Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council

 

The Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council is the upper House of the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature.The Lower House of the State Legislature is called the Legislative Assembly. Section 46 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir provides that the Legislature for the State shall consist of the Governor and two Houses to be known respectively as the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council.

History

The first Legislature of the State was established by the government of the Maharaja Hari Singh in 1934 under Act No. 1 of 1991 (Bikrami), which later came to be known as the Constitution Act of 1934 A.D. The Legislature consisted of (a) the Council, comprising of the Prime Minister and Ministers appointed by him, and (b) the Assembly, known as Prajasabha. Out of seventy five members of the Assembly, thirty were elected from Constituencies and Communities specified in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Electoral Regulations while the rest forty two non-elected members included Ministers of His Highness, and officials and persons nominated by him. In 1939, the Maharaja promulgated the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution Act of 1996 (Bilrami) corresponding to 1939 A.D. section 13 of the 1939 Act provided for a Legislature consisting of His Highness and a chamber to be known as Prajasabha. The Prajasabha consisted of seventy-five members and the Ministers of Maharaja were ex-officio members of the Prajasabha. The number of elected members was forty and the remaining thirty-five were nominated by His Highness.

On 20th April, 1951 Yuvraj Karan Singh issued a Proclamation constituting a Constituent Assembly for purposes of framing a Constitution for the State. The Constituent Assembly comprised of seventy-five members directly elected on the basis of adult franchise. The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held at Srinagar on 31stOctober, 1951. The last session of the Assembly was held on 25th January, 1957 at Jammu and the Constituent Assembly was declared dissolved according to the Resolution passed on 17th Nov. 1956 when Jammu and Kashmir Constitution was passed. The Constitution of the State was made enforceable with effect from 26thJanuary, 1957. A bi-cameral Legislature was envisaged under section 46 of the Constitution known as the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council.   

Composition of Legislative Council

Section 50 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir provides for the composition of the Legislative Council. The Council consists of thirty-six members chosen in the following manner:-

(i)       Eleven members are elected by the members of the Legislative Assembly from amongst persons who are residents of the province of Kashmir; provided that at least one shall be a resident of Tehsil Ladakh and at least one shall be a resident of Tehsil Kargil;

(ii)     Eleven members are elected by the members of the Legislative Assembly from amongst persons who are residents of the province of Jammu; provided that at least one shall be a resident of Doda District and at least one shall be a resident of Poonch District;

(iii)    Two members are elected by the members of Municipal Councils, Town Area Committees and Notified Area Committees ( now Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils and Municipal Committees), one each in the province of Kashmir and the province of Jammu;

(iv)    Four members are elected by the members of Panchayats and such other local bodies as the Governor may by order specify, two each in the province of Kashmir and the province of Jammu; and

(v)      Eight members are nominated by the Governor from amongst persons belonging to socially and educationally backward classes in the State, and persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of matters such as literature, science, art, co-operative movement and social service.

Qualifications for membership of the Council

A person shall be qualified to be chosen for the membership of the Legislative Council only if-

(a)     he is a permanent resident of the State;

(b)     he has completed thirty years of age; and

(c)     he possesses such other qualifications as may be prescribed by the State Legislature.

Tenure and duration of Legislative Council

The Legislative Council is not subject to dissolution but one-third of the members retire on the expiration of every second year. Normally the members of the Council have a six year term unless the term of any member is fixed for a lesser duration if he is elected / nominated for remainder of the term to fill a casual vacancy.

 Functions

A Bill is deemed to have been passed by the State Legislature only if it has been passed by both the Houses, the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council. However, there are certain restrictions on the powers of the Legislative Council in respect of financial matters. While Bills other than Money Bills can originate in and be introduced in either House of the Legislature, a Money Bill cannot be introduced in the Legislative Council. If a Money Bill passed by the Legislative Assembly and transmitted to the Legislative Council for its recommendations is not returned by the Council within a period of fourteen days, it is deemed to have been passed by both Houses in the form in which it was passed by the Legislative Assembly. In case of Bills other than money Bills having been passed by the Legislative Assembly and transmitted to the Council, if the Legislative Council rejects the Bill, or does not pass the Bill within three months from the date it is laid before the Council, or passes the Bill with amendments to which the Legislative Assembly does not agree, the Legislative Assembly becomes empowered to pass the Bill again and then transmit the Bill so passed to the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council has to pass such Bill within one month and in case the Council does not pass it within one month, or rejects it, or passes it with amendments to which the Legislative Assembly does not agree, the Bill is deemed to have been passed in the form in which it is passed by the Legislative Assembly for the second time.

Privileges and immunities of the State Legislature and its members

Section 72 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir provides certain privileges and immunities to the Legislature and its members, which are:-

(a)     the members enjoy freedom of speech in the Legislature;

(b)     no member of the Legislature is liable to any proceeding in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in the Legislature or any committee thereof;

(c)     no person is liable in respect of the publication by or under the authority of a House of the Legislature of any report, paper, votes or proceedings;

(d)     in other respects, the State Legislature, its member and its committees enjoy all privileges and immunities as are enjoyed by the Parliament of India and its members and committees.

Rules of Procedure

For regulating the procedure and conduct of its business, the Legislative Council has made rules in exercise of its powers under section 85 of the State Constitution which are known as ‘the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council’.

Office bearers

The Legislative Council is headed by a Chairman and Deputy Chairman chosen by members of the Councils. The Chief Minister, in case he is a member of the Council, or a Minister who is a member of the Council and nominated by the Chief Minister, functions as the "Leader of the House". The leader of the largest recognized party in opposition whose strength in the House is equal to quorum and recognized as such by the Chairman functions as the ‘Leader of Opposition’ in the House. The Council Secretariat is headed by a Secretary to the Council. The present office-bearers are:

§          Chairman: Haji Anayat Ali

§          Deputy Chairman:  VACANT 

§          Leader of the House: Syed Naeem Akhter

§          Secretary: Abdul Majid Bhat