Legislative Council in States: Issues & Way Forward

West Bengal government to set up a Legislative Council


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Legislative council

Mains level: Need for creation of LCs

The West Bengal government will set up a Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad), as per a decision taken up at the Cabinet meeting chaired by its Chief Minister.

What is a State Legislative Council?

  • The SLC is the upper house in those states of India that have a bicameral state legislature; the lower house being the State Legislative Assembly.
  • As of Jan 2020, 6 out of 28 states have a State Legislative Council. These are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh The latest state to have a council is Telangana.

Creation and abolition

  • According to Article 169, the Parliament can create or abolish the SLC of a state if that state’s legislature passes a resolution for that with a special majority.
  • The existence of an SLC has proven politically controversial.
  • A number of states that have had their LCs abolished have subsequently requested its re-establishment; conversely, proposals for the re-establishment of the LC for a state have also met with opposition.

Its composition

  • The size of the SLC cannot be more than one-third of the membership of the State Legislative Assembly.
  • However, its size cannot be less than 40 members.
  • These members elect the Chairman and Deputy Chairman from the Council.

MLCs are chosen in the following manner:

  • One third are elected by the members of local bodies such as municipalities, Gram panchayats, Panchayat samitis and district councils.
  • One third are elected by the members of Legislative Assembly of the State from among the persons who are not members of the State Legislative Assembly.
  • One sixth are nominated by the Governor from persons having knowledge or practical experience in fields such as literature, science, arts, the co-operative movement and social services.
  • One twelfth are elected by persons who are graduates of three years’ standing residing in that state.
  • One twelfth are elected by teachers who had spent at least three years in teaching in educational institutions within the state not lower than secondary schools, including colleges and universities.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. The Legislative Council of a State in India can be larger in size than half of the Legislative Assembly of that particular State.
  2. The Governor of a State nominates the Chairman of Legislative Council of that particular State.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) Only 1

(b) Only 2

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Powers and functions

  • The Constitution of India gives limited power to the State Legislative Council.
  • The State Legislative Council can neither form nor dissolve a state government.
  • The State Legislative Council also have no role in the passing of money bills.
  • But some of the powers it has is that the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the State Legislative Council enjoy the same status as Cabinet Ministers in the state.

Issues with LC

  • It was argued that a second House can help check hasty actions by the directly elected House, and also enable non-elected persons to contribute to the legislative process.
  • However, it was also felt that some of the poorer states could ill afford the extravagance of two Houses.
  • It has been pointed out that the Councils can be used to delay important legislation and to park leaders who have not been able to win an election.

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