Legislative Councils and their Composition
- Under Article 168 of the constitution, states can have either one or two Houses of legislature.
- As per Article 171, the total number of Members in the Legislative council of a State shall not exceed one third of the total number of Members in the Legislative Assembly, and not less than 40 members.
- Legislative Councils are permanent Houses, and like Rajya Sabha, one-third of their members retire every two years. The tenure of the members of the council is six years.
- The members of the Council are either nominated by the Governor of the state or are indirectly elected.
- 1/3 of Members are elected by local bodies like a municipality or other local authorities,
- 1/12 are elected by electorates consisting of graduates residing in the State,
- 1/12 are elected by electorates consisting of persons engaged in teaching,
- 1/3 are elected by the Members of Legislative Assembly and
- The remaining 1/6 are nominated by the Governor.
Powers of legislative councils
- The constitution gives Councils limited legislative powers.
- Unlike Rajya Sabha which has substantial powers to shape non-financial legislation, Legislative Councils lack the constitutional mandate to do so. Legislative Assemblies have the power to override suggestions/amendments made to a legislation by the Council.
- As for money bills, Article 198 allows the legislative council to make its recommendations for amendments within 14 days of receiving the bill. However, the legislative assembly could accept or reject these recommendations.
- The State Council of Ministers is responsible to the Legislative Assembly alone and not to the Legislative Council. The members of the Legislative Council exercise some control over the State ministry by asking questions and supplementary questions to the ministers.
Why are they important?
- A second House of legislature is considered important for two reasons:
- To act as a check on hasty actions by the popularly elected House (legislative Assembly) and,
- It can ensure individuals who might not be cut out for the elections are able to contribute to the legislative process.
Creation/Abolition of legislative councils
- Article 169(1) of the Constitution allows Parliament to either create or abolish a Council in a state if the Legislative Assembly of the State passes a resolution to that effect.
- The resolution must by a majority of the total membership of the Assembly and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the Assembly present and voting.
Criticisms on legislative councils
- The Legislative Councils have been criticised for being unnecessary and unrepresentative of the people.
- They are considered a burden on the state budget and cause delays in passing legislation.
Why in News?
- The West Bengal Assembly has passed a resolution to set up Legislative Council with a two-thirds majority.
- The Legislative Council existed in the state till 1969 till a resolution was passed in the Assembly for its dissolution.
- Presently, six states have a Legislative Council, and they are- Maharashtra, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Bihar.