India has a bicameral Parliament, with the two houses known as the Lok Sabha (LS) and the Rajya Sabha (RS). Lok Sabha is known as the lower house (house of the people), while Rajya Sabha is known as the upper house (house of elders). Lok Sabha Members of Parliament (MPs) are elected through general elections held on the basis of universal adult suffrage. Lok Sabha is not a permanent body, and its tenure is for five years. Meanwhile Rajya Sabha MPs are elected by the legislatures of States and Union Territories (UTs) and 12 MPs are nominated by the president. It is a permanent body, and its tenure is for six years.
Number of Seats in Lok Sabha
According to the Indian constitution, the maximum number of seats for the Lok Sabha should not exceed more than 552. Of this, 530 should be elected from the States and 20 from the Union Territories (Article 81). Additionally, President of India has the power to nominate 2 people from the Anglo-Indian community for the Lok Sabha.
The present position of seat distribution in Lok Sabha
- The current strength of Lok Sabha – 545
- The number of members selected from States – 523
- The number of members selected from Union Territories–20
- The number of seats for Anglo Indian community – 2
Reserved seats for SC/ST in Lok Sabha
Of the total seats in Lok Sabha, following is the reservation for SC/ ST candidates
- The number of seats reserved for scheduled castes (SC) – 84
- The number of seats reserved for scheduled tribes (ST) – 47
Frequency of Elections of Lok Sabha
Lok Sabha elections are normally held every five years. But if the parliament is dissolved due to any reason like no party or alliance having enough seats/majority to run the parliament, then the mid-term polls will take place.
In case of an emergency, the term of Lok Sabha can be extended by the parliament for a period not exceeding one year at a time. When the state emergency is ended, the extension cannot exceed beyond a period of six months.
To form the government in the Centre, a party or its alliance has to touch the magical figure of 272 MPs. If a party or alliance fails to get the support of 272 MPs on its own, other parties can support the leading party to form the government. This situation might trigger horse-trading.
Article 84 sets certain criteria for candidates who want to fight Lok Sabha polls. The person
– Must be a citizen of India.
– Must not be less than 25 years of age.
– Must be a registered voter at any parliamentary constituency in India.
– Candidates of a recognised political party need one proposer from their constituency for their nomination.
– An independent candidate needs ten proposers.
– Candidates are required to make a security deposit of Rs 25,000 with the returning officer appointed by the Election Commission of India (EC). Candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes get a concession – they have to pay only half the amount, i.e., Rs 12,500, as the deposit.
– If proposers are illiterate, then their thumb impressions should be attested by the returning officer, who is authorised for this job by the EC.
Candidates who are fighting Lok Sabha elections from the reserved constituencies have to submit a declaration/ certificate of their caste/tribe.
Filing an affidavit is a must. The candidates standing for elections have to file their affidavits, as has been mentioned in Form 26. The affidavit is to be sworn before the notary public, oath commissioner, or in front of a first-class magistrate. The affidavit paper should be written or typed clearly to avoid any glitches.
The affidavit should be filed along with the nomination paper. If the affidavit is not filed due to any reason along with the nomination paper, then it must be filed on the last day of the nomination. A candidate cannot contest in the Lok Sabha polls from more than two constituencies at a time.
The following documents have to be submitted at the time of filing nomination papers:
1. PAN card detail and status of filing of Income tax return (ITR) of self, spouse and dependents.
2. Details of movable and immovable property have to be officially declared. Candidates must reveal all their deposits or investments in foreign banks and so on.
3. Candidates have to present their highest educational qualification, telephone number, and e-mail ID. Apart from all these details, profession and source of income of self and spouse are also required to be shown.
- A person would be declared ineligible for being a Member of the Lok Sabha if the person
- Holds any office of profit under the Government of India (other than an office permitted by Parliament of India by law).
- Is of unsound mind.
- Is an undischarged insolvent.
- Has ceased to be a citizen of India.
- Is so disqualified by any law made by the Indian parliament.
- Is so disqualified on the ground of defection.
- Has been convicted, among other things, for promoting enmity between different groups.
- Has been convicted for the offence of bribery.
- Has been punished for preaching and practising social crimes such as untouchability, dowry, or sati.
- Has been convicted for an offence and sentenced to imprisonment.
- Has been dismissed for corruption or for disloyalty to the state (in case of a government servant).
Responsibilities of MPs
An MP is the representative of the people of his/her constituency in the parliament. They are expected to raise the problems of their constituency at the national level in the Lok Sabha with a view to finding solutions. Their other major duty is to get approval for extra funds (apart from the allotted one) from the government for the development of their constituency, or mitigation from disasters.
All Indian citizens above the age of 18 years are eligible to vote in the general elections to the Lok Sabha. The voters have to register themselves in the constituency where they live, and they have to apply and get a voter ID card, which is a must for casting vote.
Salary and allowances of an MP
Article 106 of the Indian constitution spells out entitlement to the salary of a Member of Parliament. At present, the monthly allowance of a Lok Sabha MP is Rs 70,000 per month which is known as the constituency allowance. Apart from this, the office expenses allowance is Rs 60,000 per month. Beside this, MPs get many other allowances and perks such as housing in the national capital.
Loss of deposit
The Election Commission’s guidelines state that a candidate loses his/her deposit if he/she fails to win at least 1/6th (16.6 per cent) of the total votes polled in the constituency.