Madhya Pradesh to have Legislative Council

The government of Madhya Pradesh has indicated that it is planning to revive the efforts for the creation of the Legislative Council in the state.

Long Pending Proposal

The government of Madhya Pradesh had passed a resolution passed in the state assembly for the constitution of the legislative council by more than two-thirds majority in 1967. The proposed strength of the legislative council was 76.

The resolution passed by the legislative assembly was sent to the Centre for approval. But the resolution is still pending with centre. The centre needs to get the approval of the parliament to get the decks cleared for the constitution of the legislative council.

Legislative Council: Explained

India has a bicameral system of legislature. Just as Parliament has two Houses, States can have Legislative Council (LC) in addition to the Legislative Assembly if they choose to. This option is available under Article 171 of the Constitution.

Constitutional provisions

Under Article 169, the legislative council can be formed if state legislative assembly passes a resolution to that effect by a majority of the total membership of assembly and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of members of assembly present and voting (i.e. by Special Majority). Parliament can then pass a law to this effect.

Currently, seven states have Legislative Councils viz. Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana. Apart from these, Tamil Nadu Government had passed a law to set up Council but it was withdrawn in 2010. Andhra Pradesh’s Legislative Council, set up in 1958, was abolished in 1985 but was again reconstituted in 2007. Proposals to create Councils in Rajasthan and Assam are pending in Parliament. Further with the passing of Jammu and Kashmir reorganization bill the fate of the legislative council is uncertain.

Members of Legislative Council

Under Article 171 of Constitution, the strength of the Legislative Council cannot be more than one-third of the total number of MLAs of the state assembly but it must not be not less than 40 members. Jammu & Kashmir was an exception,Section 50 of state’s Constitution provides for an  Assembly of 87 members and Legislative Council of 36.

The tenure of Member of Legislative Council (MLC) is six years (similar to Rajya Sabha MPs), with one-third of members retiring every two years.

In the council, 1/12th of the total members are selected by an electorate consisting of teachers, and another 1/12th by registered graduates. Around 1/3rd are elected by members of the Assembly and other 1/3rd by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards, and various other local authorities. The remaining members are nominated by the Governor from the fields of literature, science, art, the cooperative movement, or social service. (in case of Rajya Sabha, President can nominate 12 members from the field of literature, science, art and social service).

Legislative Council vis a vis Rajya Sabha

The legislative powers of Legislative Councils are limited when compared to Rajya Sabha and State Assembly. Rajya Sabha has substantial powers to shape non-financial legislation, but Legislative Councils lacks such constitutional mandate to do so.

State Assemblies can override suggestions and amendments made to legislation by Legislative Council. Again, unlike Rajya Sabha MPs, MLCs cannot vote in elections for President and Vice President. Vice President is ex officio Chairperson of Rajya Sabha, whereas an MLC elected by Council members from amomg themselves acts as its Chairperson.

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