Origin & Growth: Rajasthan Legislative Assembly
The evolution of the House of People’s Representative in Rajasthan – the erstwhile Rajputana – is one of the important developments in the annals of the constitutional history of India. Rajputana consisting of twenty-two small and big Princely States. Though these Princely States were declared to have been annexed to the Union of India on 15 August, 1947, the process of merger and their unification became complete only in April, 1949, in five phases. In the first phase of merger four Princely States of Alwar, Bharatpur, Dholpur and Karauli formed the Matsya Union and it was inaugurated on 17th March, 1948. The Cabinet of this Union was formed under the Leadership of Shri Shobha Ram. The Union of Rajasthan, consisting of Banswara, Bundi, Dungarpur, Jhalawar, Kishangarh, Pratapgarh, Shahapura, Tonk and Kota, was inaugurated on 25 March, 1948. The Kota State got the honour of being the capital of this Union. The Kota Naresh was appointed as the Rajpramukh and Shri Gokul Lal Asawa was appointed as the Chief Minister. But only three days after its inauguration the Maharana of Udaipur decided to join this Union which was accepted by the Government of India. The Maharana of Udaipur was appointed as Rajpramukh and the Kota Naresh was appointed as Up- Rajpramukh of this Union and the Cabinet was formed Under the leadership of Shri Manikya Lal Verma. This Union was inaugurated by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru on 18 April, 1948. The formation of the Union of Rajasthan paved the way for the merger of big states like Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jaipur and Jodhpur with the Union and formation of Greater Rajasthan. It was formally inaugurated on 30 March, 1949 by Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. The Maharana Bhupal Singh of Udaipur was appointed as the Maha-Rajpramukh and the Kota Naresh was appointed as the Up- Rajpramukh and the Cabinet was formed under the leadership of Shri Hira Lala Shastri. Matsya Union was merged with Greater Rajasthan on 15 May, 1949.
The process of the creation of a Legislative Council had started during the final phase of the formation of Rajasthan. This process continued upto the beginning of 1952. In the meantime Shri Hira Lal Shastri submitted his resignation from the Chief Ministership and the interim government was formed on 26 April, 1951. Though the Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha came in to existence in March 1952, the people of Rajasthan had experienced some kind of a parliamentary democracy even under the princely rule. The Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner was one such progressive king who made a gift of the House of Representatives to the people of Bikaner State in 1913. Certain improvements were made in the set up of the Legislative Assembly during the year 1937. The Strength of the House was raised to 51, out of which 26 members were to be elected and 25 were to be nominated. Out of 26 members, 3 members were to be elected by the Tajimi Sardars, 10 by the State District Boards, 12 by the Municipalities and one by Businessmen and Industrialists. These changes were implemented in the year 1942.
The Bikaner Act No.3 of 1947 had a provision with regard to the Legislature, consisting of Raj Sabha and Dhara Sabha. The elections for Raj Sabha & Dhara Sabha were scheduled to be held on 28 September, 1948. But on account of the decision taken by the Bikaner Praja Mandal on 8 August, 1948 to boycott the elections, the enforcement of the Bikaner Act No.3 of 1947 and constitution of Raj Sabha and Dhara Sabha there under was postponed.
Despite the growing political awareness amongst the people of the state, and their increasing activities Maharaja Ummed Singh of Jodhpur had accepted the principle of people’s participation in the administration only in the 1940s and accorded his approval to the setting up of the Central and District Advisory Boards.
In view of the various reforms initiated by Maharaja Ram Singh during the fifth decade of the nineteenth century in political, social and educational fields, the Jaipur State was considered as a progressive State. But the impact of the political activities going on in other parts of the country on the people of that State, was so profound that even the creation of a Vidhan Samiti(1923), consisting of both official and non-official members, fell short of their expectation.
Maharaja Mansingh constituted a Central Advisory Board in 1939 with a view to eliciting public opinion through representatives on matters of public interest and importance. It consisted of 13 nominated members and 35 non-official members and was given the power to advise on matters relating to medical facilities, sanitation, public works, roads, wells & buildings, public education, rural upliftment, marketing, commerce & trade etc. It was inaugurated on 18 March, 1940.
The House of Representatives and the Vidhan Parishad were to be set up on 1 June, 1944 as per the Jaipur Government Act, 1944. The House of Representatives was to consist of 120 elected members and five nominated non-official members, out of a total of 145 members. And out of 51 members of the Vidhan Sabha, 37 members were to be elected and 14 were to be nominated. They were to hold office for 3 years. The Prime Minister was to be appointed as the ex-officio Chairman of both the Houses and senior most Ministers of the Executive Council were to be appointed as the Deputy Chairmen of the House of Representatives and the Vidhan Parishad respectively. They were to be elected on the basis of joint voters list. Seats were also reserved for Muslims. It was incumbent that a candidate taking part in the election should be a voter himself and should have the requisite qualification with regard to age, education and citizenship. The Legislators had the freedom of speech and they could not be arrested during the meetings of the House.
The Vidhan Parishad had the powers to ask Questions, adopt Resolutions, to present more Adjournment Motions, and to make laws. It was also given the powers to discuss the Budget and vote on it. But it was beyond its power to enact laws with regard to the Maharaja and the Army of the State.
Under the pressure of changed political situation in Udaipur, a Reforms Committee headed by Shri Gopal Singh was constituted in May, 1946. The Committee consisted of official and non-official members including five representative of the Praja Mandal. The Committee submitted its report on 29 September, 1946. It was recommended in the report that a Constituent Assembly should be constituted to prepare a Constitution for Mewar that the Constituent Assembly was to consist of 50 members and each member was to be elected from a constituency consisting of fifteen thousand voters. The office of the Chairman was to be held by the Maharana himself and the Vice-Chairman was to be elected by the members. The Reforms Committee of the year 1946 had also recommended to the Maharana that a responsible Government may be set up in Mewar and the Maharana may entrust his powers to that Government. But the Maharana did not accept this recommendation.
However, the Maharana had eventually to agree to the setting up of an Executive Council in October, 1946, to which he appointed Shri Mohan Lal Sukhadia and Shri Hira Lal Kothari as the representatives of the Praja Mandal and Shri Raghubir Singh as the representative of the Regional Council. Besides, the Maharana declared to enforce Constitutional reforms expeditiously. On 16 February 1946, in accordance with the commitment, the Maharana promised to constitute a Vidhan Sabha.
Maharana Bhupal Singh announced certain reforms on 3 March, 1947. According to these reforms a Vidhan Sabha consisting of 46 elected members and some non-official members was constituted. The Vidhan Sabha was given the powers to enact laws on all such matters which had not been kept out of its jurisdiction in particular. The Vidhan Sabha was empowered under certain restrictions, to discuss and vote on the Budget. The responsibility to implement the decisions taken by the Vidhan Sabha was bestowed on Ministers.
In persuance of the decision announced by Maharaja Kishan Singh on 2 March 1927 regarding setting up of a “Governing Committee” a Governing Committee Constitution Law, 1927 was enforced on 27 September, 1927. But the Committee could not be constituted due to the demise of the Maharaja and the administration of the State came under the Department of Political Affairs of the Indian Government.
But immediately after the announcement for holding the elections for the Committee, the officials of the State decided to merge the State with Matsya Union. Maharaja Ishwar Singh of Bundi set up the ‘Dhara Sabha” on 18 October, 1943. It consisted of 23 members out of which 12 were elected members and 11 were nominated members. The members of the Tehsil Advisory Boards and the Town Council elected members to the `Sabha’. The Dhara Sabha had the power to ask questions to the Government and to adopt Resolutions on matter of Public interest. The Committee did not possess any constitutional and economic powers. Its status was not higher than that of an Advisory Committee.
The Maharaja of Banswara formed a “Rajya Parishad” on 3 February, 1939. All the 32 members of the Council were nominated members which included seven employees and eight `Jagirdars’. The`Rajya Parishad’ had the power to put questions, adopt Resolutions and enforce laws with the assent of the Maharaja. The `Diwan’ of the State was the ex-officio Chairman of the ‘Parishad’. Thereafter, in pursuance of the wishes of the Maharaja, The State Constitution Act, 1946 was implemented in order to bring changes in the organisation of the `Parishad.’ According to the provisions of this Act, out of 35 members of the Vidhan Sabha, 32 were to be elected members and 3 ministers of the State Council were to be ex-officio members; and the power of the Vidhan Sabha were to be the same as that of the earlier `Parishad’. The elections to the Vidhan Sabha were held in September, 1947 in which the Praja Mandal of Banswara got the majority. The session of the Vidhan Sabha was inaugurated on 18 March, 1948. It was decided to summon the Budget Session on 30 March, 1948 but The Banswara State got merged into the Rajasthan Union before that date. The Ajmer State was known as Ajmer-Marwar Pradesh before the commencement of the constitution of India. After the inclusion of the Ajmer State in the first schedule of the Constitution as category `C’ State, the Legislative Assembly was set up in May, 1952 with the election of 30 members from 6 double member and 18 single-member constituencies of the Ajmer State Legislative Assembly.
The Ajmer Legislative Assembly had Committees like The Estimates Committee, The Public Accounts Committee, The Privilege Committee, The Assurance Committee and The Petition Committee. The Ajmer Legislative Assembly met on 4, 5 and 6 April, 1956 to consider the States Reorganisation Bill, 1956 and it approved the merger of The Ajmer State into the Rajasthan State on November, 1956 and the members of its Legislative Assembly were duly treated as members of the first Rajasthan State Legislative Assembly for its remaining term.
In the fourth phase, the four rulers of the Matsya Union, viz, Alwar, Bharatpur, Dholpur, Karauli merged into Greater Rajasthan on 15 May 1949 AD.
After discussions at various levels, an order was issued under section 290-A of the Government of India Act of 1935 for partition of Sirohi between Bombay and Rajasthan and in the fifth phase of formation of Rajasthan, on 26 January 1950 AD major part of Sirohi merged in Rajasthan while Abu remained in Bombay.
In the last and sixth phase, following the implementation of the recommendations of States Reorganization Commission, in November 1956, Abu taluka was also merged with Rajasthan. Similarly, Ajmer-Merwara which was a British Province before Independence and retained as Part C State after promulgation of the Constitution, was also merged with Rajasthan. This completed the process and stages of formation of present Rajasthan.
Maharaja Sawai Man Singh of Jaipur became the Rajpramukh on 30 March 1949 AD. As a people’s representative, there was a Premier in place who was also Head of the Government. Pandit Hiralal Shastri became the Premier on 30 March 1949 AD. The first General Elections were held in 1952 AD and since then there is an elected Chief Minister. The institution of Rajpramukh did find a place in the form of Article 238 in Part VII of the Constitution.
After promulgation of the Constitution, India was divided into four categories (a) Part A States or the Governor’s provinces (b) Part B States consisting of the provinces carved out by the princely States either as single State such as Hyderabad or Union of States such as Rajasthan (c) Part C States i.e. Chief Commissioner’s provinces such as Ajmer-Merwara, and Delhi, and (d) Districts administered by the Centre. The classification of the provinces as Part A and B States did not connote any fundamental constitutional difference except that the Governor was appointed by the Government of India while the Rajpramukh was appointed by the Government of India as per the agreement following the instrument of accession.
Though in the formation of Ministry, the role of the Rajpramukh was restricted to inviting the leader of the party enjoying majority in the Legislative Assembly and choice of Ministers and distribution of portfolios was the prerogative of the Chief Minister, yet, the Central Government played proactive role in this regard in case of Part B States.
On the basis of the recommendations of the States Reorganization Commission, the institution of Rajpramukh was abolished vide 7th constitutional amendment with effect from 1st November 1956 AD.
Shri Gurumukh Nihal Singh was appointed as the first Governor of Rajasthan by the President of Indian Republic Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on 25 October 1956 AD. Shri Gurumukh Nihal Singh assumed office as Governor on 1st November 1956 AD and continued till 15 April 1962 AD.