[Answered]Discuss the role played by State Legislative Councils. How are they different from the Rajya Sabha? Also examine their usefulness for Indian states.

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual introduction.

Body. Role played by State Legislative Councils in states. Difference between the state legislative councils and Rajya Sabha. Usefulness of councils and issue related.

Conclusion. Way forward.

India has a bicameral system of legislatures both at the centre and in some states. 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 provides for creation and abolition of legislative councils in states.

Role played by State Legislative Councils in states:

  1. Better legislation: State legislative councils play an important role in formulating better and detailed discussed legislation.
  2. State legislative councils allow leaders, professors, and other people from diverse backgrounds to participate in legislative process.
  3. They help to balance the balance the radicalism of the lower House. Upper House consisting of graduates, teachers, outstanding persons in the fields of art, literature, science and social service play an important role.
  4. Having a second chamber allow for more debate and sharing of work between the Houses.
  5. The position accorded to the council is in accordance with the principles of democracy. The council should yield to the assembly, which is a popular house.

Difference between the state legislative councils and Rajya Sabha:

State legislative councils Rajya Sabha
The position of the council as compared to legislative assembly is much weaker than the position of the Rajya Sabha as compared to the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha has equal powers with the Lok Sabha in all spheres except financial matters and with regard to the control over the Government.
The councils consist of people from diverse backgrounds like graduates, teachers, outstanding persons in the fields of art, literature, science and social service and thus does not reflect the federal element of the polity. The Rajya Sabha consists of the representatives of the states and thus reflect the federal element of the polity.
The council is heterogeneously constituted. It represents different interests and consists of differently elected members and also include some nominated members. The Rajya Sabha is homogeneously constituted. It represents only the states and consists of mainly elected members (only 12 out of 250 are
nominated).
Further councils are not permanent and its constitution depends upon the states. Many states don’t have legislative councils. Rajya Sabha is a permanent and a continuous chamber where representatives are elected for the house.

Their usefulness for Indian states:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Some issues related to the state legislative councils:

  1. Majoritarian tendencies: If a majority of the members in the upper house belong to the same party which holds a 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Backdoor Entrance of the Defeated Members: Legislative Council can be utilised to accommodate discredited party-men who may not be returned to the Assemblies.
  5. Expensive Institution: It is expensive and a big drain on the State’s exchequer.

A second House of legislature is considered important for two reasons. One, to act as a check on hasty actions by the popularly elected House and, two, to ensure that individuals who might not be cut out for the rough-and-tumble of direct elections too are able to contribute to the legislative process. Legislative councils are responsible bodies that can play an important part in policies and programmes for the development of states.

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