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ECI ON BIENNIAL ELECTION TO MAHARASHTRA LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

Focus: GS-II Governance, Polity, Prelims

Why in news?

  • The Election Commission, on May 1st, reviewed the matter concerning feasibility of conduct of biennial election for the 9 vacant seats of the MLC by MLAs in the state of Maharashtra.
  • ECI on 03 April 2020 had issued an order under Article 324 to defer the elections till further orders in view of COVID-19 circumstances.

What is the urgency in conducting elections?

  • Udhav Balasaheb Thackeray was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on 28th November, 2019 (who neither won a seat as a member of the State Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council) and as per constitutional provisions he has to become a member of either the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council within a period of six months i.e. on or before the 27th May, 2020.
  • State Government has reiterated that it will facilitate and ensure that the elections are conducted by following all directions in the Union Home Ministry’s order regarding lockdown orders.
  • After taking all these into consideration, Commission has decided to conduct the said biennial election in the State of Maharashtra.

According to Article 75 (5)

  • If the Prime Minister (Or any one of the Ministers of the Central Government) appointed (by the President) is neither a member of the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha (i.e., not a member of the Parliament), then with a period of six-months, that person should become the member of either of the two houses of Parliament.
  • If the Prime Minister (or any of the Ministers of the Central Government) who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Parliament, shall – at the expiration of that period – cease to be a Minister.

Similarly, According to Article 164 (4):

  • If the Chief Minister (Or any one of the Ministers of the State Government) appointed (by the Governor) is neither a member of the State Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council, then with a period of six-months, that person should become the member of either of the two houses of the State Legislature.
  • If the Chief Minister (or any of the Ministers of the State Government) who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the State, shall – at the expiration of that period – cease to be a Minister.

Election Commission of India (EC)

  • The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority
  • The Election Commissionis responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
  • The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
  • Part XV of the Indian constitution deals with elections, and establishes a commission for these matters.
  • The Election Commission was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950.
  • Article 324 to 329 of the constitution deals with powers, function, tenure, eligibility, etc., of the commission and the member.

State Legislative Council – Vidhan Parishad

  • India has a bicameral system i.e., two Houses of Parliament. At the state level, the equivalent of the Lok Sabha is the Vidhan Sabha or Legislative Assembly; that of the Rajya Sabha is the Vidhan Parishad or Legislative Council.
  • The State Legislative Council Vidhan Parishad is the upper house in those states of India that have a bicameral state legislature; the lower house being the State Legislative Assembly.
  • Under Article 169 of the constitution, Parliament may by law create or abolish the second chamber in a state if the Legislative Assembly of that state passes a resolution to that effect by a special majority.
  • Legislative Council in the state is contemporary to Rajya Sabha in the Centre.
  • Legislative Assembly in the state is contemporary to Lok Sabha in the Centre.
  • Similar to Rajya Sabha, the State Legislative Council is a Permanent House, with one third of a State Legislative Council’s membership expiring every two years.
  • As of November 2019 – 6 out of 28 states have a State Legislative Council.
  • The states with Legislative Councils are: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana (Latest).
  • Article 171 (1): The size of the State Legislative Council cannot be more than one third of the membership of the State Legislative Assembly.
  • The Legislative Council’s size cannot be less than 40 members. (However, before abolishment, the previous Jammu and Kashmir State Legislative Council, used to have only 36 members).

Members of Legislative Councils (MLC):

  • Term: 6 Years
  • Qualifications:
    • must be a citizen of India
    • at least 30 years old
    • mentally sound
    • not an insolvent
    • must be enrolled on the voters’ list of the state for which he or she is contesting an election.
  • An MLC may not be a Member of Parliament at the same time.

How are MLCs Chosen?

  • One third are elected by the members of Legislative Assembly of the State from among the persons who are not members of the State Legislative Assembly.
  • One third are elected by the members of local bodies such as municipalities, Gram panchayats, Panchayat samitis and district councils.
  • One twelfth are elected by persons who are graduates of three years’ standing residing in that state.
  • One twelfth are elected by persons engaged for at least three years in teaching in educational institutions within the state not lower than secondary schools, including colleges and universities.
  • The Remaining One sixth are nominated by the Governor from persons having knowledge or practical experience in fields such as literature, science, arts, the co-operative movement and social services.
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