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Assam bill in Rajya Sabha

New Delhi, Dec. 10: The Assam Legislative Council Bill, 2013 was introduced in Rajya Sabha today to give the state an Upper House, about a century after the British granted Assam a Legislative Council in January 1913.

The bill introduced by law minister Kapil Sibal paves the way for the state to have a bicameral legislature while the legislative council for Assam in British India was abolished in 1947.

Under the Government of India Act 1909, the Assam Legislative Council came into being in 1913 with 34 members. It first met on January 6, 1913 in Shillong.

The Government of India Act 1935 paved the way for the formation of Assam Legislative Assembly, a bicameral legislature, till it was abolished in 1947.

West Bengal also had a Legislative Council since the mid-nineteenth century which was abolished in 1969.

However, the Tarun Gogoi government revived the idea and kept up the pressure on the Centre till the Union Cabinet cleared its proposal recently.

According to the new bill, the Assam Legislative Council will have 42 members.

In 2011, the Assam Legislative Assembly passed a resolution demanding an Upper House, a long-pending demand of various political parties and ethnic groups of the state.

According to Article 171, the total members in the Legislative Council of a state should not exceed one-third of the total members in the Legislative Assembly of that state. Assam has 126 members of the Legislative Assembly.

If the bill after a debate is referred to a standing committee, recommendations may be similar to those given by a panel to Rajasthan yesterday.

The panel examining creation of an Upper House in Rajasthan suggested yesterday that the Council should give adequate representation to panchayati raj institutions and do away with categories of “graduates” and “teachers” who were rare after Independence.

The scenario, however, has changed now, the Shantaram Naik-chaired panel has noted.

While approving the bill to create a second chamber in Rajasthan, the standing committee recommended evolving a national policy for creation and abolition of Legislative Councils.

It said abolition or creation should not depend on whims or mood of an incumbent government.

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