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 States 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.

Seven Indian States, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Jammu-Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, have bicameral Legislatures.

The Constitution provides for the abolition or creation of legislative councils in states.

Accordingly, the Parliament can abolish a legislative council (where it already exists) or create it (where it does not exist), if the legislative assembly of the concerned state passes a resolution to that effect.

Such a specific resolution must be passed by the state assembly by a special majority, that is, a majority of the total membership of the assembly and a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the assembly present and voting.

This Act of Parliament is not to be deemed as an amendment of the Constitution for the purposes of Article 368 and is passed like an ordinary piece of legislation (i.e., by simple majority).

The Legislative Assembly is known as the lower House or popular House.

The Legislative Council is known as the 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 the State.

The members of Vidhan Sabha are directly elected by people on the basis of universal adult franchise.

They are directly elected by all adult citizens registered as voters in the State.

All men and women who are 18 years of age and above are eligible to be included in the Voters’ List.

They vote to elect members of the 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 the case of Lok Sabha, certain number of seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes and in some States for Scheduled Tribes also.

This depends on the population of these weaker sections in the State.

In order to become a Member of Vidhan Sabha a person must:

[1] be a citizen of India;

[2] have attained the age of 25 years;

[3] his/her name must be in the voters’ list;

[4] 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 a lesser number of members.

Thus Goa has only 40 members in its Assembly.

Uttar Pradesh has 403 seats in the Assembly.

The Governor of the State has the power to nominate one member of the Anglo-Indian community if this community is not adequately represented in the House. Originally, this provision was to operate for ten years (i.e., up to 1960). But this duration has been extended continuously since then by 10 years each time. Now, under the 95th Amendment Act of 2009, this is to last until 2020.

As in the case of the Lok Sabha, some seats are reserved for the members of Scheduled Castes and Schedule Tribes. Originally, this reservation was to operate for ten years (i.e., up to 1960). But this duration has been extended continuously since then by 10 years each time. Now, under the 79th Amendment Act of 2009, this reservation is to last until 2020.

The tenure of Vidhan Sabha is five years, but the Governor can dissolve it before the completion of its term on the advice of the Chief Minister.

It may be dissolved by the President in case of constitutional emergency proclaimed under Article 356 of the Constitution.

In the case of the proclamation of national emergency (under Article 352), the Parliament can extend the term of the Legislative Assemblies for a period not exceeding one year at a time. However, this extension cannot continue beyond a period of six months after the emergency has ceased to operate.


Presiding Officer (The Speaker)

The members of Vidhan Sabha elect their presiding officer.

The Presiding officer is known as the Speaker.

He/she decides whether a bill is a Money Bill or not and his/her decision on this question is final.

The Speaker presides over the meetings of the House and conducts its proceedings.

He/she maintains order in the House, allows the members to ask questions and speak.

He/she put 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/she may exercise casting vote in case of a tie.

He/she decides the questions of disqualification of a member of the assembly, arising on the ground of defection under the provisions of the Tenth Schedule.

The Deputy Speaker presides over the meeting during the absence of the Speaker.

He/she is also elected by the Assembly from amongst its members.

The Deputy Speaker has the same powers as the speaker when so presiding.


Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad)

Vidhan Parishad is the upper House of the State Legislature.

It is not in existence in every State.

Very few States have bicameral Legislature that means having two Houses.

As of 2014, seven (out of twenty-nine) states have a Legislative Council: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh.

Legislative Councils are legacy of the British period.

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 the similar majority and send it to Parliament.

In this situation, Parliament resolves to abolish the concerned Legislative Council.

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

[1] be a citizen of India;

[2] have attained the age of 30 years;

[3] be a registered voter in the State;

[4] 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.

The composition of the Legislative Council is as follows:

[1] One-third members of the Council are elected by the members of the Vidhan Sabha.

[2] 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 State;

[3] One-twelfth members are elected by the electorate consisting of graduates in the State with a standing of three years;

[4] One-twelfth members are elected by the electorate consisting of teachers of educational institutions within the State not lower in standard than a secondary school who have teaching experience of at least three years;

[5] 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 a 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/she presides over the meetings and maintains discipline and order in the House.

In addition to his vote as a member, he/she can exercise his casting vote in case of a tie.

In his/her absence, Deputy Chairman presides over the House. He/she 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 interval between two sessions cannot be more than six months.

The Governor summons and prorogues the sessions of State Legislature.

He/she 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.

This address reflects the policy statement of the government which is to be discussed in the Legislature, and the privileges and immunities of the members of the State Legislature are similar to that of members of Parliament.


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