(Last Updated on : 21-12-2012)
The Vidhan Sabha or the Legislative Assembly is the first chamber or the Lower House of the State Legislature. The number of members of a State Legislative Assembly shall not be more than 500 and not less than 60. The members of the Legislative Assembly are elected directly on the basis of adult suffrage from territorial constituencies made for the purpose by the Election Commission. The Election Commission of India
supervises the entire procedure of election. There shall be proportionately equal representation according to population in respect of each constituency within a State. The Governor is authorised to nominate one member of the Anglo-Indian community in the State Assembly if he thinks that the said community has not been adequately represented in the Assembly.
Duration of the Assembly
The duration of the Vidhan Sabha is five years unless sooner dissolved. The Governor can dissolve it before its full term. During a National emergency, the Indian Parliament
can extend its term by another year by passing a law to that effect. The term of the Vidhan Sabha cannot be extended by more than six months since the termination of the Emergency.
Qualifications for Members of Vidhan Sabha
The members of the State Assembly or Vidhan Sabha must be Indian citizens. They must not be below 25 years of age for the Legislative Assembly and in case of the Legislative Council the person should not be less than 30 years of age. They must also be voters of the State concerned. They must not be engaged in any profitable work under the government. Of course, this does not apply to the ministers, though they draw their salaries from the government.
Any person who is a bankrupt, or who is an insane, or who has been declared unfit by any law of Parliament, is not eligible to be a candidate for the membership of the Legislative Assembly. No person can be a Member of Indian Parliament
and a State Assembly at the same time. No person can be member of more than one State Assembly at the same time. In this case, if he does not renounce one of the two posts within a stipulated period, all his posts will be cancelled. If a member of the Vidhan Sabha remains absent from all the meetings of the House for more than 60 days consecutively without permission, his seat may be declared vacant.
Sessions of Vidhan Sabha
There must be meeting of the Assembly or Vidhan Sabha at least twice every year. The intervening period between the first and the second sessions must not be more than six months. There will be a quorum if one-tenth of the total members of the Assembly attend the session. If the members present in the session are less than one-tenth of the total strength, the session will be postponed for want of quorum. Every member of the Assembly will take an oath after he or she is elected. Every proposal or motion will be accepted or passed by a majority vote of the members present.
Powers and Limitations of Vidhan Sabha
The State Legislative Assembly can make laws with regard to any matter included in the State List and the Concurrent List. But the law made by the State legislature on a matter included in the Concurrent List will be treated as cancelled if the Union law is contrary to it. In some cases, the President's sanction is necessary before the introduction of a bill in the State Legislature. Two very important examples of such bills are - bills that seek to control the intra-state or inter-state trade and any bill or motion that might harm the prestige of the High Court. If by a two-thirds majority in the Council of States it is decided that a State should hand over to the Union Parliament a subject included in the State List, then the State Assembly will not be able to make any law with regard to that subject for the stipulated period of time.
When Indian President
thinks that it is not possible to run the government in a particular State constitutionally, he may proclaim an emergency in that State under Article 356. In that case all powers of the Assembly of that State shall be vested in Parliament. The Parliament in time of such emergency can make laws with regard to any subject included in the State List. The Union Parliament can further lay its hand on the State List if such legislation is deemed necessary for implementing treaty obligation or in dealing with an international affair.
The High Court of the State and the Supreme Court of India
can by virtue of the power of judicial review question the legality of laws passed by the Legislative Assembly by way of dealing with cases. If these Courts think that a particular law passed by the Assembly flouts the letter of the Constitution or that it outrages the spirit of it, they can declare it illegal or unconstitutional.
It is an important function of the State Legislative Assembly to spell out the incomes and expenditures of the State. It is the function of the Assembly to sanction the annual Budget of the State and pass the Money Bills. Without the sanction of the Assembly no financial outlay is possible. No demands for grants can be laid before the Assembly without the Governor's recommendation. Only the ministers can introduce money bills - proposals for taxes, grants and expenditures arc initiated by a Minister, and no ordinary member can do it.