What is Lok Sabha or The House of People ?
The Lok Sabha or The House of People is the Lower House of Indian Parliament. The members are directly elected to the House. Under the Constitution, the maximum strength of the Lok Sabha can be 552 members.
The Constitution provides that up to 530 members would represent territorial constituencies in the states, up to 20 members would represent the Union Territories, and two members would be appointed by the President to represent the Anglo-Indian community if there is inadequate representation of the community. [Article 331].
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 reorganisation of States by an Act of Parliament.
Term of Loksabha :-
- Unless sooner dissolved by the President, the Lok Sabha continues for five years from the date appointed for its first meeting and no longer, as the expiration of the period of five years operates as a dissolution of the House.
- However, while a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, this period 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.
Quorum:- The quorum to constitute a sitting of the House is one-tenth of the total number of Members of the House under article 100(3) of the Constitution.
- The Members of the Lok Sabha are elected through General Elections, held on the basis of universal adult suffrage.
- Parliament, from time to time, by law makes provision with respect to all matters relating to, or in connection with, elections to the Lok Sabha, including the preparation of electoral rolls, the delimitation of constituencies and all other matters necessary for securing the due constitution of the Lok Sabha.
- When the seat of a Member elected to the House becomes vacant or is declared vacant, or his/her election is declared void, the same is filled through bye-election.
Qualification for becoming a Member: To become a member of the Lok Sabha, a person should be
- a citizen of India,
- not less than 25 years of age, and
- possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament [Art. 84]
Joint Sittings:- Joint sittings of the two Houses have taken place on three occasions.
- The first joint sitting was held on 6 May 1961 following a disagreement between the two Houses over certain amendments to the Dowry Prohibition Bill, 1959. This was followed by another sitting on 9 May 1961 when the Bill, as amended, was finally passed.
- The second joint sitting was held on 16 May 1978, following the rejection by the RajyaSabha of the Banking Service Commission (Repeal) Bill, 1977 and the Bill was passed.
- The third joint sitting was held on 26 March 2002 when the motion to consider the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, 2002, seeking to replace the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) as passed by the Lok Sabha was rejected by the Rajya Sabha. At this sitting held for the purpose of deliberating and voting on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, 2002, the Bill was passed.
The Speaker of the Lok Sabha presides over the joint sitting of the two Houses. [Article 118(4)]
- The Speaker has a casting vote in the event of a tie. It is customary for the Presiding Officer to exercise the casting vote in such a manner as to maintain the status quo.
Sessions of Lok Sabha:- Normally three Sessions of the Lok Sabha are held in a year, viz.,
- Budget Session – February – May
- Autumn or Monsoon Session – July – August
- Winter Session – November – December
Key Terms Used in Lok Sabha
- “Adjournment” is a postponement of the sitting or proceedings of the House from one time to another specified for the reassembling of the House. During the course of a Session, the Lok Sabha may be adjourned from day to day or for more than a day.
- It may also be adjourned sine die which means the termination of a sitting of the House without any definite date being fixed for its next sitting.
- On adjournment of the Lok Sabha or its adjournment sine die, the pending business does not lapse.
- Bills pending before either House or Select/Joint Committee, Motions, Resolutions, and amendments which have already been moved and pending in the House, and business pending before a Parliamentary Committee do not lapse on prorogation whereas all business pending before the House or any of its Committee lapse on dissolution.
- “Prorogation” means the termination of a Session of the House by an order made by the President under article 85(2)(a) of the Constitution.
- The Prorogation of the House may take place any time, even while the House is sitting. However, usually, prorogation follows the adjournment of the sitting of the House sine die.
- “Dissolution” of the House means the end of the life of the Lok Sabha either by an order made by the President under article 85 (2) (b) of the Constitution or on the expiration of the period of five years from the date appointed for its first meeting.
- Dissolution puts an end to the representative character of the individuals who at the time compose the Lok Sabha.
- Prorogation terminates a Session and does not constitute an interruption in the continuity of life of the Lok Sabha which is brought to an end only by dissolution.
Voting and Divisions: The procedure regarding Voting and Divisions in the House is governed by article 100(1) of the Constitution and Rules 367, 367A, 367AA and 367B of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
The various methods adopted for voting in the Lok Sabha are:
(i) Voice Vote: It is a simple method for deciding a question put by the Chair on a motion made by a Member. Under this method, the question before the House is determined by the `Ayes’ or the `Noes’, as the case may be.
(ii) Division: There are three methods of holding a Division, i.e.
(a) by operating the Automatic Vote Recording Equipment;
(b) by distributing `Ayes’ and `Noes’ slips in the House; and
(c) by Members going into the Lobbies.
However, the method of recording of votes in the Lobbies has become obsolete ever since the installation of the Automatic Vote Recording Machine.
(iii) Secret Ballot: During an ‘open’ voting period, the individual results are shown by the three Colours: Green for ‘Ayes’, Red for ‘Noes’ and Yellow for ‘Abstain’ on the Individual Result Display Panel. Secret voting, if any, is held on similar lines except that the Light Emitting Diode (LED) on the Individual Result Display Panel flashes only white light to show that the vote has been recorded.
(iv) Recording of votes by distribution of slips: The method of recording of votes by Members on `Ayes’ and `Noes’ slips is generally resorted to in the eventuality of
(i) sudden failure of the working of the Automatic Vote Recording Equipment; and
(ii) at the commencement of the new Lok Sabha, before the seats/division numbers have been allotted to Members.
(v) Physical count of Members in their places instead of a formal division: If in the opinion of the Chair, a Division is unnecessarily claimed, he/she may ask the Members who are for `Ayes’ and those for `Noes’, respectively, to rise in their places and on a count being taken, he/she may declare the determination of the House. In such a case, the particulars of voting of the Members are not recorded.
(vi) Casting Vote: If in a Division the number of `Ayes’ and `Noes’ is equal, the question is decided by the casting vote of the Chair. Under the Constitution, the Speaker or the person acting as such cannot vote in a Division; he/she has only a casting vote which he/she must exercise in the case of equality of votes.
Question Hour: Rule32 of the “Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha” provides that unless the Speaker otherwise directs, the first hour of every sitting of the House shall be available for the asking and answering of Questions. Thus, it is taken up from 1100 hrs to 1200 hrs in every sitting.
Normally, there is no Question Hour during the first Session of the new Lok Sabha and also on the day when the President addresses both houses assembled together or on the day when General Budget is presented in Lok Sabha and on the sittings held during the extended period of session or on Saturdays/Sundays and Holidays.
Question:- Question is one of the important Parliamentary devices available to the Members to seek information on a matter of urgent public importance subject to conditions imposed by the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha and the Directions by the Speaker.
- A Member may ask question for the purpose of obtaining information on a subject matter of public importance within the special cognizance of the minister to whom it is addressed.
- There are basically four types of Questions:-
Starred Questions :A Member who desires an oral answer to his question is required to distinguish it by an asterix.
- Maximum 20 Questions are included in the list of Starred Questions for a particular day. This is printed on green paper.
- Minimum of 15 clear days notice is required for tabling Starred Questions.
- The Questions not orally answered in the Starred list of questions are treated as Unstarred Questions and their replies are laid on the Table of the House.
Unstarred Questions: These do not carry the asterix mark and are meant for obtaining written reply.
- Not more than 230 Questions can be placed on the Unstarred list for a particular sitting.
- This list is printed on white paper.
- Minimum 15 clear days notice is required for tabling Unstarred Questions. Written answers given by the Ministers are deemed to have been laid on the Table of the House at the end of Question Hour.
Short Notice Question: Question can also be asked on a matter of urgent public importance at a notice of less than ten clear days.
- The list of admitted SNQ is printed on a pink paper. The procedure of SNQ is regulated by Rule 54 and the basic test for its admissibility is the urgency of matter.
- SNQ is asked and answered soon after the Question Hour.
Question to Private Members:
- A Question may also be addressed to a Private Member under Rule 40 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, which provides that the subject matter of the question should be related to some Bill, Resolution or other matter connected with the Business of the House for which that Member is responsible.
- For instance, the Questions which relates to matters under the purview of Parliamentary Committees can be addressed to respective Chairperson.
Similarly, Members piloting Private Members Bills and Resolutions can be addressed questions, which are within cognizance of them under this provision.
The procedure in regard to such questions is the same as that followed in the case of questions addressed to a Minister with such variations as the Speaker may consider necessary.