Indian Polity | Types of Majorities

This blog is part of the series Constitution simplified 

There are 4 main types of Majority. The last one being Special Majority that has 3 sub-types.

The most important Majorities will be Simple Majority and Special Majority of the 2nd kind. We will use current strength of the Lok Sabha = 545 in the examples to explain.

  1. Absolute – More than 50% of the Total Strength of the House. Meaning

1/2 x 545 = 273 or more. 

This majority is never used anywhere but has a huge significance. If a political party has an Absolute Majority, it means it gets to form the govt., there is stability in the house.  

  1. Simple – Also called functional majority. It means Majority of more than 50% of members present and voting.

Lets assume the members present and voting is 300 (out of 545). We have –

1/2 X 300 = 150 or more

Usage

  • When not stated what type of Majority in the Constitution, this majority is assumed.
  • Passage of Ordinary, Money and Financial Bills.
  • Passage of No-Confidence Motion, Confidence Motion, Vote of Thanks to the President, Censure Motion, Adjournment Motion, Calling Attention Motion.
  • Election of the Speaker, Dy. Speaker, Dy. Chairman of RS.
  • Passage of approval to President’s Rule and Financial Emergency.
  • Approval by LS for discontinuance of Emergency.
  1. Effective – Means Majority of the Effective Strength of the House where Effective Strength is defined as Total Strength – No. of Vacancies. Vacancies arise due to 3 reasons – Death, Disqualification, Resignation. Some sources mention Absenteeism as a vacancy but that is incorrect.

Lets assume Number of Vacancies are 6. We have

1/2 X (545-6) = 270 or more

Usage

  • Removal of the VP. Initiated by the RS, requires Effective Majority in the RS, thereafter Simple Majority in the LS. (this procedure is assumed since the Constitution doesn’t explicitly state it. Actual text available here)
  • Removal of the Speaker, Dy. Speaker and Dy. Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
  1. Special – This majority has 3 sub-types that require some attention.

1st kindNot less than 2/3 of the Members present and voting.

Usage (only in 2 conditions)

  • Passage of Resolution under Art. 249 and Art. 312. What are they and when have they been used? 

 

2nd kind : Fulfills the following criteria

i) Not less than 2/3 of the Members present and voting.

ii) Majority of the Total Strength of the House.

Eg. Out of 545, 450 Members are present and 300 vote in favor. Both the above conditions are satisfied – 300 is more than 2/3 of 450 and 300 is more than 1/2 of 545.

To make it simpler to remember, it is Special Majority of First kind + Absolute Majority.

Usage

  • Passage of Constitutional Amendment Bills under Art. 368.
  • Approval by both Houses for the continuance of Emergency.
  • Removal of Judges of SC, High Court, CAG, CEC.
  • Approval for the creation of State Legislative Council of a State under Art. 169.

3rd kind :  This is used only once – during the impeachment of the President of India. Is mentioned in Art. 61 of the Constitution.

2/3rd Majority of the Total Strength of the House.

2/3 X 545 = 364 or more

 

As a rule of thumb, you should never mention Special Majority in any answer as it could mean any of the 3 Special Majorities. 

 

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