Composition of The State Legislature:
In most of the States, the Legislature consists of the Governor and the Legislative Assembly
(Vidhan Sabha). This means that these State have unicameral Legislature. In a few States,
there are two Houses of the Legislature namely, Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha)
and Legislative council (Vidhan Parishad) besides the Governor. Where there are two
Houses, the Legislature, is known as bicameral.
Five States have the bicameral legislature. The Legislative Assembly is known as lower
House or popular House. The Legislative Council is known as upper House. Just as Lok
Sabha has been made powerful at the Union level, the Legislative Assembly has been
made a powerful body in the States.
Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha):
There is a Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) in every State. It represents the people of
State. The members of Vidhan Sabha are directly elected by people on the basis of universal
adult franchise. All men and women who are 18 years of age and above are eligible to be included
in the voters’ List to elect members of State Assembly. Members are elected
from territorial constituencies. Every State is divided into as many (single member)
constituencies as the number of members to be elected. As in case of Lok Sabha, certain number of seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes, and in some States for Scheduled
Tribes also. This depends on population of these weaker sections in the State.
In order to become a Member of Vidhan Sabha a person must:
be a citizen of India;
have attained the age of 25 years;
his/her name must be in voters’ list;
must not hold any office of profit i.e.; should not be a government servant.
The number of Vidhan Sabha members cannot be more than 500 and not less than 60.
However, very small States have been allowed to have lesser number of members.
Presiding Officer (The Speaker):
The members of Vidhan Sabha elect their presiding officer. The Presiding officer is known
as the Speaker. The Speaker presides over the meetings of the House and conducts its
proceedings. He maintains order in the House, allow the members to ask questions and
speak. He puts bills and other measures to vote and announces the result of voting. The
Speaker does not ordinarily vote at the time of voting. However, he may exercise casting
vote in case of a tie. The Deputy Speaker presides over the meeting during the absence of
the Speaker. He is also elected by the Assembly from amongst its members.
Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad)
Vidhan Parishad is the upper House of the State Legislature. It is not in existence in very
State. Very few States have bicameral Legislature that means having two Houses. At
present five states viz. Utter Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Jammu &
Kashmir have Vidhan Parishad.
The Parliament can create Vidhan Parishad in a State where it does not exist, if the Legislative Assembly of the State passes a resolution to this effect by a majority of the total membership of the Assembly and by a majority of not less than two thirds of the members of the Assembly present and voting, and sends the resolution to the Parliament. Similarly, if a State has a Council and
the Assembly wants it to be abolished, it may adopt a resolution by similar majority and
send it to Parliament. In this situation Parliament resolves to abolish the concerned
Legislative Council. Accordingly, Councils of Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and
West Bengal were abolished.
According to the Constitution, the total number of members in the Vidhan Parishad of a
State should not exceed one-third of the total number of members of Vidhan Sabha but
this number should not be less than 40. The Jammu & Kashmir is an exception where
Vidhan Parishad has 36 members.
In order to be a member of the Legislative Council the person concerned should
– be a citizen of India:
– have attained the age of 30 years;
– be a registered voter in the State;
– not hold any office of profit.
The Vidhan Parishad is partly elected and partly nominated. Most of the members are
indirectly elected in accordance with the principle of proportional representation by means
of single transferable vote system.
Different categories of members represent different interests. The composition of the Legislative Council is as follows:
i. One-third members of the Council are elected by the members of the Vidhan Sabha.
- ii. One-third of the members of the Vidhan Parishad are elected by the electorates
consisting of members of Municipalities, District Boards and other local bodies in the
One-twelfth members are elected by the electorate consisting of graduates in the
State with a standing of three years;
iv. One-twelfth members are elected by the electorate consisting of teachers of educatioal
institutions within the State not lower in standard than a secondary school who have
teaching experience of at least three years;
v. The remaining, i.e. about one-sixth members are nominated by the Governor from
amongst the persons having special knowledge in the sphere of literature, science,
arts, co-operative movement and social service.
The Vidhan Parishad, like Rajya Sabha is a permanent House. It is never dissolved. The
tenure of its members is six years. One-third of its members retire after every two years.
The retiring members are eligible for re-election. In case of vacancy arising out of resignation
or death by-election is held for the remaining period of such members’ tenure.
Chairman of the Legislative Council (Presiding Officer)
The presiding officer of the Vidhan Parishad (Legislative Council) is known as the Chairman,
who is elected by its members. The business of Vidhan Parishad is conducted by the
Chairman. He presides over the meetings and maintains discipline and order in the House.
In addition to his vote as a member, he can exercise his casting vote in case of a tie. In his
absence, Deputy Chairman presides over the House. He is also elected by the members
of the Parishad from amongst themselves.
Sessions of The State Legislature
The State Legislature meets at least twice a year and the inteval between two sessions
cannot be more than six months.
The Governor summons and prorogues the sessions of State Legislature. He addresses
the Vidhan Sabha or both Houses (if there is bi-cameral Legislature) at the commencement
of the first session after each general election and at the commencement of the first
session of the year.
Powers and Functions of The State Legislature
Law Making Function
The primary function of the State Legislature, like the Union Parliament, is law-making.
The State Legislature is empowered to make laws on State List and Concurrent List.
Bills are of two types-Ordinary bills and Money bills. Ordinary bills can be introduced in
either of the Houses (if the State Legislature is bicameral), but Money bill is first introduced
in the Vidhan Sabha. After the bill is passed by both Houses, it is sent to the Governor for
his assent. The Governor can send back the bill for reconsideration. When this bill is
passed again by the Legislature, the Governor has to give his assent.
The Legislature passes a regular bill, to become a law, to replace the ordinance. This is
usually done within six weeks after reassembly of Legislature.
The State Legislature keeps control over the finances of the State. A money bill is introduced
first only in the Vidhan Sabha. The money bill includes authorisation of the expenditure to
be incurred by the government, imposition or abolition of taxes, borrowing, etc. The bill is
introduced by a Minister on the recommendations of the Governor. The money bill cannot
be introduced by a private member. The Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha certifies that a
particular bill is a money bill.
After a money bill is passed by the Vidhan Sabha, it is sent to the Vidhan Parishad. It has
to return this bill within 14 days with, or without, its recommendations. The Vidhan Sabha
may either accept or reject its recommendations. The bill is deemed to have been passed
by both Houses. After this stage, the bill is sent to the Governor for his assent. The
Governor cannot withhold his assent, as money bills are introduced with his prior approval.
Control over the Executive
Like the Union Legislature, the State Legislature keeps control over the executive. The
Council of Ministers is responsible to Vidhan Sabha collectively and remains in the office
so long as it enjoys the confidence of the Vidhan Sabha. The Council is removed if the
Vidhan Sabha adopts a vote of no-confidence, or when it rejects a government bill.
The elected members of the Vidhan Sabha are members of the Electoral College for the
election of the President of India. Thus they have say in the election of the President of
the Republic. The members of the Vidhan Sabha also elect members of the Rajya Sabha from their respective States. One-third members of the Vidhan Parishad (if it is in existence in the State) are also elected by the members of the Vidhan Sabha. In all these elections, members of the Vidhan Sabha (Assembly) cost their votes in accordance with single transferable vote system.
An Amendment requires special majority of each House of the Parliament and ratification by not less than half of the States relating to Federal subjects. The resolution for the ratification is passed
by State Legislatures with simple majority. However, a constitutional amendment cannot
be initiated in the State Legislature.
Comparison of the two Houses of the State Legislature
Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) like the Lok Sabha, occupies a dominant position.
Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad) enjoys much less powers as compared to the powers
of Vidhan Sabha.
In case of the Parliament, if there is disagreement between the two Houses over an
ordinary bill, the President summons a joint sitting of both the Houses and if the bill is
passed there by the majority of votes, the bill is taken as passed by both Houses of the
Parliament. But this provision of the joint sitting does not exist in the States.
Although an ordinary bill can originate in either House of the State Legislature, yet both
Houses have unequal powers. If a bill is passed in the Vidhan Sabha, it is transmitted to the
Vidhan Parishad for consideration. When it is passed by Vidhan Parishad without any
amendment, the bill is sent to the Governor for his assent.
In case, the bill is (a) rejected by the Parishad or (b) more than three months elapsed without the bill being passed by the Parishad, or (c) bill is passed with amendment to which the Vidhan Sabha does not agree, the Vidhan Sabha may pass the bill again in the same or in the subsequent session. After
that the bill is again sent to the Vidhan Parishad. If the Vidhan Parishad does not return the
bill within a period of one month, the bill is deemed to have been passed by both Houses of
the State Legislature and is sent to Governor for his assent. Thus the Vidhan Parishad can
delay the bill for a maximum period of four months. On the other hand, if the bill is first
passed by the Vidhan Parishad and rejected by the Vidhan Sabha, the bill is rejected and
cannot become a law.