Union Parliament and State Legislatures.

Parliament is the central institution through which the will of the people is expressed, laws are passed and government is held to account. It plays a vital role in a democracy, and endeavours to be truly representative, transparent, accessible, accountable and effective in its many functions. The Parliament has two Houses–Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. Rajya Sabha is upper House and represents the States of India while the Lok Sabha is lower House.

Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha: 0rganisation and Functions;

The Council of States (Rajya Sabha) is the Upper House of our Parliament. It consists of not more than 250 members, out of which, 238 members represent the States and Union territories and 12 members are nominated by the President from amongst the persons having special knowledge and practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service. At present, the actual strength of Rajya Sabha is 245. A permanent body, Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution. However, one-third of its members retire biennially. A member who is elected for a full term retains his membership for six years. He is eligible for re-election. A Member elected/ nominated to a casual vacancy serves for the remainder term only. Members of Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote.

Lok Sabha is composed of representative of the people chosen by direct election on the basis of adult suffrage.  The maximum strength of the House envisaged by the Constitution is 552, upto 530 members to represent the States, up to 20 members to represent the Union Territories and not more than two members of the Anglo-Indian Community to be nominated by the President, if,  in his opinion, that community is not adequately represented in the House.  The total elective membership is distributed among the States in such a way that the ratio between the number of seats allotted to each State and the population of the State is, so far as practicable, the same for all States.

The cardinal functions of the Parliament is to oversee the administration, passing of budget, ventilation of public grievances, and discussing various subjects like development plans, international relations, and national policies. The Parliament can, under certain circumstances, assume legislative power with respect to a subject falling within the sphere, exclusively reserved for the states.

The Parliament is also vested with powers to impeach the President, remove judges of Supreme and High Courts, the Chief Election Commissioner, and Comptroller and Auditor General in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Constitution. All legislation requires the consent of both Houses of Parliament. In the case of Money Bills, the will of the Lok Sabha prevails. The Parliament is also vested with the power to initiate amendments in the Constitution.

Articles 168 to 212 in Part VI of the Constitution deal with the organisation, composition, duration, officers, procedures, privileges, powers and so on of the state legislature.In most of the States, the Legislature consists of the Governor and the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha). This means that these State have unicameral Legislature. In a Six States( Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh.), there are two Houses of the Legislature namely, Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) and Legislative council (Vidhan Parishad) besides the Governor.Where there are two Houses, the Legislature, is known as bicameral.Five States have the bicameral, legislature. The Legislative Assembly is known as lower House or popular House. The Legislative Council is known as upper House.

There is a Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) in every State. It represents the people of State. The members of Vidhan Sabha are directly elected by people on the basis of universal adult franchise. They are directly elected by all adult citizens registered as voters in the State. All men and women who are 18 years of age and above are eligible to be included in the voters’ List.

There are certain qualifications prescribed by the Constitution for being elected as an M. L. A. The candidate must:

  • be a citizen of India;
  • have attained the age of 25 years;
  • have his/her name in the voters’ list;
  • not hold any office of profit; and
  • not be a government servant.

Subject to the provisions of article 333, the Legislative Assembly of each State shall consist of not more than five hundred, and not less than sixty, members chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the State.

The Legislative council or Vidhan Parishad is partly elected and partly nominated. Most of the members are indirectly elected in accordance with the principle of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote system. Different categories of members represent different interests. The composition of the Legislative Council is as follows:

i. One-third members of the Council are elected by the members of the Vidhan Sabha.
ii. One-third of the members of the Vidhan Parishad are elected by the electorates consisting of members of Municipalities, District Boards and other local bodies in the State;
iii. One-twelfth members are elected by the electorate consisting of graduates in the State with a standing of three years;
iv. One-twelfth members are elected by the electorate consisting of teachers of educatioal institutions within the State not lower in standard than a secondary school who have teaching experience of at least three years;
v. The remaining, i.e. about one-sixth members are nominated by the Governor from amongst the persons having special knowledge in the sphere of literature, science, arts, co-operative movement and social service.

The State Legislature is empowered to make laws on State List and Concurrent List. The Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies have the right to make the laws on the subjects mentioned in the Concurrent List. But in case of contradiction between the Union and State law on the subject the law made by the Parliament shall prevail.

State legislature has exclusive powers over subjects enumerated in List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution and concurrent powers over those enumerated in List III. Financial powers of legislature include authorisation of all expenditure, taxation and borrowing by the state government. Legislative assembly alone has power to originate money bills. Legislative council can make only recommendations in respect of changes it considers necessary within a period of fourteen days of the receipt of money bills from Assembly. Assembly can accept or reject these recommendations.

State legislatures, apart from exercising the usual power of financial control, use all normal parliamentary devices like questions, discussions, debates, adjournments and no-confidence motions and resolutions to keep a watch over day-to-day work of the executive. They also have their committees on estimates and public accounts to ensure that grants sanctioned by legislature are properly utilised.

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