Council of Ministers
The council of ministers which has been provided by the Constitution to aid and assist the Governor in the discharge of his duties, consists of the Chief Minister and other ministers.
The council of ministers performs the following functions:
(i) It formulates the policy of government and gives it practical shape.
(ii) It assists the Governor in making all important appointments.
(iii) Most of the important bills are introduced in the state legislature by members of the council.
(iv) If formulates the state budget and present it to the state legislature for approval.
At present only six states have a bicameral legislature—Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
All the other states have only one House.
Legislative Councils can be created or abolished in a state on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly.
The Legislative Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu recommended the abolition of Legislative Councils in their respective state and the Parliament enacted necessary laws for the abolition.
Recently, the Legislative Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu passed a resolution and sought the revival of the Legislative Council.
The Parliament accordingly passed necessary law for their revival.
It is for the first time that the State Legislative Assemblies have recommended creation or re-establishment of Legislative Council.
The strength of the Legislative Assembly varies from 60 to 500 in different states according to population, exception being Sikkim which has only 32 members.
The assembly enjoys a term of five years but can be dissolved earlier by the Governor.
Its term can be extended by one year at a time by the Parliament during national emergency.
It is the upper house of the state legislature and contains various categories of members.
It has members elected by the Legislative Assembly (one-third), by local bodies (one-third), by teachers (onetwelfth), by university graduates (one-twelth), nominated by the Governor (one-sixth).
The maximum strength of the Legislative Council can be one-third of the total membership of the Legisla-tive Assembly, but in no case less than 40.
One-third of its members retire every two years.
To be eligible for membership of the State Legislature, Article 173 perscribes that a person must
(a) be a citizen of India,
(b) not be less than 25 years of age for a seat in the Legislative Assembly, and not be less than thirty years of age for a seat in the Legislative Council,
(c) possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed by Parliament,
(d) not hold any office of profit under the Union or State Government.
A member vacates his seat if he is disqualified, or resigns (addressing himself to the Speaker or Chairman of the House as the case may be), or he remains absent form the House without permission for a period of sixty days.
If a person sits or votes as a member of either House when not qualified to do so, he is liable to a fine of five hundred rupees in respect of each day on which he so sits or votes (Article 193).
In this regard, the Governor’s decision, based on the opinion of the Election Commission, is to be final and not liable to be questioned in a court of law (Article 192).
Facts to be Remembered
The legislative procedure of a State Legislature having two houses (as outlined in Articles 196 to 199) is broadly similar to that in Parliament except for some aspects.
The position is the same at Union and State levels: the bill can be introduced only in the Assembly.
The will of the Assembly prevails, and the Assembly is not bound to accept any recommendation by the Council which may at the most withhold the bill for 14 days from the date of its receipt.
A money bill has the same definition as in the case of Union Legislation except that in this context it will be Consolidated/Contingency Fund of the State (and not India) that is to be referred to.
The only power of the Council is to interpose some delay in the passage of the bill for a period of 3 months at the most.
Ultimately the will of the Assembly prevails and when the bill comes to the Council, a second time, the Council can delay it for not more than a month.
There is no provision for joint sitting for solving differences between the two Houses of the State Legislature.
In the case of a bill originating in the Council, the Assembly has the power of rejecting and putting an end to it forthwith.
When a bill is presented to the Governor after its passage by the House of the Legislature, the governor may
(i) declare his assent to the bill, in which case, it would become a law at once;
(ii) declare that he withholds his assent, in which case the bill fails to become law;
(iii) return the bill, if it is not a money bill, with a message;
(iv) reserve the bill for the consideration of the President (In one case reservation is compulsory, viz., where the law in question would derogate the powers of the High Court under the Constitution).
Once the bill is reserved for the President’s consideration, the subsequent enactment of the bill is in the hands of the President and the Governor shall have no further part.
In the case of a money bill reserved for the president’s consideration, the president may either declare his assent or withhold his assent.
In case of other bills, the President may, instead of assenting or refusing assent, direct the Governor to return the bill to the Legislature for reconsideration.
In that case the Legislature must reconsider the bill within six months and if it is passed again, the bill may be directly presented to the President again.
However, the President is under no obligation to give his assent in this case too.