What is the composition of the Lok sabha? What are the qualifications required to get membership in Lok Sabha? How are members elected into the Loksabha? What is the role of Loksabha in the Bicameral parliament system of India? Read further to know more.
The Lok Sabha, often known as the House of the People or the Popular Chamber, is the lower house of India’s bicameral Parliament.
On the basis of universal adult suffrage, MPs are chosen by direct election to the Lok Sabha. MPs, or members of parliament, are the terms used to describe Lok Sabha members.
These representatives are chosen from different states and union territories. Every five years, elections are held for Lok Sabha seats. After the first General Elections were held from 25 October 1951 to 21 February 1952, the Lok Sabha was legally formed for the first time on 17 April 1952.
Also read: Political Parties in India
What Are the Provisions Regarding Lok Sabha Composition?
The Lok Sabha’s composition is covered in Article 81. There can be no more than 530 members as state representatives. The Union Territories may send no more than 20 representatives.
If the President considers the Anglo-Indian Community is not sufficiently represented in the parliament, he or she may nominate no more than two members of the Anglo-Indian Community.As a result, the Lok Sabha’s total membership, 530 + 20 + 2, equals 552.
Representation of States
The representatives of states in the Lok Sabha are directly elected by the people from the territorial constituencies in the states.The election 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 in such an election.
The voting age was reduced from 21 to 18 years by the 61st Constitutional Amendment Act, of 1988.
Representation of Union Territories
The Constitution has empowered the Parliament to prescribe the manner of choosing the representatives of the union territories in the Lok Sabha.
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 direct election.
Representation from Anglo Indian Community
Article 331 of the Constitution provides for the representation of the Anglo-Indian Community.
According to Article 331, the President may nominate up to two members of the Anglo-Indian community for the House of the People if he considers the community is not sufficiently represented there.
With the passage of the 104th Constitutional Amendment Act in 2019, the reserved seats for Anglo-Indians in India’s State Legislatures and Parliament were eliminated.
Eligibility Criteria for Membership in Lok Sabha
The Constitution’s Article 84 outlines the requirements for membership in Parliament.
The following qualifications must be met in order to qualify for Lok Sabha membership:
- He must be an Indian citizen and swear or affirm before someone the Election Commission has authorised in this regard using the form outlined in the Third Schedule to the Constitution.
- He must be at least 25 years old and meet any additional requirements imposed in this regard by or according to any law passed by Parliament.
System of Election to Lok Sabha
The following criteria are used to elect members of the Lok Sabha:
Universal Adult Franchise (Article 326)
Every citizen who has reached the legal voting age of 18 (as defined by the 61st Amendment Act) is entitled to cast a ballot in Lok Sabha elections. But it’s crucial that his name is on the list of registered voters in his district.
Seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
Some constituencies are set aside for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. These are referred to as Reserved Constituencies. Only candidates belonging to the SCs or STs, as the case may be, are eligible to run for office in each reserved constituency.
To elect one SC or ST candidate as their representative, each voter in each of these constituencies utilizes their right to vote. The reservation is provided for Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the Loksabha based on population ratios.
Single-member territorial constituencies
The whole nation divides into a number of territorial constituencies equal to the number of Lok Sabha members to be elected. One MP is chosen from each constituency.
First Past The Post System
The people personally elect each and every Lok Sabha member. Any voter may cast a ballot to elect any candidate from his or her constituency of choice.
The candidate who receives the most votes out of all the candidates in a constituency is chosen to serve as the Lok Sabha representative for the people of that constituency.
Duration of Lok Sabha
The Lok Sabha is not a continuing chamber.
Its normal term is five years from the date of its first meeting after the general elections, after which it automatically dissolves.
However, the President is authorized to dissolve the Lok Sabha at any time even before the completion of five years and this cannot be challenged in a court of law.
Further, the term of the Lok Sabha can be extended during a period of national emergency be 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 operate.
The Grounds for Disqualification for Lok Sabha Members
According to Article 102 of the Constitution, a person is ineligible to be elected to, and to serve as, a member of either House of Parliament
- If he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder;
- If he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court;
- If he is an undischarged insolvent;
- If he 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 is so disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament.
The Parliament has laid down the following additional disqualifications in the Representation of People Act (1951):
- He must not have been found guilty of certain election offenses or corrupt practices in the elections.
- He must not have been convicted for any offense resulting in imprisonment for two or more years. But, the detention of a person under a preventive detention law is not a disqualification.
- He must not have failed to lodge an account of his election expenses within the time.
- He must not have any interest in government contracts, works, or services.
- He must not be a director or managing agent nor hold an office of profit in a corporation in which the government has at least a 25 percent share.
- He must not have been dismissed from government service for corruption or disloyalty to the State.
- He must not have been convicted for promoting enmity between different groups or for the offense of bribery.
- He must not have been punished for preaching and practicing social crimes such as untouchability, dowry, and sati
On the question of whether a member is subject to any of the above disqualifications, the president’s decision is final.
However, he should obtain the opinion of the election commission and act accordingly.
Disqualification on the Ground of Defection
The Constitution also lays down that a person shall be disqualified from being a member of Parliament if he is so disqualified on the ground of defection under the provisions of the Tenth Schedule. A member incurs disqualification under the defection law :
- If he voluntarily gives up the membership of the political party on whose ticket he is elected to the House;
- If he votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction given by his political party;
- If any independently elected member joins any political party; and
- if any nominated member joins any political party after the expiry of six months.
The question of disqualification under the Tenth Schedule is decided by the Speaker in the case of Lok Sabha ( and not by the president of India ). In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that the decision of the Speaker in this regard is subject to judicial review.
Speaker of Lok Sabha
The Speaker serves as both the ceremonial and legal head of the Lok Sabha and serves as its chief spokesperson.
The Speaker was formerly known as the President when the institutions of the Speaker were established in India in 1921 in accordance with the terms of the Government of India Act of 1919 (Montague-Chelmsford Reforms).
The Speaker of the Central Legislative Assembly replaced the President of the Central Legislative Assembly under the 1935 Government of India Act. However, the 1935 Act’s federal component was never enacted, therefore the old terminology persisted until 1947
The Speaker and Deputy Speaker are both elected under Article 93 of the Indian Constitution.
The honor of being the first Speaker belonged to G.V. Mavalankar.
The Speaker serves as the Lok Sabha’s head, its representative, and the protector of the member’s rights and privileges as well as those of the entire body and its committees.
As the main representative of the House, he or she has the final say on all matters pertaining to the Parliament.
The Constitution of India, the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Lok Sabha, and parliamentary conventions are the three sources from which the Speaker of the Lok Sabha gets his or her authority and responsibility.
After the speaker, the house elects the Deputy Speaker on a day set by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
The Deputy Speaker has the same terms of office, reasons for removal, removal procedure, provisions for salary, and allowances as the Speaker.
Through a letter to the speaker, he or she resigns.
When the Speaker is not present, the Deputy Speaker serves as the House’s presiding officer and has all of the Speaker’s authority. When the speaker is present, the deputy speaker takes the place of a regular house member.
He or she is directly accountable to the house rather than the speaker.
However, he/she immediately becomes the head of the committee if he/she is a member of a parliamentary committee.
Pro Tem Speaker
Just before the first meeting of the new Lok Sabha, the speaker of the previous one resigns.
As a result, the President names a member—typically the senior member—to serve as Pro Tem Speaker for the first session.
The President administers the Speaker Pro Tem oath.
The Speaker Pro Tem administers oaths to the members of the house and facilitates the election of a new Speaker.
Panel of Chairpersons
According to Lok Sabha rules, the Speaker appoints a panel of not more than 10 chairpersons from among the members.
Any of them has the same authority as the Speaker when presiding over the House in the absence of the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker.
He or she serves in that capacity until a new panel of chairpersons is proposed.
Any other person chosen by the House serves as Speaker when a chairperson from the panel is also absent.
However, when the position of Speaker or Deputy Speaker is vacant, a member of the panel of chairpersons cannot preside over the House.
Powers and Functions of the Lok Sabha
The following are the powers and functions of Lok Sabha.
Ordinary bills can only become law after being approved by both Houses of Parliament.
Although ordinary bills can be introduced in either chamber of Parliament, about 90% of bills are introduced in the Lok Sabha.
If a law passed by the Lok Sabha is rejected by the Rajya Sabha and returned with or without changes, the Lok Sabha reconsiders the bill.
A deadlock occurs if the Lok Sabha approves it again but the Rajya Sabha is still unwilling to approve it. If this deadlock is not resolved after six months, the President calls a joint sitting of the two Houses in accordance with Article 108’s rules.
The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible before the Lok Sabha in accordance with Article 75(3). The majority leader in the Lok Sabha becomes Prime Minister. The Lok Sabha is home to the majority of the ministries.
As long as the majority in the Lok Sabha has confidence in them, the ministers remain in their positions.
In accordance with the mechanism outlined in Rule 198 of the norms of procedure and conduct of business of the Lok Sabha, the Lok Sabha has the power to remove the ministry from office by voting a vote of no-confidence against it.
As a result, the Lok Sabha has the power to make or break the ministry. The Lok Sabha continues to have direct authority over the Council of Ministers.
Ministers can be questioned by MPs about the administration’s policies and activities. They are free to critique their actions. The Indian Constitution’s Article 75 grants the right to ask inquiries.
They are capable of moving and adopting a variety of resolutions and motions (adjournment motion, call attention motion, censure motion, and no-confidence motion)
The Lok Sabha has extensive budgetary authority. A money bill may only be introduced in the Lok Sabha in accordance with the guidelines provided by Article 109. The money bill then moves on to the Rajya Sabha after being approved by it.
The Lok Sabha Speaker decides if a certain law qualifies as a money bill or not in the event of a disagreement. His choice is final; it cannot be contested in a court, the Lok Sabha, or even the Rajya Sabha.
As a result, we can assert that the Lok Sabha has ultimate authority over the state’s finances. No tax can be imposed, collected, altered, or eliminated without the consent of Loksabha.
Without the Lok Sabha’s approval, the government cannot carry out its fiscal policy.
Additionally, the Lok Sabha has some judicial duties. Either the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha may initiate the impeachment procedures against the President referred to in Article 61. Only when an impeachment resolution is approved by both Houses with a 2/3 majority of their members can the President be removed from office.
The Rajya Sabha’s allegations against India’s vice president are also the subject of an investigation by the Lok Sabha.
According to the provisions of Article 124 (4), the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha may vote together to remove any judge of the Supreme Court or of a State High Court.
For the removal of some high-ranking state officials, such as the Attorney General, the Chief Election Commissioner, and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, both Houses may pass a special address jointly and submit it to the President.
Any member or citizen found guilty of violating the House’s rules may also face punishment from the Lok Sabha.
A few electoral duties are also carried out by the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha’s elected members participate in the presidential election.
In accordance with Article 66 of the Indian Constitution, members of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha vote to choose the vice president of India.
The members of Loksabha also choose the Speaker and Deputy Speaker from among themselves.
Some Other Lok Sabha Powers
The following duties are shared by the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha:
- Approval of the President’s ordinances [Article 123 (2)]
- A change in the state’s borders. addition of new states, and renaming any state, Article (3)
- Changes the requirements for members of the State Legislatures and the Parliament as set forth in the RPA Act of 1951
- Modifying the members of Parliament’s pay and benefits.
- Creating a Joint Public Service Commission with at least two other states.
- Passing a resolution to dissolve or establish a state legislature’s upper chamber (Article 169)
- Approval of an emergency declaration( Article 352 and Article 356)
In light of this, we can conclude that Lok Sabha plays a vital role in parliamentary proceedings. Despite the ups and downs of Indian politics, the Lok Sabha has remained a leader for political and social values and a melting pot of cultural diversity. Along with the Rajya Sabha, it serves as a flag bearer for the independent, socialist, secular, and democratic republic of India.
Article written by: Aryadevi E S