“A numerical majority in elections gives you the right to make a stable government. The lack of popular majority forbids you from a majoritarian government. That is the message and essence of our parliamentary democracy” opined the former President of India, Mr Pranab Mukherjee. This remark was made during the Second Atal Vihari Vajpayee Memorial Lecture collocated by India Foundation in New Delhi. Hence, it is sufficient to appeal that the foregoing President’s postulation was strictly based on the ideology that more the population, hence more should be the representatives of those populations.
“As a result, the House of the People (Lok Sabha) today represents the population figure of the 1971 census, whereas our population has increased manifold in recent decades,” he recollected. The question may always be answered with a certainty that during the last 43 years there has been a fixed number of seats in Lok Sabha, but not a fixed number of population in the country. To derive this, it is factual to say that the number of seats in Lok Sabha hasn’t changed since 1976 until there has been an extension by the Constitution (84th) Amendment Act, 2001 till 2026.
The provision under Article 81 (clause 3 specifically) clearly directs about the representative nature of Lok Sabha as its stature of the House Of People. Also, Article 331 gives the president to nominate two Anglo Indians. But it was clearly seen by the former President that certain updates need to be made in order to keep in tact the nature and sole of our Constitution.
It is keen to note that currently there are a total of 543 constituencies of which 530 have been administered to the States and rest to the Union Territories. which gives a fair representation to the populace of 1.28 billion. And every Minister present in the Lok Sabha is responsible for the depiction of roughly 16-18 lakh Indians and for some decades now this unhealthy proportion have been kept.
To make an unquestionable remark, a logic is manifested that every state should be given equal representation but this has grabbed the larger populated areas, more seats and the lesser populated areas comparatively are in-charged with less representation.
Grounds on which number of Seats is decided
In comparison with Seats in the United Kingdom’s parliament, each seat accounts for 44,000 members of the general populace, in Indonesia it is 3,66,000 and in Brazil it is 3,41,000.
Hence, the main argument made by the President was purely in the interest of the accumulating residents of the country and how the occupants who are less in the population have fallen short on their representation. Hence, the sole ground on which the representation decides should be based on the public itself in accordance with the new majority and minority gained because given a focus to today’s representation, it is factual to say that for 1.34 billion population, each seat is accounted for nearly 1.6 million citizens.
‘Present strength is based on the 1971 census’ – President
As per the 2011 census, India’s population has drastically increased and went form 54 crores to 121 crores and to constitute a strong democratic and egalitarian framework, it is keen to also refurbish the electoral reforms.
Problems faced while deciding Seats
“From 1952 to this date, no political party in India has won election by scoring 51% of votes… So the question comes that a vast number of votes polled whether they would have some sort of representation,” the President said.
To rightly capture the essence of the Parliamentary democracy, each and every populace should get a rendition and not just the ones with the majority, hence the majoritarian ideology should dissolve and the main issue while deciding the number of Seats comes in compliance with solely the representation criteria itself and how much the proportion should be between the number of Seats and their respective accountability of the population.
On 26 march, 1812 was the first time that Gerrymander in Boston Gazette as a result to the reversion of the corrupt election of the State Senate. To establish a political advantage in the election, the practice of gerrymandering is constituted which is against the sole purpose of Adult Suffrage in a parliamentary democracy.
The district boundaries in India are decided by the delimitation commission of India under the delimitation commission of India Act . The commission decides the boundaries of a district (with each recent census ) within a state but can’t change the number of seats each state has in the Lok Sabha . This commission is headed by non-partisan agents like retired chief justices and has no political involvement in their appointment , The retired chief justices or high court justices are appointed by The president of India who acts as a rubber stamp on the recommendation made by the collegium ( a body of senior bench judges of the supreme court in India) which has no political affinities at all . This system makes the entire process air tight and insulated from any political influence .
The Indian system has been very carefully crafted weighing all possible circumstances at hand with our founding fathers who wrote these laws (and our constitution) had a good deal of historical examples to learn from to ensure that fair democracy prevails in India .
India has 29 states and assume each state has one constituency then total no of lok sabha seats will be 29, in reality there 543 constituencies and so there are 543 seats, it is not necessarily divided equally with all 29 states. There is a legislation which specifically speaks about constituency and representation of people consistent with population, Representation of people (RPA)act, 1951 and through this legislation parliament by its business can add or remove constituency. The whole business of the Lok Sabha is essentially under two choices, will of the speaker(deciding the nature of the bill) and majority. Hence, it’s suffice to say that increasing the Seats of Lok Sabha from 543 to 1000 as contended by the foregoing President in the current times would keep up with the spirit of democracy as the constitution always provides Amendments so does the spirit of fair judgment. The House of the People is solely given purpose to put the voices of the citizens of India to be heard and therefore it would be a just and equitable notion to cover all the aspects of these ideologies within all the major and minor arenas.
Author: Gayatri Sharma,
GGSIPu, Jims School of Law, 2nd year/ Student