The Legislative Assembly is the lower chamber of the State Legislature. It is popularly known as Vidhan Sabha. The members of this House are directly’ elected on the basis of adult suffrage from the territorial constituencies. The constitution fixes the maximum and minimum number of members to be elected to the Assembly which is 500 and 60 respectively. All constituencies are proportionately equal in population. The maximum strength of Orissa Legislative Assembly is 147 of which 22 seats belong to SC and 34 to ST. These 56 seats are reserved for members of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe respectively. Orissa has a unicameral legislature.
Any Indian citizen who is 25 years of age or more, hold no office of profit and possess such other qualifications as determined by the People’s Representation Act can become a member of the State Legislative Assembly. The tenure of the Assembly is five years but it may be suspended or dissolved earlier. The term of five years may be extended in case of a proclamation of emergency.
The powers of the legislature has already been discussed. Since there is no Legislative Council in the State of Orissa the Legislative Assembly exercises all the powers the legislature.
Most of the members of Odisha Legislative Assembly are from agricultural background as it is predominantly an agricultural state. Of course lawyers and teachers also successfully participate in the electoral politics of the State. Presently young persons in the age group of 30-50 dominate the membership of the House.
Soon after the constitution of the new assembly after the election the members of the House elect one of the members from among themselves as Speaker and Deputy Speaker, to work in his absence. The office of the Speaker is held with utmost respect and dignity in the tradition of Parliamentary democracy. As the head of the House and the presiding officer he maintains decorum of discussion. The Speaker after his election severs his relation with the political party of which he is the member. He assumes a neutral stance while conducting the’ deliberations in the House. His function is to run the session as per rule with the active cooperation of all the members of the House and the’ political parties in the Assembly however small on big they are.
His rulings in the House is final. He decides whether a bill is a Money Bill or not. He decides the Rules of Business in consultation with the Chief Minister and the Leader of Opposition. He appoints the Chairman of different House Committees. As per tradition if the Deputy Speaker happens to be a member of any committee, he automatically becomes the chairman of the committee. The Speaker is of the Legislative Assembly is comparable with the Speaker of Lok Sabha in all matters of power, authority, diquity, importance, privileges and immunities.