The State Legislature


Q. The State Legislature

The Constitution provides for a Legislature for every state. The legislature of every state consists of the Governor and one or two Houses. The legislatures in the state are either bicameral (consisting of two Houses) or unicameral (consisting of one House). The lower House is always known as the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) and the Upper House wherever it exists as the Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad).

At present only five states have a bicameral legislature- Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. All other states have only one house. The Legislative Councils can be created or abolished in a state by the Parliament under Art. 169. by a simple procedure. If the Legislative Assembly of the state passes a resolution by a majority of the total membership of the Assembly and by a majority of not less than two-third of the members present and voting, the Parliament may approve the resolution by a simple majority.

Composition of the Houses

Legislative Assembly-This is the popular House of the State Legislature and consists of directly representatives of the people. It is popularly known as Vidhan Sabha. The strength of the legislative assembly varies from 60 to 500 in different states according to the population.

However the legislative assembly of Sikkim has only 32 members. The members of the assembly are chosen directly by the people on the basis of adult franchise from territorial constituencies in the state. In the Legislative Assembly of every state, seats are reserved for the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes on the basis of population.

If a Governor of a State is of the opinion that the Anglo- Indian community is not adequately represented in the Legislative Assembly he may nominate one member of that community to the Assembly as he considers appropriate.
Tenure-The normal tenure of the Legislative Assembly of every state is of five- years but it may be dissolved earlier by the Governor. Likewise its term can be extended by one year at a time by the Parliament during national emergency.

Qualifications

A person can become a member of the Legislative Assembly only if he
(1) Is a citizen of India?
(2) Is more than 25 years of age?
(3) Does not hold any office of profit under the state or central government
(4) Possesses such other qualifications as may be prescribed by law.

If any question arises as to whether a member of a House of the Legislature of a state has become a subject to disqualification the question shall be referred for the decision of the Governor and his decision shall be final.

Officers

A Legislative Assembly shall have its Speaker and Deputy Speaker elected from among its members.

Legislative Council

It is the Upper House of the State Legislature and contains various categories of members. It is popularly known as Vidhan Parishad. The membership of the Council shall not be more than one third of the membership of the legislature but not less than 40. Broadly speaking 5/6 of the total number of members of the council shall be indirectly elected and 1/6 will be nominated by the Governor. Thus
(a) 1/3 of the total number of members of the council shall be elected by electorates consisting of members of local bodies, such as municipalities, district boards;
(b) 1/12 shall be elected by electorates consisting of graduates of three years standing residing in that state; (c) 1/12 shall be elected by electorates consisting of persons engaged for at least three years in teaching in educational institutions within the State not lower in standard than secondary schools
(d) 1/3 shall be elected by the members of the legislative assembly from amongst persons who are not members who are not members of the Assembly. (e) 1/6 are to be nominated by the governor from persons having special knowledge or practical experience in Literature, Science, Art, Co-operative movement and social service.

Tenure

The Legislative Council is not subject to dissolution but after every two years, one-third of its members retire.

Qualifications- a person to be a member of the Legislative Council

(1) Must be a citizen of India
(2) Must be more than 30 years of age
(3) Must not hold any office of profit under the State or Union Government
(4) Must possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed by Parliament

Officers

The Legislative Council of each state elects its Chairman and Deputy Chairman from among its members. Like the Vice- President the Governor is not the ex-officio Chairman of the Legislative Council.

Sessions of the Legislature

The State Legislature must meet at least twice a year and the interval between any two sessions should not be more than six months.

Legislative Procedure

The legislative procedure in a state having a unicameral legislature is simple. All bills originate in the single chamber, i.e., the legislative assembly and when duly passed are presented to the Governor for his assent. But in case of a bicameral legislature, the procedure is slightly different from that of the Parliament. If the Vidhan Sabha rejects a bill which originated in the Vidhan Parishad, then that is the end of the bill. In case of Money bills, the procedure followed is exactly similar to that of the Parliament. But in case of a financial or ordinary bill, when the bills passed by the Vidhan Sabha, it is transmitted to the Vidhan Parishad.

If the Upper House:-

(a) Rejects the bill outright, or
(b) Suggests amendments which are not acceptable to the Vidhan Sabha, or
(c) Does not act upon the bill for three months, then the bill is referred back to the lower house. If the Vidhan Sabha passes the bill for the second time, then it is retransmitted to Vidhan Parishad and
(1) At the expiry of one month period, or
(2) The bill is rejected by the Parishad
(3) The bill is passed by the Parishad with amendments to which the Vidhan Sabha does not agree, then the bill is deemed to have been passed by both Houses and is presented to the Governor for his assent.

The Upper House does not enjoy equal powers with the lower house and on its own cannot amend a bill. It can only delay the passage of a bill for a maximum period of four months. There is no provision for a joint sitting of the State Legislature to resolve a deadlock over the passage of a bill. It is the will of the Vidhan Sabha which prevails, ultimately.

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