The State Legislature: The Legislative Assembly (Lower House) & The Legislative Council (Upper House)

The State Legislature

The Constitution provides a legislature for every state. Most of the States have only unicameral legislature i.e., Legislative assembly. Some State has bicameral legislatures (example Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Jammu- Kashmir). The lower house, legislative assembly represents the people of the state the upper house; Legislative Council represents special interests like teachers, graduates and local governments.

The Legislative Assembly (Lower House)

The Legislative Assembly is a popular house. It is the real centre of power in the State. It consists of members directly elected by the people on the basis of adult franchise. The strength of the Assembly varies from State to State depending on the population. However the maximum strength
of the Assembly must not exceed 500 or its minimum strength not be below 60. The term of office of the legislative assembly is 5 years. It can be dissolved even before the expiry of its term.

The size of the Legislative Council cannot be more than one-third the membership of the Legislative Assembly (lower house) of that state. But its size cannot be less than 40, except in Jammu and Kashmir where there are 36 by an act of Parliament. The members draw the salary and allowances passed by the State legislature from time to time.


The Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu consists of 235 members out of which 234 members are directly elected by the people from the constituencies on the basis of adult franchise and one member is nominated by the Governor from the Anglo-Indian community. However, seats shall be reserved in the house for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

Cabinet and Cabinet Committees:

A smaller body called Cabinet is the nucleus of the council of minister. It consists of only the cabinet ministers. It is the real centre of authority in the state government.

The cabinet works through various committees called cabinet committees. They are of two types – standing and ad hoc. The former are of a permanent nature while the latter are of a temporary nature.

The Speaker:

The Legislative Assembly elects two of its members as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker. The Speaker vacates his office, if he cannot continue to be a member of the Assembly. He may also resign his office at any time. The speaker may be removed from office by a resolution of the Assembly after giving a 14 days’ notice. Such a resolution must be passed by a majority of the members present at the time of voting. The speaker does not vacate his office, when the Assembly is dissolved. He continues to be the Speaker until the first sitting of the new Assembly. While the office of the speaker is vacant, the Deputy Speaker performs his functions.

The Legislative Council (Upper House)

The legislative Council is the upper House of the State Legislature. It is constituted as a permanent House. Article 171(1) provides that the total number of members in the Legislative Council of a State shall not exceed one-third of the total number of members in the Legislative Assembly of that State, but not less than 40 members in any case.

The Vidhan Parishads (Legislative Council) forms a part of the state legislatures of India. In Seven of India’s 29 states (Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telugana and Jammu – Kashmir) the Legislative Council serves as the indirectly elected upper house of a bicameral legislature. It is also a permanent house because it cannot be dissolved. Every Member of Legislative Council (MLC) serves for a six-year term, with terms staggered so that the terms of one-third of members expire every two years. MLCs must be citizens of India not under 30 years of age, mentally sound and not bankrupt, and his name should be in the voter’s list of the state from which he or she is contesting the election.

Election to Legislative Council:

    • 1/3 of the members are elected by local bodies.
    • 1/12 of the members are elected by Graduates of the universities in the State.
    • 1 /12 of the members are elected by Graduate teachers.
    • 1/3 of the members are elected by the members of the Legislative Assembly.
    • 1/6 is nominated by the Governor who is eminent in the field of literary excellence, art, social services or Co-operation.

The Chairman:

The Chairman (chair person he / she) is the Presiding Officer of the Upper house. The Members elect a Chairman and a deputy chairman from among themselves. In the absence of the chairman, the deputy chairman officiate the functions of the Legislative Council.

Abolition or Creation of Legislative Councils:

Article 169 deals with the creation or abolition of Legislative Council in a State. Article 169 holds that if the state Legislative Assembly passes a resolution by a majority of not less than 2/3rd of the members present and voting and by the majority of total strength of the House, requesting the Parliament to create or abolish the state Legislative council then the Parliament may by law provide for the abolition and creation of the Legislative Council.

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