- Views 1917
By Oken Jeet Sandham
Are there any Representatives caring to listen to the voices of their villagers? The villagers in the remotest areas elected their Representatives to represent them not only to look after their welfare. It is a wrong perception that one has to be always in the Government to be more forceful and powerful. They should know that any elected Representatives are vested with immense power in the Constitution to bring the Government to their knees if they fail to perform or listen to.
Our Representatives are the Members of the Legislative Assembly. They are the Members of the highest law-making body in each State. The primary function of a Member of the Legislative Assembly is law-making. The Constitution of India states that the Members of the Legislative Assembly can exercise their legislative powers on all matters on which the Parliament cannot legislate. An MLA can exercise his legislative powers on the State List and the Concurrent List. The State List contains subjects of importance to the individual State alone, such as trade, commerce, development, irrigation and agriculture, while the Concurrent List contains items of importance to both the Union Government and the State Government such as succession, marriage, education, adoption, forests and so on. Although ideally only the Members of the Legislative Assembly can legislate on the State List, the Parliament can legislate on subjects in the State List while Emergency has been imposed on the State. In addition to that, on the matters that are included in the Concurrent List, the laws made by the Parliament are prioritized over the laws made by the Legislative Assembly if the President does not give his assent to the laws made by the Legislative Assembly. Although the Members of the Legislative Assembly are the highest law-making organs of the State Government, their legislative powers are not absolute.
But the Article 371A, which is a “Special provision with respect to the State of Nagaland,” in its Sub-Clause 1, states that:
(1) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, –
(a) no Act of Parliament in respect of –
(i) religious or social practices of the Nagas,
(ii) Naga customary law and procedure,
(iii) administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law,
(iv) ownership and transfer of land and its resources, shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides.
The Legislative Assembly holds absolute financial powers in the State. A Money Bill can only originate in the Legislative Assembly and the Members of the Legislative Assembly must give consent for any of the expenses made from the State Treasury. It must be noted that in the States that have a bicameral legislature, both the Legislative Council and the Vidhan Parishad can pass the Bill or suggest changes to the Bill within 14 days of its receipt although the Members are not bound to abide by the changes suggested. All grants and tax-raising proposals must be authorized by the MLAs for them to be executed and implemented for the development of the state.
The Members of the Legislative Assembly also have certain electoral powers such as the following:
- Elected Members of the Legislative Assembly comprise the Electoral College that elects the President of India.
- MLAs elect the members of the Rajya Sabha, who represent a particular state.
- The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly are elected by the MLAs.
- In states with a bicameral legislature, one-third of the members of the Legislative Council are elected by the MLAs.
- MLAs appoint the various Committees to the House.
SALARY AND PENSION OF AN MLA
The salary of a Member of the Legislative Assembly of a State in India, like that of the Member of the Parliament of the country, is accompanied by a number of other allowances besides the basic pay, such as constituency allowances, sumptuous allowances, expense allowance and daily allowances. The facilities given to the MLA of each state include medical facilities, residence facilities, reimbursement of electricity and phone bills and travelling facilities among other things. The amounts vary from one state to another as is specifically detailed in the respective State Legislatures of the country. Each MLA is also entitled to a fixed amount as pension after fulfilling office in the post. However, the amount varies from one state legislature to another as each state legislature assigns different emoluments to its members.
The Members of the Legislative Assembly in each State exercise certain Executive Powers. They control the activities and actions taken by the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers. In other words, the ruling Government is answerable to the Legislative Assembly for all its decisions. A vote of “No-Confidence” can be passed only by the MLAs in any State that, if passed by a majority, can force the ruling government to resign. Question Hour, Cut Motions and Adjournment Motions can be exercised by the Members of the Legislative Assembly in order to restrict the Executive organ of the State Government machinery.
It is very unfortunate that since the Nagaland State has an Opposition-less Government, no “Question Hours” or “Debates” or “Discussions on any Public Importance” were there in the last couple of Assembly Sessions. It may be recalled that the last Nagaland Assembly Session had a record 25-minute Session – shortest in the history of Nagaland Assembly Sessions.
Ours is a Welfare State and the Government should be transparent and accountable to its citizens. The people of the State appear to be watching the Government as they are headed to a very unpredictable future. It will be a very costly affair indeed if it fails to activate itself as a responsible Government. Opposition is essential not only in democracy but also for a vibrant and strong Government. Democracy is meaningless without Opposition. The people are in the dark indeed as there is no Opposition in the State.
Kindly also see this; one MLA represents more than 30000 people in average in Nagaland. Now if their leaders fail to act and present their demands democratically and constitutionally, what will be the consequences? The Government will only act when the Representatives act because they have to listen to.
Are our Representatives performing their duties or do they know their constitutionally bounden duties or the powers vested in the Constitution of India?