state legislatures

Re-starting the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council

Anirudh and Chakshu Friday's issue of Indian Express carried an op-ed article by the Director of PRS on the issue of the re-establishment of the Legislative Council (upper house) in Tamil Nadu. The article (a) traces the history of the legislature in Tamil Nadu, (b) the efficacy of having upper houses in state legislatures, (c) arguments for and against having legislative councils in state legislatures, and looks at the larger issue of how efficiently state legislatures perform their expected role. General information on Legislative Councils in India: The Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad) of a state comprises not more than one-third of total number of members in legislative assembly of the state and in no case less than 40 members (Legislative Council of Jammu and Kashmir has 36 members vide Section 50 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir). Elections: (a) About 1/3rd of members of the council are elected by members of legislative assembly from amongst persons who are not its members, (b) 1/3rd by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state, (c) 1/12th  by electorate consisting of persons who have been, for at least three years, engaged in teaching in educational institutions within the state not lower in standard than secondary school, and (d) one-twelfth by registered graduates of more than three years standing. Remaining members are nominated by Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, cooperative movement and social service. Legislative councils are not subject to dissolution but one-third of their members retire every second year. The points below provide more information on the Tamil nadu legislative Council: - The Government of India Act, 1935 established a bicameral legislature in the province of Madras. - May 14, 1986 [eigth assembly] the government moved a resolution for the dissolution of the Legislative Council.  The resolution was passed. - The Tamil Nadu Legislative Council(Abolition) Bill, 1986 was passed by both the Houses of Parliament and received the assent of the president on the 30th August 1986.  The Act came into force on the 1st November 1986.  The Tamil Nadu Legislative Council was abolished with effect from the 1st November 1986. - February 20, 1989, [ninth Assembly] a Government Resolution seeking the revival of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council was moved and adopted by the house - The Legislative Council Bill, 1990 seeking the creation of Legislative Councils of the Tamil Nadu  and Andhra Pradesh was introduced in Rajya Sabha on the 10th May 1990 and was considered and passed by the Rajya Sabha on the 28th May 1990.   But the Bill could not be passed by the Lok Sabha. - October 4, 1991, [tenth Assembly] a Government Resolution was adopted in the Assembly to rescind the Resolution passed on the 20th February 1989 for the revival of the Legislative Council in the State of Tamil Nadu. - July 26, 1996, [eleventh Assembly], a Government Resolution seeking the revival of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council was moved and adopted by the house.

One-third of 545 is…er… 192.

Well, that is the number of seats to be reserved for women in Lok Sabha in the first round if the women’s reservation bill is passed.  The rules for determining number of seats to be reserved are as follows.

  1. The Bill does not reserve one-third of seats on an All-India basis.  It reserves “as nearly as possible, one-third” of seats in each state.
  2. Also, it reserves “as nearly as possible, one-third” of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes in any state for women, and similarly for ST women.  If any state/UT has only 1 seat in any of these categories, that seat will be reserved in the first election, and be open to men in the subsequent two elections.  If a state has 2 seats in any category, one of these will be reserved for women in the first election, the other in the second, and neither in the third election.  One of the two seats nominated for Anglo-Indians will be reserved after the first and second elections.
  3. The reservation for general category seats will be done after following Rules 1 and 2 above.  However, if a state has one or two general category seats, they follow rules similar to that for SC and ST seats (cycling through three elections).

Example 1:  Puducherry has one general seat.  This will be reserved for women in the first election and open in second and third elections. Example 2:  Manipur has two seats, of which one is reserved for STs.  Thus, both seats will be reserved in the first election and open in the second and third elections. Example 3:  Delhi has seven seats:  six general and one SC.  In the each election 2 seats (seven divided by three, rounded to nearest integer) will be reserved.  In the first election, one general and one SC seat will be reserved, and in the next two elections, two general seats will be reserved. We compute that this results in 192, 179 and 175 seats (out of 545) being reserved for women in the first three elections. A similar computation shows that 1367, 1365 and 1364 (out of 4090 seats of the legislative assemblies of 28 states and Delhi) will be reserved for women in the first three elections. Excel file with detailed computation is available here.

Ratifying Reservation

There have been articles in the media on the future passage of the Women's Reservation Bill stating that the Bill will have to be ratified by state legislatures before it is signed into law by the President.  Our analysis indicates that ratification by state legislatures is not required.  We state the reasons below: This Bill amends the Constitution.  It (a) amends Article 239AA,  Article 331, and Article 333, and  (b) inserts Article 330A, Article 332A, and Article 334A.  In doing so the Bill:

  • Seeks to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies;
  • One third of the total number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be reserved for women of those groups in the Lok Sabha and the legislative assemblies;
  • Reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies.

Article 368 regulates the procedure for amending the Constitution.  It states that the ratification of the state legislatures to a constitutional amendment is required in the following cases: a. If there is a change in the provisions regarding elections to the post of the President of India. b. If there is a change in the extent of the executive power of the centre or the state governments. c. If there is any change in the provisions regarding the Union judiciary or the High Courts. d. If the distribution of legislative powers between the centre and the states is affected. e. If any of the Lists in the Seventh Schedule is affected. f. If the representation of the states in the Rajya Sabha is changed. g. Lastly, if Article 368 itself is amended. None of these provisions are attracted in the case of the Women's Reservation Bill.  The Parliament recently extended the reservation of seats for SCs, STs and Anglo-Indians in Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies by another ten years.  Article 334 was amended to state that such reservation "will cease to have effect on the expiration of a period of seventy years from the commencement of the Constitution."  The 109th Amendment Bill was passed by both Houses of Parliament and did not require the ratification of the states before being signed into law by the President.  It follows that if Bills amending provisions for reserving seats for SCs and STs don't need ratification by state legislatures, a bill reserving seats for women does not need ratification either. Thus Article 368 very clearly lays down situations in which state legislatures have to ratify a piece of legislation before it can receive the assent of the President.