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The Vidhan Parishad (or Legislative Council) is the upper house in those states of India that have a bicameral legislature. As of 2011[update], Seven (out of twenty-nine) states have a Legislative Council: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Assam. Union Cabinet has cleared State of Assam to formed 'Legislative Council' in December 2013. In 2010 the Parliament of India passed an Act to re-establish a Legislative Council for a eighth state, Tamil Nadu, but implementation of the Act has been put on hold pending legal action; the state government has also expressed its opposition to the council's revival.
In contrast with a state's Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly), the Legislative Council is a permanent body and cannot be dissolved; each Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) serves for a six-year term, with terms staggered so that the terms of one-third of a Council's members expire every two years. This arrangement parallels that for the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India.
MLCs must be citizens of India, at least 30 years' old, mentally sound, not an insolvent, and on the voters' list of the state for which he or she is contesting an election. He or she may not be a Member of Parliament at the same time.
The size of the Vidhan Parishad cannot be more than one-third the membership of the Vidhan Sabha. However, its size cannot be less than 40 members (except in Jammu and Kashmir, where there are 36 by an Act of Parliament.)
MLCs are chosen in the following manner:
- One-third are elected by members of local bodies such as corporations, municipalities, and Zila Parishads.
- One-third are elected by members of Legislative Assembly from among the persons who are not members of the Assembly.
- One-twelfth are elected by persons who are graduates of three years' standing residing in that state.
- One-twelfth are elected by persons engaged for at least three years in teaching in educational institutions within the state not lower than secondary schools, including colleges and universities.
- 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 service.
Powers and procedures
The Legislative Council elects its Chairman and Deputy Chairman from amongst its members.
Theoretically the powers of the Legislative Council are coequal with the Assembly; in reality, the Council is the weaker partner. Ordinary bills can originate in any chamber of the legislature. A bill must be passed by both chambers, and receive the assent of the state's Governor, before it becomes law as an Act. The Governor may give his assent or return the bill back to" legislature with his observations. The legislature while reconsidering the bill may or may not take note of the views of the Governor on the bill. The Governor is bound to give his assent to the bill when it is presented to him for the second time. If the Legislative Council disagrees with a bill passed by the Legislative Assembly, then the bill must have a second journey, from the Assembly to the Council.
Ultimately the views of the Assembly prevail. The Council can only delay the passage of a bill for 3 months in the first instance and for one month in the second. In contrast with Parliament, there is no provision for the joint sitting of state legislatures.
As with the Rajya Sabha, a Legislative Council has almost no powers in relation to finance, being subordinate to the Assembly; the latter chamber is the only place where Money Bills can originate. After a Money Bill has been passed by the Assembly it is sent to the Council, which can keep it for a maximum of 14 days; if it does not pass it within that period, the bill is deemed to have been passed by it.
As with the Assembly, the Council can attempt to control the executive by putting questions to ministers, raising debates, and discussing adjournment motions to highlight alleged lapses by the state government. However, the Council cannot remove a government from office, lacking the Assembly's power to move a vote of no confidence.
The powers given to a Legislative Council by the Constitution of India have been framed to keep it in a subordinate position to the Assembly, with its membership of professionals seen as a guiding influence on the latter body, rather than as its rival.
Abolition and revival
The existence of a Legislative Council has proven politically controversial. A number of states that have had their Council abolished have subsequently requested its re-establishment; conversely, proposals for the re-establishment of the Council for a state have also met with opposition. Proposals for abolition or re-establishment of a state's Legislative Council require confirmation by the Parliament of India.
In April 2007, the State of Andhra Pradesh re-established its Legislative Council. The State's main opposition party, the Telugu Desam Party, has stated that it would abolish the council again if it comes to power in the state. But Telugu Desam Party could not come to the power for the past 6 years.
- Vidhan Sabha
- Legislative Council
- Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council
- Bihar Legislative Council
- Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council
- Karnataka Legislative Council
- Maharashtra Legislative Council
- Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council
- Tamil Nadu Legislative Council Act, 2010 No. 16 of 2010
- The Times of India, 22 February 2011 "SC stays TN council elections"
- The Times of India, 25 May 2011 "Fate of TN legislative council sealed by Jayalithaa"
- "Central Government Act Article 169 in The Constitution Of India 1949".