Notes on the legislative council of India (Vidhan Parishad)

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The Legislative Council or the Vidhan Parishad is the Upper Chamber of the State Legislature. Union Parliament has the power’ to create or abolish the Legislative Council in various states on the basis of resolutions adopted by special majority in the Assemblies.

As mentioned in the constitution the total membership of the Legislative Council shall not be less than forty and more than one third of the total number of members of the Legislative Assembly of the concerned state.

All the members of the Legislative Council are either indirectly elected or nominated by the Governor. Let us take a look at the way the Legislative Council is constituted.

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a) One-third of the members of this House are elected by the Legislative Assembly from amongst persons who are not its members.

b) One-third of its members “are elected by the local bodies like Munici¬≠palities or District Boards or any other local authority as specified by the law of the Parliament.

c) One-twelfth of the members are elected by graduates of at least three years standing.

d) One-twelfth of the members are elected by teachers of secondary schools having at least three years experience.

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e) About one-sixth of the members are nominated by the Governor from among persons possessing. Special knowledge and experience in the field of art, science, literature, social service and cooperative movement.

Very simple qualifications are prescribed for membership in the Vidhan Parishad. Any Indian citizen who is 30 years of age or more having such other qualifications as prescribed by the Parliament can become a member of the Vidhan Parishad. Of course a person cannot simultaneously be a Member of Parliament and State Legislature. The Legislative Council like the Council of States is a permanent chamber, not subject to dissolution. The members are elected for a period of six years and like Rajya Sabha one-third of members retire every second year. The Legislative Council elects its Chairman and Deputy Chairman from amongst its members.

Theoretically the powers of the Legislative Council are coequal with the Assembly. But in reality the Council is a weak partner of the Legislative Assembly. Ordinary bills can originate in any chamber of the legislature. A bill in order to become an Act must be approved by both the chambers and receive the assent of the Governor. The Governor may give his assent or return the bill back to” legislature with his observations. The legislature while reconsidering the bill may or may not take note of the views of the Governor on the bill. The Governor is bound to give his assent to the bill when it is presented to him for the second time. If the Legislative Council disagrees with a bill passed by the Legislative Assembly, then the bill must have a second journey, from the Assembly to the Council.

But ultimately the views of the Assembly shall prevail. The Council has no powers to advise a bill passed in the Assembly. It can only delay the passage of the bill for 3 months in the first instance and for one month in the second. There is no provision of joint sitting as in case of disagreement in Parliament over ordinary bills. In the ultimate analysis the Legislative Council is a dilatory chamber so far as ordinary legislation is concerned. It can delay the passage of the bill maximum for a period of four months.

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In the domain of finance it has almost no powers. Like the Council of States, it enjoys a subordinate position in financial matters. Money Bills originate only in Assembly. After they are passed in the Assembly it is sent to the Council. The Council can keep it maximum for a period of 14 days. If it does not pass it within that period, it is deemed to have received the approval of that House.

The Council can control the executive by way of putting questions to ministers, by raising debates and adjournment motions to highlight the lapses of the government but it cannot throw a government out of power. The Legislative Assembly in addition, to the powers discussed above enjoys the power to move vote of no confidence which can force the government to resign. In case of controlling the executive the final say lies with the Legislative Assembly.

The makers of the Constitution have deliberately given a secondary position to the Council of States so that both the chambers in the state do not compete with each other for supremacy. The purpose was to accommodate various professional interests in the Legislative Council, who through their experience can act as the friend, philosopher and guide of the Legislative Assembly.

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