What is State Legislative Assembly and its Composition

STATE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

Each state of the Indian Union has a legislature. However, only six States – Andhra Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh have a bicameral legislature with the State Legislative Council as the Upper House and the State Legislative Assembly as the Lower House. In all other 22 states, the legislature is unicameral and each has only one House which is the State Legislative Assembly.

The Constitution of India provides for a legislature in each state and entrusts it with the responsibility to make laws for that state. However, it can be different from state to state as the legislature can either be unicameral or bicameral.

The State Legislative Assembly is popularly known as the Vidhan Sabha which is a directly elected popular and powerful house of the state legislature. It is at work in each 22 states of India with a single chamber or House which constitutes the State Legislature. Only in 6 states, the State Legislative Assemblies work along with the State Legislative Councils.

Composition of The State Legislative Assembly

The Legislative Assembly represents the people of the state. Each state has a legislative Assembly that consists of not less than 60 and not more than 500 members who are directly elected by the people of the state. The membership of this Legislative Assembly House is in proportion to the population of the state. So its membership differs from state to state.

For example, the Orissa State Legislative Assembly has 147 members, Andhra Pradesh has 175 members, and Meghalaya and Nagaland have 60 members each. The members of the State Legislative Assemblies are popularly called MLAs. The Governor of the State has the power to nominate a member of the Anglo-Indian community in case he finds that it has an inadequate representation in the House.

Qualifications

It has been laid down that every member of the State Legislative Assembly –

  1. He must be a citizen of India.
  2. He must be not less than 25 years of age.
  3. He must fulfill all the qualifications as laid down by a law of the Parliament.
  4. He must not be a member of either the Houses of Parliament or of the State Legislature at the same time.

Tenure

The member of the State Legislative Assemblies is normally elected for 5 years. However, it can be dissolved by the Governor of the State at any time. When a Constitutional Emergency is proclaimed under Article 356 in the state, the Legislative Assembly either gets suspended or dissolved as per the order of the President or Governor.

Quorum

The quorum for the meetings of the State Legislative Assembly stands fixed at 1/3rd of its total membership. However, the House can change its quorum.

Presiding Officer

Every newly elected State Legislative Assembly in its very first session elects its own Speaker and Deputy Speaker. These two are elected by all the MLAs from among themselves. The Speaker presides over the meeting of the House and conducts its proceedings. He acts as a political neutral of the House. In his absence, the Deputy Speaker performs his functions. The State Legislative Assembly carries out all the work under the chairmanship of the Speaker and he conducts and controls the proceedings of the House.

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POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLIES OF STATE

The powers and functions of the State Legislative Assemblies can be discussed in the following ways:

  1. Legislative powers: The Legislature has the power to make laws on the subjects of the State List and Concurrent List. In this connection, the real law-making powers are in the hands of the Legislative Assembly of a State. Ordinary bills (Non-Money Bills) can be introduced in either of the two Houses and these become only then passed by both the Houses and signed by the Governor of the State. However, in practice, almost 95% of such bills are first introduced in the Legislative Assembly and these go to the Legislative Council after these get passed by the State Assembly. The Legislative Council can only delay the passing of an ordinary bill for a maximum period of 4 months. In a state with a unicameral legislature, the State Legislative Assembly alone carries out all the law-making work.
  2. Financial Powers: The State Legislative Assembly controls the finances of the state. Every money bill is essentially introduced only in this house. After having been passed by it, it goes to the Legislative Council which has to act within 14 days or can delay only for 14 days. After the given period, it is considered to have been finally passed irrespective of the fact whether it has been passed or rejected by the Legislative Council. No money can be raised, no tax can be levied, and no expenditure can be incurred without the sanction of the State Legislative Assembly.
  3. Control over the Executive: The State Legislative Assembly controls over the State Council of Ministers. The Chief is the leader of the majority party in the State Legislative Assembly. He and most of the ministers are taken from the members of the Legislative Assembly. They are collectively responsible before the State Legislative Assembly. The State Council of Ministers can remain in office so long as it enjoys the confidence of the majority in the house.

The Legislative Assembly controls the State Council of Ministers through several means like passing of call-attention motions, adjournment motions, censure motions, no-confidence motions, putting of questions to ministers, and some other means. The State Council of Ministers is collectively responsible for all its policies and decisions before the State Legislature.

The State Legislative Assembly can cause the fall of the State Council of Ministers either by passing a vote of no-confidence motion against the ministers or the Chief Minister. It can also do so by rejecting any policy decision budget or the law of the government. The State Council of Ministers continuously works under the control of the State Legislative Assembly.

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  1. Amendment Powers: The State Legislative Assembly enjoys some powers with regard to the amendment of the Indian Constitution. Some parts of the Constitution can be amended by the Union Parliament only when half of the State Legislatures approve the amendment. If the Parliament is to amend the Constitution for the purpose of altering the boundary of a state, the opinion of the concerned State Legislative Assembly is also required before moving such a bill in the Parliament.
  2. Electoral powers: The State Legislative Assembly elects its own Speaker and Deputy Speaker. It can also confiscate both of them through a vote of no-confidence. Members of the State Assembly take part in the election of the President of India also. One-third of the members of the Legislative Council of the State are also elected by the State Legislative Assembly.

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