Types of Majorities in the Indian Parliament

In the parliament, all the important decisions are taken by the majority.  Framing a law, the passage of the budget, various bills, motions, amendment are the part of these decisions. There are certain types of majority followed in the Parliament to pass the specific bill and motion. There are 4 majorities. They are:

  1. Simple Majority
  2. Absolute majority
  3. Effective majority
  4. Special majority

SIMPLE MAJORITY

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The simple majority is also called as “working majority’. This implies that the majority of more than fifty percent of the members of the legislature present and voting excluding the member abstaining.

For example: If the total number of members of parliament present and voting is 500, strength of 251 or more will be a simple majority.

A Simple majority is used in:

● Most of the normal bills and a number of provisions in the Constitution can be amended by a simple majority of the two Houses of Parliament outside the scope of Article 368. This includes:

● Admission or establishment of new states

● Formation of new states and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing states

● Abolition or creation of legislative councils in the states

● Acquisition and termination of Citizenship

● To pass Non-Confidence Motion, Confidence Motion, Adjournment Motion, Censure Motion

● To pass Money bill, Financial bill, Ordinary bill and Budget

● For the proclamation of financial emergency and for revoking the National Emergency.

● Resolution passed by the Rajya Sabha should be approved by the Lok Sabha with a simple majority

● Removal of vice president in Lok Sabha

● Vote of thanks to President or governor


ABSOLUTE MAJORITY

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It is the majority of more than fifty percent of the total strength of the House. It has huge significance in parliamentary business.

For example, in the case of the Lok Sabha, which has a total strength of 545 members, 273 is the absolute majority. It is not used anywhere in the constitution as a standalone requirement. If a political party has an Absolute Majority, it means it gets to form the government.

Absolute majority is used in:

  • The absolute majority is not used in the normal business of the Parliament or State Legislature But this majority is used during the general election, for the formation of government at the Center and States.

EFFECTIVE MAJORITY

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The effective majority is more than fifty percent of the effective strength of the house. The vacancies are not taken into account. The Constitution of India describes “all the then members” which refers to the effective majority.

For example: the total strength of Rajya Sabha is 245. Suppose if there are 15 vacancies, 230 shall be the effective strength and more than 50 % of this. That means 116 more than this is called as the effective majority.

The Effective majority is used in:

  • Removal of the Vice-President
  • Removal of Deputy chairman of Council of States
  • Removal of Speaker and Lok Sabha Speaker
  • Removal of Speaker or Deputy Speaker of Assembly
  • Removal of Chairman or Deputy Chairman of a Legislative Council

SPECIAL MAJORITY

All types other than the above three are called special majorities. There are 3 types of special majorities for the parliamentary business.

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Special Majority under Article 249 and Article 312

Article 249 directs the Parliament to legislate on a subject in the State List in the national interest. Article 312 is the creation of one or more new All India Services. The resolution must be passed by Rajya Sabha supported by not less than 2/3 of the members present and voting. This is basically a majority of 2/3rd of the members of the House present and voting excluding the number of members abstaining.

For example: In Rajya Sabha, the total strength is 245. If only 200 members are present and voting, only 2/3rd of this (200) shall be majority under Article 249.

Special majority under Article 61

Article 61 deals with the impeachment of President. A resolution under this is passed by not less than 2/3rd of the total strength of the House, including the number of vacancies.

For example: for passing such a resolution it requires the support of 2/3rd of the total strength of the upper house 245, that is 164 or more.

Special majority under Article 368 (Constitutional Amendment)

A bill seeking a constitutional amendment requires its passage by 2/3rd of the members of the House present and voting. There is no provision for joint sitting for this. Both the houses have to pass it separately. This majority should be the absolute majority of the house. That means Absolute + Special Majority.

The constitutional amendment bills, resolutions for the removal of the judges of the Supreme Court or the high courts, chief election commission, comptroller and auditor general etc. are passed. This majority is needed for the passage of the resolution for approving the continuation of National emergency, from both the Houses of Parliament.

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PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTIONS

1. The Parliament of India acquires the power to legislate on any item in the State List in the national interest if a resolution to that effect is passed by the (UPSC Civil Services Examination 2016)

  1. Lok Sabha by a simple majority of its total membership
  2. Lok Sabha by a majority of not less than two-thirds of its total membership
  3. Rajya Sabha by a Simple majority of its total membership
  4. Rajya Sabha by a majority of not less than two-thirds of its member present and voting

Ans. D

2. When a bill is referred to a joint sitting of both the Houses of the Parliament, it has to be passed by: (UPSC Civil Services Examination 2015)

  1. a simple majority of members present and voting
  2. three-fourths majority of members present and voting
  3. two-thirds majority of the Houses
  4. absolute majority of the Houses

Ans. A

3. Consider the following statements (UPSC Civil Services Examination 2013)

  1. An amendment to the Constitution of India can be initiated by an introduction of a bill in the Lok Sabha only.
  2. If such an amendment seeks to make changes in the federal character of the Constitution, the amendment also requires to be ratified by the legislature of all the States of India.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Ans. D

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