Explain the constitutional provisions under which Legislative Councils are established. Review the working and current status of Legislative Councils with suitable illustrations. UPSC 2021, 15 Marks

Q14. उन संवैधानिक प्रावधानों को समझाइए जिनके अंतर्गत विधानपरिषर्दे स्थापित होती हैं। उपयुक्त उदाहरणों के साथ विधानपरिषदों के कार्य और वर्तमान स्थिति का मूल्यांकन कीजिए। (उत्तर 250 शब्दों में दीजिए)
Q14. Explain the constitutional provisions under which Legislative Councils are established. Review the working and current status of Legislative Councils with suitable illustrations.(Answer in 250 words) 15


India’s legislative system is bicameral. Article 169 of the Constitution allows states to have a Legislative Council in addition to the Legislative Assembly, much as Parliament does. Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, and Karnataka are the six states that have a Legislative Council. The Legislative Council of Andhra Pradesh was abolished by the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 2020. The Indian Parliament has yet to approve this resolution, which would effectively dissolve the council. The J&K Legislative Council was abolished in 2019 as part of the J&K Reorganisation Bill, which reduced the state of J&K to the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

Article 169 

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. 

A special majority requires a majority of the assembly’s total membership and a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting.

Article 171

The Legislative Council of a state must have at least 40 members and not more than one-third of the entire strength of the State Assembly, according to Article 171 of the Constitution.

The legislative council, like the Rajya Sabha, is a continuing chamber, meaning it is a permanent body that cannot be dissolved. Members of the Legislative Council (MLC) have a six-year term, with one-third of them retiring every two years.

Election of Legislative Council

  • One-third of the MLCs are elected by the state’s MLAs,
  • Another one-third by a special electorate made up of sitting members of local governments such as municipalities and district boards,
  • One-twelfth by a teachers’ electorate, and the other one-twelfth by registered graduates.
  • The Governor appoints the remaining members for remarkable contribution in the fields of literature, science, art, cooperative movement, and social service.

Legislative Council and Rajya Sabha

  • The Councils’ legislative power is limited. Legislative Councils, unlike Rajya Sabha, which has significant authority to design non-financial legislation, lack a constitutional mandate to do so.
  • The Assembly has the power to override the Council’s legislative ideas and modifications.
  • MLCs, like Rajya Sabha MPs, are unable to vote in presidential and vice presidential elections. The Vice President chairs the Rajya Sabha, whereas the Council Chairperson is chosen from among the members of the Council.

Role of Legislative Council

  • It can ensure that those who may not be able to vote are able to participate in the legislative process (like artists, scientists, etc).
  • It can keep a watch on the Legislative Assembly’s rash decisions.

Recently, West Bengal’s government decided to establish a Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad).

The West Bengal Legislative Council was the upper house of the Indian state of West Bengal’s bicameral legislature, which was established in 1952. Later, the Indian Parliament passed the West Bengal Legislative Council (Abolition) Act, 1969, which effectively abolished the Legislative Council on August 1, 1969. A Bill must be introduced in the Assembly to recreate the Legislative Council and the Governor must approve it.

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