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Legislative Council

Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Legislative Council

What to study?

For Prelims: Features, composition and formation of legislative councils.

For Mains: Significance and issues related.

 Context: Andhra Pradesh Cabinet has approved a statutory resolution seeking the abolition of the Legislative Council.

Background:

The Vidhan Parishad of united Andhra Pradesh was created on July 1, 1958, and dissolved on May 31, 1985. It was resurrected after 22 years, on March 30, 2007.

Since the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014, the Council has had 58 members.

Councils in other states:

Besides Andhra Pradesh, five other states have Vidhan Parishads — Bihar (58 members), Karnataka (75), Maharashtra (78), Telangana (40), UP (100). Jammu and Kashmir had a Council until the state was bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

What are the Legislative Councils, and why are they important?

India has a bicameral system i.e., two Houses of Parliament. At the state level, the equivalent of the Lok Sabha is the Vidhan Sabha or Legislative Assembly; that of the Rajya Sabha is the Vidhan Parishad or Legislative Council.

Why do we need a second house?

  1. To act as a check on hasty actions by the popularly elected House.
  2. To ensure that individuals who might not be cut out for the rough-and-tumble of direct elections too are able to contribute to the legislative process.
  3. Having a second chamber would allow for more debate and sharing of work between the Houses.

Arguments against having a second house:

  1. Rather than fulfilling the lofty objective of getting intellectuals into the legislature, the forum is likely to be used to accommodate party functionaries who fail to get elected.
  2. It is also an unnecessary drain on the exchequer. 
  3. Unlike Rajya Sabha which has substantial powers to shape non-financial legislation, Legislative Councils lack the constitutional mandate to do so. Legislative Assemblies have the power to override suggestions/amendments made to a legislation by the Council.
  4. While Rajya Sabha MPs can vote in the election of the President and Vice-President, members of Legislative Councils can’t. MLCs also can’t vote in the elections of Rajya Sabha members.
  5. As regards Money bills, only fourteen days’ delay can be caused by the Council, which is more or less a formality rather than a barrier in the way of Money Bill passed by the Assembly. 

How is a legislative council created?

Under Article 169 of the constitution, Parliament may by law create or abolish the second chamber in a state if the Legislative Assembly of that state passes a resolution to that effect by a special majority.

Strength of the house:

As per article 171 clause (1) of the Indian Constitution, the total number of members in the legislative council of a state shall not exceed one third of the total number of the members in the legislative Assembly of that state and the total number of members in the legislative council of a state shall in no case be less than 40.

How are members of the Council elected?

  1. 1/3rd of members are elected by members of the Assembly.
  2. 1/3rd by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state.
  3. 1/12th by an electorate consisting of teachers.
  4. 1/12th by registered graduates.
  5. The remaining members are nominated by the Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, the cooperative movement, and social service.

Sources: the Hindu.