State Legislature or Vidhan Sabha

State Legislature

The Legislative Assembly or the Vidhan Sabha is the lower house (in states with bicameral) or the sole house (in unicameral states) of the state legislature in the different States of India. The same name is also used for the lower house of the legislatures for two of the Union Territories, i.e., Delhi and Puducherry. The upper house in the seven states with a bicameral legislature is called the Legislative Council, or Vidhan Parishad.

(Only Delhi and Puducherry among all the territories has their Legislative Assembly)
Members of a Vidhan Sabha are direct representatives of the people of the particular state as they are directly elected by an electorate consisting of all citizens above the age of 18 of that state who is eligible voters of the state. Its maximum size as outlined in the Constitution of India is not more than 500 members and not less than 60 members. However, the size of the Vidhan Sabha can be fewer than 59 members through an Act of Parliament: such is the case in the states of Goa, Sikkim, Mizoram and the Union Territory of Puducherry. 
In some states the Governor may appoint 1 member to represent minorities, e.g. the Anglo-Indian community, if he finds that minority inadequately represented in the House. Those elected or nominated (by the Governors) to Vidhan Sabha are referred to as Members of Legislative Assembly or MLAs. Each Vidhan Sabha assembles for a five-year term, after which all seats are up for election. During a State of Emergency, its term may be extended past five years or it may be dissolved. The term of the Legislative Assembly is five years. But it may be dissolved even earlier than five years by the Governor on the request of the Chief Minister. The term of a Legislative Assembly may be extended during an Emergency, but not by more than six months at a time. A Vidhan Sabha can also be dissolved if a motion of no confidence is passed within it against the majority party or coalition.

Legislative Assembly

  1. Strength: Strength of Legislative Assembly ≤ 500 and ≥ 60. Only Mizoram and Goa may have 40 member Legislative Assembly.
  2. Duration: In case of emergency, its term may be extended. Such an extension can be for up to 1 year at a time and ≤ 6 months after the lapse of proclamation of emergency.
  3. Qualifications: A person has to be a voter in the state to be qualified.

Abolition / Creation of Legislative Council (Art 168, 169)

  1. The state Legislative Assembly has to pass such a resolution with a special majority. Then the parliament has to ratify the resolution by a simple majority. Such an act will not be deemed to be a Constitutional Amendment Act. 

Composition of Legislative Council

  1. 1/3 members elected by Legislative Assembly from non MLAs.
  2. 1/3 members elected by local self governing bodies.
  3. 1/12 members elected by graduates of 3 years standing residing in the state.
  4. 1/12 members elected by teachers of 3 years standing residing in the state.
  5. 1/6 members nominated by the governor based on LSACS (Literature, Science, Art, Cooperatives, Social service).
  6. It is a permanent body and 1/3 of members retire after every 2 years.

Legislative Procedures

Money Bills
  1. Same as parliament. (click here to read)

Other Bills

  1. Legislative Council may hold a bill for a maximum period of 3 months from the date of receipt in the first round. It may also move amendments to a bill passed by Legislative Assembly. The amended bill goes back to Legislative Assembly. If the Legislative Assembly rejects the amendments and passes the bill for a second time then in whatever form it is passed, comes back to Legislative Council. Legislative Council may hold it for a maximum period of 1 month. So total holding period is 4 months and Legislative Council has mere advisory powers. There is no provision of joint sitting.
  2. If the bill originated in Legislative Council is rejected by the Legislative Assembly, that is the end of it. If Legislative Assembly moves amendments such amendments shall prevail.

Privileges – State legislatures vs parliament

  1. While parliament by law may create additional privileges, Legislative Assembly can’t create additional privileges for itself.
  2. While courts have no jurisdiction over privileges of parliament, in states, courts can determine whether the legislature had such privileges or not. But once it holds that it has such a privilege, it can’t interfere.
  3. In case of breach of Fundamental Rights (FRs) by state legislature privilege, FRs will hold unlike the parliament case.

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