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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].


Legislative Assembly

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.

Legislative Council

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.

Qualification  & Disqualification 

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 inter prets 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 cer tifies 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.


The salaries of presiding officers of the State Legislature are fixed by the Legislature of the State by law (Art. 188).


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) Par ticipation 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.

Legislative procedure

Salient Features

  • The state legislature must meet twice a year and the gap should not be of more than six months. 
  • The Governor addresses the newly constituted assembly as well as the session at the beginning of the year.
  • All bills except money bills can originate in any House.
  • There is no provision of a joint sitting of the state legislature. Thus, while the Vidhan Sabha may override the will of the Vidhan Parishad, the reverse is impossible.
  • The Governor, except in case of a money bill, may give his assent or send in it for reconsideration or reserve the bill for the President's assent.


The Legislative procedure of the State legislature having two chambers (as outlined in Art. 196 to 199) is similar to that of Parliament except in some aspects.

Money Bill

The position is the same as regards the money bill. The bill can be introduced only in the Assembly.
 The Legislative Council shall have no power except to make recommendation to the Assembly for amendments or to withhold the Bill for a period of 14 days from the date of receipt of the Bill. In any case, the will of the Assembly shall prevail, and the Assembly is not bound to accept any such recommendations. It follows that there cannot be any deadlock between the two Houses at all as regards Money Bills.

Bills other than Money Bills

If a Bill is passed by the  Legislative Assembly and sent to the Council, the latter may (i) reject the Bill, or (ii) pass it with such amendments not agreeable to the Assembly, or (iii) not pass the Bill within 3 months from the time when it is laid before the Council. The Legislative Assembly many again pass the Bill with or without further amendments, and transmit the Bill to the Council again. Thus, only power of the Council is to interpose some delay in the passage of the Bill for a period of 3 months which is, of course, larger than in the case of Money Bills. Ultimately the view of the Assembly prevails and if the Bill comes to the Council for a second time, the Council shall have no power to withhold the Bill for more than a month (Art. 197).

Resolving Deadlock

The only difference between the procedure in a State Legislature and the Parliament relates to provisions for resolving deadlock between two House. While disagreement between the two House of the Parliament is to be resolved by a joint sitting, there is no such provision for solving difference between the two Houses of the State legislature,— in this latter case, the will of the lower House, viz., the Assembly, shall ultimately prevail and the Council shall have no more power than to interpose some delay in the passage of the Bill to which it disagrees.

Thus if on the second occasion, the council—
(i) again rejects the Bill, or
(ii) proposes amendments, or
(iii) does not pass it within one month of the date on which it is laid before the Council, the Bill shall be deemed to have been passed by the both Houses, and then presented to the governor for his assent (Art.197).

The foregoing provision of the Constitution is applicable only as regards Bills originating in the Assembly. There is no corresponding provision for Bills originating on the Council. If, therefore, a Bill passed by the Council is transmitted to the Assembly and rejected by the latter, there is an end to the Bill.

Governor's Assent

When a Bill is presented before the Governor after its passage by the Houses of the legislature, it will be open to the Governor to take any of the following steps: (i) He may declare his assent to the Bill, in which case, it would become law at once; or, (ii) He may declare that he withholds his assent to the Bill, in which case the Bill fails to become a law; or, (iii) He may in the case of a Bill other than a Money Bill, return the Bill with a massage; (iv) The Governor may reserve a Bill for the consideration of the President. In one case reservation is compulsory viz., where the law in question would derogate from the powers of the High Court under the Constitution.

President's Assent

In the case of a Money Bill, reserved for the President's consideration, he may either declare his assent or withhold his assent. But in the case of a Bill other than a Money Bill, the President may, instead of declaring his assent or refusing it, direct the Governor to return the Bill to the Legislature for reconsideration.
 In the latter case, the Legislature must reconsider the Bill within six months and if it is passed again, the Bill shall be presented to the President again. But it shall not be obligatory upon the President to give his assent in this case too [Art.201]

A Bill which is reserved for the consideration of the President shall  have no legal effect until the President declares his assent to it. But no time limit is imposed by the Constitution upon the President either to declare that he assents or that he withholds his assent. As a result, it would be open to the President to keep a Bill of the State legislature pending at his hands for an indefinite period of time, without expressing his mind.

There is a third alternative for the President – when a reserved Bill is presented to the President, he may, for the purpose of deciding whether he should assent to, or return the Bill, refer to the Supreme Court, under Art. 143, for its advisory opinion where any doubts as to the constitutionality of the Bill arise in the President's mind.

Composition of State Legislature

Though a uniform pattern of Government isprescribed for the States, it is not so in the matter of the composition of the Legislature. While the Legislature of every state shall consist of the Governor and the State Legislature, in some of the States, the Legislature shall consist of two Houses, namely, the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council, while in the rest, there shall be only one House, namely the Legislative Assembly.  

The Constitution provides for the abolition ofthe second chamber 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. If a State Legislature passes a resolution by an absolute majority, together with not less than two-thirds of the members actually present and voting in favour of the creation of the second chamber and if Parliament gives concurrence to such a resolution, the concerned State can have two Houses in the legislature. Similar is the procedure for the abolition of the Upper Houses and the States of Punjab and West Bengal abolished the second chambers in 1969 and 1970 respectively. Recently the Legislative Councils in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were abolished in 1985 and 1986 respectively.  

Owing to changes introduced since the inauguration of Constitution, in accordance with the procedure laid down in Art. 169, the States having two Houses are Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh. To these must be added Jammu and Kashmir, which has adopted a bicameral legislature by her own State Constitution.

By reason of s. 8(2) of the Constitution (7thAmendment) Act, 1956 Madhya Pradesh shall have a second House (Legislative Council) only after a notification to this effect has been made by President.
 No such notification having been made so far, Madhya Pradesh is still having one Chamber.

The document State Legislature- 1 | Indian Polity for UPSC CSE is a part of the UPSC Course Indian Polity for UPSC CSE.
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FAQs on State Legislature- 1 - Indian Polity for UPSC CSE

1. What is a state legislature?
Ans. A state legislature is a governing body that is responsible for making laws at the state level. It is composed of elected representatives who represent the interests of their respective districts or constituencies.
2. What is the role of a state legislature?
Ans. The role of a state legislature is to propose, debate, and pass laws that govern the state. It also has the power to allocate state funds, oversee the executive branch, and represent the interests of the constituents.
3. How are members of a state legislature elected?
Ans. Members of a state legislature are elected through popular vote in their respective districts. The election process may vary from state to state, but generally, candidates campaign for their positions, and voters choose their preferred candidate through ballots.
4. How long is the term of a state legislator?
Ans. The term of a state legislator varies depending on the state. In some states, the term may be two years, while in others, it could be four years. The length of the term is usually specified in the state's constitution or legislation.
5. What is the difference between a state legislature and the federal legislature?
Ans. The main difference between a state legislature and the federal legislature is the level of government they represent. A state legislature governs at the state level, making laws and decisions that affect the state's residents. On the other hand, the federal legislature, also known as the United States Congress, governs at the national level and is responsible for making laws and decisions that affect the entire country.
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