Houses of Parliament
- India’s parliament is constituted on the basis of the principle of “Bicameralism“, so it has two chambers. The two houses are Lok Sabha (LS) and Rajya Sabha (RS).
- In India, the Parliament comprises President, Lok Sabha, and Rajya Sabha but the President is NOT a part of the legislature.
- This is in line with the British parliamentary system where the Parliament is comprised of Monarch, House of Lords, and House of Commons.
- Though the President of India is not a member of either House of Parliament and does not sit in the Parliament to attend its meetings, he is an integral part of the Parliament.
Rajya Sabha: Composition of Rajya Sabha
Article 80 gives the details of the composition of the Rajya Sabha.
Rajya Sabha or Council of States is the Upper House of our parliament. The other term that is used is “House of Elders”.
The Fourth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the allocation of seats in the Rajya Sabha to the states and union territories.
The maximum membership to Rajya Sabha is limited to 250. The 250 members are as follows:
- A maximum of 238 Members elected by representatives of the States & Union Territories. The Original Constitution mentioned only states. UTs added by the 7th amendment.
- A maximum of 12 members nominated by the President of India who excel in Literature, Science, Art, and Social Service.
- Representatives of the states are elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of the state in accordance with the System of Proportional Representation by means of Single Transferable Vote. (Indirect Election)
- The present strength of the Rajya Sabha is 245, of whom 233 are representatives of the States/Union Territories and 12 are nominated by the President.
Election of the Rajya Sabha Members
- 233 members of the Present Rajya Sabha are elected by the various State Legislative Assemblies so the Council of States is an “Indirectly Elected Body“.
- For this election, each State is allotted a certain number of seats in the council.
- As per article 80(5), the representatives of the Union Territories are chosen as Parliament prescribes by law. As prescribed by the parliament, the representatives of the Union Territories are indirectly elected by the members of the Electoral College for that territory.
- The elected members of the States’ Legislative Assemblies elect the members of the Rajya Sabha on the basis of proportional representation through the single transferable vote system.
Allocation of Seats – Rajya Sabha
- This allocation is mainly on the basis of Population but this is NOT the sole consideration. Some smaller states have been given due weightage in representation in Rajya Sabha.
- Please note: Not all Union Territories are represented in Rajya Sabha.
- Out of the 7 UTs, only two (Delhi and Puducherry) have representation in RS.
- The populations of the other five UTs are too small to have any representative in the RS.
Lok Sabha: Composition of Lok Sabha
Article 81 deals with the Composition of the Lok Sabha. This article provides that the maximum number should be as follows:
- Not more than 530 representatives of the States.
- Not more than 20 representatives from the Union Territories
- Not more than 2 members of the Anglo Indian Community as nominated by the President, only if he/she is of opinion that the Anglo Indian Community is not adequately represented in the parliament.
- This makes the total strength of the Lok Sabha i.e. 530+20+2= 552.
Representation of Anglo-Indian Community
- Representation of the Anglo-Indian Community is provided by the Constitution as per article 331 and not by article 81.
- Article 331 says that: Notwithstanding anything in article 81, the President may if he is of opinion that the Anglo-Indian community is not adequately represented in the House of the People, nominate not more than two members of that community to the House of the People.
Change in number of Lok Sabha Seats
- The limit on the maximum number of members chosen directly from territorial constituencies in States may be exceeded if such an increase is incidental to the reorganization of States by an Act of Parliament.
- However, the strength of the Lok Sabha may NOT change now or in the near future until the relevant figures are published of the first census taken after the year 2026.
- As of now, the Constitution limits the Lok Sabha to a maximum of 552 members, including no more than 20 members representing people from the Union Territories, and two appointed non-partisan members to represent the Anglo Indian community (if the President feels that the community is not adequately represented).
Allocation of Lok Sabha Seats to States
- The seats of Lok Sabha are allocated to the states in such a manner that the ratio between that number and the population of the State is, so far as practicable, the same for all States.
- Further, 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, so far as practicable, the same throughout the State.
Election of Lok Sabha Members
- The electors of the Constituencies elect the members directly on the basis of Adult Suffrage as per Article 326 Constitution of India.
- The age for being eligible to voting, prior to the 61st amendment act was 21 years. The Constitution 61st Amendment Act 1988 reduced the age to be eligible to vote for 18 years.
- Please note that Constitution provides that the members of the Union territories are to be chosen in such a manner as Parliament by law may decide, and using this power the parliament made the law that members from the Union Territories should be chosen by direct election.
- The first General elections were held in 1951-52. The strength of the Lok Sabha at that time was 489.
- Each Constituency chooses 1 member. But this was not like it since the beginning. Prior to 1962, there were both single-member and multi-member constituencies. These multi-member constituencies used to elect more than one member. The multimember constituencies were abolished in 1962.
- Lok Sabha has a fixed term of 5 years and can be dissolved by the President at any time. The original Constitution had a term of Lok Sabha as 5 years. It was changed to 6 years by the Constitution 42nd Amendment Act and later reverted to 5 years by the 44th Amendment Act.
- Rajya Sabha has an indefinite term and not subject to dissolution (Article 83.1).
- The term of an individual Rajya Sabha member is 6 years and one-third of its members retire every two years, in accordance with the rules as prescribed by the parliament of India.
- While a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, 5 year period for Lok Sabha may be extended by Parliament by law for a period not exceeding one year at a time and not exceeding in any case beyond a period of six months after the Proclamation has ceased to operate.
Article 84 of the Constitution lays down the qualifications for membership of Parliament. A person to be qualified to be an MP is required that he/she:
- Must be a citizen of India
- Must be not less than 30 years of age in the case of Rajya Sabha and 25 years in the case of Lok Sabha.
- He must make and subscribe to an oath or affirmation before the person authorized by the election commission for this purpose. In his oath or affirmation, he swears
- To bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India
- To uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India
- Must possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed on that behalf by or under any law made by Parliament.
The Parliament has laid down the following additional qualifications in the Representation of People Act (1951).
- He must be registered as an elector for a parliamentary constituency. This is the same in the case of both, the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.
Please note: The requirement that a candidate contesting an election to the Rajya Sabha from a particular state should be an elector in that particular state was dispensed within 2003. In 2006, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of this change.
- He must be a member of a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe in any state or union territory if he wants to contest a seat reserved for them. However, a member of scheduled castes or scheduled tribes can also contest a seat not reserved for them.
Vacation of Seats
Article 101 lays down the conditions in which a member of parliament shall vacate his/her seat. The conditions are as follows:
- If a person is chosen to be a member of both the houses of parliament, he/ she must vacate his / her seat in one of the two houses.
- If a person is elected both as MLA and MP, then he/she must vacate the seat of MLA, otherwise, the seat of MP shall fall vacant.
- Disqualification: If the person is disqualified as per article 102 or as per the provisions of the Tenth Schedule, he/she shall vacate the seat.
- Resignation: To speaker in case of Lok Sabha and to Chairman in the case of Rajya Sabha.
- Absence without permission: A seat can be declared vacant if a member absents himself from all meetings of the house for a period of 60 days.
- Other cases: A member has to vacate his seat in the Parliament:
- (a) if his election is declared void by the court;
- (b) if he is expelled by the House;
- (c) if he is elected to the office of President or Vice-President; and
- (d) if he is appointed to the office of governor of a state.
If a disqualified person is elected to the Parliament, the Constitution lays down no procedure to declare the election void. This matter is dealt with by the Representation of the People Act (1951), which enables the high court to declare an election void if a disqualified candidate is elected. The aggrieved party can appeal to the Supreme Court against the order of the high court in this regard.
There are situations prescribed by the Constitution for Disqualification of the MPs.
Article 102 of the Constitution lays down that a person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, 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 acknowledgment of allegiance or adherence to a foreign State;
- if he is so disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament.
However, for the purpose of this clause, a person shall not be deemed to hold an office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State by reason only that he/ she is a Minister either for the Union or for such State.
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 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.
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 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 voluntary 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 Chairman in the case of Rajya Sabha and 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 Chairman/Speaker in this regard is subject to judicial review.