Explained: Why Lok Sabha is still 543

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News:Former Union Minister has said that the number of Lok Sabha seats should be rationalised on the basis of population as the composition of the Lower House has remained more or less the same for four decades.

Facts:

What is the strength of Lok Sabha:

  • Article 81 of the Constitution defines the composition of the House of the People or Lok Sabha.
  • It states that the House shall not consist of more than 550 elected members of whom not more than 20 will represent Union Territories.
  • Under Article 331,the President can nominate up to two Anglo-Indians if he/she feels the community is inadequately represented in the House.
  • At present, the strength of the Lok Sabha is 543 of which 530 have been allocated to the states and the rest to the Union Territories.
  • The strength of the Lok Sabha hasn’t always been 543 seats.Originally, Article 81 provided that the Lok Sabha shall not have more than 500 members.The first House constituted in 1952 had 497.

What is the Criteria of allotting Lok Sabha seats to a state:

  • Article 81 mandates that the number of Lok Sabha seats allotted to a state would be such that the ratio between that number and the population of the state is the same for all states.This is to ensure that every state is equally represented.
  • However, this logic does not apply to small states whose population is not more than 60 lakh. 
  • So,at least one seat is allocated to every state even if it means that its population-to-seat-ratio is not enough to qualify it for that seat.

Census for allocation of seats:

  • As per Article 81(3),population for the purpose of allocation of seats, means the population as ascertained at the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published.In other words,the last published Census.
  • But, by an amendment to this Clause in 2003, the population now means population as per the 1971 Census, until the first Census taken after 2026. 
  • This was justified on the ground that a uniform population growth rate would be achieved throughout the country by 2026.