LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
19/05/2021

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CONTEXT:

  • As per a decision taken up at the recent Cabinet meeting, the West Bengal government will set up a Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad).

Legislative Councils, and their importance:

  • India has a bicameral system i.e., two Houses of Parliament.
  • At the state level, the equivalent of the Lok Sabha is the Vidhan Sabha(Legislative Assembly); that of the Rajya Sabha is the Vidhan Parishad(Legislative Council).
  • According to theArticle 169, Parliament may by law create or abolish the second chamber in a state if the Legislative Assembly of that state passes a resolution to that effect by a special majority (a majority of the total membership of the assembly).
  • As per article 171 clause (1), the total number of members in the legislative council of a state shall not exceed one third of the total number of the members in the legislative Assembly of that state and the total number of members in the legislative council of a state shall in no case be less than 40.
  • 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.
  • The legislative power of the Councils is 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.
  • Legislative Council 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.
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