The state legislature occupies an integral position in political system of India and governing of state. The Constitution of India provides for a legislature in each State and entrusts it with the responsibility to make laws for the state.
Articles 168 to 212 in Part VI of Constitution of India deal with the organisation, composition, duration, officers, procedures, privileges and powers of the state legislature. Some of these are similar with Parliament of India, while others are different.
- Presiding Officers
- Powers & Functions
- Legislative Procedures
Organisation of State Legislature
In the political system of India, there are two types of states with regard to state legislature. Most of the state in India have Unicameral system while a few others have a bicameral system.
- Unicameral System:
- Unicameral system has only one House and is known as the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha).
- 22 States in India have unicameral system of state legislature (including Rajasthan). Here, the state legislature includes Governor and Vidhan Sabha.
- Other than these states, three Union territories – Delhi and Puducherry have State Legislatures (Both Unicameral).
- Bicameral System:
- In Bicameral system, the State has two houses, the lower House is known as the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) and the Upper House is known as the Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad).
- 6 States in India namely: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh have Bicameral system of state legislature. Here, the state legislature includes Governor, Vidhan Sabha and Vidhan Parishad.
Method of Abolition or Creation of a State Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad):
Article 169 in Constitution of India provides for Method of Abolition or Creation of a State Legislative Council. If a state Legislature passes a resolution by a special majority, in favour of the creation of the second chamber and if Parliament gives approval to such a resolution by Simple Majority, the concerned State can have two Houses in the Legislature.
Composition of State Legislature
Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha)
- Can be maximum of 500 and minimum of 60, to vary according to population of state.
- Rajasthan Legislative Assembly has 200 members.
- Special Case: Goa, Arunachal Pradesh & Sikkim number is fixed at 30 and for Mizoram & Nagaland at 40 & 46 respectively.
- Manner of Election:
- Members of legislative assembly are elected directly by people on basis of Universal Adult Franchise.
- Territorial Constituencies:
- The demarcation of territorial constituencies is to be done in such a manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it, as far as practicable, is the same throughout the State.
- Constitution makes special provisions regarding the representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes on basis of population ratios.
- Nominated Members:
- Provision has also been made to nominate one member of the Anglo-Indian Community, if the Governor is of the opinion that the community is not adequately represented in the Assembly.
Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad)
The system of composition of the Council as laid down in the Constitution is not final. The final power of providing the composition of this Chamber of the State Legislature is given to the Union Parliament. But until Parliament Legislates on the matter, the composition shall be as given in the Constitution, which is as follows.
- Strength of legislative Council cannot be more than one-third of the total number of members in the Legislative Assembly of the State and in no case less than 40 members.
- Rajasthan does not have legislative council.
- Manner of Election:
- 1/3 of total number of members of the Council shall be elected by electorates consisting of members of local bodies, such as municipalities, district boards.
- 1/12 shall be elected by electorates consisting of graduates of three years’ standing residing in that State
- 1/12 shall be elected by electorates consisting of persons engaged for at least three yeas in teaching in educational institutions within the State, not lower in standard than secondary schools.
- 1/3 shall be elected by members of the Legislative Assembly from amongst persons who are not members of the Assembly.
- Remainder shall be nominated by the Governor from persons having knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art cooperative movement and social service.
- Thus 5/6 of member of legislative council are indirectly elected and 1/6 are nominated by the governor.
Duration of State Legislature
Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha):
The duration of the Legislative Assembly is five years from date of its first meeting after the general elections. The Governor has the power to dissolve the Assembly even before the expiry of its term.
Additionally, during National Emergency, the Parliament by law can extend the term of assembly for a period not exceeding one year at a time and not extending in any case beyond a period of six months after the proclamation has ceased to operate.
Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad):
Like Rajya Sabha, Legislative council is a continuing chamber. It is a permanent body, unless abolished by the Legislative Assembly and Parliament by due procedure.
One-third of the members of the Council retire on the expiry of every second year, which means, a term of six years for each member. There is no bar on a member getting re-elected on the expiry of his/her term.
Membership of State Legislature
A person shall not be qualified to be chosen to fill a seat in the Legislature of a State unless he/she
- Is a citizen of India;
- Is, in the case of a seat in the Legislative Assembly, not less than twenty-five years of age and, in the case of a seat in the Legislative Council, not less than thirty ears of age; and
- He/She must make and subscribe before person authorised by election commission an oath or affirmation according to the form prescribed in Third Schedule.
- Possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed in that behalf by or under any law made by Parliament.
Accordingly, the Parliament by the Representation of the People Act, 1951, has provided additional qualifications that:
- A person shall not be elected either to the Legislative Assembly or the Council, unless he is himself an elector (registered as Voter) for any Legislative Assembly constituency in that State.
- To Contest seats reserved for SC/ST must be a member of SC/ST. However, a member of SC/ST can also contest a seat not reserved for them.
A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as and for being a member of the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of a State if he
- Holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than that of a Minister for the Indian Union or for a State or an office declared by a law of the State not to disqualify its holder (many States have passed such laws declaring certain offices to be offices the holding of which will not disqualify its holder for being a member of the Legislature of that States);
- Is of unsound mind as declared by a competent Court;
- Is an undischarged insolvent;
- Is not a citizen of India or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign State or is under any acknowledgment of allegiance or adherence to a foreign State;
- Is so disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament.
Accordingly, the Parliament through, the Representation of the People Act, 1951, has laid down some grounds of disqualification:
- Conviction by a Court, having been found guilty of a corrupt or illegal practice in relation to election, being a director or managing agent of a corporation in which Government has a financial interest (under conditions laid down in that Act):
Art. 192 lays down that if any question arises as to whether a member of a House of the Legislature of a State has become subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned above, the question shall be referred to the Governor of that State for decision who will act according to the opinion of Election Commission.
Disqualification on ground of defection:
The Tenth Schedule to Constitution provides for disqualification of the members on ground of defection. Defection refers to desertion of one’s party in favor of an opposing one. The question of disqualification under Tenth Schedule is decided by Speaker in Vidhan Sabha and Chairman in Vidhan Parishad.
Presiding Officers of State Legislature:
Each house of state legislature has its own presiding officer.
- Legislative Assembly:
- Deputy Speaker
- Legislative Council
- Chairman of Council
- Deputy Chairman of Council
Powers & Functions of State Legislature
Each State Legislature exercises law-making powers over the subjects of the State List and the Concurrent List. In case a state has only Legislative Assembly, all the powers are exercised by it.
However, even in case it is a bicameral state legislature with both Vidhan Sabha and Parishad, almost all the powers are exercised by the Vidhan Sabha. The Vidhan Parishad plays only a secondary, advisory and minor role.
Legislative Committees can be divided into two categories – the Standing Committees and the Ad-hoc Committees. In Rajasthan Legislative Assembly, there are 18 Standing Committees out of which four are financial and the rest relates to various other subjects.
The financial committees are –
- Public Accounts Committee
- Examine the Secretaries to Government on various irregularities in their Departments as pointed out in the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General
- Public Undertakings Committee
- Public Undertakings Committee is required to go into the functions of the various pubic undertakings and is expected to examine the Undertakings on various irregularities pointed out by the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General under their control
- Two Estimates Committees
- Report as to what economies can be effected and what improvements in particular organisation may be made and also to suggest alternative policies in order to bring about efficiency and economy in administration, as also changes in the form of budget estimates.
The financial committees are elected on the basis of proportional representation through single transferable vote and the rest are nominated by the Speaker. The Chairmen for all these committees are nominated by the Speaker from out of the members of these committees.
Besides the above mentioned four financial committees, the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly has following other 17 standing committees.
- Committee on Subordinate Legislation
- Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Tribes
- Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes
- Business Advisory Committee
- House Committee
- Rules Committee
- Library Committee
- Committee on Petitions
- Committee on Privileges
- Committee on Government Assurances
- General Purposes Committee
- Question & Reference Committee
- Committee on Welfare of Women & Children
- Committee on Welfare of Backward Classes
- Committee on Welfare of Minorities
- Committee on Local Bodies and Panchayat Raj Institutions
- Committee on Environment
These committees are constituted from the members of the ruling as well as opposition parties generally in proportion to their strength in the House. The term of office of the members of the committee is generally one year. No minister can be a member of the committee except in the case of Select Committees on Government Bills. This provision does not apply in case of the Leader of the House who happens to be the Chief Minister, as far as the Business Advisory Committee is concerned. Normally, the Reports of these committees are presented to the House by the Chairman of the Committees but in inter-session period the Chairman may submit the Report to the Speaker. These Reports, with the exception of the Report of the Privileges Committee and the Business Advisory Committee are generally not raised in the House.