The Lok Sabha or The House of People is the lower house of the Indian Parliament constituted on 17th April 1952. The members of the house are elected by the adult universal suffrage for a term of five years or until the President dissolves the body. The constitution has stated the maximum strength of the house up to 545 out of which 2 are to be nominated by the President himself to the house from the Anglo-Indian community. The house meeting takes places in Sansad Bhawan’s Lok Sabha Chambers, New Delhi. We have an exclusive TV channel for Lok Sabha, headquartered within our Parliament. As per article 101, a person can’t be a member of both the houses and shall be made a member only by Parliament as per the laws.
Who qualifies to be a member?
According to the article 84 of the Constitution, a Lok Sabha member must:
- be a citizen of India.
- not be less than 25 years of age.
- possess the prescribed qualifications.
- not be a declared criminal.
- have his name in the electoral list of India.
There can be a few reasons for the disqualification as well if:
- one holds an office of profit.
- one is not an Indian citizen or has acquired a foreign citizenship.
- one is of unsound mind.
- one is an undischarged insolvent.
- one is violating party discipline under Representation of People Act.
When does a seat get vacant under normal functioning?
- when a member resigns.
- when the member is absent from 60 days uninterrupted without permission from the speaker.
- when the member is subject to any disqualification as per the constitution.
Elections in Lok Sabha
Each state is divided into constituencies and voting is based on the universal adult suffrage (people who have been at least 18 years of age can vote).
Powers of the House:
At certain occasions, Lok Sabha can be more powerful than Rajya Sabha:
- Lok Sabha can pass Motions of no confidence against the government. In case of a majority in voting, the Prime minister, along with the council of Ministers resign jointly. The upper house has no such power.
- Lok Sabha is entitled to equal powers as Rajya Sabha in passing a motion declaring a war or a national emergency or even a constitutional emergency in a state with a majority of votes.
- There is an impeachment process under which a motion is initiated & passed for the removal of judges of the Supreme & state high courts. Lok Sabha has equal powers as Rajya Sabha in the same process (given a voting of two-thirds of members) and then the President removes the judges.
- It is the Lok Sabha where money bills are introduced & padded and the sent to Rajya Sabha for getting recommendations if any. If there is no response within 14 days then the bill is considered passed.
- Given a majority of two-thirds of the members’ votes, the Lok Sabha equals in powers with Rajya Sabha in initiating & passing any bill for constitutional amendment.
- In matters relating to non-financial bills, after one house passes the bill (Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha), it is sent to the other house where they can keep it for maximum 6 months. After 6 months, no recommendation is considered and hence it results in a stand-still. This is settled by a joint session in the presence of a speaker of the Lok Sabha and a conclusion is reached through majority. In reality, due to its greater strength, the opinions of Lok Sabha prevail much.
Procedure in the House
The Speaker of the house issues the directions & the rules of procedure and conduct from time to time. The items of business notice of which is received from the Members and permitted by the Speaker are included in the daily List of Business which is printed and circulated to members in advance. The time is allotted by the House on the recommendations of the Business Advisory Committee for several items of business to be taken up in the House. The Speaker supervises the sessions of the House and controls the procedure.
Three sessions of Lok Sabha take place in a year:
- Budget session: February to May.
- Monsoon session: July to September.
- Winter session: November to mid-December.
Question Hour & Zero Hour
The question hour is the first hour of every sitting where the members rightfully ask their questions of different sides of administration and government policy in both national and global areas. Zero hour, on the other hand, is the time immediately after the question hour where the members can raise important issues like bills, budget & other national issues with prior notice to the speaker.
The core business of the day may be considering a Bill or financial business or consideration of a resolution or a motion.
Discussion on Urgent Public Matters
With the permission of the speaker, the members can bring up matters of immediate public importance for discussion which can take place on two days a week.
A Debate in the Lok Sabha
After a member has started a discussion and has spoken about it, the other members can speak on that matter in the order of the speaker calling them. Since the speeches are directed to the chair, only one person speaks at a time. The house members indicate their opinion of for and against a motion by the sounds of “aye” or “no” from their seats. Going by the voices the chair declares if the motion is accepted or rejected by the house.
Publication of Debates
The debates are prepared in the Hindi, English & original version; the original is kept in the house for records & Hindi & English versions are printed.
Officers of Lok Sabha: Speaker & Deputy Speaker
The Article 93 of the Indian constitution states that the house should have a speaker and a deputy speaker who will be elected from among the members of the house by a simple majority voting. Surprisingly, there is no prescribed qualification to be a speaker. A person just needs to be a member of the Lok Sabha and must have the understanding of the constitution and the national laws & rules of the parliament. Presently, Sumitra Mahajan is our speaker, elected on 3rd June 2014, and is the second woman speaker and our deputy speaker is Shri M. Thambidurai.
As per article 94, a speaker or deputy speaker should leave their office if:
- one is no longer the member of the house
- one resigns
- is removed from the office as per a resolution passed by a majority.
A speaker is a member as well as the presiding officer of the house, responsible for conducting the business in the house and deciding whether or not a money bill should be passed. The speaker maintains the decorum of the house, can punish a member for a disorderly behaviour (by suspending them), permissions of various motions and deciding the agenda to be taken up during the meetings. The disagreement between two houses is settled by the speaker and he/she can also disqualify a member of the house in case of any defection. Except for rare times when there is a tie, a speaker doesn’t vote in the house. In the case of the resignation/absence/removal of the speaker, the deputy speaker performs the duties.