State Legislature

State Legislature

This article deals with ‘State Legislature .’ This is part of our series on ‘Polity’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here


  • Article 168 to 212 in Part VI of constitution deals with State Legislature
  • Although similar to Parliament but some differences as well

Organisation of State Legislature

  • No uniformity in organisation- most have Unicameral but some has Bicameral system.
  • 22 states have Unicameral & 7 States have Bicameral  Legislature(AP, Telangana , Karnataka, Maharashtra, UP, Bihar & J&K)
  • State Legislature consist of Governor & Legislative Assembly(+ Legislative Council )

Provision for Creation & Abolition of Legislative Council

Constitution provide provision for this

  • Legislative Assembly of concerned state must pass resolution of same by Special Majority ( only thing where Special Majority of Legislative Assembly is required)
  • Parliament then pass it by Simple Majority (& don’t deemed to be Amendment) 

Composition of Legislative Assembly

Strength – All members are elected directly by Universal Adult Franchise( Legislative Assembly of Sikkim& Nagaland have indirectly elected members too)
Maximum membership – 500 & Minimum – 60 ( Legislative Assembly of Arunachal, Goa, Sikkim, Nagaland & Mizoram have lower membership than 60 provided under various sub-sections of Article 371)  
Nominated member Governor can nominate 1 Anglo Indian if not adequately represented (95th amendment- till 2020 , originally upto 1960)  
Territorial Constituencies For purpose of holding elections, State divided into constituencies
Such way that ratio of Population of each constituency and number of Seats allotted to it remains constant  
Readjustment after census Same as Lok Sabha. 
Reservation of Seats for SC & ST Reservation in proportion of population ratio in that state (95th Amendment – till 2020 , originally upto 1960)

Composition of Legislative Council

Strength – Indirectly Elected
Maximum can be 1/3 of Total Strength of Legislative Assembly but not fewer than 40  members
Manner of Election 1. 1/3 elected by Local Bodies
2. 1/3 by members of Legislative Assembly
3. 1/12 elected by Teachers of three years standing
4. 1/12 elected by Graduates of three years standing
5. 1/6 nominated by Governor from persons who have special knowledge of Literature, Science, Art, Cooperative Movement & Social Service  

Members are elected by System of Proportional Representation by means of Single Vote Transferable & Governors nomination cant be challenged in court

Duration of Houses

Legislative Assembly Not a continuing house  .
– Normal Term is 5 years from first meeting after elections (for J&K , it is 6 Years)
Governor authorized to dissolve it at any time
Term can be extended during emergency 1 year at time by act of Parliament 
Legislative Council – Continuing House like Rajya Sabha
1/3 of its members retire after every 2 years & 6 year term of each member

Membership of State Legislature


  • Must be citizen of India
Legislative Assembly Minimum Age –  25
Legislative Council Minimum Age – 30
  • Must have  any qualification prescribed by Parliament . Accordingly Representation of People Act,1951 made by Parliament having following provisions
    • Member of Legislative Council + Governors nomination should be elector from concerned state
    • Member of Legislative Assembly must be elector from concerned state
    • Should be SC/ST if he wants to contest from Reserved Seat for them


  • Holds any Office of Profit under Union/State Government (Minister is not office of profit)
  • He is unsound & declared so by court or undischarged insolvent
  • Not citizen anymore
  • Disqualified so in law made by Parliament( Representation of People Act)
  • Anti Defection Laws(Schedule 10)

Presiding officers of State Legislature

Each house has its own Presiding Officer

Legislative Assembly Speaker & Deputy Speaker
Legislative Council Chairman & Deputy Chairman

1 . Speaker of Assembly

  • Elected by Assembly from among themselves
  • Holds office during life of Assembly but vacate office in 3 cases
    • Ceases to be a member of Assembly
    • Resigns by writing to Deputy Speaker
    • Removed by resolution passed by majority
  • Powers  & Duties of Speaker
    1. He maintains order & decorum of the house
    2. He is final interpreter of provisions of Constitution & Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of Legislative Assembly within the house
    3. He adjourns the house or suspends it in absence of Quorum
    4. He can’t cast vote at first instance but in case of tie, he can vote
    5. He can allow secret sitting of house on request of Leader of the house
    6. He decides whether bill is money bill or not and his decision is final
    7. He decides the question of disqualification of MLA arising out of provisions of 10th Schedule  (Supreme Court 1992 Judgement: his decisions subject to judicial review)
    8. He appoints Chairman to the  Committees & himself is Chairman of Business Advisory Committee, Rules Committee & General Purpose Committee

2. Deputy Speaker

  • Also elected from among themselves like Speaker
  • Remains in office during life of Legislative Assembly except when resigns writing to Speaker , ceases to be MLA or removed by Resolution by Legislative Assembly
  • Performs duties of Speaker when Speaker is absent from Legislative Assembly & has all powers of Speaker at that time
  • In general situation, he acts as normal member of Legislative Assembly
  • When both Speaker & Deputy speaker are absent, then any member from Panel of Chairman nominated by Speaker can act as speaker

3. Chairman

  • All provisions same as Speaker but  Speaker has only one more power
  • Only he can decide whether Bill is Money Bill or not & his decision on that matter is final

4. Deputy Chairman

  • Same as Deputy Speaker of Legislative Assembly

Sessions of State Legislature

Summoning – Governor can summon each house to meet
Maximum time between each session can’t be more than 6 months
Adjournment – Suspends work in a sitting for specified time which may be hours or days
Adjournment Sine Die  suspends work for indefinite time
Both powers lie with Presiding officer of the house
Prorogation When business of house is completed , then Adjournment Sine Die
After few days Governor issues notification for Prorogation of session
Dissolution Only Legislative Assembly & not Legislative Council subject to Dissolution .
Ends very life of existing house.
Quorum Minimum number of members that must be present to transact any business
– 10 members or 1/10th of members whichever greater
Voting in House All matters decided by majority vote of present & voting
Only few matters specified in constitution require Special Majority

Language in State Legislature

  • Official Language of State or Hindi or English to be language of transacting business
  • Presiding Officer can permit member to address house in mother tongue

Rights of Ministers & Advocate General

Both can participate & has right to speak in either house & any of its committees of which he is named a member, without being entitled to vote .

Legislative Procedures in State Legislature

1 . Ordinary bill

  • It can be introduced by any member .
  • It can be introduced in any house (in case of Bicameral Legislature).

Process in first house

  • Passes through First, Second & Third reading in house
  • Transmitted to Second House for consideration & passage

Process in second house

Passes through all the three readings & then put to vote .

When bill passed by Legislative Assembly is send to Legislative Council , later has 4 options

Possibility What happens
Pass bill without amendment as send by Legislative Assembly Deemed to be passed & send to Governor
1. Pass bill with Amendment
2. Reject bill altogether
3. Not take any action for 3 months
– Assembly can again pass Bill & send it to Council with or without Amendment
– Council can pass Bill, reject it or not take action for 1 month . But then bill is deemed to be passed by both the houses

=> Council has little power& can only delay Bill by 4 months

Differences with Center polity

  • No provision of Joint sitting
  • If bill originated in Legislative Council & rejected by Legislative Assembly , bill ends there only

Assent of Governor

Can give Assent Bill becomes Act
Withhold his Assent Bill ends & doesn’t become Act
Return Bill for Reconsideration of House(s) If House(s) again pass Bill with or without Amendment, then Governor must give assent (Suspensive Veto)
Reserve Bill for consideration with President President may give his assent, withhold assent or send bill for reconsideration . Reconsideration (by State Legislature)  must take place in 6 months & presented again to President . It is  not obligatory for President to give assent

2. Money Bills

Special procedure for passing money bills

Introduction Can be introduced in Legislative Assembly only with permission of Governor  & only by Minister
In Assembly Introduced & after passing send to Legislative Council.
In Council – Limited power & can only make  recommendations + must return bill to Assembly in 14 days
– If no action taken within 14 days – Bill is deemed to be passed
Again in Assembly Can accept or reject recommendations of Legislative Council  & bill is deemed to be passed by both houses

Assent of Governor

Give Assent Bill becomes Act
Withhold Assent (but cant send for reconsideration) Generally don’t happen because Bill is introduced after taking his permission
Send to President for consideration President can give assent or withhold his assent but cant return the bill for reconsideration to state legislature

Debate : Position of Legislative Council

Equal with Legislative Assembly

  • Introduction & passage of Ordinary Bill
  • Selection of ministers & Chief Minister (can be from any house)
  • Consideration of reports of constitutional bodies like State Finance Commission etc   
  • Enlargement of jurisdiction of State Public Service Commission            
  • Approval of ordinance

Unequal with Legislative Assembly

  • Final power of passing an ordinary bill lies with the assembly. At the most, the council can detain or delay the bill for the period of four months (3+1). Council is not a revising body like the Rajya Sabha; it is only an advisory body
  • Money Bill can be introduced only in Legislative Assembly
  • Cant amend or reject Money Bill
  • Final power to decide whether bill is Money Bill lies with Speaker of Legislative Assembly
  • Council can only discuss budget but can’t vote on demands for grants
  • Cant remove Council of Ministers by passing No Confidence Motion
  • Doesn’t participate in election of President of India & Representatives in Rajya Sabha (Note : Rajya Sabha members do participate in election of President and Vice President)
  • Council has no say in Constitutional Amendments
  • Very existence of Council depends on will of Assembly

Hence, Position of Legislative Council wrt Legislative Assembly is weaker than position of Rajya Sabha wrt Lok Sabha.

Why Legislative Council given very less importance than Rajya Sabha ?

  • Rajya Sabha consist of Representatives of States & reflect federal structure of India while no such thing in Legislative Council
  • Heterogeneous structure with some elected & other nominated members making its position weak while Rajya Sabha is homogeneous body with elected members
  • Position of Legislative Council  is like House of Lords of Britain & it must yield wrt Legislative Assembly which represent popular voice


  • Second House of legislature is considered important for two reasons
    • To  check hasty actions by popularly elected House
    • To ensure that individuals who might not be cut out for the rough-and-tumble of direct elections too are able to contribute to the legislative process.


  • Opposition to the idea of Legislative Councils is centered on three broad arguments
    • They can be used to park leaders who have not been able to win an election.
    • They can be used to delay progressive legislation.
    • They would strain state finances.

Question : Unlike Rajya Sabha, which enjoys almost equal powers to that of Lok Sabha, the State Legislative Council is a mere subordinate to the Legislative Assembly. Discuss. (200 Words, 10 Marks)

Answer : Rajya Sabha, also called the Council of States, is almost equal to the Lok Sabha in the Parliament, but the same cannot be said about their corresponding Legislative Councils and Legislative Assemblies in the states

  • Rajya Sabha has a stronger ideological role to play as the Representative of the States in the Centre. Thus, this is as powerful as the Lok Sabha
  • From Article 80 of the Indian Constitution till Article 121, the Powers, Constitution, Role, Membership, Duties etc., of the Rajya Sabha has been given in detail while the same cannot be said of the Legislative Council
  • Final power of passing an ordinary bill lies with the assembly. At the most, the council can detain or delay the bill for the period of four months (3+1). Council is not a revising body like the Rajya Sabha; it is only an advisory body
  • Legislative Assembly can create or destroy the Council according to its own wishes. That is not possible with the Rajya Sabha, which is a permanent body.
  • Most of the Indian States have chosen not to have an extra body, because it does not serve much purpose, other than as a check on the laws made by the Assembly. 

Thus, the Legislative Council is termed as a mere subordinate to the Legislative Assembly.

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