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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016
The Constitution of India is the fountainhead from which all our laws derive their authority and force. This is next article in the series on constitutional provisions in order to aid our readers in understanding them.

83. "Duration of Houses of Parliament "

83. "Duration of Houses of Parliament.- (1) The Council of States shall not be subject to dissolution, but as nearly as possible one-third of the members thereof shall retire as soon as may be on the expiration of every second year in accordance with the provisions made in that behalf by Parliament by law.

(2) The House of the People, unless sooner dissolved, shall continue for five years from the date appointed for its first meeting and no longer and the expiration of the said period of five years shall operate as a dissolution of the House:

Provided that the said period may, while a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, be extended by Parliament by law for a period not exceeding one year at a time and not extending in any case beyond a period of six months after the Proclamation has ceased to operate."

The members of the Constituent Assembly had taken many pains for fixing the period or duration of Parliament after normal elections. They chose for a Parliamentary form of Government or "Westminster Type". Thus we have a model of Parliamentary democracy of Britain. In Britain the House of Commons endures for five years as per the tenure mentioned in their Act of 1911.

The spirit of democracy which pervades our Constitution gathers greater strength as a convention has developed that the election to the House of People are held for constituting a new "House of People" before the expiry of its duration so that the new House may commence its functions without any loss of time. That is why the Constitution of India is "a living organic thing".

Further the totality of Article 83 is the duration or tenure of both Houses- "House of People" i.e . Lok Sabha and "Council of States" i.e. Rajya Sabha.

This Article has two clauses and second clause has a proviso. The first clause states that the Council of States is a permanent body but 1/3 rd of members retire every second year perpetually.

Second clause states that the House of People, if not otherwise dissolved, is to continue for 5 years from the date of its first meeting and then is dissolved. Its proviso states that if there is any national emergency the period of House of People may be extended by an Act of Parliament upto one year at a time and not exceeding a period of six months after the emergency has ceased to operate.

As a general rule in India the House of People can be dissolved before the expiry of 5 years in case the leader of House i.e. Prime Minister, resigns on basis of no-confidence motion in Parliament or he dies during such period. It is also a rule that if the Prime Minister resigns then all the members in his cabinet automatically resign. As our Lok Sabha consists of people's representatives, the Representation of Peoples Act of 1951, particularly its section 14, strictly provides that-

(i) a general election shall be held for constitution of a new House of People before expiry of the existing House.

(ii) President shall notify the date as recommended by Election Commission of India which shall be published in India Gazette.

(iii) No such notification is required if a mid-term election is to be held.

Thus, section 14 of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951 and Article 83 of the Constitution of India are co-incidental and coherent.

The most important point in this Article is that the "five years duration of Lok Sabha" has gone through various Amendments; the Constitution 42nd Amendment provided that the duration of Lok Sabha shall be six years with effect from 3 rd January, 1977 rather than five years and the Constitution 44 th Amendment in 1978 substituted five years for six years with effect from 20 th June, 1979. The present duration of five years equalises the duration as per our original Constitution in 1950.

On the whole Article 83 makes our Constitution as bicameral Legislature. The Lok Sabha is dissolved but the Rajya Sabha is a permanent councillerate. Though we have borrowed this provision from England, in England when the Parliament is dissolved, both the House of Commons and the House of Lords are dissolved but such position is different in India.

This Article has been subject to litigation in some cases vis-a-vis- Purushothaman Nambudiri v. State of Kerala, AIR 1962 SC 694; Anand Mohan v. Union of India, AIR 1985 All 114; Kuldip Nayar v. Union of India , AIR 2006 SC 3127 and Waman Rao v. Union of India , AIR 1981 SC 271.

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