State Legislature: How does it work?

State Legislature: Members, Powers & Functions

This article aims to delve into the federal structure of the state from the
perspective of the SSC CGL/CHSL and banking examinations.

Article 168-212 in part VI of the constitution deals with the state legislature.
The state legislature consists of a Governor who has powers similar to the
president of India except their jurisdiction is only limited to a state.

The state legislature comprises of either 1 or 2 houses in state which are known as the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council of the state.
States which have both the houses are termed as having a bicameral legislature and those states which have a single house are termed to have a unicameral egislature.

6 states in our country follow a bicameral legislature; these are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. Jammu and Kashmir was a part of this list too prior to its conversion to a union-territory.

Delhi, Puducherry and hopefully Jammu and Kashmir are union territories which have partial statehood and have their own legislatures.

In States having a bicameral legislature, the Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad) is the Upper House while the Legislative assembly (Vidhan Sabha) is the lower house.

According to article 169, the parliament can create or abolish the legislative
council of a state if the legislative assembly of the state votes for the same and passes the resolution with a 2/3 rd majority of the people present and voting and a simple majority of the total MLA’s.

The Legislative Assembly

According to Article 170 the legislative assemblies of each state cannot contain more than 500 members and less than 60 members respectively however in states of Arunachal, Sikkim and Goa, the minimum members are fixed at 30 respectively and in Mizoram and Nagaland, they are 40 and 46.

Uttar Pradesh, being the largest state, has 403 members.

To become a member of the Assembly, a person must be at least 25 years of age, be a voter of the state she/he plans to contest in and must not be a member of the parliament.

All members of the Legislative assembly are directly elected. However in the states of Sikkim and Nagaland, some members are elected indirectly. The governor of the state can nominate a member one member from the Anglo-Indian community if they feel that the community needs representation in the assembly.

The government also reserves seats for the scheduled castes and tribes
depending upon the ratio of population in the state.

The tenure of the legislative assembly is 5 years but it can be dissolved by the governor for fresh elections anytime.

The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly are chosen the members themselves with elections.

Legislative Council

The members of the legislative council are indirectly elected.

According to Article 171, the maximum strength of the council is 1/3 rd of the strength of the assembly. This is done to ensure that the assembly of the state stays dominant.

Minimum strength of the legislative council is 40 members.

To become a member of the Council, a person must be at least 30 years of age, be a voter of the state she/he plans to contest in and must not be a member of the parliament.

The members of the legislative council are elected by the following:

a) 1/3 rd are elected by the members of local municipal bodies, gram sabhas, Panchayats, district councils, etc.

b) 1/3 rd are elected by members of the legislative assemblies among persons who are members of the assembly.

c) 1/6 th are nominated by the governor from notable persons in fields of
literature, science, arts, co-operative movement and social service.

d) 1/12 th are elected by people who are graduates in that state

e) 1/12 th are elected by the teachers in the state who have been teaching for longer than 3 years.

The members of the Legislative council are elected in a manner such that 1/3 rd of its members retire once in every 2 years.

Hence, the tenure of the members is 6 years.

The chairman and deputy chairman of the Legislative council are elected by the members amongst themselves.

State legislature requires a Quorum or the presence of a minimum number of members before a session can take place and a decision can be taken. It is currently set at 10 members or 1/10 th of the total members of the house.

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