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State Legislature

Man is the only animal that laughs and has a state legislature. -Samuel Butler

Indian state legislatures represent decentralized governance in India's federal system. Elected representatives within these bodies have the authority to create laws and policies regionally, ensuring democratic representation and decision-making across the country's diverse regions. 

Laxmikanth Summary: State Legislature | Indian Polity for UPSC CSE

Organization of State Legislature

State Legislatures in India

  • Most state legislatures in India differ in their structure, with some following are unicameral system and others are bicameral system.
  • Presently, only six states - Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, and Karnataka - have two Houses (bicameral).
  • States with a unicameral system comprise the governor and the legislative assembly, while those with a bicameral system include the governor, the legislative council, and the legislative assembly.
  • The legislative council acts as the upper house, while the legislative assembly serves as the lower house.
  • According to the Constitution (Article 169), the creation or abolition of legislative councils in states can be facilitated by Parliament through a special resolution passed by the concerned state's assembly.
  • Having a second chamber in states faced criticism during the Constituent Assembly due to concerns about representation, delay in the legislative process, and the cost involved.
  • For instance, Tamil Nadu passed a resolution in 2010 to establish a Legislative Council but later passed another resolution in 2011 seeking its abolition before the corresponding Act was enacted.

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Composition of Two Houses

Laxmikanth Summary: State Legislature | Indian Polity for UPSC CSE

Composition of the Assembly

  • Members: The assembly consists of individuals directly elected by the state's people. The number of members varies by state, determined by population size. Larger states have more members compared to smaller ones.
  • Territorial Representation: Members represent specific geographic constituencies within the state. Each constituency elects one representative, demarcated based on population and administrative convenience.
  • Reserved Seats: Some assembly seats are reserved for marginalized groups like Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) to ensure fair representation. The number of reserved seats corresponds to the SCs' and STs' population in the state.
  • Duration: The assembly's term spans five years unless dissolved earlier by the Governor or upon completing its term.
  • Speaker and Deputy Speaker: The assembly elects a Speaker and Deputy Speaker from its members. The Speaker oversees proceedings while ensuring orderliness, while the Deputy Speaker assists and assumes responsibility in the Speaker's absence.
  • Powers and Functions: The legislative assembly wields significant authority, including lawmaking, budget approval, and overseeing the government through debates and resolutions.

Composition of Council

  • Membership Diversity: The Council comprises elected and nominated members from diverse groups:
    1. Elected Members: These individuals are elected by various bodies like local authorities, graduates, teachers, and registered graduates.
    2. Nominated Members: Appointed by the Governor, these members come from fields such as literature, science, arts, social service, economics, or industry, adding expertise to the Council.
  • Representation: Members represent different territorial constituencies within the state, varying in size based on population distribution and administrative convenience.
  • Special Representation: The Council ensures representation for specific groups:
    1. Local Authorities: Members elected by local government bodies like municipalities and district boards.
    2. Graduates and Teachers: Reserved seats for graduates and teachers provide them representation in the Council.
    3. Nominated Experts: Individuals with expertise in various fields are nominated, contributing diverse perspectives to the Council's discussions.
  • Term: Members typically serve a six-year term, with one-third retiring every two years, ensuring continuity while allowing new entrants.
  • Leadership: Similar to the Assembly, the Council elects a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson from its members. The Chairperson oversees sessions, maintaining order, while the Deputy assists and takes charge in their absence.
  • Functions: The Legislative Council possesses substantial powers, participating in legislation, reviewing bills, proposing amendments, and serving as a revising chamber. It facilitates thorough discussions and offers alternative perspectives on proposed laws.

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Duration of Two Houses

Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha)

  • Duration: Members of the Legislative Assembly serve a five-year term, starting from their first sitting, unless dissolved earlier.
  • Premature Dissolution: If dissolved prematurely due to reasons like the Governor's decision or completing the five-year term, elections are held promptly to form a new assembly.
  • Extension: Under Article 356 (President's Rule), the Assembly's term can extend by up to one year upon Parliament's approval if the state faces such circumstances.

Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad)

  • Duration: The Legislative Council operates differently, being a permanent body except under specific circumstances. One-third of its members retire every two years.
  • Rotational System: This system ensures that one-third of the Council's members, nominated and elected, retire after completing a six-year term.
  • Renewal: Simultaneously, fresh elections and nominations occur to fill these vacated positions in the Council, allowing for a continuous presence and periodic infusion of new members.

This distinction in duration signifies the unique characteristics of these legislative bodies. While the Assembly operates on a fixed five-year term, the Council employs a rotational system, maintaining continuity and periodically introducing new representation.

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What is the difference between a unicameral system and a bicameral system in state legislatures?
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Membership of State Legislature

Qualifications for Membership

  • Assembly (MLA): To be an MLA, a candidate must be an Indian citizen, at least 25 years old, and listed on the state's electoral roll.
  • Council (MLC): For MLCs, the criteria include citizenship, a minimum age of 30 years, and being on the state's electoral roll or representing a graduate constituency within the state.

Disqualifications for Membership:

  • Grounds of Disqualification: A member can face disqualification for holding an office of profit, unsoundness of mind, being an undischarged insolvent, or voluntarily acquiring citizenship or allegiance to a foreign state.
  • Dual Membership: Simultaneous membership in both the assembly and council is not permitted.

Oath or Affirmation:

Upon Taking Office: Before assuming their seats in the assembly or council, members must take an oath or affirmation specified in the Third Schedule of the Indian Constitution. The oath is administered by the Governor or a designated official.

Vacation of Seats:

  • Disqualification: Seats can become vacant if a member incurs disqualification according to the specified grounds.
  • Resignation: Members can resign by submitting their resignation to the Speaker (for the assembly) or the Chairman (for the council).
  • Absence: Prolonged absence from the house without permission may also lead to the vacation of seats.

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What is the term duration for members of the Legislative Assembly in India?
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Presiding Officers of State Legislature

Presiding officers of State LegislaturePresiding officers of State Legislature

Speaker of the Assembly

  • Elected by Assembly members to uphold the Assembly's dignity and impartiality.
  • Responsibilities include presiding over sessions, maintaining order, and deciding on procedural matters.
  • Grants or denies permission for members to speak and ensures fair debates.
  • Typically refrains from participating in debates or voting, except in the case of tie-breaking.

Deputy Speaker of the Assembly

  • Assists the Speaker and takes charge in the Speaker's absence.
  • Ensures the smooth functioning of the Assembly.

Chairman of the Council

  • Presides over the Legislative Council, maintaining order and guiding procedural matters.
  • Similar role to the Speaker but within the Legislative Council.

Deputy Chairman of the Council

  • Supports the Chairman and assumes leadership in the Chairman's absence.
  • Acts as the second-in-command within the Legislative Council.

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Sessions of State Legislature


  • The Governor, advised by the Chief Minister, convenes and concludes sessions of the state legislature.
  • Sessions are scheduled based on the legislative calendar or in emergencies to address pressing issues.


  • The presiding officer (Speaker or Chairman) can temporarily halt proceedings due to disruptions or insufficient members.
  • Adjournments can be scheduled or sine die (without specifying a reconvening date).


  • Marks the conclusion of a session, causing pending bills to lapse unless carried forward.
  • Signifies the end of the current sitting of the state legislature.


  • Occurs when the Governor, advised by the Chief Minister, prematurely ends the legislative assembly's term.
  • New elections follow to form a fresh legislative assembly.


  • Specifies the minimum number of members required for the House to conduct its business.
  • If the quorum isn't met during a sitting, proceedings may be adjourned.

Voting in the House

  • Voting methods include voice votes, division (by standing or using electronic systems), or ballot, decided by the Speaker or Chairman.
  • Determined based on the nature of the issue being voted upon.

Language in State Legislature

  • State legislatures use official languages specified for proceedings, with translation services available if needed.
  • Each state determines its official language(s) for legislative business.

Rights of Ministers and Advocate General

  • State government ministers participate in House proceedings, introducing bills and representing the government.
  • The Advocate General, a legal advisor, attends and engages in legal matter discussions within the House.

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What is the main purpose of the state legislatures in India?
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Legislative Procedure in State Legislature

In state legislatures, bills originate, undergo readings in both houses, receive assent from the Governor, and, for certain bills, may require consideration or assent from the President.

Laxmikanth Summary: State Legislature | Indian Polity for UPSC CSE

Ordinary Bill

  1. Bill in the Originating House
    • Any member of the legislative assembly can propose a bill.
    • The bill goes through three readings: Introduction, Detailed consideration, and Voting.
    • After passing in the originating house, it proceeds to the second house.
  2. Bill in the Second House:
    • The bill undergoes similar readings in the second house and may return to the originating house if amendments are suggested.
  3. Assent of the Governor:
    • Once both houses agree on the final bill form, it's sent to the Governor.
    • The Governor can give assent, withhold assent, or reserve the bill for the President's consideration in certain cases.
  4. Assent of the President:
    • Bills reserved by the Governor may be sent to the President, who can give assent, withhold it, or request reconsideration.

Money Bills

  1. Introduction and Passage:
    • Money bills focus on financial matters and are introduced only in the legislative assembly.
    • After passing in the assembly, they are sent to the council for its recommendations.
    • The council has a specific time frame for passing or it's considered approved.
  2. Assent of the Governor:
    • Money bills, once passed by both houses, go to the Governor for assent, without the power to withhold it.

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Bills Reserved For President's Consideration

Bills Mandated for President's Consideration

  • Bills derogating High Court powers risking its constitutional role (Article 200).
  • Bills on water/electricity taxes falling under Article 288.
  • Bills during a financial emergency as per Article 360.

Bills Potentially Reserved for President's Consideration for Specific Purposes

  •  Bills aiming to secure immunity from Articles 14 and 19.
    • Bills related to acquisition of estates (Article 31A).
    • Bills implementing specific Directive Principles of State Policy (Article 31C).
  • Bills related to Concurrent List subjects, ensuring their operation despite repugnancy to Union laws (Article 254).
  •  Bills imposing trade restrictions without prior Presidential sanction under Article 304.
  • Bills Open for Governor's Discretion

  • Bills not fitting specific categories yet open for Governor's reservation under Article 200 for President's consideration.

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Which states in India have a bicameral system in their state legislature?
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Legislative Procedure Compared

Parliament (Central Level)

  1. Composition: Consists of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, elected nationally.
  2. Federal Representation: Represents the entire country and its diverse regions.
  3. Powers
    • Legislative authority covers Union, Concurrent, and Residuary Lists.
    • Enacts laws within its constitutional jurisdiction.
  4. Exclusive Powers: Handles Union territories and specific states in exceptional cases.
  5. Leadership: Headed by the President; Executive authority with the PM and Council of Ministers.

State Legislatures (State Level)

  1. Composition: Comprise Legislative Assemblies or Councils; members elected from state constituencies.
  2. Regional Representation: Represent specific states and their regional interests.
  3. Powers: Legislative authority covers State and Concurrent Lists, focusing on state-specific matters.
  4. Governance: Headed by the Governor; Executive authority vested in CM and Council of Ministers.
  5. Relationship with Union: Collaborates with Parliament, maintaining autonomy in state-specific affairs.

Common Aspects

  1. Legislative Functions: Both legislate within their jurisdiction.
  2. Representative Roles: Represent constituents' interests.
  3. Checks and Balances: Similar legislative procedures within defined frameworks.
  4. Constitutional Framework: Operate within the Indian Constitution's specified spheres of authority.

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What is the difference between a unicameral and a bicameral system in state legislatures?
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Position of Legislative Council

Equal  with  Assembly

  • Bicameral Equality Certain states adopt a balanced bicameral system where the Legislative Assembly and Council share equal legislative authority.
  • Legislative Powers Both houses possess matching abilities in drafting, discussing, amending, and passing laws, necessitating approval from both for bills to become law.
  • Checks and Balances This system ensures checks and balances in legislation, allowing comprehensive scrutiny and diverse perspectives on proposed laws.
  • Representation Members elected or nominated to both houses represent constituents' interests, ensuring broader representation and diverse viewpoints.

Unequal with Assembly

  • Limited Legislative Authority In some states, the Legislative Council holds a subordinate position compared to the Assembly, constraining its legislative functions.
  • Secondary Role While the Council might propose amendments, the Assembly often holds the final decision, possibly bypassing the Council in bill approvals.
  • Functional Restrictions The Council might face limitations, particularly concerning money bills and specific legislative domains.
  • Uneven Representation In such scenarios, the Council might not equally represent constituents' concerns as the Assembly does.

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What is the duration of a member's term in the Legislative Assembly?
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Privileges of State legislature

Collective Privileges

  •  Freedom of Speech Members have the liberty to express themselves freely in legislative chambers during debates and discussions without facing legal repercussions.
  •  Right to Publish Proceedings Legislatures hold the authority to publish their sessions and reports, ensuring autonomy in sharing information about their proceedings.
  •  Control over Internal Affairs  State legislatures have the right to regulate internal affairs, including maintaining order and discipline within the house.
  •  Exclusive Jurisdiction The legislature retains exclusive authority over its proceedings, preventing external interference in its decision-making process.

Individual Privileges

  •  Immunity Members enjoy immunity from legal actions for their speeches or votes within the legislative chamber, safeguarding them from legal consequences related to their statements during sessions.
  •  Right to Participate Each member possesses the right to actively engage in legislative proceedings, debates, and committees.
  •  Freedom from Arrest Members are protected from arrest during legislative sessions and certain periods before and after, enabling them to perform their duties without hindrance.
  •  Exemption from Jury Duty Legislators are exempted from jury service, allowing them to focus solely on their legislative responsibilities.
  •  Right to Publish Proceedings Individual members also hold the right to publish session proceedings, speeches, and reports made within the house.

Question for Laxmikanth Summary: State Legislature
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What is the term duration for members of the Legislative Assembly in India?
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The document Laxmikanth Summary: State Legislature | Indian Polity for UPSC CSE is a part of the UPSC Course Indian Polity for UPSC CSE.
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FAQs on Laxmikanth Summary: State Legislature - Indian Polity for UPSC CSE

1. What is the composition of the State Legislature in terms of the number of houses?$#
Ans. The State Legislature is composed of two houses: the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) and the Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad).

2. How long is the duration of the two houses of the State Legislature?$#
Ans. The duration of the two houses of the State Legislature varies, with members of the Legislative Assembly serving a term of five years and members of the Legislative Council serving a term of six years.

3. Who are the presiding officers of the State Legislature?$#
Ans. The presiding officers of the State Legislature are the Speaker in the Legislative Assembly and the Chairman or Deputy Chairman in the Legislative Council.

4. When are the sessions of the State Legislature held?$#
Ans. The sessions of the State Legislature are held at least twice a year, with a six-month gap between sessions.

5. What is the position of the Legislative Council in the State Legislature?$#
Ans. The Legislative Council acts as the upper house of the State Legislature and plays a role in reviewing and revising legislation proposed by the Legislative Assembly.
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