The 14TH Lok Sabha will meet for business for the last time on Thursday, but will only be dissolved once the results for the 15th general election are announced, sometimes in mid-May. The House’s five-year term ends on June 1.
According to the Constitution, the lower House of Parliament has a five-year term but its members can remain MPs for more than five years.
This curious contradiction is the outcome of a disharmony between the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the Representation of the People’s Act, under which elections are conducted.
According to Article 83 of the Constitution, the Lok Sabha has a life of five years starting from the day of its first meeting. However, according to Section 73 of the people’s Act, the legislature “shall be deemed to be duly constituted,” upon the notification of the results of the general elections by the Election Commission. “The statutory provisions are a bit confusing,” said P.D.T. Achary, Lok Sabha secretary general.
The current Lok Sabha was constituted on May 17, 2004 — the day the EC notified results and wrote to the President. The members began to get their salaries from that day.
The five-year clock of the LS began ticking only from June 2, 2004, the first day of its inaugural session. “What is written in the Constitution is what matters. The EC notification merely means that such and such people have been elected as members,” said Shanti Bhushan, constitutional expert.
But the time gap between the constitution of the House and its actual sitting became a controversial issue in UP a few years ago. The ruling BJP insisted that the term of the assembly be counted from March 1997, when the House first met.
The Opposition, however, said it should be from the day of the constitution of the House, which was October 17 1996. Elections were finally held in February 2002. But the issue remained a matter of dispute in the face of questions about the life of the assembly beyond its legitimate five years if it is placed under suspended animation before being convened.
But such disputes are ruled out at the Centre as there is no provision of the President’s Rule and a constitutional government has to be put in place no matter how fractured the mandate.