(1) Subject to the provisions of article 333, the Legislative Assembly of each State shall consist of not more than five hundred, and not less than sixty, members chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the State.

 

(2) For the purposes of clause (1), each State shall be divided into territorial constituencies in such manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it shall, so far as practicable, be the same throughout the State.

Explanation.—In this clause, the expression “population” means the population as ascertained at the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published:

Provided that the reference in this Explanation to the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published published shall, until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2026 have been published, be construed as a reference to the 2001 census. 

 

(3) Upon the completion of each census, the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of each State and the division of each State into territorial constituencies shall be readjusted by such authority and in such manner as Parliament may by law determine:

Provided that such readjustment shall not affect representation in the Legislative Assembly until the dissolution of the then existing Assembly: 

Provided further that such readjustment shall take effect from such date as the President may, by order, specify and until such readjustment takes effect, any election to the Legislative Assembly may be held on the basis of the territorial constituencies existing before such readjustment:

Provided also that until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2026 have been published, it shall not be necessary to readjust— (i) the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of each State as readjusted on the basis of the 1971 census; and (ii) the division of such State into territorial constituencies as may be readjusted on the basis of the 2001 census, under this clause.

Debate Summary

Article 149, Draft Constitution, 1948

 (1) Subject to the provisions of articles 294 and 295 of this Constitution the Legislative Assembly of each State shall be composed of members chosen by direct election.

(2) The election shall be on the basis of adult suffrage; that is to say, every citizen who is not less than twenty-one years of age and is not otherwise disqualified under this Constitution or any law made by the Legislature of the State on the ground of non-residence, unsoundness of mind, crime or corrupt or illegal practice shall be entitled to be registered as a voter at such elections.

(3) The representation of each territorial constituency in the Legislative Assembly of a State shall be on the basis of the population of that constituency as ascertained at the last preceding census and shall, save in the case of the autonomous districts of Assam, be on a scale of not more than one representative for every lakh of the population:

Provided that the total number of members in the Legislative Assembly of a State shall in no case be more than three hundred or less than sixty.

(4) Upon the completion of each census, the representation of the several territorial constituencies in the Legislative Assembly of each State shall, subject to the provisions of article 289 of this Constitution, be readjusted by such authority, in such manner and with effect from such date as the Legislature of the State may by law determine:

Provided that such readjustment shall not affect representation to the Legislative Assembly until the dissolution of the then existing Assembly.

 

Draft Article 149 (Article 170) was debated on 6th January, 7th January, 8th January, and 14th October 1949. It laid out the composition of the State Legislative Assemblies.

 

One member proposed the insertion of clause (2)(a) which permitted candidates to stand for election only if they met certain conditions relating to soundness of mind, and ability to converse in regional languages. He argued that these qualifications were necessary to ensure that candidates had the ‘capacity to render service, ability to understand the issues coming before them…so that you may have a fair legislation for the benefit of the country.’ The interim Prime Minister pointed out several difficulties associated with fairly implementing this provision, and the Assembly rejected this amendment.

 

The Chairman of the Drafting Committee moved an amendment to the proviso to clause (3), which would set the minimum and maximum limits on representatives as sixty and 450 respectively; it also created a sliding scale to determine the number of representatives based on the population of a state. Other members suggested that the maximum limit be between 300 and 500. One member wanted to ensure that there was at least one representative for every one lakh residents in the State, with a minimum of sixty members. Another member of the Drafting Committee proposed that there should be one representative for every 75,000 residents. The Chairman withdrew his amendment, while the one proposed by the member of the Drafting Committee was accepted, and the others were withdrawn or negatived.

 

One member wanted to use only publicly available figures to determine the population of a state, and warned the Assembly that the Partition had resulted in an exodus of people into some states, greatly changing their populations as compared to the last census. This amendment was accepted by the Assembly.

 

Another member then proposed the exclusion of the autonomous districts of Assam and the Cantonment and Municipality of Shillong from this clause. This was supported by another member, who argued that the current Draft Article would disenfranchise tribal people living in an area with a significant non-tribal population. This amendment was accepted by the Assembly.

 

A number of other amendments were negatived and withdrawn. The amended Draft Article was adopted on 8th January 1949.

 

Subsequently, a member of the Drafting Committee moved an amendment to delete clause (2) which provided for election on the basis of adult franchise. He argued that the clause was unnecessary as the Assembly had now adopted Draft Article 289B (Article 326) which dealt with elections to State Legislatures.

 

The same member also proposed an amendment to bestow the powers under clause (4) on Parliament, instead of the State Legislatures. He contended that this was necessary because same powers had been given to Parliament under Draft Article 290 (Article 327).

 

Both amendments were adopted on 14th October 1949.