Introduction of J&K Legislative Assembly
The J&K Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir is the lower house of the bicameral legislature of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is known as the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature. The three regions of the State namely; Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh have 37, 46 and 4 Assembly seats respectively.
The first Legislature of the State was established by the government of the Maharaja Hari Singh in 1934 under Act No. 1 of 1991 (Bikrami), which later came to be known as the Constitution Act of 1934 A.D. The Legislature consisted of (a) the Council, comprising of the Prime Minister and Ministers appointed by him, and (b) the Assembly, known as Prajasabha. Out of seventy five members of the Assembly, thirty were elected from Constituencies and Communities specified in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Electoral Regulations while the rest forty two non-elected members included Ministers of His Highness, and officials and persons nominated by him. In 1939, the Maharaja promulgated the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution Act of 1996 (Bikrami) corresponding to 1939 A.D. section 13 of the 1939 Act provided for a Legislature consisting of His Highness and a chamber to be known as Prajasabha. The Prajasabha consisted of seventy-five members and the Ministers of Maharaja were ex-officio members of the Prajasabha. The number of elected members was forty and the remaining thirty-five were nominated by His Highness.
On 20th April, 1951 Yuvraj Karan Singh issued a Proclamation constituting a Constituent Assembly for purposes of framing a Constitution for the State. The Constituent Assembly comprised of seventy-five members directly elected on the basis of adult franchise. The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held at Srinagar on 31stOctober, 1951. The last session of the Assembly was held on 25th January, 1957 at Jammu and the Constituent Assembly was declared dissolved according to the Resolution passed on 17th Nov. 1956 when Jammu and Kashmir Constitution was passed. The Constitution of the State was made enforceable with effect from 26thJanuary, 1957.
The Legislative Assembly was initially composed of 100 members, later increased to 111 by the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir (Twentieth Amendment) Act of 1988. Of these, 24 seats are designated for the territorial constituencies of the state that lies in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). These seats remain officially vacant as per section 48 of the state constitution. These seats are not taken into account for reckoning the total membership of the Assembly, especially for deciding quorum and voting majorities for legislation and government formation. Hence, the total contestable seats of the assembly are presently 87. Moreover two female Members are being nominated as members by the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir if he or she is of the opinion that women are not adequately represented.
Members of the Legislative Assembly are serving six-year term and the seats are being filled by direct election. The assembly can be dissolved before the completion of the six-year term by the Honorable Governor upon the advice of the Honorable Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. The Governor may also convene special sessions of both houses of the state legislature.
The Assembly is convened and administered by the Hon. Speaker. The leader of the house is usually the Honorable Chief Minister, who is the leader of the party (or coalition of parties) whose members constitute a majority. The leader of the opposition is subject to a majority of in quorum of the House i.e 23 Members in terms of Rules of Procedure of the House.
Section 47 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir provides for the composition of the Legislative Assembly.
47. Composition of Legislative Assembly.
(1) The Legislative Assembly shall consist of one hundred and eleven members chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the State:
Provided that the Governor may if he is of opinion that women are not adequately represented in the Assembly, nominate not more than two women to be members thereof.
(2) For the purposes of sub-section (1), the State shall be divided into single member territorial constituencies by such authority and in such manner as the Legislature may by law determine.
(3) Upon the completion of each census, the number, extent and boundaries of the territorial constituencies shall be readjusted by such authority and in such manner as the Legislature may by law determine:
Provided that such readjustment shall not effect representation in the Legislative Assembly until the dissolution of the then existing Assembly.
Article 51 of the J&K Constitution lays down the qualification for Membership of Legislative of the Legislature.
51. Qualifications for membership of the Legislature.- A person shall not be qualified to be chosen to fill a seat in the Legislature unless he
(a) is a permanent resident of the State, and makes and subscribes before some person authorised in that behalf by the Election Commission of India an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the Fifth Schedule ;]
(b) is, in the case of a seat in the Legislative Assembly, not less than twenty-five years of age, and in the case of a seat in the Legislative Council, not less than thirty years of age; and
(c) possesses such other qualifications as may be prescribed in that behalf by or under any law made by Legislature.
Section 63 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir provides for the composition of the Legislative Assembly Secretariat.
63. Secretariat of the Legislature.-
(l) Each House of the Legislature shall have a separate secretariat staff :
Provided that nothing in this sub-section shall be construed as preventing the creation of posts common to both Houses.
(2) The Legislature may by law regulate the recruitment, and the conditions of service of persons appointed, to the secretarial staff of each House.
(3) Until provision is made by the Legislature under sub-section (2), the *Governor may, after consultation with the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly or the Chairman of the Legislative Council, as the case may be, make rules regulating the recruitment, and the conditions of service of persons appointed, to the secretarial staff of the Assembly or the Council, and any rules so made shall have effect subject to the provisions of any law made under the said sub. The present office-bearers are:
Privileges and immunities of the State Legislature and its members
Section 72 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir provides certain privileges and immunities to the Legislature and its members, which are:-
(a) the members enjoy freedom of speech in the Legislature;
(b) no member of the Legislature is liable to any proceeding in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in the Legislature or any committee thereof;
(c) no person is liable in respect of the publication by or under the authority of a House of the Legislature of any report, paper, votes or proceedings;
(d) in other respects, the State Legislature, its member and its committees enjoy all privileges and immunities as are enjoyed by the Parliament of India and its members and committees.
Rules of Procedure
For regulating the procedure and conduct of its business, the Legislative Assembly has made rules in exercise of its powers under sub section (2) of section 85 of the State Constitution which are known as the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly.