Short essay on The Legislative Council of India

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Several members in the Constituent Assembly were opposed to the idea of constituting an Upper House for the States. They thought that an additional House to the Legislative Assembly in the States was superfluous. Some of them even doubted the financial ability of several States to maintain this “costly ornamental luxury”.

These criticisms were mainly responsible for the Assembly allowing the members of different States to decide the question themselves, and leaving the future of the composition of the Council as follows:

(1) The total number of members in the Legislative Council should not exceed one-third of the total number of members in the Legislative Assembly. But in any case, it should not be less than 40.

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(2) There are five different categories of representation to the Council. These are:

(a) One-third of the total membership to be elected by electorates consisting of members of self-governing local bodies like Municipalities, District Boards, etc., in the States.

(b) One-third to be elected by the members of the Legislative Assembly of the State.

(c) One-twelfth to be elected by electorates consisting of University graduates (of at least three years’ standing) or others recognised as possessing equivalent qualification and who are residing in the State.

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(d) One-twelfth to be elected by electorates consisting of Secondary school teachers or those in Higher educational institutions with at least three years’ experience in teaching.

(e) The remainder to be nominated by the Governor on the basis of their special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, art, the co-operative movement or social service.

(3) The election of the first four categories is to be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.

(4) Voting shall be by secret ballot.

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(5) Parliament is empowered to make any change with regard to the nature of representation detailed above.

These provisions, it must be said, are not the result of mature thought on the question. As it stands at present, there is a combination of direct election, indirect election and nomination which make the Council a hotchpotch of representation.

The right of franchise given to teachers and members of local government bodies indicates that the emphasis is primarily on functional representation. But, from that point of view, the representation is too narrow.

There are many professions and interests in addition to these whose representation in the Council is desirable and likely to prove of great benefit. Too much weight has been given to the members of the Assembly by providing for one-third of the Council membership to be elected by them.

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Since the number of members in the Assembly is relatively small, one-third of members to be elected by the Assembly mean too much weight-age in representation to too small a body. The percentage of seats reserved for nomination, on the other hand, seems to be too small.

Men of merit from the fields of art, science, literature and social service should have formed a larger number among the members of the Council in order to make it a body of meritorious elders who can effectively help in the work of legislation, supervise or watch over the administration with the wisdom born of their maturity and experience.

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