A second Chamber for Odisha

 

Relevancy

  • GS Mains Paper-2
  • Polity

Why in news?

  • Odisha’s plan calls for a national policy on the utility of a second chamber in States.

What is Odisha’s proposal?

  • Odisha now wants to join the group of States that have an Upper House.
  • The State Cabinet has approved a 49-member Legislative Council.
  • It has accepted the report of a committee set up in 2015.
  • The committee studied the functioning of the second chamber in other States and made recommendations.

What is the Parliament’s stance?

  • The State Assembly has to pass a resolution for the creation of the Council, by a majority of its total membership. Thereafter, Parliament has to enact a law to create it.
  • Notably, two Bills introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2013 for establishing Legislative Councils in Assam and Rajasthan are still pending which apparently indicates the lack of support for such a move.
  • A parliamentary committee that went into these Bills cleared the proposals, but struck a cautionary note as it wanted a national policy on having an Upper House in State legislatures to be framed by the Union government.
  • This is to ensure that a subsequent government in the State does not abolish it.
  • It also favoured a review of the provision in the law for Councils to have seats for graduates and teachers.

How a second chamber will benefit?

  • The advantages of having a bicameral legislature are well-known.
  • An Upper House provides a forum for academicians and intellectuals.
  • They are arguably not suited for the nature of electoral politics.
  • In essence, it provides a mechanism for a more serious appraisal of legislation.

What are the concerns?

  • If there was any real benefit, all States in the country should have a second chamber.
  • The fact that there are only seven such Councils suggests the lack of any real advantage.
  • Also, there is, clearly, the absence of a broad political consensus on the issue.
  • Concerns – The forum is likely to be used to accommodate party functionaries who fail to get elected.
  • This may defeat the objective of getting intellectuals into the legislature.
  • There is also a question of giving graduates the privilege of being people’s representatives in a democracy.
  • Today, legislatures draw their talent both from the grassroots level and the higher echelons of learning.
  • There are enough numbers of doctors, teachers and other professionals in most political parties today.
  • Besides, the second chamber is also an unnecessary drain on the exchequer of the state.
  • It is also a restraining force against the dominance of elected majorities in legislative matters.
  • Given these, Odisha’s proposal may give the country an opportunity to evolve a national consensus on Legislative Councils.

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