The Lok Sabha(House of the People) is the Lower house of Parliament of India.The members of lok sabha are elected by Universal Adult Suffrage and a first-past-the-post system to represent their respective constituencies,and they hold their seats for five years or until the body is dissolved by the President on the advice of the council of ministers.
Composition of Lok Sabha
The strength of the members in lok sabha can go maximum up to 552. 530 members represent the States, while 20 members represent the Union Territories. The President of the country nominates two members from the Anglo-Indian community.
The Lok Sabha runs for a period of five years from the date of its first meeting. It ends in two cases only – if the tenure of the government gets completed after five years or if the Lok Sabha gets dissolved due to any political, economic or social issue. The total elective membership is distributed among the states in proportion to their population.
Political History of Lok Sabha
The Indian Councils Act 1861 provided for a Legislative Council consisting of the members of the Executive Council and non-official members.The Indian Councils Act 1892 established legislatures in each of the provinces of British India and increased the powers of the Legislative Council.
Although these Acts increased the representation of Indians in the government, their power still remained limited, and the electorate very small. The Indian Councils Act 1909 and the Government of India Act 1919 further expanded the participation of Indians in the administration.
The Indian Independence Act, passed by the British parliament on 18 July 1947, divided British India (which did not include the Princely States) into two new independent countries, India and Pakistan, which were to be dominions under the Crown until they had each enacted a new constitution.
The Constituent Assembly was divided into two for the separate nations, with each new Assembly having sovereign powers transferred to it for the respective dominion.The Lok Sabha (House of the Leaders) was duly constituted for the first time on 17 April 1952 after the first General Elections held from 25 October 1951 to 21 February 1952.
Qualifications for Membership of the Lok Sabha
(1) He must be a citizen of India.
(2) He must not be less than 25 years of age.
(3) He must not hold any office of profit in the Government.
(4) He should not have an unsound mind or be a bankrupt.
(5) He should not be a declared offender of a grave crime by any court.
(6) He should possess all such qualifications prescribed by the Parliament.
Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha
The Speaker is the chairman and presiding officer of the Lok Sabha. In its very fastest meeting, every new Lok Sabha elects one of its members as the Speaker and another one as the Deputy Speaker. The Speaker presides over the meetings of the Lok Sabha, conducts its proceedings and maintains discipline and decorum in the House. His authority is supreme in the House.
He acts as a neutral chairman in the House. In his absence these functions are performed by the Deputy Speaker. When both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker are not present in the House, one member from the panel of chairmen (List of some veteran and experienced MPs of the House) presides over the meeting.
Privileges of Members of Lok Sabha
Lok Sabha MPs enjoy several privileges. They enjoy unrestricted freedom to express their views in the House. No action can be taken against them for anything said by them in the House. They cannot be detained for any civil offence during and 40 days before and after the session of the Lok Sabha. Their arrest in criminal cases can be made only after the Speaker has been informed of it.
Powers and Functions of Lok Sabha
Legislative Powers of Lok Sabha
An ordinary bill can become law only after it has been passed by both the Houses of Parliament. It can be introduced either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. When a bill is introduced and passed by the Lok Sabha, it is sent to the Rajya Sabha. After it has secured the approval of Rajya Sabha, it goes to the President for his signature.
After this it becomes a law. Although ordinary bills can be introduced in either of the two houses of Parliament, almost 90% of the bills are actually introduced in the Lok Sabha. In case the Rajya Sabha rejects a bill passed by the Lok Sabha and returns it with or without some amendments, the Lok Sabha reconsiders the bill.
If the Lok Sabha re-passes it and the Rajya Sabha is still not prepared to pass it, a deadlock occurs. If this deadlock remains unresolved for six months, the President summons a joint sitting of the two Houses. The decision of the joint sitting is accepted by both the Houses.
Executive Powers of Lok Sabha
For all its work, the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible before the Lok Sabha. The leader of the majority in the Lok Sabha becomes the Prime Minister. Most of the ministers are from the Lok Sabha. The ministers remain in office so long as they enjoy the confidence of majority in the Lok Sabha.
The Lok Sabha can remove the ministry from office by passing a vote of no- confidence against it. Thus, the life and death of the Ministry depends upon the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha maintains a continuous control over the Council of Ministers.
MPs can ask questions from ministers about their policies and activities of administration. They can criticise their policies. They can move and adopt several types of resolutions and motions (adjournment motion, call attention motion, censure motion and no-confidence motion) and can reject any bill of the government.
Financial Powers of Lok Sabha
The Lok Sabha has vast financial powers. A money bill can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha. After having been passed by it, the money bill goes to the Rajya Sabha. Such a bill can be delayed by the Rajya Sabha for a maximum period of 14 days.
If the Rajya Sabha fails to pass a money bill and 14 days elapse from the date of the submission of the bill to it, the money bill is deemed to have been passed by both the houses of Parliament. It is sent to the President for his signature.
In case of any dispute as to whether a particular bill is a money bill or not, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha gives the decision. His decision is final and it cannot be challenged in any court or even in the Rajya Sabha or the Lok Sabha. Thus, we can any that the Lok Sabha has the final control over the finances of state. No tax can be levied or collected or changed or abolished without the approval of the Lok Sabha. The fiscal policies of the government cannot be implemented without the consent of the Lok Sabha.
Judicial Powers of Lok Sabha
The Lok Sabha also performs some judicial functions. The impeachment proceedings can be taken up against the President either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. The President can be removed from office only when an impeachment resolution is adopted by each of the two Houses with a 2/3 majority of its members.
The Lok Sabha also investigates the charges prepared by the Rajya Sabha against the Vice-President of India. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha can together pass a resolution for the removal of any judge of the Supreme Court or of a State High Court.
Both the Houses can jointly pass a special address and present it to the President for the removal of some high officers of the state like the Attorney General, the Chief Election Commissioner and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Lok Sabha can also take action against any member or any citizen who is held to be guilty of committing contempt of the House.
Electoral Functions of Lok Sabha
The Lok Sabha also performs some electoral functions. The elected members of the Lok Sabha take part in the election of the President. Members of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha together elect the Vice-President of India. The members of the Lok Sabha also elect a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker from amongst themselves.
Combined Powers of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha
(a) Approval of the ordinances issued by the President
(b) Change of the boundaries of the states. State, creation of new states and change in the name of any state.
(c) Changes in the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
(d) Changes the qualifications of the members of the Parliament and State Legislatures.
(e) Revising the salary and allowances of the members of Parliament,
(f) The setting up of Joint Public Service Commission for two or more states.
(g) Passing of a resolution for abolishing or creating the upper chamber of a state legislature,
(h) Approval of a Declaration of Emergency.
Position of Lok Sabha
After studying the powers and functions of the Lok Sabha, we can say that the Lok Sabha is a very powerful House. The Council of Ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha and not to the Rajya Sabha. It remains in office so long as it enjoys the confidence of majority in the Lok Sabha.
The Lok Sabha has full control over the finances of the State. It dominates ordinary law-making bills as nearly 90% of the bills are introduced in it. The joint sitting method of resolving the deadlocks between the two Houses tends to favour the Lok Sabha. It also controls the executive.
The leader of majority in the Lok Sabha becomes the Prime Minister. Lok Sabha can cause the dismissal of the Council of Ministers by passing a vote of no-confidence or by rejecting a policy or law of the government. Hence, the Lok Sabha is a very powerful house of the Union Parliament.