Composition of Assembly
Strength The legislative assembly consists of representatives directly elected by the people on the basis of universal adult franchise. Its maximum strength is fixed at 500 and minimum strength at 60. It means that its strength varies from 60 to 500 depending on the population size of the state3. However, in case of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Goa, the minimum number is fixed at 30 and in case of Mizoram and Nagaland, it is 40 and 46 respectively. Further, some members of the legislative assemblies in Sikkim and Nagaland are also elected indirectly.
Nominated Member The governor can nominate one member from the Anglo-Indian community, if the community is not adequately represented in the assembly.4 Originally, this provision was to operate for ten years (ie, upto 1960). But this duration has been extended continuously since then by 10 years each time. Now, under the 95th Amendment Act of 2009, this is to last until 2020.
Territorial Constituencies For the purpose of holding direct elections to the assembly, each state is divided into territorial constituencies. The demarcation of these constituencies is done in such a manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it is the same throughout the state. In other words, the Constitution ensures that there is uniformity of representation between different constituencies in the state. The expression ‘population’ means, the population as ascertained at the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published.
Readjustment after each census After each census, a readjustment is to be made in the (a) total number of seats in the assembly of each state and
(b) the division of each state into territorial constituencies. The Parliament is empowered to determine the authority and the manner in which it is to be made. Accordingly, Parliament has enacted the Delimitation Commission Acts in 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002 for this purpose.
The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 had frozen total number of seats in the assembly of each state and the division of such state into territorial constituencies till the year 2000 at the 1971 level. This ban on readjustment has been extended for another years (i.e., upto year 2026) by the 84th Amendment Act of 2001 with the same objective of encouraging population limiting measures.
The 84th Amendment Act of 2001 also empowered the government to undertake readjustment and rationalisation of territorial constituencies in a state on the basis of the population figures of 1991 census. Later, the 87thAmendment Act of 2003 provided for the delimitation of constituencies on the basis of 2001 census and not 1991 census. However, this can be done without altering the total number of seats in the assembly of each state.
Reservation of seats for SCs and STs The Constitution provided for the reservation of seats for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the assembly of each state on the basis of population ratios.
Originally, this reservation was to operate for ten years (i.e., up to 1960). But this duration has been extended continuously since then by 10 years each time. Now, under the 95th Amendment Act of 2009, this reservation is to last until 2020.
Composition of Council
Strength Unlike the members of the legislative assembly, the members of the legislative council are indirectly elected. The maximum strength of the council is fixed at one-third of the total strength of the assembly and the minimum strength is fixed at 406. It means that the size of the council depends on the size of the assembly of the concerned state. This is done to ensure the predominance of the directly elected House (assembly) in the legislative affairs of the state. Though the Constitution has fixed the maximum and the minimum limits, the actual strength of a Council is fixed by Parliament.
Manner of Election Of the total number of members of a legislative council:
1. 1/3 are elected by the members of local bodies in the state like municipalities, district boards, etc.,
2. 1/12 are elected by graduates of three years standing and residing within the state,
3. 1/12 are elected by teachers of three years standing in the state, not lower in standard than secondary school,
4. 1/3 are elected by the members of the legislative assembly of the state from amongst persons who are not members of the assembly, and
5. the remainder are nominated by the governor from amongst persons who have a special knowledge or practical experience of literature, science, art, cooperative movement and social service.
Thus, 5/6 of the total number of members of a legislative council are indirectly elected and 1/6 are nominated by the governor. The members are elected in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote. The bonafides or propriety of the governor’s nomination in any case cannot be challenged in the courts.
This scheme of composition of a legislative council as laid down in the Constitution is tentative and not final. The Parliament is authorised to modify or replace the same. However, it has not enacted any such law so far.