West Bengal Assembly gives nod to revive Vidhana Parishad after 52 years
#GS2 # Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning
Context: The West Bengal Assembly has passed a resolution to set up a Legislative Council with a two-thirds majority.
- The revival of the West Bengal Legislative Council was one of the promises featured prominently in the TMC’s poll manifesto before 2021 elections.
- Currently, six states — Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka — have a Legislative Council.
- In West Bengal Legislative Assembly, since the maximum number of MLAs is 294, the maximum number of West Bengal Vidhan Parishad seats is likely to be 98.
When was Bengal Vidhana Parishad dissolved?
- Bengal had a Vidhana Parishad from 1952 to 1969. The Bengal legislative council was dissolved with effect from 1 August, 1969, during the time of United Front government in the state
How is a Vidhana Parishad (legislative council) created?
- As per Article 169 of the Constitution, in order to create or dissolve a Legislative Council in a state, a resolution to that effect has to be passed by the Legislative Assembly of the state by a majority of the total membership of the Assembly and by a majority of not less than two thirds of the members of the Assembly present and voting.
- The passed resolution will now be moved to the Governor for his/her assent.
- Following that, the matter will have to be tabled before the Parliament for to include the particular state in Article 168 of the Constitution as a state with two houses.
- Once both Houses of the Parliament clear the resolution, it will go to the President of India for his assent.
- The changes, however, are not considered as constitutional amendment.
- Under Article 171 of the Constitution, the Legislative Council of a state shall not have more than one-third of the total strength of the State Assembly, and not less than 40 members.
- Like the Rajya Sabha, the legislative council is a continuing chamber, that is, it is a permanent body and is not subject to dissolution. The tenure of a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) is six years, with one-third of the members retiring every two years.
How are members of the Council elected?
- 1/3rd of members are elected by members of the Assembly.
- 1/3rd by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state.
- 1/12th by an electorate consisting of teachers.
- 1/12th by registered graduates.
- The remaining members are nominated by the Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, the cooperative movement, and social service.
Arguments in Favour of Council:
- A Legislative Council can help check hasty actions by the directly elected House.
- The Legislative Council also enables non-elected individuals to contribute to the legislative process.
- Legislative Council can delay legislation.
- It can also be used to park leaders who have not been able to win an election.
Other Legislative Bodies of India Political System:
Legislative Council V/s Rajya Sabha :
- Limited Power: 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.