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The State Legislature

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  • Last Updated : 02 Dec, 2022
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The State Legislature is a legislative body that makes laws at the state level. A legislative assembly exists in each state of the country. The State Legislature is mentioned in Part VI of the Constitution. It is made up of the state legislature and the executive. Part VI of the Constitution deals with the state legislature’s organisation, composition, length, offices, processes, privileges, powers, etc.

What is a legislature?

The legislature is the State’s law-making body. It is the first of the three-state organs. It has the power to enact laws as well as run the country. According to Article 168 of the Indian Constitution, a state can have a unicameral (which should be the Legislative Assembly) and a bicameral legislature (Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly). Every State must have a legislature that includes the Governor. ( Article 168 ) There are two sorts of legislatures: unicameral and bicameral.

Bicameral Legislature 

We refer to a bicameral legislature as a state with two independent law-making houses that execute tasks like passing the budget and enacting legislation. India has a bicameral legislature at the national level, although states can create their own. Only six states in India, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh, have a bicameral legislature. On the other hand, a bicameral legislature may not be as effective as a unicameral legislature. 

Unicameral Legislature

A unicameral legislature is one in which just one legislative chamber fulfills all tasks, such as adopting laws, passing budgets, and debating national and international issues. Because most nations have a unicameral legislature, it is the most common.  It is a practical kind of legislative since it makes the law-making process more accessible and decreases the likelihood of obstacles. The state’s population directly chooses members of the unicameral legislature (Legislative Assembly).

Composition of the Houses

The Legislative Assemblies and Legislative Council composition are discussed under Article 170 and Article 171 of the Indian Constitution.

1. Legislative Assembly

Every state in India should have a Legislative Assembly, as per Article 170 of the constitution. However, these assemblies should be held by Article 333 of the Indian Constitution. The state’s Legislative Assembly can have a maximum of 500 seats and a minimum of 60 constituencies. Chosen members would represent these constituencies through a direct election procedure. The makeup of a state’s Legislative Assembly might alter in response to demographic changes in that state. Article 172 of the Indian Constitution specifies the term or length of the Legislative Assembly. The Legislative Assembly should serve for five years. Its period begins on the first day of its first meeting.

2. Legislative Council

Article 171 of the Indian Constitution specifies the composition of the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council’s total membership should not exceed one-third of the state Legislative Assembly’s full membership. The Legislative Council member should be at least 40 years old in any event. There is one exception to Vidhan Parishad’s makeup. In contrast to the other Legislative Councils, the Legislative Council of Jammu and Kashmir has just 36 members.

Qualifications of Members

Article 173 of the Indian Constitution specifies the requirements for membership. They are:
• A person must be an Indian citizen.
• A member of the Legislative Assembly must be over the age of 25.
• A person must be above 30 years old to be a member of the Legislative Council. 
• he or she should be a registered voter in one of the state’s constituencies.

Disqualifications of Members

The disqualification of members of the Legislature is addressed in Article 191. The following grounds can be used to disqualify an MLA or MLC:
• If one occupies a profit-making position in the state or central government.
• If a competent court declares someone to be of unsound mind.
• If you’re an undischarged insolvent.
• When a person is no longer a citizen of the nation or when he or she has willingly adopted the citizenship of another country.
• If the law of the Parliament disqualifies one. 

Sessions of the State Legislature

The Governor has the authority to call these Houses of the State Legislature under Article 174 of the Indian Constitution. He or she can summon these bodies to meet at any location and any moment that he or she deems proper. The time interval between these Houses’ sessions should not be more than six months. The Governor also has the right to prorogue either House or dissolve the Legislative Assembly.

Speaker and Deputy Speaker

In the Legislative Assembly, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker serve as a head or in charge. The Indian Constitution, under Article 178, addresses the issue. The Speaker and Deputy Speaker should be chosen from the Legislative Assembly. It is also stated that if the positions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker are vacant, it is the responsibility of the Legislative Assembly to appoint a new Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively.

Powers of the state legislature:

1. Legislative Powers: The State Legislature has the authority to enact legislation concerning the State List and the Concurrent List. It has the authority to enact any bill on any subject on the State List, which becomes an Act once signed by the Governor. The Legislative Assembly is in charge of creating laws. The Legislative Assembly introduces most non-money regular measures and plays a vital role in their passage.

2. Financial Powers: The State Legislature has the authority to collect taxes on all of the State List’s topics. It is the guardian of the state’s money. The state government cannot collect money or levy or collect taxes without the agreement of the State Legislature. The state budget and all other financial policies and programs are only operative if the State Legislature has approved them. In emergencies declared under Articles 352, 356 or 360, however, the state’s financial authorities become subject to the Union. 

3. Control over the Executive: The State Legislative Assembly has control over the State Council of Ministers. The State Legislative Council has been given a little function. In the State Legislative Assembly, the state Chief Minister is the majority leader. Before the Legislative Assembly, the State Council of Ministers is jointly accountable. The latter can bring the ministry down by passing a vote of no confidence or rejecting a measure, policy, or budget proposed by the Council of Ministers. 

4. Other Powers: Other functions are exercised by the State Legislature, notably the Legislative Assembly. Members of the Legislative Assembly choose the President of India (MLAs), elected by the people. They also elect state representatives to the Rajya Sabha. The Union Parliament can only enact specific constitutional revisions if at least half of the state legislatures agree.

Functions of the state legislature

The laws of each state legislature govern the subjects of the State List and the Concurrent List. If a state has a unicameral legislature, if it just has a State Legislative Assembly, that legislature exercises all functions. Even if the state legislature is bicameral, with the state Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad) as the upper house and the state Legislative Assembly as the lower body, the latter exercises practically all functions. The Legislative Council has a minor and secondary duty.

Limitations on the powers of State Legislature

(1) The President of India’s previous approval for introducing specific bills: Certain bills can only be tabled in a state legislature with the President of India’s prior permission.

(2) Bills reserved by the Governor for President’s Assent: The Governor can reserve specific bills for the President’s Assent after the state legislature has enacted them. They become law only once the President has granted such bills.

(3) Limitations that the Rajya Sabha can impose: If the Rajya Sabha approves a resolution (supported by a 2/3rd majority of the members present and voting) declaring a state topic named in the resolution as a matter of national interest, the Union Parliament can make laws on the State List for a year.

(4) Restrictions in the event of a national emergency: When a national emergency (Article 352) is declared, the Parliament has the authority to adopt legislation on any topic on the State List. The statute is in effect for the duration of the emergency and six months after it has ended.

(5) Governor’s Discretionary Powers: The Governor of a state’s discretionary powers also serve as a constraint on the State Legislature. He is beyond the reach of the State Legislature whenever he acts at his discretion. The governor can dissolve the State Legislative Assembly at his discretion.

Frequently asked questions in SSC exams

1. What is the maximum number of members that a state’s legislative assembly can have?
a) 400
b) 545
c) 500
d) 403

Ans. c

2. How many states have a bicameral legislature?
a) 5
b) 7
c) 3
d) 6

Ans. d

3. Who does the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly hand in his resignation to?
a) Deputy Speaker
b) Chief Minister
c) Governor
d) President

Ans. a

4. Who sets the speaker of the Legislative Assembly’s salary and allowance?
a) Chief Minister
b) The state legislature
c) Governor
d) Deputy Speaker

Ans. b

5. Which of the Constitution’s articles deal with state legislatures?
a) Article 36 to 51
b) Article 52 to 64
c) Articles168 to 212.
d) Article 157 to 210

Ans. c

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