Types of majorities in Indian Constitution

There are various types of majorities followed in Indian Parliament to pass specific bills and motions as follows:

Simple Majority

Simple majority or working majority refers to majority of more than 50% of the members present and voting. Example:

  • Total strength of Lok Sabha: 545
  • Vacant Seats: 5
  • Members present: 500
  • Members present, but decide to abstain / not to vote: 50
  • Members present and voting: 500-50=450
  • Simple Majority in this case would be: 226

Most of the normal motions and bills in the house such as No-confidence Motion, Motion of Confidence, Motion of Thanks, Censure Motion, Adjournment Motion, Money Bills, Ordinary Bills etc.

Absolute Majority

Absolute majority refers to the majority of more than 50% of the total strength of the house. Example:

  • Total strength of Lok Sabha: 545
  • Absolute Majority: 273

Such kind of majority is not required in isolation in the Indian Parliament. There are instances when such majority is needed with other majority which would be thus called special majority.

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.

  • Total strength of Lok Sabha: 545
  • Vacant Seats: 5
  • Effective Strength: 545-5=540
  • Members present, but decide to abstain / not to vote: 50
  • Members present and voting: 540-50=490
  • Effective Majority: 490/2+1=245

In constitution of India, the “all the then members” present indicates an effective majority. In Constitution, effective majorities are needed for removal of Vice-President, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha speaker and Deputy Speaker.

Special Majority

Any Majority other than simple, absolute and effective majority is called special majority. These include

  • Majority by two-third strength of the house {example impeachment of president under article 61}
  • Majority by two-third of present and voting members {Example: Power of Parliament to legislate with respect to a matter in the State List in the national interest, under article 249}; Certain constitution amendment bills etc.
  • Absolute majority + majority of two-third present and voting {Example: Removal of Supreme Court Judge, CAG etc.}

Examples of Majorities in Constitution

Impeachment of President: Special Majority

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. This is an example of Special Majority.

Removal of the Vice-President: Effective Majority

Vice-President may be removed from his office by a resolution of Rajya Sabha passed by a majority of all the then members of the Rajya Sabha and agreed to Lok Sabha. This is an example of effective majority in Rajya Sabha.

Removal of Deputy chairman Rajya Sabha: Effective Majority

A member holding office as Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha 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

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

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. (article 124)

Abolition of Council of States: Absolute + Special Majority

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) Article 169. (1)

Removal of Speaker or Deputy Speaker of Assembly: (Effective Majority)

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). Article 179 (C)

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

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) Article 183 (C)

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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Comments

  • Niranjana

    Then what is the difference between simple and effective majority?

    • Kevin

      In effective Majority, Do not consider any loss for the vote other than the members who are not present, so that is called “EFFECTIVE”, meaning who all are present in the house are effective irrespective whether they vote or they don’t.

    • Ashutosh Yadav

      Kevin can u please elaborate “effective strength”.
      From above i am unable to discover any difference between special & effective majority.

  • Teja Sai

    Simple majority is when more than 50% of the members are “present and voting”. Of the 545 members, if 20 abstain from the House and 5 abstain from voting, the required simple majority is 261 or more.
    In the same circumstances, the ‘effective’ strength of the House would be 525. The Effective majority would be 263 or more.
    (The members who are present and don’t vote make all the difference.)

    • sai krishna

      Good explanation sai teja…its good to have clean idea on concepts…

  • kamal garg

    nd what is absolute majority??? plzz explain teja sai..

  • sagar navnath dhumal

    What is difference between absolute majority and effective majority
    In laximkanth this 2 terms are one and the same they have not mentioned effective majority .
    but article 94 mention the majority of the then all member and which you say it effective majority.
    art 124(4) mention the majority of the total membership of that house and you say it is absolute majority.
    all right so what is the correct explanation.

  • Ravi1988

    Absolute majority in the above case will be 545/2 +1=273

  • ankit0807

    Simple Majority:Simple majority is for ordinary bills and money bills. It means that the bill must be accepted by more than 50% of the total members(545 for loksabha,245 for rajyasabha) present on that day. The only condition is that the members present on that day should be atleast 1/10th of the total members( 55 for loksabha, 25 for rajyasabha). For ex

    If 545 members are present then the bill should be accepted by atleast 273 members
    If 100 members are present then it should be accepted by atleast 51 memebers
    If 50 members are present in case of LS, then the house is adjourned for that day because (presented members)< 1/10th ( total mp of LS=545).

  • ankit0807

    Special majority: Special majority is for constitutional amendment. For special majority:
    1. Atleast 50% of the members should be present.
    2. Accepted by atleast 2/3rd of the presented members.
    3. Members who accepted the bill should be more than 50% of the total members. For ex:

    If 545 members are present then bill should be accepted by atleast 363 members(2/3rd of 545).
    If 500 members are present then it should be accepted by atleast 333 members(2/3rd of 500)
    If 300 members are present then it should be accepted by atleast 273 members(more than 50% of 545. In this case 2/3rd acceptable is not considered because (2/3rd of 300 =200) < 50% of the total MP of LS i.e. 273.

  • rahul

    is there anything like ratification by half of state by special majority?

  • TeeEmm

    any one plzz explain with examples different cases of majority???

  • ashu5390

    what is special majority in case of removal of President?(it is 2/3rd of total membership or total members present?)..plz explain.

    • Suresh Soni

      2/3rd of total membership is special majority.

  • vinod kumar

    The Constitution says there should be minimum 55 members in L.Sabha to pass the bill.