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Indian Polity

Legislative Council

  • 18 May 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, the West Bengal government has decided to set up a Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad).

  • For setting up the Council, a Bill has to be introduced in the Assembly and then a nod from the Governor is required. The Legislative Council in the State was abolished in 1969.

Key Points

  • Basis of Formation:
    • India has a bicameral system of legislature.
    • Just as Parliament has two Houses, the states can also have a Legislative Council in addition to the Legislative Assembly through Article 169 of the Constitution.
  • Six States having a Legislative Council: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka.
    • In 2020, Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed the resolution for abolition of the Legislative Council. This resolution is yet to be cleared by the Parliament of India to finally abolish the council.
    • In 2019, the Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Council was abolished through the J&K Reorganisation Bill, 2019, which reduced the State of J&K to the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
  • Article 169 (Creation and Abolition):
    • The Parliament can abolish a Legislative Council (where it already exists) or create it (where it does not exist) by a simple majority, that is, a majority of the members of each House present and voting, if the legislative assembly of the concerned state, by a special majority, passes a resolution to that effect.
    • Special majority implies
      • A majority of the total membership of the assembly and
      • A majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the assembly present and voting.
  • Composition:
    • Under Article 171 of the Constitution, the Legislative Council of a state shall not have more than one-third of the total strength of the State Assembly, and not less than 40 members.
    • Like the Rajya Sabha, the legislative council is a continuing chamber, that is, it is a permanent body and is not subject to dissolution. The tenure of a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) is six years, with one-third of the members retiring every two years.
  • Manner of Election:
    • One-third of the MLCs are elected by the state’s MLAs,
    • Another 1/3rd by a special electorate comprising sitting members of local governments such as municipalities and district boards,
    • 1/12th by an electorate of teachers and another 1/12th by registered graduates.
    • The remaining members are appointed by the Governor for distinguished services in various fields namely, literature, science, art, cooperative movement and social service.
  • LC vis-à-vis Rajya Sabha:
    • The legislative power of the Councils are limited. Unlike Rajya Sabha which has substantial powers to shape non-financial legislation, Legislative Councils lack a constitutional mandate to do so.
    • Assemblies can override suggestions/amendments made to legislation by the Council.
    • Again, unlike Rajya Sabha MPs, MLCs cannot vote in elections for the President and Vice President. The Vice President is the Rajya Sabha Chairperson while a member from the Council itself is chosen as the Council Chairperson.
  • Role of Legislative Council:
    • It can ensure individuals who might not be cut out for the elections are able to contribute to the legislative process (like artists, scientists, etc).
    • It can keep an eye on hasty decisions taken by the Legislative Assembly.
  • Arguments Against Legislative Council:
    • It can delay legislation, also it is considered a burden on the state budget.
    • It can also be used to park leaders who have not been able to win an election.

Source: TH

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