This article is written by Aniket Tiwari, a 1st-year student at Law School, Banaras Hindu University. This article is about the State Legislature and includes all the Articles related to it which is mentioned in the Constitution of India.
Table of Contents
The Constitution of India is regarded as one of the lengthiest written constitutions in the whole world. Our Constitution gives us a federal structure where the powers between the Central Government and the State Government are divided. Most of us know about the working of the Central Legislature and the powers related to the Central Legislature. Part VI of the Constitution deals with the State Legislature. In this article, we will discuss this part of the Indian Constitution in detail. Here we will discuss the unicameral and bicameral legislature. The creation and abolition of these Houses of the State Legislature. The qualification of a person to be a member of the State Legislature. Ultimately, we will discuss Articles 168 to 212 of the Indian Constitution. It is quite complex to understand the working and procedure of work in State Legislature but after going through the Constitution of India it becomes easier for one to understand it.
Bicameral and Unicameral Legislature
Before discussing what is a bicameral and unicameral legislature, let us first discuss what is the legislature. The legislature is the law-making body of the State. It is first among the three organs of the state. It can make laws as well as administers the government. As mentioned in Article 168 of the Indian Constitution, a state can have a unicameral legislature (It should be Legislative Assembly) as well as a bicameral legislature (Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly). According to Article 168 of the Indian Constitution, there shall be legislature in every State and it shall consist of the Governor.
Unicameral legislature refers to having only one legislative chamber which performs all the functions like enacting laws, passing a budget, and discussing matters of national and international importance. It is predominant in the world as most countries have a unicameral legislature. It is an effective form of the legislature as the law-making process becomes easier and reduces the possibility of obstacle in lawmaking process. Another advantage is that it is economically feasible to maintain a single chamber of the legislature. It is the most prevailing system in India as most of the States of India have a unicameral legislature. The members of the unicameral legislature (Legislative Assembly) elected directly by the citizens of the State.
By bicameral legislature, we refer to the State having two separate law-making Houses to perform the functions like passing the budget and enacting laws. India has a bicameral legislature at the Centre level while the State can make the bicameral legislature. In India, only 7 States have a bicameral legislature. It may be seen that a bicameral legislature may not be as effective as a unicameral legislature. However, it works as a barricade in some cases as it somehow makes the law-making process more complex.
Abolition or Creation of Legislative Councils
In our country, the Legislative Council (also known as Vidhan Parishad) is the Upper House of a bicameral legislature. The creation of which is given in Article 169 of the Indian Constitution and can also be abolished according to Article 169 of the Constitution.
Article 168 mentions about the Legislative Council in some of the States of our country. There is no rule of having a bicameral legislature in the State of India. It is because our Constitution framers knew that it will not be possible for every State to have a bicameral legislature ( due to financial or any other reason).
Article 169 talks about the creation or abolition of the Legislative Council. For the creation or abolition of the Legislative Council, the Legislative Assembly must pass a resolution that must be supported by more than 50% of the total strength of the assembly. It must be supported by more than 2/3rd of the total members present in voting. Therefore it talks about the absolute and special majority. The resolution to create or to abolish the Legislative Council needs the assent of the President as well.
Composition of the Houses
Article 170 of the Indian Constitution talks about the configuration of the Legislative Assemblies. This Article simply put emphasis on what will be the structure of the Legislative Assemblies in the state. On the other hand, the configuration of the Legislative Council is given in Article 171 of the Indian Constitution.
Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha)
According to Article 170, there should be a Legislative Assembly in every State of India. However, these assemblies should be according to the provisions of Article 333 of the Indian Constitution. The Legislative Assembly of state can have at most 500 constituencies and at least 60 constituencies. These constituencies would be represented by the members who would be selected through the process of direct election. However, the division of territorial constituencies would be determined in such a manner that it becomes dependent on the population of that constituency. Here by the term “ population” we mean population which has been published in the precedent census. The composition of the Legislative Assembly in any state can change according to the change in the population of that state. It is determined by the census of population. However, there are several exceptions to the composition of the Legislative Assembly. Let’s take the example of Mizoram, Sikkim, and Goa which has less than 60 constituencies.
The tenure or duration of the Legislative Assembly is mentioned in Article 172 of the Indian Constitution. The Legislative Assembly should work for a time period of five years. Its tenure starts from the day of its first meeting. However, it can be dissolved earlier by the special procedure established by the law. However, there can be an extension in the tenure of the Legislative Assembly. This can be done during the National Emergency. During the period of the National Emergency, the Parliament can extend the tenure of the Legislative Assembly for a period of maximum one year. Also, this extension should not be more than six months after the proclamation has ceased to operate.
Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad)
The composition of the Legislative Council is given in Article 171 of the Indian Constitution. The total members in the Legislative Council should not exceed one-third of the total members in the state Legislative Assembly. There is another criteria for the composition of the Legislative Council. The member in the Legislative Council should not be less than 40 in any case. There is an exception in the composition of Vidhan Parishad. The Legislative Council of Jammu and Kashmir has only 36 Member in Legislative Council, unlike the other Legislative Council.
The composition of the Legislative Council can be further divided in the following way:
- One-third of the members of the Legislative Council should be elected from the district boards, municipalities and other local authorities which is specified by the Parliament according to law.
- One-twelfth of its members shall be elected from the person who has been residing in the same state for the time period of at least three years and graduated from the university which is in the territory of India.
- One- twelfth of its total member should be elected from the person who is engaged in the teaching profession for at least three years in the educational institution of the state itself.
- One third should be elected by Legislative Assemblies and none of them should be a member of the Legislative Assembly.
- The remainder of the members should be nominated by the Governor according to the established law.
Qualifications of Membership
After this much of knowledge on both the Houses of Legislations, we can move further on the next topic. Here we will discuss what are the qualifications that one requires for being a member of the Legislative Assembly/Council.
The qualification of membership is given in Article 173 of the Indian Constitution. For the membership or for filling a seat in the legislature of the State, a person must be a citizen of India. A person will not be granted membership if he/ she is not a citizen of that country. Also, the qualification of the membership is somewhat similar to the qualification to the membership of the center legislature. The member of the Legislative Assembly should be more than 25 years. For being a member of the Legislative Council one should be more than 30 years. Also, a necessary condition for being a member of legislatures includes that he/she must be a voter from any of the constituencies of the state.
Disqualifications of Membership
After being elected/ nominated as a member of the legislature, one can not be a permanent member of the legislature. There are certain reasons mentioned in the Constitution by which a person may be disqualified from his/her membership to the Legislature. Article 191 talks about the disqualification of the members of the Legislature.
Disqualification of MLA/ MLC can be made on the following grounds:
- If one holds the office of profit under the state or central government.
- If one is of unsound mind and is declared so by the competent court.
- If one is an undischarged insolvent.
- If one is not a citizen of the country anymore or when he/ she voluntarily took the citizenship of another country.
- If one is disqualified by the law of the Parliament. Example- Anti defection law.
Decisions on disqualifications
Article 192 of the Indian Constitution talks about the decision on the disqualification of a member of the state legislature. If any question arises about the disqualification of a member of the House of the legislature on any ground mentioned in Article 191 in the Indian Constitution, then Article 192 comes into play. Article 192 mentions that in such cases the decision about disqualification would be determined by the Governor of that state and his/ her decision would be final. However, the Governor needs to consult the Election Commission for the same and he/she needs to act accordingly. Here, grounds of disqualification would be the same as mentioned in Article 191.
Sessions of the State Legislature
Moving further on the next topic we will discuss the sessions of these State Legislatures. Its time of prorogation and dissolution will also be discussed by us here. Also, one thing is quite clear after a lot of analysis of State Legislature is that the Legislative Assembly is somehow similar to the House of the People (Lok Sabha) while the Legislative Council is similar to the Council of State (Rajya Sabha). Their sessions are also quite similar. Article 174 of the Indian Constitution gives the power to the Governor to summon these Houses of the State Legislature. He/ She can summon these bodies to meet at places and at such times which he/ she thinks fit or appropriate. But a necessary condition should be kept in mind is that the time period between the two sessions of these Houses should not exceed six months. Also as mentioned in Article 174 of the Indian Constitution, the Governor has the power to prorogue either House and to dissolve the Legislative Assembly.
Speaker and Deputy Speaker
There is a need for head or in charge of every legislative part. The Speaker and Deputy Speaker serve the same purposes in the Legislative Assembly. Article 178 of the Indian Constitution talks about the same. According to this article, there should be a Speaker and Deputy Speaker should be chosen from the Legislative Assembly. In this, it is also mentioned that the condition where if the office of Speaker and Deputy Speaker becomes vacant then it becomes the duty of the Legislative Assembly to choose the new Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively.
Powers and Functions of Speaker
Article 178 gives the power to Speaker to preside over the sessions of the Legislative Assembly of the state. Similar powers are given to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, as mentioned in Article 93 of the Indian Constitution. The power and position of an Indian Speaker are quite similar to the Speaker of the House of Commons in England.
The most important function of the Speaker is to preside over the sessions of the Legislative Assembly and also to maintain discipline and order in the assembly. Within the assembly, the Speaker is the master. He has the power to decide whether the Bill is a Money Bill or not. Also, the decision of Speaker cannot be challenged in a court of law. Money Bills are sent to the Legislative Council with the approval of the Speaker. The salary of Speaker is given from the Consolidated Fund of State.
The other functions/ powers of the Speaker are as follows:
- He/she does not participate in the debate of the assembly.
- Only votes when there is a condition of a tiebreak.
- He/She sees whether there is a necessary quorum.
- He has the power to adjourn or suspend the sitting of the Legislative Assembly when there is not a necessary quorum and also to maintain the discipline of House.
- He/She has the power to suspend or to expel the member for his/ her unruly behaviour.
Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Legislative Council: Article 182,183,184,185
The working of the Legislative Council is quite complex. The process of membership, the appointment of its head and the power of the Legislative Council is also quite difficult to understand. According to Article 182 of the Indian Constitution, the Legislative Council must choose its two members as Chairman and Deputy Chairman. It also mentions that the Legislative Council must choose the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Legislative Council as soon as their office becomes vacant.
The offices of Chairman and Deputy Chairman becomes vacant very often. However, the reason for their removal/ resignation is mentioned in Article 183 of the constitution. The reasons are as follows:
- Should not hold their post if they are not a member of the Legislative Council.
- By sending the written resignation letter to each other.
- They can be removed by passing a resolution in the Council. However, there should be a majority of members in support of this resolution. An important point to be remembered while passing a resolution that a notice of the intention of resolution should be given before 14 days.
Now imagine a condition when there is a vacancy in seat of Chairman of the Legislative Council. Then, the question which would strike us would be related to the replacement of his/ her place in the Legislative Council or who will look after the working of the Legislative Council. The answer to the second part of the question is given in Article 184 of the Indian Constitution. According to this Article, the Deputy Chairman has the power to perform the duties and to act as Chairman of the Legislative Council. According to Article 184, if there is a vacancy in the office of Chairman then all duties of Chairman would be performed by the Deputy Chairman and in case if the office of Deputy Chairman is also vacant then the duties of Chairman would be performed by the person appointed by the Governor.
Talking about Article 185 of the Indian Constitution, it puts certain restrictions on Chairman or Vice-Chairman when their impeachment resolution is under consideration. It simply tells that a Chairman or Vice-Chairman can not preside the Council when the resolution for their impeachment is under consideration. Here in this condition, Article 184 will be applied. Also, it is given in Article 185 that when such resolution is under consideration then the Chairman has all the right to attend the proceedings of the Legislative Council and he/she will have all the right to speak during such proceedings. Here, the Chairman has the right to vote in the first instance of the proceedings but he/she will not be able to vote in the condition of equality of votes.
Legislative Procedure: Article 196
The main purpose of Legislature is to make laws, pass a bill etc. To understand the working of Legislature or Legislative Procedure let us first discuss the term “Bill”. By Bill, we mean a draft of the legislative proposal. This bill after getting assent from both the Houses of Legislature becomes an Act after getting assent from the Governor. Article 196 of the Indian Constitution tells us about the provisions of the introduction and passing of the Bill. Except for the Money Bill and the Financial Bill ( procedure of passage of these bills are given in Article 198 and 207), the other bills can be introduced in either Houses of the legislature. Any bill is said to be passed only when it got assent from both the Houses of the legislature. Here both the Houses should agree on the amendment made to the bill. A bill would not lapse when it is pending in the House and there is the prorogation of that House. A bill pending in the Legislative Council of any state which is not passed by the Legislative Assembly shall not lapse even on the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly. Also, there is a condition mentioned in Article 196 which states that if there is a bill pending in the assembly and at that time the assembly dissolute, then the bill will also lapse ultimately. The bill will also lapse if it is passed by the assembly and is pending by the Council.
The provision or the procedure related to Ordinary Bill is discussed in Article 196 of the Indian Constitution. The main purpose of the State Legislature is law-making as already being discussed in this article earlier. The legislature can make laws on State List as well as on Concurrent List. Ordinary Bill can be introduced in either of the Houses. The process given in Article 196 is applied here and once it gets the sign from the Governor it becomes law. The Governor has the power to issue ordinance when there is a need of any law and the legislature is not in session.
A Money Bill is a bill that is concerned with government spending or taxation. The procedure to pass a Money Bill is quite different from the Ordinary Bill. Its procedure is given in Article 198 of the Indian Constitution. According to this Article of the Constitution of India, the Money Bill can only be introduced in the Lower House i.e. in Legislative Assembly. After the Money Bill is passed by the Legislative Assembly and in that state, then this bill would be forwarded to the Legislative Council for its recommendations. The same bill should be returned to the assembly within fourteen days from the date of receiving the bills. The assembly can either accept the recommendation or can deny any recommendations according to the discretion of the assembly. The same bill is then again sent to the Council and the Council has a time period of fourteen days to pass the bill. In case the Legislative Council fails to do so, then it is deemed to be passed by both the Houses.
Assent to Bills: Article 200
Till now we have seen how a Bill gets assent from Houses of the state legislature. After this, Article 200 comes into play. As mentioned in Article 200, the bill after getting assent of both Houses and is then sent to Governor. It then comes under the discretion of the Governor whether to give assent or withhold his assent. He/she can also reserve assent for the consideration of the President.
Here the Governor has to return this bill to the State Legislature as soon as possible with the message of recommendation. Here again, these recommendations can be either accepted or rejected by the legislature and once again this bill is again sent to the Governor for his confirmation. Now he has only two options left with him, he can either give assent to this bill or can reserve it for further consideration from the President.
Bills reserved for President’s consideration: Article 201
The bill which is reserved for the consideration of the President should have reasonable grounds for being reserved. Any bill can be reserved by the Governor which he/ she thinks is against the law. The further procedure of this Bill is given in Article 201 of the Indian Constitution. The Bill which is reserved for the President for his/her consideration should either be given assent by him/her. The President can also withhold his/her assent. The President then directs the Governor to return the bill to the House/Houses of Legislature with a message which was sent earlier by the Governor (according to Article 200 of the constitution). This bill should be reconsidered by the State Legislature within a period of six months. And again if the bill is passed by both Houses, then it is again presented before the President for its consideration.
An example of the contradiction to this Article came in the case of K.P. Kochanujan Thirumulpad vs State Of Kerala where a petition was filed and a question was asked on the legality of a bill which was passed before any direction came from the President during the period of reconsideration. Here the petition was rejected and it was held that there are certain restrictions/ grounds on which Article 201 does not apply.
Language to be used in the Legislation: Article 210
All the proceedings in the State Legislature like the law-making process should be in the official language or in the language of the state or in Hindi or in English. It is given in Article 210 of the Indian Constitution. Here, under the special circumstances the Chairman or Deputy Chairman may allow the member to use other languages (who cannot express himself/herself in any of the languages as mentioned above in this article). Here, the role of language which is to be used in the legislation becomes very vital. However, there is a provision that determines that if the State Legislature does not make any law for using the English language even after fifteen years, then the word English from Article 210 will get eliminated by itself.
Procedure in Financial Matters: Articles 202 to 207
The State Legislature of every state follows a special procedure in the matters related to finance. These procedures are given in Article 202 to Article 207 of the Indian Constitution. The procedure which is mentioned in these articles are as follows:
- Article 202 (Annual Financial Statement): It is the duty of the Governor to lay down the estimated receipts and expenditure of the State for that year. It is known as the Annual Financial Statement.
- Article 203 (Procedure in the legislature related to estimates): The estimates that relate to expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of a State should not be submitted to a vote of the Legislative Assembly. But nothing mentioned here should be construed as preventing the discussion of the Legislatures that relates to those estimates. Demand for a grant can be made only on the recommendation of the Governor.
- Article 204 (Appropriation Bill): After making the grants under Article 203, the assembly shall introduce a bill that will provide for the appropriation out of the Consolidated Fund of the State for the matters related to money which is granted by the assembly.
- Article 205 (Supplement, Additional or excess grants): In this Article, the Governor can allow supplement grants (when the expenditure is more than what was estimated) and he/ she has the power to extend the granted money for any particular service.
- Article 206 (Vote on Accounts, Votes of Credit or Exceptional Credits): This Article talks about the power or authority of the Legislative Assembly to grant in the given situation.
- In advance in respect of the estimated expenditure for a part of any financial year pending the completion of the procedure given in Article 203.
- To make a grant for meeting an unexpected demand upon the resources of the State.
- To make exceptional grants which are not a part of the current financial year.
- Article 207 (Special Provisions related to Financial Bills): Financial Bill should not be introduced in the Legislative Council and without the recommendation of the Governor.
General Rules of Procedure
It is important for every organ of the State to make certain rules and regulations for its proper functioning. Similarly, there are some general rules of procedure made for the smooth functioning of the State Legislature. These are given from Article 208- Article 212 of the Indian Constitution. All the provisions under these Articles are explained below:-
- Article 208– Houses of the State Legislature has the power to make rules and regulations for its conduct, its procedure and the conduct of its business.
- Article 209– Regulation by law of procedure in the Legislature of the State in relation to financial business.
- Article 210– It talks about the language which is to be used in the Legislature.
- Article 211– It is about the restriction of the topic on which there will be no discussion in the Legislature.
- Article 212– This Article tells that Courts can not inquire into proceedings of the Legislature.
In this article, we have discussed all the aspects of the State Legislature. One of the loopholes is that it is not compulsory for the states to have Council and it disturbs the uniformity in State Legislature of different States.. I think there should be uniformity in the State Legislature system. But this can sometimes be considered as the beauty of the Indian Constitution as it gives the chance to the State Assembly to decide on the same issue. Part VI of our Constitution has made it very clear about the functions, way of functions and the various power given to the State Legislature.
- DD Basu -An introduction to the Constitution of India
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