|Demand of the question |
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Need and importance of state legislative councils. Criticism of legislative councils.
Conclusion. Way forward.
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 or Legislative Assembly and that of the Rajya Sabha is the Vidhan Parishad or Legislative Council. Article 169 provide for creation and abolition of legislative councils in states.
Why do we need legislative councils in states?
- To allow leaders, professors, and other people who shy from elections to participate in legislative process.
- To formulate better and detailed discussed legislation.
- Upper House consisting of graduates, teachers, outstanding persons in the fields of art, literature, science and social service, check-mate the radicalism of the lower House.
- Having a second chamber would allow for more debate and sharing of work between the Houses.
Importance of state legislative councils:
- Check against Hasty Legislation: A second House of legislature is considered important to act as a check on hasty actions by the popularly elected House. If there are two chambers, the measures passed by one would be scrutinised by the other minutely. Hence the laws enacted finally would be carefully analysed and thoroughly discussed.
- Prevent autocracy: It is argued that second house put a check on autocratic tendencies of the lower chambers. To vest the legislative powers with a popularly elected House alone may prove harmful to the people of the state as legislation may be arbitrary.
- Accommodation of Talent: Elderly, experienced and sober individuals, cannot-bear the ordeal of electioneering neither campaign nor are they keen to indulge in vicious party politics. The legislative councils accommodate such personalities not only through the nominated quota but also through the quota reserved for teachers and the graduates.
- Reduce workload of legislative assembly: Since the legislative assemblies are generally flooded with work, due to the rapid growth in the functions of a modern welfare state, a unicameral legislature cannot cope with the work and devote fully to the bills brought before it for enactment. Legislative council lessens the burden of the lower House and enables assembly to fully concentrate on measures of greater importance.
Criticism of state legislative councils:
- Superfluous and Mischievous: If a majority of the members in the upper house belong to the same party which holds majority in the lower house, the upper house will become a mere ditto chamber. On the other hand, if two different parties are in majority, the upper house will delay the bills for months unnecessarily. Thus its role may become nasty and obstructive.
- Not an Effective Check: Powers of the Legislative Councils are limited and hardly impose any effective check on the Assemblies. Whether a Bill is approved by the Council or not, assembly can still go ahead after four months.
- Vested Interests: Legislative Council serves only as stronghold of vested interests of people, who are not interested in legislation. Instead they may block such legislation initiated by popularly elected Legislative Assembly.
- Backdoor Entrance of the Defeated Members: Legislative Council can be utilised to accommodate discredited party-men who may not be returned to the Assemblies.
- Expensive Institution: It is expensive and a big drain on the State’s exchequer.
Second chambers in our States have proved to be ornamental which is a burden on public money. The members of the Legislative Council also owe allegiance to one party or the other and eventually act according to the dictates of a party to which they belong. The provision of the law for Councils to have seats for graduates and teachers should be reviewed. Legislative councils should be a responsible body that can also form their part in policies and programmes for the development of states.