Every State has its Legislature. In some of the states, the Legislature is bicameral (two houses). In most of the states, it is unicameral (one house).

The unicameral legislature has the Legislative Assembly and the bicameral has the Legislative Assembly being its Lower House and the Legislative Council the Upper House. At present only Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have bicameral legislatures and the remaining states have unicameral legislatures.

Legislative Assembly

The Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) is the real legislature even in those states that have bicameral legislatures. According to the Constitution of India, a state Legislative Assembly shall not have more than 500 members and not less than 60 members. However, very small States like Goa, Sikkim and Mizoram have been allowed to have less than 60 members.

Seats are reserved for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly. If the Governor feels that the Anglo Indian Community is not adequately represented, he or she may nominate one person of that community in the State Legislative Assembly.

The Legislative Assembly is an elected body. Its members (M.L.A.) are elected by the people based on the principle of universal adult franchise.

Qualifications for MLA

  • be a citizen of India
  • have attained the age of 25 years
  • have name in the voters list
  • not hold any office of profit
  • not be a government servant

Tenure

The tenure of the Vidhan Sabha is of five years. However, the Governor may dissolve the Assembly earlier on the advice of the Chief Minister. Similarly, the Assembly may be suspended or dissolved when President’s Rule is imposed in a State. During a national Emergency, the Parliament may extend the term of Legislative Assemblies for a period not exceeding one year at a time.

Legislative Council

The upper chamber of the State Legislature (Legislative Council or Vidhan Parishad) does not have more than one-third of the total membership of the State Legislative Assembly but not less than 40. The Legislative Council in Jammu & Kashmir has 36 members as an exception. The members of the Legislative Council are partly elected indirectly and partly nominated.

  • One-third members are elected by the members of local bodies i.e. Municipalities, District Boards and others in the State
  • One-third members are elected by the members of the Legislative Assembly
  • One-twelfth members are elected by the electorate consisting of graduates of the state of not less than three years standing
  • One-twelfth are elected by the electorate consisting of teachers having teaching experience of at least three years in the educational institutions within the state, but these institutions must not be lower in standard than secondary schools
  • One-sixth members are nominated by the Governor of the State

The Vidhan Parishad is a permanent house, and hence it is not dissolved. Members are elected/nominated for a period of six years. One-third of its members retire after every two years. The retiring members are eligible for re-election.

The qualifications for becoming members of the Legislative Council are similar to those for the members of the Legislative Assembly. However, the minimum age in case of Legislative Assembly is 25 years whereas for the Council it is 30 years.

The State Legislature meets twice a year at least and the interval between two sessions cannot be more than six months.

The members of Vidhan Sabha and Vidhan Parishad elect their respective Presiding Officers, as well as Speaker and Deputy Speakers, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman. The business of the two houses is conducted by their respective Presiding Officers who also maintain discipline and order in the houses.