- GS 2: Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
- Recently, West Bengal government has passed a resolution to create legislative council in the state.
- India follows bicameralism—two Houses in the Parliament, which has two houses, lower house or Lok Sabha, and upper House or Rajya Sabha.
- Similarly, at state-level, we have lower house or legislative assembly and upper house or legislative council.
- Legislative council is a permanent body like Rajya Sabha and is not subject to dissolution but, has many inherent differences from the Rajya Sabha.
- Article 171 of Indian constitution provides that 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.
States having Legislative Council
- As of now, six states have legislative councils namely, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh.
- Earlier, Jammu and Kashmir too had legislative council, but it got dissolved once the state was bifurcated into two UTs—Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Creation of Legislative Council
- Article 168 of Indian constitution provides for option for a state to establish a legislative council.
- Article 169 of the constitution provides that to create a legislative council, state legislative assembly need to pass a resolution to this effect by a majority of total membership of the Assembly and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the Assembly present and voting.
- Parliament then passes a resolution with simple majority and creates a legislative council.
- The final decision of abolishing or creation of legislative council rests with the Parliament.
Legislative Council and Rajya Sabha
- Unlike Legislative Council, Rajya Sabha has power to reject a non-financial bill and a constitutional amendment bill.
- Rajya Saba members can vote in the election of the President and the vice-president, while the members of legislative council cannot.
- Rajya Sabha has exclusive powers related with All-India Services and making laws on the subject of state list, while there is no such power vested with legislative council.
- It checks hasty decision of the legislative assembly.
- It enables a non-elected but deserving individual to contribute to policy making.
- It provides a platform for the academicians and intellectuals, who are unaware of the political know-hows, to contribute to the development of state.
- It is like a House of elders at state level and thus provides a wise counselling to the legislative assembly.
- It provides opportunity for people from various communities to play an active role in policy making and thus work for the upliftment of their community.
- In the name of giving deserving ones an opportunity, the council has become a back door entry of the politicians, who lose in election.
- It causes an unnecessary delay to pass a bill as the ultimate authority lies with the state assembly.
- It is an unnecessary burden on state exchequer and the money can be used in other developmental work.
- Graduates, doctors, academicians are not rare today and neither is their presence in active politics.
- There is a need for national policy on legislative council, which should ultimately decide whether state needs such body or not.
- There should be a report, which provides data regarding the positive impacts of legislative council in ensuring good governance.
- Legislative council should be given power equivalent to Rajya Sabha and should be made second house and not a secondary house.