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The State Legislature - Origin and Evolution

Brief History Before independence.

The genesis of the  Legislature in India can be traced back to the eighteenth century, when the present Tamil Nadu was a residuary part of the then erstwhile Madras Presidency.  The said Presidency comprised of the present Tamil Nadu some parts of the present states  of Orissa, Kerala, Karnataka and present Andhra Pradesh excluding the former native state of Nizam.  Besides, Madras Presidency, there were two other Presidencies, viz, Presidency of Bombay and Presidency of Calcutta.  Each Presidency was in charge of a Governor and were independent of each other.  In 1773, the British Parliament enacted the Regulating Act, 1773, whereby the Governor of Bengal was designated as the  Governor-General and made the supreme head of all the Presidencies.  At about the same time, the legislative power in the Presidencies was also recognized. 

The Charter Act of 1833,  provided for the addition of a fourth member to the Governor-General in Council for the sole purpose of Legislation, and concentrated all the legislative powers in the Governor-General-in Council.  It deprived the local government (Presidencies) of their power of independent legislation.  The Presidency Governments were authorised merely to submit drafts or projects of any laws regulations deemed expedient or necessary to the Governor-General-in Council.

The Charter Act of 1853, which marked the next stage in the evolution of the Legislatures, made the Law Member of the Governor- in-Council a full member and enlarged the Governor-General's Council for legislative purposes by the addition of the Chief Justice of Bengal, one other Supreme  Court Judge and one paid representative of each Presidency or Governor's Province.  In all the  Governor-General-in Council consisted  of 12 Members.  This enlarged Council paved the way for establishing the first Legislative body in India .  From 1833 to 1861, the Governor General in Council was the sole administrative as well as the Legislative authority.

The Indian Councils Act of 1861 constituted a great landmark in the growth and development of the Legislatures.  The Act for the first time associated with the Governor-General's Executive Council and the Executive Councils of Madras and Bombay, a small number of additional members half  of them being non-officials and provided for the addition of not less than six and not more than 12 nominated members to the Governor-General's Council and the functions of the new Legislative Council were limited wholly to legislation.  This Act restored the legislative power taken away by the Charter of 1833.  The  Legislative Council of the Madras Presidency was given the power to make laws for the "peace and good government."  The Council of the Governor of Madras was enlarged for the legislative purposes by the addition of the Advocate -General and four to eight adhoc members of whom atleast half were to be non-officials nominated by the Governor  for a period two years.  The Act thus sowed the seed  for the future Legislative as an independent entity separate from the Executive Council.  The Provincial Legislative Councils established were mere advisory bodies by means of which Government obtained  advice and assistance.  The Provincial Legislative Council could not interfere with the laws passed by the Central Legislature.

The next milestone in the  evolution of the Legislatures was reached when the Indian Councils Act of 1892 was passed by which the number of additional members of the Central Legislature was raised to a maximum of  16 and the number of additional members of the Madras Legislative Council  was raised to a maximum of  20, of which not more than nine had to be officials.  Non-official Members were recommended by the district boards, universities, municipalities and other associations.  This Act enlarged the functions of the Council in two respects, namely, the Council could discuss the annual financial statement and ask questions  subject to certain limitation.  Members were to hold office for two years.

The seed sown by the Act of 1861 was quickened into life by   the Act of 1909, popularly known as Minto-Morely  Reforms.  The Act still further enlarged the Legislative Councils both of the Governor-General and of the provinces.  It introduced for the first time the method of election,  though not direct election, and thus   helped   to   quicken   into life  the seed of representative institutions.  It dispensed with official  majorities in the Provincial   Legislative   Councils   and gave them power to move resolutions upon matters of general public interest and also upon the Budget and to ask supplementary questions.  The additional members of the Governor-General Council were  increased from 16 to a maximum of 60 and those of the Madras Council from 20 to a maximum of 50.  Thus the Act carried constitutional development a step further.

The Government of India Act of 1919, which embodied the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms is but the natural and inevitable sequel to the long chapter of previous Parliamentary Legislation on the introduction of Representative Government in India with Legislatures composed of elected  representatives of the people.  The most important feature of the Act was the introduction of the system of dyarchy in the Provinces.  Subjects were classified as Central and Provincial and in regard to provincial matters a further division was made into "transferred subjects" administered by the Governor and his ministers responsible to the Legislative Council and "reserved subjects" administered by the Governor and his Executive Council. The Governor could override both the Ministers and the Executive Council.  The proportion of elected members of the Provincial Legislative Council was raised to over 70 per cent.  The Legislative power of the Council extended to Provincial matters only.  Every law of the Provincial Legislature for its validity required   the assent   of   Governor-General as well as the Governor.  The Governor could not be a member of the Legislative Council, but he could address the members in the Legislative Council.  The Governor appointed the Speaker of the Legislative Council  for the first four years and thereafter  the  members  of the Legislative Council elected the Speaker.  However,   the  Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Council was elected by the members of the Legislative Council and the  appointment ratified by the Governor.

            In the Centre, however, the principle of responsible Government was not introduced.  The Central Legislature thereafter called the Indian Legislature was reconstituted on enlarged and more representative character.  It consisted of the Council of State consisted of sixty members of whom 34 members were elected and the Legislative Assembly  consisted of about 145 members, of whom about 104 were elected and the rest nominated.  Of the nominated members about 26 were officials.  The powers of both the Chambers of the Indian Legislature were identical except that the power to vote supply was granted only to the Legislative Assembly.

Although this Act brought about representative Government in India, the Governor was empowered with overriding powers.  If he considered that any Bill, which was to be introduced or already introduced, would endanger the security or disturb peace and tranquility in any part of the province he could reject the bill.  Similarly, if the members of the Legislative Council decided to reject a bill relating to the reserved subjects or the recommendations of the   Governor,   the Governor could certify that  such a  bill was very essential for the functioning of the Government and then the Bill was deemed to have obtained the sanction of the Legislative Council.

The Madras Legislative Council

            The Madras Legislative Council was set up in 1921 under the Government of India Act 1919.  The term of the Council was for a period of three years.  It consisted of 132 Members of which 34 were nominated by the Governor and the rest were elected.  It met for the first time on the 9th January 1921 at Fort St. George, Madras.  The Council was inaugurated by the Duke of Cannaught, a paternal uncle of the King of England, on the 12th January 1921 on the request made by the Governor Lord Wellington.  The Governor addressed the Council on the 14th February 1921.   The  Second and Third Councils, under this Act were constituted after the general elections held in 1923 and 1926 respectively.  The fourth Legislative Council met for the first time on the 6th November 1930 after the general elections held during the year and its life was extended from time to time and it lasted till the provincial autonomy under the Government of India Act, 1935 came into operation.

Bi-Cameral Legislature

            The Government of India Act 1935, marked the next great stride in the evolution of the Legislatures.  The Act provided for an All-India Federation and the constituent units of the Federation were to be the Governor's Provinces, and the Indian States.  The accession of the State to the Federation was optional.  The Federal Legislature was to consist of two Houses, the House of Assembly called the Federal  Assembly and the Council of States.  The Federal Assembly was to consist of 375 members, 125 being representatives of the Indian States, nominated by the Rulers.  The representatives of the Governor's provinces were to be elected not directly but indirectly by the Provincial Assemblies. The term of the Assembly was fixed as five years.  The Council of State was to be a permanent body not subject to dissolution, but one-third of the members should   retire   every   three   years.  It was to consist of 260 members.  104 representatives of Indian States, six to be nominated by the Governor-General, 128 to be directly elected by territorial communal constituencies and 22 to be set apart for smaller minorities, women and depressed classes.  The two Houses had in general equal powers but demands for supply votes and financial Bills were to originate in the Assembly.

            The Act established a bi-cameral Legislature in the Province of Madras as it was then called and provided for responsible Government subject to two limitations, namely, (1) special responsibilities were given to the Governor in regard to certain matters save as regards Finance and (2) certain matters were placed entirely outside ministerial control and within the absolute discretion of the Governor.

            The Legislature consisted of the Governor and the two Chambers called the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly.  The Legislative Council was a permanent body not subject to dissolution but as nearly as one-third of the members thereon retired every three years.  It consisted of not less than 54 and not more than 56 members composed of 35 general seats, 7 Mohammedan seats, 1 European seat, 3 Indian Christian seats, and not less than 8 and not more than 10 nominated   by the Governor.  The Legislative Assembly consisted of 215 members of which, 146 were elected from general seats  of which 30 seats were reserved for Scheduled Castes,  1 for Backward areas and tribes, 28 for Mohammedans, 2 for Anglo-Indians, 3 for Europeans, 8 for Indian Christians,   6   for representatives of Commerce  and Industry, etc., 6 for Landholders, 1 for University, 6 for representatives of labour, 8 women of which, 6 were general.

            The Act made a division of powers between the Centre and the Provinces.  Certain subjects were exclusively assigned to the Central or Federal Legislature, others to the Provincial Legislatures and in regard to another field, the two had concurrent powers.

            The Federal structure contemplated in the Act did not come into being and so the Government of India Act, 1919, continued to be in force as far as the Central Legislature was concerned.  

             Although the  Government of India Act was passed in 1935, only  that part relating to the Provinces came into operation in 1937.  The first Madras Legislative  Assembly under this Act was constituted in July 1937 after general elections. The Congress party in the Legislature formed the Government. The Ministry however resigned  in October, 1939 due to the proclamation of emergency on account of world war-II  and the Legislature ceased to function.  After the war was over, the General Elections were held in March, 1946 under the Government of India Act, 1935.   The first Session of the Second Legislative Assembly under the Government of India Act, 1935 constituted in 1946, met on the 24th May 1946. After prolonged negotiations, the British transferred power under Lord Mountbatten Plan and the Indian Independence Bill was presented to the British Parliament on July 4th 1947 and was passed by the Parliament on July 18th 1947 and the transfer of power took place on 14/15 August, 1947.  

            The Indian Independence Act 1947, constituted the culmination of the origin and growth of the Indian Legislatures from modest expansions of  the Executive Councils of the Governor-General and the Governors in the Provinces into separate sovereign legislative bodies.  The Act created two independent Dominions in India known   respectively as India and Pakistan.  The paramountry of the British Crown lapsed and the power of the British Parliament to legislate for India ceased. The federal Legislature of India became sovereign and the power of the   Legislature became exercisable by the Constituent Assembly which was not subject to any limitation whatsoever.  Until the new Constitution was framed, the Government of India Act of 1935, subject to certain adaptations and modifications,  remained the Constitutional Law of India.  The Constitution of India came into force  with effect from 26th January 1950 and the existing Legislature was allowed to function as provincial Legislatures.

Development After Independence.

            The First Legislature of the erstwhile Madras State under the Constitution of India was constituted on 1st March 1952, after the first General Elections held in January 1952 on the basis of adult suffrage.

            According to the Delimitation of  Parliament and Assembly Constituencies (Madras) Order, 1951 made by the President under section 6 and 9 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950, the then Composite Madras Assembly consisted of 375 seats to be filled by election distributed in 309 Constituencies -243 single members Constituencies, 62 double member Constituencies in each of which a seat had been reserved for Scheduled Castes and four two-member Constituencies in each of which a seat had been reserved for Scheduled Tribes.  Three seats were uncontested.  The elections were contested only in respect of remaining 372 seats, and one Member was nominated by the Governor under Article 333 of the Constitution to represent the Anglo-Indians.

            On the 1st October 1953, a separate Andhra State consisting of the Telugu speaking areas, of the Composite Madras State was formed and the Kannada speaking area of Bellary District was also merged with the then Mysore State with effect from the above date and as a consequence, the strength of the Assembly was reduced to 231.  The States Reorganisation Act 1956 came into effect from the 1st November 1956 and consequently the constituencies in the erstwhile Malabar districts were merged with the Kerala State and as a consequence the strength of the Assembly was further reduced to 190.  The Tamil speaking area of Kerala (the present Kanniyakumari District) and Shencottah taluk were added to Madras State.  Subsequently, according to the new Delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Order, 1956, made by the Delimitation Commission of India under the provisions of the State Reorganisation Act, 1956, the strength of the Madras Legislative Assembly was raised to 205 distributed in 167 territorial constituencies, 37 two-member constituencies in each of which a seat had been reserved for Scheduled Castes and 1 two-member constituency in which a seat had been reserved for Scheduled Tribes.

            The Second Legislative Assembly which was constituted on the 1st April 1957 after the General Elections, held in March 1957 consisted of 205 elected Members besides one nominated Member.  During the term of the Assembly in 1959, as result of the adjustment of boundaries between Andhra Pradesh and Madras (Alteration of Boundaries) Act, 1959, one member from the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly was allotted to Madras and consequently the strength of the Madras Assembly was increased to 206.

            During 1961, by the Two-Member Constituencies(Abolition) Act, 1961, the 38 double-member Constituencies were abolished and an equal number of single-member constituencies were reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.  However, there was no change in the strength of territorial constituencies in Madras Assembly which had remained as 206.

            The Third Assembly was constituted on the 3rd March 1962 after the General Elections held in February, 1962.  The strength of the Assembly continued to be 206.  By the Delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Order, 1965, the number of territorial constituencies in Madras was increased to 234, out of which forty-two seats were reserved for Scheduled Castes and two seats for Scheduled Tribes besides one member to be nominated from the Anglo-Indian Community under Article 333 of the Constitution of India.

Change in nomenclature.

            The Fourth Assembly was constituted on the 1st March 1967 after the General Elections held in February 1967.  It consisted of 234 territorial Constituencies of which 42 had been reserved for the Scheduled Castes and 2 for Scheduled Tribes besides one nominated Member.  During the term of this Assembly on the 18th July 1967, the House by a resolution unanimously adopted and recommended that steps be taken by the State Government to secure necessary amendment to the Constitution of India to change the name of Madras State as "Tamil Nadu".   Accordingly, the Madras State (Alteration of Name) Act, 1968 (Central Act  53 of 1968) was passed by the Parliament and came into force on the 14th January 1969.  Consequently, the nomenclature "Madras Legislative Assembly" was changed into "Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly".

            From 1967 onwards, the strength of the Assembly continued to remain as 234 besides a nominated member.

            The Fifth Assembly was constituted on 15th March 1971 after the General Elections held in March 1971.  It consisted of 234 elected members  of which 42 seats were reserved for Scheduled Castes and 2 for Scheduled Tribes besides one nominated member.   Before the expiry of the period of the Assembly, the President by a Proclamation issued on the 31st January 1976, under article 356 of the Constitution, dissolved the Fifth Assembly and imposed President's Rule for the first time in Tamil Nadu.

            After the General Elections held in June 1977, the Sixth Assembly was constituted on the 30th June 1977.  It consisted of 234 territorial constituencies as delimited in the order of Delimitation Commission No.31, dated 1st January 1975 with reference to 1971 Census population figures, of which 42 seats were reserved for the Scheduled Castes and 2 seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes. Before the expiry of the period of Assembly, the President by a Proclamation issued on the 17th February 1980 under Article 356 of the Constitution, dissolved the Sixth Assembly and imposed President's Rule in Tamil Nadu.

            During the year 1979, '157. Uppiliapuram General Constituency' was converted into '157. Uppiliapuram (S.T.) Constituency' by way of an amendment to the Delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies Order, 1976 (Without altering the extent of any constituency given in such order).

            The Seventh Assembly was constituted on the 9th June 1980 after the General Elections held in May 1980 for the constituencies delimited on the basis of Census Population of 1971.  It consisted of 234 Assembly Constituencies out of which forty-two seats were reserved for Scheduled Castes and three seats for Scheduled Tribes.

            The Eighth Assembly was constituted on the 16th January 1985 after the General Elections held on the 24th December 1984.  Before the expiry of the period of Assembly, the President by a proclamation issued on the 30th January 1988, under Article 356 of the Constitution  dissolved the Eighth Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and imposed President's Rule in Tamil Nadu.

            During the term of Eighth Assembly, A Government resolution seeking to abolish the Legislative Council was moved and adopted by the House on the 14th May 1986.

            Thereafter, 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 thus abolished with effect from the 1st November 1986.

            The bi-cameral Legislature established in 1937 under the Government of India Act, 1935 has become a unicameral Legislature in Tamil Nadu from the 1st November 1986 onwards.

            The Ninth Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly was constituted on the 27th January 1989 after the General Elections held on the 21st January 1989.  Before the expiry of the term of the Assembly, the President by a Proclamation issued on the 30th January 1991, under Article 356 of the Constitution of India dissolved the Ninth Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and imposed President's Rule in Tamil Nadu.

            During the term of the Ninth Assembly a Government Resolution seeking the revival of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council was moved and adopted by the house on the 20th February 1989.

            Thereafter, 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.

            The Tenth Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly was constituted on the 24th June 1991 after the General Elections held on the 15th June 1991.  The First  Meeting of the First Session of the Tenth Legislative Assembly commenced on the 1st July 1991 and therefore its term would have expired on the 30th June 1996.   But in as much as the General Elections to the Eleventh Tamil Nadu Assembly had been held on the 27th April 1996and 2nd May 1996, the Tenth Assembly was dissolved on the Forenoon of 13th May 1996 by the Governor.

            During the term of the Tenth Assembly, a Government Resolution was adopted in the Assembly on the 4th October 1991 to rescind the Resolution passed on the 20th February 1989 for the revival of the Legislative Council in the State of Tamil Nadu.

           The Eleventh Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly was constituted on the 13th May 1996 after the General Elections held on the 27th April 1996 and 2nd May1996.  The First meeting of the First Session of the Eleventh Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly commenced on the 22nd May 1996 and the term would obviously expire on 21st May 2001. But in as much as the General Elections to the Twelfth Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly had been held on 10th May 2001 the Eleventh Tamil Nadu  Legislative Assembly was dissolved on the 14th May 2001, by the Governor.

           During the term of the Eleventh Assembly a Government Resolution was moved and adopted in the Assembly on 26th July, 1996 seeking creation of a Legislative Council in the Tamil Nadu State.

           The Twelfth Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly was constituted on the 14th May 2001 after the General Elections held on the 10th May 2001. The First Meeting of the First Session of the Twelfth Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly commenced on the 22nd May 2001 and therefore the term would obviously expire on 21st May 2006. However, after the General Elections to the Thirteenth Tamil Nadu Assembly was held on 8th May 2006 the Twelfth Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly was dissolved on 12th May 2006 by the Governor.  During the term of the Twelfth Assembly, a Government Resolution was moved and adopted in the Assembly on 12th September, 2001 to rescind the Resolution passed on the 26th July, 1996 for the revival of the Legislative Council in the State of Tamil Nadu.

           The Thirteenth Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly was constituted on the 12th May 2006 after the General Elections  held on the 8th May 2006. The First Meeting of the First Session of the Twelfth Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly commenced on the 17th May 2006 and therefore the term would obviously expire on 16th May 2011. However, the General Elections to the Fourteenth Tamil Nadu Assembly was held on 13.4.2011 the Thirteenth Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly was dissolved on 14th May, 2011  by the Governor. Beginning from 19th March 2010, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly met during the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth sessions of the Thirteenth Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in the Legislative Assembly Chamber at the New Legislative Assembly-Secretariat Complex, Omandurar Government Estate, Chennai-2.  During the term of the Thirteenth Assembly, a Government Resolution seeking the revival of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council was moved and adopted by the House on the 12th  April 2010.  Thereafter, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council Bill, 2010, seeking the creation of Legislative Council for the State of Tamil Nadu was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on the 5th May 2010.  It was considered and passed by the Rajya Sabha on the 5th May 2010 and passed by the Lok Sabha on the 6th May 2010.  The Bill received the assent of the President on the 18th May 2010 and was published in an Extraordinary issue of the Gazette of India on the 18th May 2010 as Central Act No.16 of 2010.  It was republished in the Tamil Nadu Government Gazette Extraordinary dated the 20th May 2010.  The  Tamil Nadu Legislative Council was not constituted till the dissolution of the 13th Assembly.

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