What are the Powers and Functions of the State Legislature?

The powers and functions of the State Legislature may be enumerated under the following heads:-

(a) Legislative Powers

The Legislature of each State is empowered to frame laws on all matters included in the State List and the Concurrent List. But laws made by the State Legislature on the subject in the Concurrent List will be null and void in case they conflict with the laws of the Union on the same subject provided the relevant laws of the State Legislature have not obtained the assent of the President. Thus, the Constitution has imposed certain restrictions on the powers of the State Legislature. Another limitation on the power of the legislature is that during an emergency, the Parliament of India may make laws on the State List.

According to Article 249 of the Constitution, even in normal times, if the Council of States passes a resolution by Two-thirds majority that in the national interest the Union Parliament should make law on any matters in the State List, the Parliament of India is competent to make laws.

Further, the Governor at his discretion may reserve certain bills like acquisition of private property, bills seeking to impose restrictions on freedom of trade and commerce, bills affecting powers of High Courts, etc. for presidential assent. Under such circumstances, the President of India may give assent to such bills or send them back for the reconsideration of the State Legislature. If such bills are again passed by the State Legislature, the President is not bound to give his assent. Thus the President can veto the bills in entirety, if he so desires. Thus the legislative power of the State legislative Assembly is limited.

(b) Financial Powers:

The Legislature of a State also controls the finances of a State. Without the legislative sanction, a single paisa cannot be spent. The budget is introduced every year in the State Legislature. The State Legislature may pass, reduce, or reject the demands for grants made in the budget. It is its duty to find ways and means to meet the budget expenditure. Proposal for increase or decrease of taxes are to be approved in the Assembly.

In a bi-cameral legislature, the position of the Legislative Assembly superior to that of the Legislative Council in respect of financial matters. Excepting the expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund of the State (which is non-votable) all other items of expenditure must be submitted to the Legislative Assembly in form of demands for grants. In financial matters, the Legislative Assembly is supreme in the State.

(c) Control over Executive

The Constitution introduced parliamentary type of Government in the Centre as well as in the States. Consequently, the Council of Ministers is collectively made responsible to the State Legislature. The Legislature exercises supervision and control over the Ministers. The common method used to make the Ministers responsible to the Legislature is through question, censure motion, amendment to Government's policy, vote of no confidence, etc.

There are also Committees, which exercise control on the Government on behalf of the State Legislature. In controlling the Executive, the Legislative Assembly is more powerful than the Legislative Council. A vote of no confidence in the Legislative Council may not lead to the resignation of the Council of Ministers. However, such a vote of no confidence if passed in the Legislative Assembly compels the Ministry to tender its resignation.

(d) Electoral Functions

The elected members of the Legislative Assembly constitute a part of the Electoral College provided for the election of the President of India. The Legislative Assembly also elects the representatives of the State to the Rajya Sabha and 1/3rd of the members of the Legislative Council of the State concerned. It also elects its Speaker and Deputy Speaker. Legislative Council also elects a Chairman and Vice-Chairman from among its members to preside over the meeting of the Council.

(e) Constituent Functions

The State legislatures in India have no power to propose any amendment of the Constitution. All initiatives for the amendment of the Constitution are vested in the Union Parliament.

In America, both the Union and the States have equal power with regard to the amendment of the Constitution. However, there are certain categories of amendments of the Indian Constitution (such as the election of the Indian President, High Courts, the representation of States in the Parliament, Article 368 of the Constitution etc.) which are to be ratified by one half of the Legislatures. In these respects, the State Legislatures also take part in the amendment of the Constitution. The 15th and 16th Amendment Bills were referred to the State Legislatures. Only when they received the support of half of the State Legislatures, the amendment became valid. Thus unlike U.S.A., the State legislatures in India has limited voice in the amendment of the Constitution.