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Government, Legislature

universal adult suffrage, presidential appointees, constitutional amendments, Rajya Sabha, union territory

The constitution vests national legislative power in a parliament of two houses: the Lok Sabha (House of the People), the lower house, and the Rajya Sabha (Council of States), the upper house. The Lok Sabha consists of 545 members directly elected by universal adult suffrage, except for two members who are appointed by the president to represent the Anglo-Indian community. The number of seats allocated to each state and union territory is proportional to its population. The term of the Lok Sabha is limited to five years, but the president may dissolve the house upon the advice of the prime minister, or upon defeat of major legislation proposed by the government. A provision of the constitution that was intended to expire after ten years, but which has been consistently extended, allocates reserved seats to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in proportion to their share of the population.

Members of the Rajya Sabha are elected by the members of the state legislative assemblies, except for 12 presidential appointees who have special knowledge or practical experience in literature, the arts, science, or social services. The elected members are chosen by a system of proportional representation for a six-year term; one-third of the Rajya Sabha is chosen every two years. A two-thirds majority is required for some constitutional amendments to pass; some amendments also require ratification by one-half of the states.

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