The Lok Sabha is the popular House of Indian Parliament. It is the Lower House of the Parliament whose members are directly elected by the people.
The term of the House is five years beginning from the date of the commencement of its first session.
The president may, however, dissolve it earlier. When a proclamation of national emergency is in operation, the life of the Lok Sabha may be extended by law of the Parliament for one year at a time but dissolution must come within six months of the expiry of the proclamation.
In the Draft Constitution of India the life of the House was originally fixed at four years by the Union Constitution Committee. The Drafting Committee subsequently changed it to five years because “it considers that under the Parliamentary system of Government the first year of Ministers’ term of Office would generally be taken up in gaining knowledge of the work of administration and the last year would be taken up in preparing for the next General Election and there would thus be only two years left for the effective work which would be too short a period for planned administration”.
Thus the life of the Lok Sabha was finally fixed at 5 years. The Constitution (Forty-second) Amendment Act, 1976 had extended the period from 5 years to 6 years. The Janata Government has restored it to five years by the Constitution (Forty-fourth) Amendment Act, 1978.
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Composition of the Lok Sabha:
The maximum strength of the Lok Sabha is fixed at 552. 530 members are to be elected directly by the people from States of India. 20 members are to be elected or selected by the President as necessary from the Union Territories.
In addition two members can be nominated from the Anglo-Indian Community of India by the President if he feels that the community is not adequately represented in the Lok Sabha. The reason for fixing the maximum limit of the Lok Sabha is that too large a House with unlimited members may hamper the efficiency of its work.
The Election to the House of the People is conducted on the basis of adult franchise. Article 326 of the Constitution provides for adult franchise. Every man or woman of 18 years or above is eligible to vote.
This is a great experiment on the Indian soil. The voters in India are the largest among all the democratic countries of the world. That is why India is considered to be the biggest democratic country in the world.
The voting is done by secret ballot and the candidate who secures the maximum votes is declared elected. The notorious system of separate and communal electorate has been abolished in free India. There is one electoral roll for all the citizens of India and no discretion are made on grounds of religion so far as voting is concerned.
Various States are divided into several constituencies. Each constituency sends one representative to the Lok Sabha. The number of such seats in both Houses of Parliament has been fixed by the Constitution. The table given indicates the representation of the various States in both the Houses of the Parliament.
Qualification for Membership of Lok Sabha: To be qualified for election to the Lok Sabha, a candidate shoilld possess the following qualifications :
(a) He must be a citizen of India.
(b) He must be not less than 25 (twenty five) years of age.
(c)He must possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed by the Parliament by law.
Some members in the Constituent Assembly including Professor K. T. Shah and Dr. Rajendra Prasad pleaded for some educational qualification of the candidates. Although educational qualification seems desirable there were two difficulties in India at that time. One is the scarcity of educated men in the Indian society.
The second is that such arbitrary limitation may disqualify many public men to contest in the elections. Prima facie such limitation seems inconsistent with the Right to Equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Thus, the idea of educational qualification of the contesting candidates was not accepted by the Constituent Assembly.