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The Vidhan Sabha (Hindi: विधान सभा), or the Legislative Assembly, is the lower house (in states with bicameral) or the sole house (in unicameral states) of the provincial (state) legislature in the different states of India. The same name is also used for the lower house of the legislatures for two of the union territories, Delhi and Puducherry. The upper house in the seven states with a bicameral legislature is called the Legislative Council, or Vidhan Parishad.
Members of a Vidhan Sabha are direct representatives of the people of the particular state as they are directly elected by an electorate consisting of all citizens above the age of 18 of that state. Its maximum size as outlined in the Constitution of India is not more than 500 members and not less than 60 members. However, the size of the Vidhan Sabha can be less than 60 members through an Act of Parliament: such is the case in the states of Goa, Sikkim, Mizoram and the Union Territory of Puducherry. The Governor can appoint 1 member to represent minorities, e.g. the Anglo-Indian community, if he finds that minority inadequately represented in the House. Those elected or nominated (by the Governors) to Vidhan Sabha are referred to as members of Legislative Assembly or MLAs.
Each Vidhan Sabha assembles for a five-year term, after which all seats are up for election. During a State of Emergency, its term may be extended past five years or it may be dissolved. The term of the Legislative Assembly is five years. But it may be dissolved even earlier than five years by the Governor on the request of the Chief Minister. The term of a Legislative Assembly may be extended during an Emergency, but not by more than six months at a time. A Vidhan Sabha can also be dissolved if a motion of no confidence is passed within it against the majority party or coalition.
Qualifications required to become a member
To become a member of a Vidhan Sabha, a person must be a citizen of India, not less than 25 years of age. He should be mentally sound and should not be bankrupt. He should also state an affidavit that there are no criminal procedures against him. Speaker of Vidhan Sabha who is responsible for the conduct of business of the body, and also a Deputy Speaker to preside during the Speaker's absence. The Speaker acts as a neutral judge and manages all debates and discussions in the house. Usually he is a member of the stronger political party
A Vidhan Sabha holds equal legislative power with the upper house of state legislature, the Vidhan Parishad ('Legislative Council'), except in the area of money bills in which case the Vidhan Sabha has the ultimate authority.
Special powers of the Vidhan Sabha
A motion of no confidence against the government in the state can only be introduced in the Vidhan Sabha. If it is passed by a majority vote, then the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers must collectively resign.
A money bill can only be introduced in Vidhan Sabha. In bicameral jurisdictions, after it is passed in the Vidhan Sabha, it is sent to the Vidhan Parishad, where it can be kept for a maximum time of 14 days. Unless a by the Finance Minister of the state in the name of the Governor of that state.
In matters related to ordinary bills, the will of Legislative Assembly prevails and there is no provision of joint sitting. In such cases, Legislative council can delay the legislation by maximum 4 months (3 months in first visit and 1 month in the second visit of the bill).
List of Vidhan Sabhas
- Legislative Bodies in India, website
- Laws of India : A website to download laws made by different states
- Punjab Vidhan Sabha Election Results 2012