Legislative Council in States: Issues & Way Forward

Legislative Councils in States

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Legislative Councils

Mains level : Benefits of having LCs


  • The Madhya Pradesh government has indicated that it plans to initiate steps towards creation of a Legislative Council.

Debate over two houses

  • Just as Parliament has two Houses, so can the states, if they choose to.
  • Opinion in the Constituent Assembly was divided on the idea.
  • Among the arguments in its favour, a second House can help check hasty actions by the directly elected House, and also enable non-elected individuals to contribute to the legislative process.
  • The arguments against the idea: a Legislative Council can be used to delay legislation, and to park leaders who have not been able to win an election.

Provision for a second House

  • Article 169 of the Constitution provides for the option of a state to have a Legislative Council in addition to its Legislative Assembly.
  • As in Rajya Sabha, members of a Legislative Council are not directly elected by voters.
  • Under Article 169, a Legislative Council can be formed “if the Legislative Assembly of the State passes a resolution to that effect by a majority of the total membership of the Assembly and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the Assembly present and voting”.
  • Parliament can then pass a law to this effect.

Members of LC

  • Under Article 171 of the Constitution, the Legislative Council of a state shall not have more than one-third of the number of MLAs of the state, and not less than 40 members.
  • In Madhya Pradesh, which has 230 MLAs, the proposed Legislative Council can have at most 76 members.
  • As with Rajya Sabha MPs, the tenure of a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) is six years, with one-third of members retiring every two years.

Election of MLCs

  • One-third of the MLCs are elected by the state’s MLAs, another one-third by a special electorate comprising sitting members of local governments such as municipalities and district boards, 1/12th by an electorate of teachers and another 1/12th by registered graduates.
  • The remaining members are appointed by the Governor for distinguished services in various fields.

LC vis-à-vis Rajya Sabha

  • The legislative power of the Councils is limited.
  • Unlike Rajya Sabha which has substantial powers to shape non-financial legislation, Legislative Councils lack a constitutional mandate to do so.
  • Assemblies can override suggestions/amendments made to legislation by the Council.
  • Again, unlike Rajya Sabha MPs, MLCs cannot vote in elections for the President and Vice President.
  • The Vice President is the Rajya Sabha Chairperson; an MLC is the Council Chairperson.

States with LCs

  • Currently, six states have Legislative Councils.
  • Jammu and Kashmir too had one, until the state was bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
  • Tamil Nadu’s then government had passed a law to set up a Council but the subsequent government withdrew it after coming to power in 2010.
  • Andhra Pradesh’s Legislative Council, set up in 1958, was abolished in 1985, then reconstituted in 2007.
  • The Odisha Assembly recently passed a resolution for a Legislative Council.
  • Proposals to create Councils in Rajasthan and Assam are pending in Parliament.
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