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Panel for second chambers

- Recommendation to have bearing on Assam

New Delhi, Dec. 9: Panchayati Raj institutions should find representation in Legislative Councils and “teachers’ and graduates’ constituencies” should be done away with, a parliamentary panel has recommended in what could be tips for Assam.

While supporting the creation of a bicameral legislature in Rajasthan, the panel also said the second chambers of legislatures should not be temporary and must not be abolished, or if abolished, not revived.

The recommendations, although meant for Rajasthan, will have a bearing on Assam which is also awaiting parliamentary approval for its proposal of a 42-member Legislative Council.

The proposal was recently cleared by the Union cabinet.

The panel’s report on Rajasthan Legislative Council Bill, 2013, for creating a 66-member Legislative Council for the state was tabled in the Rajya Sabha today.

“We want representation of village and zilla panchayats; right now it is only in urban areas,” said Shantaram Naik, chairman of the standing committee of the ministries of personnel, public grievances and law and justice.

The panel called for a detailed review of the composition of Legislative Councils particularly on representations of local bodies. Representation should not remain limited to urban local bodies only, the report said.

The bill mentions representation by local bodies or “wards” but the panel felt the essence of the Panchayati Raj Act should be reflected in the new legislation.

Naik said pre-Independence norms could be done away with. The reports states that representation should be exclusively made from local self-government institutions and for nominated members dispensing with teachers’ and graduates’ constituencies which were rare and respected soon after Independence.”

Under Article 171 (3) of the Constitution, the Legislative Councils comprise a third each of members elected by state Legislative Assembly and local bodies and one-twelfth each of members elected from “graduates constituency” and “teachers’ constituency” besides a sixth of members would be nominated by the governor.

“A comprehensive review of present constituencies like members elected by the state Legislative Assemblies, graduates and teachers is required considering today’s changing scenario,” the panel suggested.

Officials said Jammu and Kashmir could lead the way. The Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council specifically mentions “persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of matters such as literature, science, art, co-operative movement and social service.”

Another recommendation is about status of the second chamber. The panel said it cannot be of temporary nature “depending on mood of the government of the day”.

“Nor can it be abolished once created only at the whims and fancy of a newly-elected government in the state”.

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