fostering Stability and Consensus – The existence of various types of majorities fosters stability and consensus-building in the legislative process. It encourages political parties and stakeholders to engage in dialogue, negotiation, and compromise to garner support for important decisions.

The variety of types of majorities in Indian Parliament reflects the rigor of legislative and constitutional processes in India. Each type of majority ensures that decisions are made with an appropriate level of agreement and scrutiny, thus reflecting both the democratic ethos and the practical necessities of governance. This strengthens the democratic foundation of Indian governance.

How many types of Majority are there in Indian Parliament?

There are four types of majority in the Indian Parliament:
– Simple Majority,
– Absolute Majority,
– Special Majority and
– Effective Majority.

What kind of Majority is required to Pass Constitutional Amendment Bills?

A Special Majority is required to pass the Constitutional Amendment Bills in the Indian Parliament.

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