Different types of Majority provisions in Constitution

 

Explained by: Parveen Kaswan ( Author is an Aerospace Engineer and holds a Masters Degree in Engineering Designs from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore )

I know for a starter it is very difficult to understand the different types of majority required in various legislative functions of parliament and assembly. Indian constitution is both flexible and rigid in its functioning. Here are some basics about various kinds of majorities as prescribed by constitution of India:

Simple Majority: This refers to majority of more than 50% of the members present and voting. For example if 200 members are present and voting then simple majority will be considered as 101, as it is more than 50% of members presenting and voting. It does not matter what is the total membership or how many are absent in the house, what matters is present and voting. Most of the normal motions in the house such as No-confidence Motion, Vote of thanks (to the President or Governor), Adjournment Motion, Censure Motion, Cut motions etc. need simple majority.

Absolute Majority: It refers to a majority of more than 50% of the total membership of the house. For example if the total strength of Rajyasabha or Upper house is 250 then the absolute majority will be considered as 126 irrespective of voting number. It is not used anywhere in constitution as standalone requirement.

Effective Majority: Effective Majority of house means more than 50% of the effective strength of the house. This implies that out of the total strength, we deduct the absent and vacant seats. Our Constitution writes “all the then members” which refers to effective majority.

Special Majorities: This is a special kind of majority required in certain cases. The majority votes of 2/3rd members present and voting and also these votes should exceed 50% of the total strength of house. Now lets assume a scenario: The strength of the house is 250 and lets assume 230 are present. Now the absolute majority will be considered if the positive votes will exceed both condition – 2/3rd of present and voting that is 154 and more than 50% of total strength of the house that is 126. So in this condition 154 votes will be required.

indian-parliament

Majorities as discussed in Constitution

Removal of President: Special Majority Article 61 According to Article 61

When a President is to be impeached for violation of the Constitution; the charge shall be preferred by either House of Parliament. A 14 days notice to move a resolution is given. Then, the resolution has to be passed by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the House.

Removal of the Vice-President : Effective Majority Article 67(b)

Vice-President may be removed from his office by a resolution of the Council of States passed by a majority of all the then members of the Council and agreed to by the House of the People; but no resolution for the purpose of this clause shall be moved unless at least fourteen days’ notice has been given of the intention to move the resolution. (Effective majority in Rajya Sabha and agreed to Lok Sabha also means simple majority)

Removal of Deputy chairman of Council of States: Effective Majority Article 90(c)

A member holding office as Deputy Chairman of the Council of States may be removed from his office by a resolution of the Council passed by a majority of all the then members of the Council. (Simple Majority in Rajya Sabha)

Removal of Speaker and Lok Sabha Speaker: Effective Majority Article 94

Member holding office as Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of the People—(c)may be removed from his office by a resolution of the House of the People passed by a majority of all the then members of the House:

Removal of Supreme Court Judge: Absolute + Special Majority Article 124(4)

A Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House (Absolute Majority) and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting (Special Majority) voting has been presented to the President in the same session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.

Abolition of Council of States: Absolute + Special Majority Article 169 (1)

Parliament may by law provide for the abolition of the Legislative Council of a State having such a Council or for the creation of such a Council in a State having no such Council, if the Legislative Assembly of the State passes a resolution to that effect by a majority of the total membership of the Assembly (Absolute Majority) and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the Assembly present and voting (Special Majority).

Removal of Speaker or Deputy Speaker of Assembly: (Effective Majority) Article 179 (C)

Speaker or Deputy Speaker of Assembly may be removed from his office by a resolution of the Assembly passed by a majority of all the then members of the Assembly (Effective Majority).

Removal of Chairman or Deputy Chairman of a Legislative Council: (Effective Majority) Article 183 (C)

Chairman or Deputy Chairman of a Legislative Council may be removed from his office by a resolution of the Council passed by a majority of all the then members of the Council. (Simple Majority)

Emergency Proclamation (Absolute + Special Majority) According to article 352 (4)

An emergency proclamation is laid before each House of Parliament and shall cease to operate at the expiration of one month unless before the expiration of that period it has been approved by resolutions of both Houses of Parliament. Once approved it shall cease to be in force if again not approved within six months. For both of these purposes, the resolution should be passed by either House of Parliament only by a majority of the total membership of that House (Absolute Majority) and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the Members of that House present and voting(Special Majority).

Amendment of the Constitution via article 368 : (Absolute + Special Majority) According to Article 368(2)

Amendment to Constitution may be initiated only by the introduction of a Bill for the purpose in either House of Parliament, and when the Bill is passed in each House by a majority of the total membership of that House (Absolute Majority) and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting, (special Majority). Further, if the amendment of the constitution also requires the assent of the state assemblies, they can pass the constitutional Amendment Bill with simple majority

 

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