Chapter III of Part VI of the Constitution provides for the State Legislature.
Bicameral and Unicameral States
Art. 168 states that the legislature of each State shall consists of the Governor and the state legislature. The legislature in some states consists of two Houses—the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council —while in the rest there is only one House—the Legislative Assembly. In 1992 only five states, namely, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar pradesh and Jammu Kashmir, had bicameral legislatures. But this position may keep changing since the Constitution provides for the abolition of the second chamber (that is, the Legislative Council) in a State where it exists as well as for the creation of such a chamber in a State where there is none at present, by a simple procedure which does not involve an amendment of the Constitution.The procedure prescribed is a resolution of the Legislative Assembly of the state concerned passed by a special majority (that is, a majority of the total membership of the Assembly not being less than two-thirds of the members actually present and voting), followed by an Act of Parliament [Art. 169].
Being a popularly elected chamber, the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) is the real centre of power in a state. While the minimum number of seats in it is fixed at 60 and the maximum number at 500, some states like Sikkim and Goa, shall have only 40 members each.
The members are chosen by direct election on the basis of adult suffrage from territorial constituencies. There shall be a proportionately equal representation according to population in respect of each territorial constituency within a State. There will be a readjustment by Parliament by law, upon the completion of each census [Art 170].
Besides, the Constitution provides for reservation of seats for SC and ST representatives. The Governor also is empowered to nominate one member from the Anglo-Indian community if he feels that the community is not represented.
The second chamber or Vidhan Parishad as it is known, varies in size depending upon the size should not be more than one-third the strength of the Assembly, and in no case less than 40. (J & K, exceptionally, has 36 members.) This provision is meant to ensure the predominance of the State Assembly over the second chamber (Art. 171).
The members are partly elected and partly nominated. The election is an indirect one and in accordance with the principle of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote system.
Broadly speaking five-sixths of the total number of members of the Council are indirectly elected and one-sixth nominated by the Governor. The criteria are as follows:
(i) One-third of the total members are elected by the members of local bodies, such as municipalities and district boards;
(ii) One-twelfth are elected by graduates of three years standing residing in the state;
(iii) One-twelfth are elected by teachers, who have been in the profession for at least three years in the state and should be teaching secondary classes or above; (iv) One-third are elected by members of Legislative Assembly from among non-members;
(v) The remainder are nominated by the Governor. They should be persons having knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matter as literature, science, art, cooperative movement and social service.
The system of the composition of the Legislative Council is subject to Parliament's legislation.
According to Art. 172 the normal tenure of Legislative Assembly is five years, but the House can be dissolved earlier by the President on the recommendation of the Governor. During an emergency, its life can be extended by an Act of Parliament by one year at a time and not extending, in any case, beyond six months after the Proclamation has ceased to operate. The Legislative Council is not subject to dissolution. But one-third of its members retire on the expiry of every second year. It is thus a permanent body like the Council of States, only a fraction of its membership being changed every third year. The normal tenure of the Council is, thus, six years.
Art. 173 states that in order to be qualified to be a member of the state legislature a person must: (i) be a citizen of India; (ii) be, in case of the Legislative Assembly, not less than twenty-five years of age and, in case of the Legislative Council, not less than thirty years of age; and (iii) possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed in that behalf by or under any law made by Parliament.
Thus, the Representation of the People Act, 1951, has provided that a person shall not be elected either to the Legislative Assembly or the council, unless he is himself an elector for any Legislative Assembly constituency in that State.
Art. 190 states that: (i) no person shall be a member of both Houses of the legislature of State and if anyone is elected to both Houses he has to vacate one seat; (ii) no person can be a member of the Legislature of two or more states; (iii) a member has to vacate his seat if he is disqualified or resigns (addressing to Speaker or Chairman of the House as the case may be); (iv) if a person remains absent from the House without permission for a period of six days, the House may declare his seat vacant.
The disqualifications for membership of a State legislature as laid down in Art. 191 of the constitution are analogous to the disqualifications laid down in Art. 102 relating to membership of either House of Parliament.
Article 192 lays down that if any question arises as to whether a member of a House of the Legislature of a State has become subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in Art. 191 (same as in Art. 102), the question shall be referred to the Governor of that State for decision who will act according to the opinion of the Election Commission. His decision shall be final and not liable to be questioned in any court of law.
Officers of State legislature
Speaker and Deputy Speaker
Art. 178 states that legislature is to choose two members to be the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.
The Speaker is the chief presiding officer of the Legislative Assembly. Deputy speaker presides over the House in the Speaker's absence.
Both vacate their offices when they cease to be members of the House. They may also resign (the Speaker addresses his resignation to Deputy Speaker and vice-versa) or may be removed from their post by a resolution of assembly with a notice showing intention of removing them. When the house is dissolved, the Speaker continues in office until new
House is reconstituted and a Speaker is elected (Art. 179).
When the office of Speaker as well as that of Deputy Speaker are vacant, their duties are performed by such member of the Assembly as may be appointed by the Governor (Art. 180). While a resolution for his removal from office is under consideration, the Speaker or Deputy Speaker, as the case may be, is not to preside over the meeting. The speaker shall have the right to speak in the proceedings but can vote only in the first instance on the resolution in case of an equality of votes (Art. 181).
Power and Functions of the Speaker :The duties, powers and constitutional status of a Speaker of the Legislative Assembly are the same as those of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. He, too, is expected to remain above party politics, and to maintain the dignity, independence and impartiality of his esteemed office. His powers and functions are :
(i) He presides over the meeting of the House as per the provisions of the House;
(ii) He interprets the rules of the Assembly and decides all points of order and questions of procedure;
(iii) He is empowered to expel a member from the House if he violates the rules of the House.
(iv) He has power to adjourn or suspend the entire House in case of grave disorder; (v) He certifies the money bills;
(vi) He decides cancellation of membership if covered under the anti-defection law, which is subject to judicial scrutiny.
Chairman and Deputy Chairman
Arts. 182 to 185 deal with the provisions relating to Chairman and Deputy chairman of the Legislative Council which are similar to those of Speaker and Deputy Speaker in respect of election, duties and vacation of office.
Salaries The salaries of presiding officers of the State Legislature are fixed by the Legislature of the State by law (Art. 188).
Secretariat Art. 187 provides that the House/Houses of State may have a separate secretarial staff.
Conduct of business Art. 188 states that an oath or affirmation has to be taken by every member of the Legislature before taking his seat.
All questions at any sitting of a House is determined by a majority of votes of the members present and voting (other than Speaker/Chairman) unless provided otherwise in the Constitution. The Speaker/ Chairman votes only in case of equality of Votes. The quorum to constitute a meeting of a House shall be ten members or one tenth of the total number of members of the House, whichever is greater (Art. 189).
The Functions of State Legislature include:
(i) Making of laws in respect of all subjects given in the State List and Concurrent list, but its laws on concurrent list are ineffective if they clash with the central law on the same subject;
(ii) Control of the finances of the state;
(iii) Ratifying those amendment of the Constitution which affect the federal structure of the country;
(iv) Keeping control, especially by Legislative Assembly, over the executive and having the power to oust the ministry through a no-confidence motion;
(v) Participation in the election of the president and in the election of the members of Rajya Sabha.
The privileges of the Legislature of a State are similar to those of the Union Parliament inasmuch as the constitutional provision [Arts. 105 and 19] are identical.