The Constitution lays down that after the completion of each Census, the allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha to the States shall be readjusted. Similarly, the constituencies for elections to the legislative assemblies are also readjusted. However, the 42nd Amendment Act (1976) provided that until the figures for the first census after the year 2000 have been published, it shall not be necessary to readjust the allocation of seats to the States in the Lok Sabha.
Drawing Constituency Boundaries
Changing constituency boundaries can have an immediate impact on an MP or MLA’s chances of re-election, and so the process of delimitation is always carefully monitored. Politicians are not just affected by the process, but are in a position to actively intervene, and not just through influencing the operation of delimitation, but by changing the principles and methods laid down by law to regulate the process.
The Indian Constitution lays down certain ground rules for delimitation, but leaves the actual practical details for Parliament to decide. Both the underlying principles and the practical measures have been the subject of much debate and reform since independence, although there has been a hiatus since 1976 when the delimitation process was put on hold until the end of the century.
The Constitution lays down the basic principles that should govern delimitation. Article 81, section (2) states: (a) there shall be allotted to each State a number of seats in the House of the People in such manner that the ratio between that number and the population of the State is, so far as practicable, the same for all States; and (b) each State shall be divided into territorial constituencies in such manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it is, so far as practicable, the same throughout the State.
Article 81(1) also sets a maximum number of MPs to be elected to the Lok Sabha, and states that the population figures should be determined by the national census. These underlying principles have remained unchanged, although a number of Constitutional Amendments have altered the details.
Reservation of Seats
Constituencies and Reservation of Seats in elections are determined according to the set laws on elections in the country.
As regards the reservation of seats, the Constitution of India puts a limit on the size of the Lok Sabha of 550 elected members, apart from two members who can be nominated by the Indian President to represent the Anglo-Indian community.
There are also provisions to ensure the representation of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, with reserved constituencies where only candidates from these communities can stand for election.