Discuss the advantages and limitations of establishing legislative councils in states. Suggest measures to make the Councils more effective. (15 marks)
- Introduce with the legislative councils
- List the advantages of councils like giving opportunities to intellectuals in legislating etc.
- List the disadvantages like delaying legislation, costs to the exchequer etc.
- Suggest measures to make councils more effective like representation for panchayat bodies etc.
- Conclude appropriately
The Legislative Council (or Vidhan Parishad) is the Upper House or the second chamber of the State Legislature. Article 168 of Constitution provides for Constitution of State Legislature. The procedure for creation and abolition of Legislative Council is enumerated under Article 169 of the Constitution. However, their existence is not mandatory. Indian Constitution does not force a bicameral legislature on states. It gives states the option of having a second House.
Advantages and Limitations of Councils in States:
- Forum for academicians and intellectuals: An Upper House provides a forum for academicians and intellectuals, who are arguably not suited for the rough and tumble of electoral politics.
- Informed debates on legislation: At least on paper, it provides a mechanism for a more sober and considered appraisal of legislation that a State may pass.
- Accomodating unelected politicians: Rather than fulfilling the lofty objective of getting intellectuals into the legislature, the forum is likely to be used to accommodate party functionaries who fail to get elected.
- Costs: It is also an unnecessary drain on the exchequer.
- Delays legislation: They can be used to delay progressive legislation.
- Graduate constituency does not make sense anymore: Another issue is that graduates are no longer a rare breed; also, with dipping educational standards, a graduate degree is no guarantee of any real intellectual heft. Also, lower houses today anyway have talent from all fields, including doctors, teachers and other professionals.
Overall, there is at present no consensus on the significance of the legislative councils as can be seen from the fact that only a few states have such Councils while some states create and abolish them arbitrarily. However, where they exist, their functioning can be made more effective.
Measures to make the Councils more effective:
- Need for a National Policy on Councils: The parliamentary committee that went into State Bills for creation of Councils recommended a national policy on having an Upper House in State legislatures to be framed by the Union government, so that a subsequent government doesn’t abolish it.
- Representation for Panchayat bodies: Representations of local bodies should not remain limited to urban local bodies only, but must also be extended to rural local bodies. In fact, representation from local self Government institutions must be made much much higher.
- Review of graduate and teacher seats: There is also a need to review the provision in the law for Councils to have seats for graduates and teachers.
The latest proposal by Odisha assembly to create a Council in the State should be used as an opportunity to evolve a national consensus on Legislative Councils.
Subjects : Current Affairs