Lok Sabha

Composition of the Lok Sabha (Article 81)

Article 81(1) provides that Lok Sabha shall consist of:

  • Not more than 530 members chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the States; and
  • Not more than 20 members to represent the Union Territories, chosen in such a manner as Parliament may by law provide.

Allocation of Lok Sabha Seats among the States (Article 81 (2)]: 

  • Article 81(2) provides that there shall be allotted to each State a number of seats in the Lok Sabha in such manner that the ratio between that number and the population of the State, so far as practicable, is the same for all the States.
  • Each State is divided in such a manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it, so far as practicable, is the same throughout the State. 
  • Article 81, thus, provides for uniformity of representation in the Lok Sabha in two respects:
    • (a) as between the different States, and
    • (b) as between the different constituencies in the same State.
  • Delimitation for the purpose of dividing the State into territorial constituencies is a mandate of the Constitution and is a basic feature of democracy contemplated in the Constitution.
  • The above allocation shall not be applicable for the purpose of allotment of seats to any State so long as the population of that State does not exceed 6 million. 
  • In Article 81, the expression ‘ population’ means the population as ascertained at the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published.


Meaning of delimitation

Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of an Assembly or Lok Sabha seat to represent changes in population over time. This exercise is carried out by a Delimitation Commission.

The Delimitation Commission in India is a high power body whose orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court. These orders come into force on a date to be specified by the President of India in this behalf. The copies of its orders are laid before the House of the People and the State Legislative Assembly concerned, but no modifications are permissible therein by them.

The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.


1. Retired Supreme Court judge

2. Chief Election Commissioner

3. Respective State Election Commissioners.

Reason for Delimitation:

The main objective of delimitation is to provide equal representation to equal segments of a population. For instance, in 1971, Assam’s population was 1.46 crore. In 2001, it increased to 2.66 crores. Further, the population does not grow uniformly across all areas of a state. Hence, delimitation of constituencies is periodically carried out to reflect not only an increase in population but changes in its distribution.

The objective is to redraw boundaries (based on the data of the last Census) in a way so that the population of all seats, as far as practicable, be the same throughout the State. Aside from changing the limits of a constituency, the process may result in change in the number of seats in a state.

In the history of the Indian republic, Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002. There was no delimitation after the 1981, 1991 and 2001 Censuses. However, the 2002 Act did not make any changes in total Lok Sabha seats or their apportionment between various states. It also left out a few states including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur from the exercise due to “security risks.” The central government reconstituted the Delimitation Commission for these four states as well as the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir on 6 March 2020.

Delimitation is not conducted after every census:

The fear of losing meaningful political representation was especially great in the southern states which not only had had greater success in controlling populations but also economically developed such that they generated a lot more per capita revenue than the northern states. Delimitation on the basis of population would disenfranchise them politically while the central government would continue to benefit from these states’ economic contributions to the country.

To allay these fears, the Constitution was amended during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency rule in 1976 to suspend delimitation until 2001. Another amendment postponed this until 2026. It was hoped that the country would achieve a uniform population growth rate by this time.

Delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir: Before the revocation of Article 370, Delimitation of Lok Sabha seats in J&K was governed by the Constitution of India, but the delimitation of the state’s Assembly seats was governed by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957.

After the abrogation of J&K’s special status in 2019, delimitation of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in the newly-created Union Territory would be as per the provisions of the Indian Constitution.

Delimitation Commission For Jammu And Kashmir:

  1. It is headed by Justice (retired) Ranjana Desai.
  2. The commission has five MPs from Jammu and Kashmir as associate members.
  3. Their recommendations are, however, not binding on the commission.

Need for Delimitation commission in Jammu and Kashmir :

The reorganisation act 2019 increased the strength of the assembly in the newly carved Union Territory to 114. This also includes 24 seats falling under Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

In practice, the effective strength of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly when elected will increase to 90. Earlier, it was 83.

Since the number of constituencies has altered, the boundaries of the existing constituencies need to be redrawn before assembly election could be held in Jammu and Kashmir.

In the final report delimitation commission is going to –

  • Use 2011 census for this exercise.
  • Will take into account geography, means of communication for delimitation.
  • Twenty-four seats that are reserved for Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) would not be delimited in this process.
  • The commission will also specify the number of seats to be reserved for the SC and the ST communities in the Union Territory. This is important because despite having a sizeable tribal population, no seats had ever been reserved in the past for the Scheduled Tribes in Jammu and Kashmir.

Readjustment of Seats after each census (Article 82):

  • Article 82 provides that upon the completion of each census, allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha to the States and the division of a State into the territorial constituencies shall be readjusted by such authority and in such manner as Parliament may, by law, determine. Such readjustment shall not be effective until the dissolution of the then existing House and shall take effect from such date as the President may, by specify. However, until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2026 have been published, it shall not be necessary to readjust the allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha to the States and the division of State into territorial constituencies.
  • While delimitation for the purpose of dividing the State into territorial constituencies is a mandate of the Constitution, constituting a basic feature of democracy, but re-adjustment of such territorial constituencies upon the completion of each census is not such a mandate. In the event of no census taking place, there would be no readjustment of constituencies and it would not be said to be the violation of the mandate.

Lok Sabha seats are not readjusted after every census:

  • Population control and family planning’ was included in the concurrent list with 42nd amendment. The government of the day was keen on promoting family planning and to control population growth.
  • Hence provisions were included in articles 55, 82, 170 and 330 of the constitution not to make any changes to the number of Lok Sabha seats, Assembly seats etc. until the figures from the first Census after the year 2000 have been published. This was done as a measure to boost family planning norms. In other words, any readjustment to the total number of seats had to take place only after the year 2000 when the 2001 Census figures would be published.
  • This ban on readjustment has been further extended by 84th amendment act till 2026.

While readjustment or changing the number of seats is to be done only after 2026, the 84th amendment allowed delimitation (process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies) or changing the reservation status of the constituencies after the 2001 Census. This was to be done without altering the total number of seats in a state. The Delimitation act 2002 served this purpose.

Representation in Lok Sabha

At present, the Lok Sabha has 545 members. Of these, 530 members represent the states, 13 members represent the union territories.

  1. 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 at such election. 
  2. 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. 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 direct election.
  3. Nominated Members: The president can nominate two members from the Anglo- Indian community if the community is not adequately represented in the Lok Sabha. Originally, this provision was to operate till 1960 but has been extended till 2020 by the 95th Amendment Act, 2009.

Process of Election

First Past the Post System:

  • The first-past-the-post (FPTP) system is also known as the simple majority system. In this voting method, the candidate with the highest number of votes in a constituency is declared the winner. This system is used in India in direct elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.
  • While FPTP is relatively simple, and allows voters to choose not just between parties, but also between particular candidates. It does not always allow for a truly representative mandate, as the candidate could win despite securing less than half the votes in a contest. 
  • In 2014, the National Democratic Alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party won 336 seats with only 38.5% of the popular vote. Also, smaller parties representing specific groups have a lower chance of being elected in FPTP.

Other Voting System

Proportional Representation:

The rationale underpinning all PR systems is to consciously reduce the disparity between a party’s share of the national vote and its share of the parliamentary seats; if a major party wins 40 per cent of the votes, it should win approximately 40 per cent of the seats, and a minor party with 10 per cent of the votes should also gain 10 per cent of the legislative seats. This congruity between a party’s share of the vote and its share of the seats provides an incentive for all parties to support and participate in the system. There are two major types of PR system—List PR and Single Transferable Vote (STV)

List system: In its most simple form, List PR involves each party presenting a list of candidates to the electorate in each multi-member electoral district. Voters vote for a party, and parties receive seats in proportion to their overall share of the vote in the electoral district. Winning candidates are taken from the lists in order of their position on the lists.

STV uses multi-member districts, and voters rank candidates in order of preference on the ballot paper in the same manner as under the Alternative Vote system. In most cases, this preference marking is optional, and voters are not required to rank-order all candidates; if they wish, they can mark only one.

After the total number of first-preference votes are tallied, the count then begins by establishing the quota of votes required for the election of a single candidate. The quota used is normally the Droop quota, calculated by the simple formula:

Quota = (votes / (seats +1)) +1

The result is determined through a series of counts. At the first count, the total number of first-preference votes for each candidate is ascertained. Any candidate who has a number of first preferences greater than or equal to the quota is immediately elected.

In second and subsequent counts, the surplus votes of elected candidates (i.e. those votes above the quota) are redistributed according to the second preferences on the ballot papers. For fairness, all the candidate’s ballot papers can be redistributed, but each at a fractional percentage of one vote, so that the total redistributed vote equals the candidate’s surplus (the Republic of Ireland uses a weighted sample instead of distributing fractions).

If a candidate had 100 votes, for example, and their surplus was five votes, then each ballot paper would be redistributed according to its second preference at the value of 1/20th of a vote. After any count, if no candidate has a surplus of votes over the quota, the candidate with the lowest total of votes is eliminated. His or her votes are then redistributed in the next count to the candidates left in the race according to the second and then lower preferences shown. The process of successive counts, after each of which surplus votes are redistributed or a candidate is eliminated, continues until either all the seats for the electoral district are filled by candidates who have received the quota, or the number of candidates left in the count is only one more than the number of seats to be filled, in which case all remaining candidates bar one are elected without receiving a full quota.


Disadvantages of Proportional Representation System: 

  • A destabilizing fragmentation of the party system. PR can reflect and facilitate a fragmentation of the party system. It is possible that extreme pluralism can allow tiny minority parties to hold larger parties to ransom in coalition negotiations. In this respect, the inclusiveness of PR is cited as a drawback of the system. In Israel, for example, extremist religious parties are often crucial to the formation of a government, while Italy endured many years of unstable shifting coalition governments. Democratizing countries are often fearful that PR will allow personality-based and ethnic-cleavage parties to proliferate in their undeveloped party systems.
  • A platform for extremist parties: PR systems are often criticized for giving a space in the legislature to extremist parties of the left or the right. It has been argued that the collapse of Weimar Germany was in part due to the way in which its PR electoral system gave a toehold to extremist groups of the extreme left and right.
  • Governing coalitions which have insufficient common ground in terms of either their policies or their support base. These coalitions of convenience are sometimes contrasted with coalitions of commitment produced by other systems, in which parties tend to be reciprocally dependent on the votes of supporters of other parties for their election, and the coalition may thus be stronger.
  • Small parties getting a disproportionately large amount of power. Large parties may be forced to form coalitions with much smaller parties, giving a party that has the support of only a small percentage of the votes the power to veto any proposal that comes from the larger parties.

Qualification for Membership of Parliament

Article 84 provides the following qualifications to be possessed by a (Article 84) person to be qualified for the membership of the Parliament-

  1. He must be a citizen of India
  2. He must make and subscribe before some person, authorised in that behalf by the Election Commission, an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule to the Constitution.
  3. For the membership of Rajya Sabha, he must be not less than 30 years of age and for the membership of Lok Sabha, he must not be less than 25 years of age; and
  4. He must possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed in that behalf by or under any law made by the Parliament. In this respect Parliament enacted the Representation of People Act, 1951. Sections 3 and 4 of the Act require that the person to be qualified for the membership of the Parliament must be registered as a voter in any of the Parliamentary constituencies.
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