State Legislature of India UPS Notes
The legislative structure in India consists of two main components at the state level: the State Legislature and the Governor. Most Indian states have a bicameral legislature, meaning they have two houses – the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) and the Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad). State Legislature of India is an important topic for aspirants preparing for UPSC or IAS exams. Here in this article, a detailed analysis is provided.
- State Legislature of India UPS Notes
- What is a Unicameral State in India?
- What is a Bicameral State in India?
- Abolition of Creation of Legislative Councils
- Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha)
- Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad)
- Functions and Powers of the Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad):
- Comparison: Legislative Council Vs. Legislative Assembly
- UPSC Sample Questions
The State Legislature has the authority to make and pass laws on subjects specified in the State List of the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution. It can also pass laws on subjects in the Concurrent List, but in case of a conflict between a state law and a central law on the same subject, the central law prevails. The State Legislature also plays a crucial role in electing members to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament.
Chapter III of Part VI of the Constitution deals with the State Legislature. It is composed of the governor and the state legislature. The organization, membership, tenure, offices and officers, procedures, privileges, and powers of the state legislature are covered in Part VI of the Constitution.
The normal term of a State Legislative Assembly is five years unless dissolved earlier. The Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, also known as the Anti-Defection Law, applies to state legislatures as well. It disqualifies legislators who defect from their party and vote against the party’s whip in certain situations.
What is a Unicameral State in India?
A unicameral state, also known as a unicameral legislature or a unicameral system, is a political system in which there is only one legislative chamber or house (one central unit) responsible for making and passing laws.
In a unicameral state, there is no second legislative chamber like the Senate in the United States or the Rajya Sabha in India.
What is a Bicameral State in India?
In the context of India, a bicameral state refers to a state that has a bicameral legislature, which consists of two separate houses or chambers responsible for making and passing laws. These two houses are the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) and the Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad).
Abolition of Creation of Legislative Councils
The creation or abolition of Legislative Councils in Indian states is governed by Article 169 of the Indian Constitution. According to this article, a Legislative Council may be created or abolished in a state through the following process:
- Resolution in the State Legislative Assembly: The process typically begins with a resolution passed by the State Legislative Assembly (Legislative Assembly or Vidhan Sabha). This resolution should be passed by a special majority, which means that it must be supported by a majority of the total membership of the Assembly and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting.
- Recommendation of the Governor: Once the Legislative Assembly passes the resolution, it is forwarded to the Governor of the state.
- Parliamentary Approval: The Governor then submits the resolution to the President of India for consideration. The President may either approve the resolution or withhold their assent. However, if the President gives their assent, the resolution is then laid before both houses of Parliament (i.e., the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha).
- Parliamentary Consideration: In Parliament, the resolution is discussed and voted upon. It must be approved by a simple majority in both houses.
- Presidential Assent: If both houses of Parliament approve the resolution, it is sent back to the President for their final assent.
- Presidential Assent and Implementation: If the President gives their assent, the resolution becomes effective, and the Legislative Council is either created or abolished, as the case may be.
Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha)
The Legislative Assembly, often referred to as the Vidhan Sabha, is the lower house of the state legislature in India. Each state in India has its own Legislative Assembly, except for the union territories that do not have full-fledged legislatures.
Composition of the Legislative Assembly:
- The Legislative Assembly is composed of Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs).
- MLAs are directly elected by the eligible voters of the state through general elections.
- The number of MLAs in a Legislative Assembly varies from state to state and is determined based on the population of the state. The larger the population, the more MLAs there are.
- Each MLA represents a specific geographical constituency within the state.
- Article 170 sets a minimum limit on the number of seats for a Legislative Assembly, which is not to be less than 60. However, it does not specify a maximum limit, so the number of seats in a state’s Legislative Assembly can vary widely depending on the state’s population.
- Article 334 allows for the reservation of seats in the Legislative Assembly for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in proportion to their population in the state. This is to ensure adequate representation for these marginalized communities.
Functions and Powers:
- The Legislative Assembly is responsible for making and passing laws within the jurisdiction of the state. It can legislate on subjects listed in the State List of the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
- The assembly also discusses and approves the state budget and financial matters.
- It plays a crucial role in overseeing and scrutinizing the actions of the state government.
- The Chief Minister, who is the head of the state government, is usually the leader of the majority party or coalition in the Legislative Assembly.
- The Legislative Assembly meets in sessions, which are presided over by a Speaker.
- There are typically three sessions in a year: the Budget Session, the Monsoon Session, and the Winter Session.
- The sessions are convened, prorogued, and dissolved by the Governor of the state on the advice of the Chief Minister.
- The process of lawmaking in the Legislative Assembly involves the introduction of bills, debates, committee reviews, and voting.
- Bills can be introduced by government ministers or other members, and they go through multiple readings before becoming law.
- The passage of a bill requires a majority vote in the Legislative Assembly.
- Various committees, such as the Public Accounts Committee, the Estimates Committee, and others, are formed within the Legislative Assembly to examine specific issues, review government policies, and ensure transparency and accountability.
- The Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, also known as the Anti-Defection Law, applies to the Legislative Assembly. It disqualifies legislators who defect from their party and vote against the party’s whip in certain situations.
Role in Electing Members to the Rajya Sabha:
- The Legislative Assembly also plays a role in the election of members to the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Indian Parliament) from the respective state.
Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad)
The Legislative Council, also known as the Vidhan Parishad, is the upper house of the state legislature in six states of India: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh. It is a permanent body, unlike the Legislative Assembly, which is dissolved every five years.
Composition of the Legislative Council: Article 171 specifies that the Legislative Council of a state shall not have more than one-third of the total number of members of the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) of that state. In other words, the maximum strength of the Legislative Council should not exceed one-third of the strength of the Legislative Assembly.
Members: The members of the Legislative Council are known as Members of Legislative Council (MLCs). MLCs are not directly elected by the people of the state. Instead, they are chosen through various methods, including elections by graduates, teachers, local authority members, and other specialized groups. Some MLCs are also nominated by the Governor of the state.
Members of local entities like municipalities and district boards would make up the electorates that would choose one-third of the Council members.
Electorates made up of residents of the State who have been for at least three years either graduates of any university located within the territory of India or who have been for at least three years in possession of qualifications recognized by or under any law made by Parliament as being equivalent to that of a graduate of any such university shall elect one twelfth, as nearly as possible;
Electorates made up of people who have been employed as teachers for at least three years in educational institutions within the State that are not lower in standard than a secondary school are required to elect one-twelfth of the members, as nearly as possible;
the Legislative Assembly of the State shall elect, as nearly as possible, one-third of its members from among those who are not Assembly members;
The governor will propose the remaining candidates in compliance with the clause’s provisions.
Functions and Powers of the Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad):
The Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad) in Indian states that have a bicameral legislature, while not as powerful as the lower house (Legislative Assembly or Vidhan Sabha), plays important roles in the legislative process and in the state’s governance. Here are the key functions and powers of the Legislative Council:
Review and Revision of Legislation:
- One of the primary functions of the Legislative Council is to review and revise bills passed by the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha). It serves as a revising chamber, where bills are examined in detail, and amendments may be suggested.
- While the Legislative Council can propose amendments and send bills back to the Legislative Assembly for consideration, the Assembly has the final say on most legislative matters. If the Assembly disagrees with the Council’s proposed amendments, the Assembly’s version of the bill usually prevails.
Debate and Discussion:
- The Legislative Council provides a forum for in-depth debate and discussion on various issues, including legislative proposals, state policies, and matters of public importance.
- Members of the Legislative Council have the opportunity to express their views, raise concerns, and offer suggestions on state matters.
- The Legislative Council often includes members with specialized knowledge and expertise in various fields, such as education, literature, science, and social service. These members are elected or nominated based on their qualifications and experience.
- This specialized representation can contribute to informed discussions and decision-making on specific issues.
- The Legislative Council has a role in holding the government accountable for its actions and decisions. Members can question government officials, seek clarifications, and discuss issues related to government policies and programs.
- This oversight function helps ensure transparency and accountability in the state’s governance.
Passage of Money Bills:
- Money bills, which deal with matters related to taxation, government expenditure, and loans, must be introduced in the Legislative Assembly. The Legislative Council can discuss and recommend amendments to money bills but cannot block their passage.
- In case of a disagreement between the two houses over a money bill, the opinion of the Legislative Assembly prevails.
- While the Legislative Council cannot permanently block most legislation, it can delay the passage of bills by sending them back to the Legislative Assembly with proposed amendments.
- In some cases, this delay can provide additional time for stakeholders to review and refine proposed legislation.
Representation of Local Bodies:
- In some states, a portion of the seats in the Legislative Council is reserved for representatives of local authorities such as municipalities and panchayats. This ensures local government representation.
- Constitutional Amendments: In some states, the Legislative Council has a role in ratifying constitutional amendments proposed by the Central Government.
- Participation in Committees: Members of the Legislative Council participate in various committees, including standing committees, subject committees, and select committees. These committees examine specific issues in detail and make recommendations.
Overall, the Legislative Council plays a complementary role to the Legislative Assembly in the state’s legislative process. The exact functions and powers of the Legislative Council can vary from state to state based on state-specific laws and rules.
Comparison: Legislative Council Vs. Legislative Assembly
|» Must be a citizen of India.
» Must be at least 30 years old.
» Should not hold a lucrative position in any corner of the government.
» Name should be on the Voter list anywhere in the state.
» There should be qualifications in the corners declared by the Parliament.
|» Must be a citizen of India.
» At least 25 years old.
» No government profitable person should be allowed in any corner.
» Name must be included In the voter list of any state.
|» Indirect selection and nomination.
» 1/3 of the members are elected by the municipality, district board and other autonomous bodies,
» Members of the Legislative Assembly elect 1/3 of the members,
» Graduates elect 1/12 members,
» 1/1 2 part members are elected by the teachers,
» The Governor nominated the remaining 1/6 of the members.
|» Direct election on the basis of universal adult suffrage.
» The Governor may nominate one of the Anglo-Indian community as required.
|» It is a Permanent house.
» One-third of the members retire every two years.
» The term of office of each member is six years.
|» 5 years.
» Even before that, the governor can dissolve the assembly on the advice of the chief minister.
|Minimum and Maximum members
|» Shall not be less than 40 and shall not exceed 1/3 of the number of members of the Legislative Assembly of that State.
|» Not less than 60 or more than 500.
» Although 32 in Sikkim, 40 in Mizoram, 30 in Arunachal Pradesh and 30 in Goa.
|» Both houses may enact legislation on state-listed and joint-listed matters.
» Both houses may establish control over the governing authority of the State.
|» The money bill can be raised only in the assembly.
» Only the legislature can remove the state cabinet.
» The elected representatives in the assembly vote for the presidential election.
» The Legislative Assembly can create or dissolve with the support of a majority of 1/3 of the legislature.
» Apart from the above, both the chambers can legislate on state-listed matters and establish control over the state governing authority.
Summary of State Legislature of India
01. The state legislature consists of three parts, namely the Legislative Assembly, the Legislative Council and the Governor.
02. The governor is an integral part of the state legislature. Being ‘bicameral’, the legislature is also called the ‘Bi-Cameralism System’.
03. But the Legislative Assembly of West Bengal is not bicameral. In 1969, the Legislative Assembly was abolished from West Bengal.
04. However, some states have bicameral legislatures. The states with bicameral legislatures are Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra and Bihar.
05. The legislatures of the remaining 22 states have a unicameral system.
06. Article 171 of the Constitution deals with the composition of the Legislative Assembly.
07. The Legislative Council is a permanent house. It cannot be completely abolished. One-third of its members retire every two years. New members are elected in all those seats. However, retirees can be re-elected. The term of office of its members is 6 years.
08. The abolition of the Legislative Assembly is mentioned in Article 169 of the Constitution.
09. The total number of members in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly is 295. The number of elected members is 294. 1 member is nominated by the Governor from the Anglo-Indian community. (Section 333).
10. The removal of the President and Vice-President of the Legislative Assembly is mentioned in Article 183.
11. Of the 294 Assembly seats in undivided Andhra Pradesh, 119 are in Telangana and 175 in the rest of Andhra Pradesh. Both states have bicameral legislatures. The number of seats in the Legislative Assembly is 40 and 50 in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh respectively.
UPSC Sample Questions
Explain the term “bicameral legislature” in the context of state legislatures in India. Provide examples of states with bicameral legislatures.
Discuss the roles and functions of the Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad) in Indian states. How does it complement the Legislative Assembly, and what are its limitations?
Evaluate the role of the state legislature in ensuring social justice and representation of marginalized communities in India. Discuss the constitutional provisions and mechanisms that facilitate this.
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