Powers and Functions of the State Legislature

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.

The Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies have the right to make the laws on the subjects mentioned in the Concurrent List.

But in case of contradiction between the Union and State law on the subject, the law made by the Parliament shall prevail.

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 Governor can issue an Ordinance on the State subjects when the legislature is not in session.

The Ordinances have the force of law.

The Ordinances issued are laid before the State Legislature when it reassembles.

It ceases to be in operation after the expiry of six weeks unless rejected by the Legislature earlier.

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.


Financial Powers

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 authorization 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.

In addition to the no-confidence motion, the Legislature keeps checks on the government by asking questions and supplementary questions, moving adjournment motions and calling attention notices.


Electoral Functions

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.


Constitutional Functions

An Amendment requires a 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 a simple majority.

However, a constitutional amendment cannot be initiated in the State Legislature.


Limitation of the Powers of the State Legislature

The powers of law-making by the Legislature are limited in the following manner:

State Legislature can make a law on the subjects listed in the State List and also the Concurrent List.

But in case, the State law on a subject in the Concurrent List is in conflict with the Union law, the law made by the Parliament shall prevail.

The Governor of the State may reserve his assent to a bill passed by the State Legislature and send it for the consideration of the President. It is compulsory in case the powers of the High Court are being curtailed.

In some other cases, prior approval of the President for introducing the bill in the Legislature is essential such as, for the imposition of restriction on the freedom of trade and commerce within the State or with other States.

The Parliament has the complete control on the entire State List at the time when the national emergency has been declared (under Art. 352), although the State Legislature remains in existence and continues to perform its functions.

In case of breakdown of constitutional machinery (under Art. 356) after falling of popular Government in the State, the President’s rule is imposed.

The Parliament then acquires the power to make laws for that State, for the period of constitutional emergency.

The Parliament can also make laws on a subject of the State list in order to carry on its international responsibility.

If the Rajya Sabha adopts a resolution by a two-thirds majority to this effect, on its own or at the request of two or more States, the Parliament can enact laws on a specified subject of the State list.

Fundamental rights also impose limitations on the powers of the State Legislature. It cannot make laws that violate the rights of the people.

Any law passed by the State Legislature can be declared void by the High Court or Supreme Court if it is found unconstitutional as violate of the fundamental rights.

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