Explained: Why Pranab Mukherjee wants 1,000 MPs — and why Lok Sabha has only 543 today

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News:Recently,former President has said that the number of seats in Lok Sabha should be increased to 1,000 from the present 543 as every MP represents an average 16-18 lakh Indians which is too large a number to be kept in touch.

Facts:

About 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.
  • 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.

How are Lok Sabha seats allotted?

  • Article 81 also 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 as far as possible 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.
  • As per Article 81(3),population for the purpose of allocation of seats, means the population as ascertained at the last published Census.

Revision of Lok Sabha strength:

  • The strength of 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 members.
  • The last time the strength of the Lok Sabha was revised to 543 was based on the 1971 census.
  • A temporary freeze was imposed in 1976 on ‘delimitation’ until 2001. Delimitation is the process of redrawing the boundaries of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats to represent changes in the population.
  • However,the freeze on the number of seats in Lok Sabha and Assemblies should have been lifted after the Census of 2001,another amendment postponed this until 2026.

Why temporary freeze on strength of Lok Sabha?

  • According to Article 81,population-to-seat ratio should be the same for all states. 
  • This means that states that took little interest in population control could end up with a greater number of seats in Parliament. 
  • The southern states that promoted family planning faced the possibility of having their seats reduced.Hence,to allay these fears the temporary freeze has been imposed.