1. The Vidhan SabhaThe Vidhan Sabha (Hindi: विधान सभा) or the Legislative Assembly is the lower house (in states with bicameral) or the sole house (in unicameral states) of the provincial (state) legislature in the different states of India. The same name is also used for the lower house of the legislatures for two of the union territories, Delhi and Pondicherry.
Members of Vidhan SabhaMembers of a Vidhan Sabha are direct representatives of the people of the particular state as they are directly elected by an electorate consisting of all adult citizens of that state. Its maximum size as outlined in the Constitution of India is not more than 500 members and not less than 60. However, the size of the Vidhan Sabha can be less than 60 members through an Act of Parliament, such is the case in the states of Goa, Sikkim and Mizoram.
The Governor can appoint 1 member to represent the Anglo-Indian community if he or she finds that community is not adequately represented in the House.
Term of OfficeEach Vidhan Sabha is formed for a five year term after which all seats are up for election. During a State of Emergency, its term may be extended past five years or it may be dissolved. It can also be dissolved if a motion of no confidence is passed within it against the majority party or coalition.
QualificationsTo become a member of a Vidhan Sabha:
- He must be a citizen of India,
- His age must not be less than 25 years.
- He should be mentally sound
- He should not be bankrupt
- He should also state an affidavit that there are no criminal procedures against him.
Speaker of Vidhan SabhaSpeaker of Vidhan Sabha is responsible for the conduct of business of the body. Deputy Speaker is to preside during the Speaker's absence. The Speaker acts as a neutral judge and manages all debates and discussions in the house. Usually he is a member of the stronger political party.
Powers of Vidhan SabhaA Vidhan Sabha holds equal legislative power with the upper house of state legislature, the Vidhan Parishad ('Legislative Council'). In the case of money bills the Vidhan Sabha has the ultimate authority. If conflicting legislation is enacted by the two Houses, a joint sitting is held to resolve the differences.
Special Powers of Vidhan Sabha1. A motion of no confidence against the government in the state can only be introduced in the Vidhan Sabha. If it is passed by a majority vote, then the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers must collectively resign.
2. A money bill can only be introduced in Vidhan Sabha. After it is passed in the Vidhan Sabha, it is sent to the Vidhan Parishad, where it can be kept for a maximum time of 14 days.
3. In matters related to ordinary bills, after it is passed by the originating house (that is either Vidhan Sabha or Vidhan Parishad) it is sent to the other house, where it can be kept for a maximum period of 6 months time. If the other house rejects the bill or 6 months pass or the suggestions made by the other house is not acceptable to the originating house, it results in a situation of deadlock. This is resolved by the Governor by calling a joint session of both houses which is presided over by the speaker of the Vidhan Sabha and decided by a simple majority. Since the Vidhan Sabha has greater numerical strength, it is in a position of advantage unless fractured by many different parties.
2. The Vidhan ParishadThe Vidhan Parishad (or Legislative Council) is the upper house in those states of India that have a bicameral legislature. As of 2011, six (out of twenty-eight) states have a Legislative Council: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh. In 2010 the Parliament of India passed an Act to re-establish a Legislative Council for a seventh state, Tamil Nadu, but implementation of the Act has been put on hold pending legal action; the state government has also expressed its opposition to the council's revival.
MembershipIn contrast with a state's Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly), the Legislative Council is a permanent body and cannot be dissolved. Each Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) serves for a six-year term, with terms staggered so that the terms of one-third of a Council's members expire every two years. This arrangement parallels that for the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India.
MLCs must be citizens of India, at least 30 years' old, mentally sound, not bankrupt, and on the voters' list of the state for which he or she is contesting an election. He or she may not be a Member of Parliament at the same time.
The size of the Vidhan Parishad cannot be more than one-third the membership of the Vidhan Sabha. However, its size cannot be less than 40 members (except in Jammu and Kashmir, where there are 36 by an Act of Parliament.
MLCs are chosen in the following manner:
- One-third are elected by members of local bodies such as corporations, municipalities, and Zilla parishads.
- One-third are elected by members of Legislative Assembly from among the persons who are not members of the Assembly.
- One-twelfth are elected persons who are graduates of three years' standing residing in that state.
- One-twelfth are elected by persons engaged for at least three years in teaching in educational institutions within the state not lower than secondary schools, including colleges and universities.
- One-sixth are nominated by the governor from persons having knowledge or practical experience in fields such as literature, science, arts, the co-operative movement and social service.
Powers and ProceduresThe Legislative Council elects its Chairman and Deputy Chairman from amongst its members.
Theoretically the powers of the Legislative Council are coequal with the Assembly; in reality, the Council is the weaker partner. Ordinary bills can originate in any chamber of the legislature. A bill must be passed by both chambers, and receive the assent of the state's Governor, before it becomes law as an Act. The Governor may give his assent or return the bill back to" legislature with his observations. The legislature while reconsidering the bill may or may not take note of the views of the Governor on the bill. The Governor is bound to give his assent to the bill when it is presented to him for the second time. If the Legislative Council disagrees with a bill passed by the Legislative Assembly, then the bill must have a second journey, from the Assembly to the Council.
Ultimately the views of the Assembly prevail. The Council can only delay the passage of a bill for 3 months in the first instance and for one month in the second. In contrast with Parliament, there is no provision for the joint sitting of state legislatures.
As with the Rajya Sabha, a Legislative Council has almost no powers in relation to finance, being subordinate to the Assembly; the latter chamber is the only place where Money Bills can originate. After a Money Bill has been passed by the Assembly it is sent to the Council, which can keep it for a maximum of 14 days; if it does not pass it within that period, the bill is deemed to have been passed by it.
As with the Assembly, the Council can attempt to control the executive by putting questions to ministers, raising debates, and discussing adjournment motions to highlight alleged lapses by the state government. However, the Council cannot remove a government from office, lacking the Assembly's power to move a vote of no confidence.
The powers given to a Legislative Council by the Constitution of India have been framed to keep it in a subordinate position to the Assembly, with its membership of professionals seen as a guiding influence on the latter body, rather than as its rival.
Abolition and RevivalThe existence of a Legislative Council has proven politically controversial. A number of states that have had their Council abolished have subsequently requested its re-establishment; conversely, proposals for the re-establishment of the Council for a state have also met with opposition. Proposals for abolition or re-establishment of a state's Legislative Council require confirmation by the Parliament of India.
In April 2007, the State of Andhra Pradesh re-established its Legislative Council. The State's main opposition party, the Telugu Desam Party, has stated that it would abolish the council again if it comes to power in the state. But Telugu Desam Party could not come to the power for the past 7 years.
After the victory of the Akali Dal-BJP in Punjab, newly elected Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal stated that he would re-constitute the state's Vidhan Parishad.