- Recently, the West Bengal government has decided to set up a Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad).
- For setting up the Council, a Bill has to be introduced in the Assembly and then a nod from the Governor is required. The Legislative Council in the State was abolished in 1969.
- India has a bicameral system of legislature.
- Just as Parliament has two Houses, the states can also have a Legislative Council in addition to the Legislative Assembly through Article 169 of the Constitution.
- Six States having a Legislative Council: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka.
- In 2020, Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed the resolution for abolition of the Legislative Council. This resolution is yet to be cleared by the Parliament of India to finally abolish the council.
- In 2019, the Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Council was abolished through the J&K Reorganisation Bill, 2019, which reduced the State of J&K to the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
Article 169 (Creation and Abolition):
- The Parliament can abolish a Legislative Council (where it already exists) or create it (where it does not exist) by a simple majority, that is, a majority of the members of each House present and voting, if the legislative assembly of the concerned state, by a special majority, passes a resolution to that effect.
- A majority of the total membership of the assembly and
- A majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the assembly present and voting.
- Under Article 171 of the Constitution, the Legislative Council of a state shall not have more than one-third of the total strength of the State Assembly, and not less than 40 members.
- Like the Rajya Sabha, the legislative council is a continuing chamber, that is, it is a permanent body and is not subject to dissolution. The tenure of a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) is six years, with one-third of the members retiring every two years.
- One-third of the MLCs are elected by the state’s MLAs,
- Another 1/3rd 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 namely, literature, science, art, cooperative movement and social service.
- The legislative power of the Councils are 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 while a member from the Council itself is chosen as the Council Chairperson.
Role of Legislative Council:
- It can ensure individuals who might not be cut out for the elections are able to contribute to the legislative process (like artists, scientists, etc).
- It can keep an eye on hasty decisions taken by the Legislative Assembly.
- It can delay legislation, also it is considered a burden on the state budget.
- It can also be used to park leaders who have not been able to win an election.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT