LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL: A BURDEN ON THE STATE
Author: Kshitij Gautam, IV year of B.B.A.,LL.B. from Indore Institute of Law
In India presently there are six states which are having both houses mainly Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Telangana. As during the time of Independence nation’s economic power was not enough to support both the houses, so, the provision was made at that time that there is no compulsion to have both the houses in a state which means the state can opt according to their needs, financial capabilities that they want bicameral or unicameral legislature. Not many states adopted in the history, bicameral legislation and right now also as we see only 6 states are enjoying bicameral legislation.
During the time of constituent assembly, BR Ambedkar was not in the view of making legislative council as he thought it didn't make any sense. And after so many years we can uprightly say that he was right on this matter also. It can be easily found that the legislative council is an obstacle in the decision making for state development so the long story short legislative council is like that type of insurance premium where you get nothing in return but invest huge money. Before moving forward let it be very clear that like union executive, state executive has worked more or less in the same way the difference is that in union executive there is a second chamber or upper house i.e. Rajya Sabha but in the case of state there is no such provision. In some states there are two houses legislative assembly and legislative council, legislative assembly is like Lok Sabha but the catch 22 is that the legislative council is not a second chamber or upper house, it is inferior from its very core from the legislative assembly. It would not be fair to say that legislative council is good for nothing as sometimes it gives a leader like Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Mulayam Singh Yadav but when in any matter money is involved then like a typical India it should also be seen that how many times or how frequent legislative council helps the legislative assembly in passing the bill. It is very necessary to understand the whole composition of the legislative council and how any bill proposed on the floor.
Composition of the legislative council
Since there is no specific number of seats appointed to the legislative council but the constitution talks about the range of seats i.e. 40 to 1/3 of the legislative assembly’s seat of that state. And the most important provision of the legislative council is who can appoint as a member of the legislative council (MLC). According to Article 171, one-third of a member of the legislative council elected by the member of the legislative assembly, a one-third member appointed from municipalities and district board, one-twelfth member are having mandatory graduation of 3 years standing, one-twelfth member are the teacher who is working not less than 3 years to at least the 10th class or above. And the remaining members are appointed by the governor based on his/her work in art, literature, social services, etc.
The tenure of the legislative council is about 6 years and one-third of a member of the council retires after every 2 years though they can reelect n number of times without any difficulty. So, there are many similarities between the legislative council and the Rajya Sabha in terms but what makes it different from Rajya Sabha is its power. In the context of the power of the legislative council, it is like a soldier without any armour.
So, all the bills can be introduced in the legislative council except the money bill. If any bill introduced in the council and passed by its member then it goes to the assembly, then the assembly has two choices either to pass it or reject it. In the case of passing the bill then after the governor assent bill became the law of the land but what if the assembly rejects the bill then there is no moving back and a bill will be dead.
In the case where the bill is introduced in the legislative assembly and passed by the majority then in that scenario council has four choices either to pass it and make it law or the council can reject, amend or does not act. If they reject the bill then it goes back to the legislative assembly and if the legislative assembly again passes the bill then it becomes an act by default. If the council amended the bill then it again went back to the assembly and now, they have a choice to amend it or not, if they again pass the bill without amending the bill then also it becomes the law of the land. And what if the council sits on the bill and doesn’t react to it then they have 3 months, after the expiration of 3 months the bill goes back to the assembly then assembly passes the bill and this time also council doesn’t react on it then after the expiration of one-month bill will become the law of the land.
So, it is very clear that what the legislative council maximum does is delay the bill up to 4 months only after that if the assembly passes the bill there are no chances of going back as there is no provision of the joint-sitting in the case of the deadlock.
An argument in Favor and Against
So, from it making it is very clear that the founding fathers and mothers of the constitution want state legislature bicameral but they also understand that at that time Indian state had no financial support so, Under article169, they make no compulsion regarding the making of legislative council and state has power to either to make or not. There is only 6 state who having both the houses and one of them i.e. Andhra Pradesh wants to dissolve it and their argument is its waste of money and hindrance in decision making. In the constituent assembly those who want the legislative council argue that by making council or secondary chamber we will ensure participation from the citizens of the state those who are at least graduate or teachers. This will enshrine our democracy but what they forget to give the council is power and without it, it is just a waste of money and time. But unfortunately, what is happening is very different from that, where political parties are using this opportunity to make their member MLC who didn’t win the direct election, so it is used to settle those members who fought and lost the election.
Why Legislative council should be Abolished
Seeing the condition of India, today there is no brain required to answer this question as the health emergency has still prevailed and the state doesn’t get their GST compensation from the centre so States are in the dire need of funds and as the Assembly of Assam once submitted its report that approximately 20 Crores are required to conduct one session of legislative council so it is now the time that State like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra etc. which are hits by coronavirus can abolish their council to save funds and use that funds in saving lives through making hospitals and making our healthcare institution world-class.