Just as the Parliament consists of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, in the same way the State Legislature also has a Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council . Although the Legislative Council is optional, a state may or may not be a part of its legislature.

In this article, we will discuss Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council in a simple and easy way, and try to understand its various important aspects.

Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council
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Constitution of Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council

constitution of assembly

The Legislative Assembly is made up of Member of Legislative Assembly (also known as MLAs). These representatives are elected by direct voting by adult suffrage. Population is considered to be the measure for how many seats there will be in the Legislative Assembly of a state and according to that, there can be a minimum of 60 to a maximum of 500 seats in a state. However, there are some exceptions to this such as it is a minimum of 30 in the case of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Goa and 40 and 46 in the case of Mizoram and Nagaland respectively. Apart from this, some members of Sikkim and Nagaland Legislative Assemblies are also indirectly elected.

Nominated member – Before January 2020, the Governor could nominate one member from the Anglo-Indian community. which has been terminated.

Constituency – The assembly is divided into several constituencies according to the number of seats allotted to it. To ensure equal representation to all the constituencies, the constituencies are divided on the basis of population. For this the population of 1971 is considered as the base year. First, by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment of 1976, this base year was fixed till the year 2000, then in 2001 it was extended for a further 25 years by the 84th Constitutional Amendment. That is, by 2026, only the population of 1971 will be used.

Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes – The Constitution provides for seats for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly of each state on the basis of the proportion of the state’s population. Originally this reservation was for 10 years i.e. till 1960 but this system was extended every time for 10 years. Now it has been extended till 2030 by the 104th Act Act 2020.

constitution of legislative council

Unlike the members of the Legislative Assembly, the members of the Legislative Council are indirectly elected. The maximum number in the council is one-third of the assembly and the minimum is 40. This means the number of council members in the respective state depends on the size of the assembly. This has been done to ensure that the dominance of the directly elected house remains in the affairs of the state. Although the constitution has fixed the maximum and minimum number of councils. Its actual institution is determined by the Parliament.

Electoral method – 1/3rd of the total members of the Legislative Council are elected by the local bodies, such as, municipality, district board etc. 1/12 members are elected by graduates who have lived in the state for 3 years. 1/12 members are elected by the people who have been teaching since 3 years but these teachers should not be less than secondary schools. 1/3 of the members are elected by the members of the Legislative Assembly and the remaining members are nominated by the Governor from among those who have special knowledge and practical experience in literature, knowledge, art, cooperative movement and social service. .

In this way, out of the total members of the Legislative Council, 5/6 members are indirectly elected and 1/6 are nominated by the Governor. The members are elected through the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. The members nominated by the Governor cannot be challenged in court under any circumstances. This process of constitution of the Legislative Council is temporary in the constitution and not final. Parliament is authorized to change and amend it, although Parliament has not made any such law so far.

Term of Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council

term of the assembly

Like the Lok Sabha, the Vidhan Sabha is not a continuous running house. Its normal term is five years from the first meeting after the general election. At the end of this period, the Assembly is automatically dissolved, although the Governor is authorized to dissolve it at any time so that new elections can be held.

In times of national emergency, the term of the Legislative Assembly can be extended by the Parliament for one year at a time (for any length of time). However, this extension cannot be more than six months after the end of the emergency. That is, the assembly should be re-elected within six months of the end of the Emergency.

tenure of the legislative council

Like the Rajya Sabha, the Legislative Council is a permanent house, that is, a permanent organ that does not disintegrate. But one-third of its members keep retiring every second year. In this way a member becomes a member for six years. Vacant posts are filled by fresh elections and nominations at the beginning of every third year. Retired members are also eligible for re-election and re-nomination.

Assembly and Legislative Council Speaker

speaker of the assembly

The members of the Legislative Assembly elect the Speaker from amongst their members.

Normally, the Speaker holds the office till the term of the Legislative Assembly. However he vacates his post in the following three cases. 

(1) if his membership of the Legislative Assembly is terminated,

(2) if he resigns in writing to the Deputy Speaker and

(3) if he is removed from his office by a resolution passed by a majority of all the then members of the Legislative Assembly, any such Proposals can be moved only after 14 days prior notice.

The following are the powers and functions of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

1. He maintains order and etiquette to ensure action and other functions. This is his primary responsibility and his powers in this regard are final.

2. Is the final interpreter of the provisions of the Constitution of India, the rules of the Assembly and its earlier conventions in legislation in the conduct of business.

3. In the absence of a quorum, he can adjourn or suspend a meeting of the Legislative Assembly. 

4. Although he does not vote in the House, but in case of equality of votes, he can cast a casting vote.

5. On the request of the Leader of the House, he can allow a secret sitting.

6. He decides whether a Bill is a Finance Bill or not. His decision on this question will be final.

7.Adjudicates any dispute arising out of the disqualification of a member by virtue of the provisions of the Tenth Schedule.

8. He appoints the chairman of all the committees of the Legislative Assembly and supervises their work. He himself is the chairman of the Business Advisory Committee, the Rules Committee and the General Purposes Committee.

deputy speaker of assembly

Like the Speaker, the members of the Legislative Assembly elect the Deputy Speaker from among themselves. After the election of the President is over, he is elected.

Like the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker also continues to hold office till the term of the Legislative Assembly, though he can resign prematurely in the following three cases;

(1) if his membership of the Legislative Assembly is terminated,

(2) if he resigns in writing to the Speaker and

(3) if the member of the Legislative Assembly passes a resolution to remove him on the basis of majority. This resolution can be brought only after 14 days prior notice.

The Vice-President performs all the functions of the President in his absence. If the Speaker is absent during the Assembly session, he acts in the same manner. In both the cases his powers remain same as that of the Speaker.

The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly constitutes the Chairman’s Panel from amongst the members, one of them conducts the proceedings of the House in the absence of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker. When he is presiding, he has the same powers as the Speaker. He continues to serve till the depth of the new panel of the Chairman.

chairman of legislative council

The members of the Legislative Council choose the Speaker from among themselves. The Chairman can leave the office in the following three cases;

(1) If his membership is terminated.
(2) If he resigns in writing to the Deputy Chairman, and
(3) If the immediate members present in the Legislative Council pass a resolution to remove him by majority. Such a proposal can be brought only after giving prior notice of 14 days.

The powers and functions of the Chairman of the Council as the Presiding Officer are similar to those of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

Although the Chairman does not enjoy the special power that the Speaker has to decide whether a Bill is a Finance Bill or not, his decision is final.

Like the Speaker, the salary and allowances of the Speaker are also fixed by the Legislature. These are charged on the Consolidated Fund of the State and hence cannot be voted on annually by the State Legislature.

Lok Sabha: Role, Structure, FunctionsHindiEnglish
Rajya Sabha: Constitution, PowersHindiEnglish
Parliamentary MotionHindiEnglish

deputy chairman of legislative council

Like the Chairman, the Deputy Chairman is also elected by the members of the Council from amongst themselves.

In the absence of the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman takes over. During the meeting of the Council, when the Chairman is not present, he acts like that in both cases his powers are similar to that of the Chairman.

The Chairman issues the list of Deputy Speakers from amongst the members. In the absence of the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman, either of them takes over. He serves till the new list of Vice-Chairmen.

status of legislative council

The status of the Legislative Council as mentioned in the Constitution can be studied from two angles. 1. Where the Council is equal to the Legislative Assembly. 2. Where the Council is not equal to the Legislative Assembly.

equality with the assembly

The powers and status of the Council can be equated with that of the Legislative Assembly in the following respects.

1. Introducing and passing ordinary bills. However, in case of disagreement between the two houses, the Legislative Assembly is more effective.

2. Approval of the ordinance issued by the Governor

3. Selection of Ministers including the Chief Minister: Under the Constitution, the Chief Minister and other ministers should be members of either House of the Legislature. However, despite their membership, they are responsible only to the Legislative Assembly.

4. To consider the reports of constitutional bodies like State Finance Commission, State Public Service Commission and Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

5. Increase in the jurisdiction of the State Public Service Commission.

disparity from assembly

The power and position of the Council is different from that of the Assembly in the following respects:

1. A Finance Bill can be introduced only in the Legislative Assembly

2. The Legislative Council cannot amend or reject a Finance Bill. It has to be sent to the Legislative Assembly within 14 days with or without recommendation.

3. The Legislative Assembly can accept or reject the recommendations of the Council. In both the cases the Finance Bill is deemed to be passed by both the Houses.

4. The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly has the right to decide whether a Bill is a Finance Bill or not.

5. The Legislative Assembly has the final authority to pass an ordinary bill. In some cases, the Council can withhold it for a maximum period of four months. In the first instance, the bill can be stayed for three months and in the second for one month. In other words, the Council is also not a revisional body like the Rajya Sabha. It is merely a procrastinating chamber or advisory body.

6. The council can only debate the budget but cannot vote on the demand for grants (this is a special power of the assembly)

7. The council cannot remove the council of ministers by passing a no-confidence motion. This is because the collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers is towards the Legislative Assembly. But the Council can debate and criticize the activities and policies of the Governor.

8. When an ordinary bill has come from the Council and sent to the House, if it is rejected by the House, the Bill lapses.

9. The Council cannot participate in the election of the President of India and the representative of the State in the Rajya Sabha.

10. The Council cannot effectively do anything in the Constitution Amendment Bill. In this case also, the assembly itself prevails. Ultimately the very existence of the council depends on the assembly. Parliament can abolish the Legislative Council after the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly.

The constitution has made the council less effective than the Rajya Sabha because of the following reasons :

1. States are represented in the Rajya Sabha, hence it is a reflection of the federal system of polity. It maintains federal harmony by protecting the interests of the states against unnecessary interference by the Centre. As such it is not a mere general body or a mere advisory unit like the Council, but an effective review unit.

2. The constitution of the council is heterogeneous, it reflects different interests and consists of variously elected members and some nominated members are also included. On the other hand the constitution of Rajya Sabha is homogeneous. It represents the states and consists mainly of elected members. Out of 250, only 12 are nominated.

3. The status conferred on the Council is in accordance with the principles of democracy. The council has to function according to the assembly because the assembly is the elected house. It can withhold an ordinary bill for a maximum period of one month and a money bill for one month.

In view of the weak, powerless and ineffective position and role of the Legislative Council, critics call the Legislative Council the second chamber as expensive, white elephant etc.

Utility of Legislative Council

Although the Council has been given less powers than the Assembly, yet they are useful in the following cases:

1. It examines hasty, erroneous, careless and incorrect legislations by the Legislative Assembly by making provisions for its revision and consideration.

2. It provides representation to eminent persons and experts who do not face direct election. The Governor nominates 1/6 such members of the Council.

Here are the main things related to the Vidhan Sabha and the Legislative Council. Also read other related articles for better understanding.

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