Need to look into increasing Lok Sabha seats, says President Mukherjee
President Pranab Mukherjee said that in 1971, India’s population was 54 crores, which has now increased to 121 crores as per the 2011 census, and there is a need to have more number of seats in the Lok Sabha.india Updated: Apr 08, 2017 20:03 IST
Noting that only 543 Lok Sabha constituencies represent 1.28 billion people in the country, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said it was time to take a look at the legal provisions on delimitation of parliamentary constituencies with a view to increase their number.
The Constitution (Forty Second Amendment) Act, 1976 imposed a freeze on the population figure for readjustment in the 1971 census and has been extended by the Constitution (Eighty-fourth Amendment) Act 2001 till 2026, the President said.
“As a result, the House of the People (Lok Sabha) today represents the population figure of the 1971 census, whereas our population has increased manifold in the recent decades,” Mukherjee said at an All India Seminar on “Economic Reforms With Reference to Electoral Issues” organised by the Confederation of the Indian Bar in New Delhi.
“This gives rise to an anomalous situation wherein today, India has over 800 million voters and 543 Lok Sabha constituencies represent 1.28 billion people.”
In 1971, India’s population was 54 crores, which has now increased to 121 crores as per the 2011 census.
If Great Britain can have more than 600 parliamentary constituencies, why can’t India, with a much higher population, have more number of seats, the President asked.
He said a strong electoral system was necessary to strengthen the democratic structure of India.
“From 1952 to this date, no political party in India has won election by scoring 51% of votes... So the question comes that a vast number of votes polled whether they would have some sort of representation,” the President said.
Chief Justice of India JS Khehar said electoral promises remain unfulfilled and manifestos turn out to be mere pieces of paper, for which political parties must be held accountable.
“Nowadays, manifestos have become a mere piece of paper. For this, political parties have to be made accountable,” the CJI said.
Political parties give “brazen” excuses such as lack of consensus amongst their members to justify non-fulfilment of their poll promises, he added.
The CJI said none of the manifestos during the 2014 general elections indicated any link between electoral reforms and the Constitutional goal of ensuring economic-social justice to the marginalised section.
He said pursuant to the Supreme Court’s directions to the Election Commission of India to formulate guidelines against freebies, the poll panel has been taking action against parties for violation of the model code of conduct.
Supreme Court judge Justice Dipak Misra also stressed the need for electoral reforms, saying that holding of elections has to be “sans criminalisation”.
First Published: Apr 08, 2017 20:03 IST