The primary function of the State Legislature, like the Union Parliament, is law-making. The State Legislature is empowered to make laws on State List and Concurrent List.
The Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies have the right to make the laws on the subjects mentioned in the Concurrent List. But in case of contradiction between the Union and State law on the subject the law made by the Parliament shall prevail.
Ordinary bills can be introduced in either of the Houses (if the State Legislature is bicameral), but Money bill is first introduced in the Vidhan Sabha.
After the bill is passed by both Houses, it is sent to the Governor for his assent. The Governor can send back the bill for reconsideration. When this bill is passed again by the Legislature, the Governor has to give his assent. You have read when the Parliament is not in session and if there is a necessity of certain law, the President issues Ordinance.
Similarly, the Governor can issue an Ordinance on the State subjects when legislature is not in session. The Ordinances have the force of law. The Ordinances issued are laid before the State Legislature when it reassembles. It ceases to be in operation after the expirty of six weeks, unless rejected by the Legislature earlier. The Legislature passes a regular bill, to become a law, to replace the ordinance. This is usually done within six weeks after reassembly of Legislature.
The State Legislature keeps control over the finances of the State. A money bill is introduced first only in the Vidhan Sabha. The money bill includes authorisation of the expenditure to be incurred by the government, imposition or abolition of taxes, borrowing, etc.
The bill is introduced by a Minister on the recommendations of the Governor. The money bill cannot be introduced by a private member. The Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha certifies that a particular bill is a money bill. After a money bill is passed by the Vidhan Sabha, it is sent to the Vidhan Parishad.
It has to return this bill within 14 days with, or without, its recommendations. The Vidhan Sabha may either accept or reject its recommendations. The bill is deemed to have been passed by both Houses. After this stage, the bill is sent to the Governor for his assent. The Governor cannot withhold his assent, as money bills are introduced with his prior approval.
Position of a State Legislature
The State Legislature occupies the same position in a state as is the position of the Parliament in the Union. There is, however, a difference of degree in their relative powers. Indian Unitarian Federalism makes the Union Parliament more powerful than each state legislature. Further, there are several specific limitations on the powers of a state legislature.
Limitations on the Powers of State Legislature
- Prior consent of the President of India for introduction of some Bills:
There are certain bills which can be introduced in a state legislature only with the prior consent of the President of India.
- Reservation of bills by the Governor for President’s Assent:
There are certain bills, which after having been passed by the state legislature, can be reserved by the Governor for the consent of the President. Such bills become laws only after the President has given his assent.
- Limitation that can be imposed by the Rajya Sabha:
The Union Parliament gets the power to pass laws on the State List, (for one year) if the Rajya Sabha adopts a resolution (supported by 2/3rd majority of the members present and voting) and declares a state subject mentioned in the resolution as a subject of national importance.
- Limitations during national Emergency:
When a national emergency (Under Art. 352) is in operation, the Parliament is empowered to pass a law on any subject of the State List. The law so passed operates during the period of emergency and for six months after the end of the emergency.
- Limitations during a Constitutional Emergency:
During the operation of constitutional emergency in a state under Art 356, the Union Parliament gets the authority of making laws for that state. The State Legislature stands either dissolved or suspended.
- Discretionary Powers of the Governor:
Discretionary powers of the Governor of a state also constitute a limitation on the State Legislature. Whenever he acts in his discretion, he is beyond the jurisdiction of the State Legislature. Acting in his discretion, the Governor can even dissolve the State Legislative Assembly.
- Precedence of Union Laws on the Concurrent Subject:
They State Legislature and the Union Parliament, both have the concurrent power to make laws on the subjects of the Concurrent List. If both the Union Parliament and a State Legislature pass a law on the same subject of the Concurrent List and there is inconsistency between the two, the law passed by the Union Parliament gets precedence over the corresponding state law.
Thus each state legislature in India exercises law-making powers over the subjects given to it by the Constitution. However, even in respect of these, it exercises law-making powers under the above constitutional limitations. Nevertheless in general the State Legislatures act as important and powerful legislatures in all the 28 States and 2 Union Territories of India.