1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
Can the strength of Lok Sabha be increased?
What to study?
For Prelims: How Lok Sabha strength is determined? Constitutional basis.
For Mains: need for revision of the numbers, challenges and significance.
Context: Former President Pranab Mukherjee has advocated for increase in the number of seats in Lok Sabha should be increased to 1,000 from the present 543.
How the strength of Lok Sabha is determined presently?
- Article 81 of the Constitution defines the composition of the House of the People or Lok Sabha.
- It states that the House shall not consist of more than 550 elected members of whom not more than 20 will represent UTs.
- It also mandates that the number of Lok Sabha seats allotted to a state would be such that the ratio between that number and the population of the state is, as far as possible, the same for all states. This is to ensure that every state is equally represented.
- Exceptions: However, this logic does not apply to small states whose population is not more than 60 lakh.
- So, at least one seat is allocated to every state even if it means that its population-to-seat-ratio is not enough to qualify it for that seat.
Basis for determination of population:
As per Clause 3 of Article 81, population, for the purpose of allocation of seats, means “population as ascertained at the last preceding Census of which the relevant figures have been published” — in other words, the last published Census.
However, as a result of an amendment to this Clause in 2003, the “population” now means population as per the 1971 Census — and will be so until the first Census that is taken after 2026.
Need for more seats:
- The composition of the Lower House has remained more or less the same for four decades. Every MP currently represents an average 16-18 lakh Indians — too large a number to be kept in touch with in a meaningful way. Therefore, the number of Lok Sabha seats should be rationalized on the basis of population.
- The Constitution (126th Amendment) Bill passed by Parliament last week, while extending the reservation for SC/STs, did away with the provision for nomination of Anglo Indians. This has brought the strength of Lok Sabha down to 543 now.
- Besides, even after statehood was attained by Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram in 1986, the creation of a Legislative Assembly for the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and the creation of new states such as Uttarakhand, the number of seats have not been revised.
Sources: Indian Express.