The various aspects related to the system of elections to the Lok Sabha are as follows:
For the purpose of holding direct elections to the Lok Sabha, each state is divided into territorial constituencies. In this respect, the Constitution makes the following two provisions:
The expression ‘population’ means the population as ascertainted at the preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published.
Readjustment after each Census
After every census, a readjustment is to be made in (a) allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha to the states, and (b) division of each state into territorial constituencies. Parliament is empowered to determine the authority and the manner in which it is to be made. Accordingly, the Parliament has enacted the Delimitation Commission Acts in 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002 for this purpose.
The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 froze the allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha to the states and the division of each state into territorial constituencies till the year 2000 at the 1971 level. This ban on readjustment was extended for another 25 years (ie, upto year 2026) by the 84th Amendment Act of 2001, with the same objective of encouraging population limiting measures.
The 84th Amendment Act of 2001 also empowered the government to undertake readjustment and rationalisation of territorial constituencies in the states on the basis of the population figures of 1991 census. Later, the 87th Amendment Act of 2003 provided for the delimitation of constituencies on the basis of 2001 census and not 1991 census. However, this can be done without altering the number of seats allotted to each state in the Lok Sabha.
Reservation of Seats for SCs and STs
Though the Constitution has abandoned the system of communal representation, it provides for the reservation of seats for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the Lok Sabha on the basis of population ratios.
Originally, this reservation was to operate for ten years (ie, up to 1960), but it has been extended continuously since then by 10 years each time. Now, under the 95th Amendment Act of 2009, this reservation is to last until 2020.
Though seats are reserved for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, they are elected by all the voters in a constituency, without any separate electorate. A member of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes is also not debarred from contesting a general (non-reserved) seat.
The 84th Amendment Act of 2001 provided for refixing of the reserved seats on the basis of the population figures of 1991 census as applied to rationalisation of the general seats. Later, the 87thAmendment Act of 2003 provided for the refixing of the reserved seats on the basis of 2001 census and not 1991 census.