Notes on the State Legislature in Indian States

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‘The organisation of State Legislature in Indian States are not the same. In some states they are bicameral while in most others they are unicameral. In view of lack of financial resources in some states the makers of the constitution have made it optional on the part of the states to decide for themselves the type of legislature they would like to have.

A very simple mechanism in Article 169 has been provided in the Constitution to all the states to take steps either to abolish their second chambers (in case they have a bicameral legislature) or to create a second chamber (in case they have a unicameral legislature) as the case may be. This does not amount to an amendment of the Constitution. Since the inauguration of the Constitution many States have added second chambers to their legislatures whereas some others have abolished their second chambers for political reasons. Presently in the states of Bihar, Maharashtra, Mysore, Punjab, Utter Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir the state legislatures consist of two Houses. In all other states the legislatures are Unicameral. The popularly elected House is known as Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) and the other House is known as the Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad) The Governor of the state is part and parcel of the Legislative. In this respect he is comparable with President of India.

The powers of the State Legislatures are mores on less the same with that of the Union Parliament. The primary function of the state Legislature is to make law for the administration of the state. Theoretically it can make law on all matters included in the state list and the concurrent list. But in practice the legislative power of the legislature is highly restricted. The constitutional provisions extend a wide scope to the Union Parliament to interfere in the law making jurisdiction of the state. For example the Union will make law for the states during the promulgation of emergency power by the President.

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Even during normal period the parliament can make law for the states on the basis
of a resolution passed by a special majority of two-thirds of its members by the council of states. Besides this the parliaments also can make law for the states for implementation of any treaty or agreement with any foreign country. The Governor of the state also enjoys the discretionary authority to reserve certain bills, as he deems fit, for the consideration of the President. The President of India is not bound to give his approval to such bills even if they are passed in the legislature for the second time. So far as the concurrent list is concerned the powers of the State Legislature to make law from this list is not independent. It has to make law quite commensurate with the law made by the Parliament. Or else it will be declared void to the extent it antagonises the union law. All this indicate that the law making power of the state legislature is restricted.

Like the Parliament of India, it enjoys the power to control the state executive in more than one ways. The Council of Ministers remains responsible to the legislative Assembly for all its action. It remains in office during the pleasure of the Assembly. The Assembly can raise debates, put questions to the Ministers, and move adjournment motions to keep the government under control. It can withdraw confidence from the government by passing vote of no confidence, and bring about the downfall of the Government.

The legislature also controls the finances of the state. The budget is prepared by the executive to secure the approval of the Assembly to run the administration of the state. Without the sanction of the Assembly the executive cannot spend any amount however meager it may be. All money bills originate in the Assembly. They are deemed to be passed in the legislature even without the approval of the Legislative Council. The legislature also has electoral functions. The members of the State Legislative Assembly are part of the Electoral College constituted to elect the President of India. The State Assembly also elects members to the Rajya Sabha and the concerned Legislative Council.

For the amendment of the Federal Provisions of the Constitution, the concurrence of Parliament and half of the Legislative Assemblies is required. The legislature can punish anybody for its contempt. It considers the reports of the Public Service Commission and the Accountant General. The Assembly performs deliberative functions. The members present the problems of their areas from where they have been elected.

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