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Bihar Legislative Council

Bihar Legislative Council

 

LegislativeThe Bihar Legislative Council has had a glorious past. Since its formation, it has covered a journey of several developmental steps till today.It was during the early days of freedom struggle when a few intellectuals started a movement for separation of the State of Bihar from Bengal. On seeing the gravity of such a demand, the then Govt. of India recommended, through a letter to the Secretary of State, for the creation of a post of Lieutenant Governor for Bihar & Orissa, formation of a Legislative Council and making Patna the Capital of Bihar & Orissa.

 

25th August, 1911 is an important date in the parliamentary history of Bihar as on this date such a recommendation was made by the Govt. of India. The Council was formed under the Indian Councils Act 1861,Govt. of India Act 1909 (as amended in 1912) and a total of 43 members belonging to different categories were taken into it.

The first sitting of the Council was convened on 20th January, 1913 at Bankipore.

Another change in the parliamentary system of Bihar took place in 1917 when Bihar and Orissa were jointly called as the Governor's Province and the Council was named as the Bihar & Orissa Legislative Council.

Under the new arrangement, the members of the Executive Council became the ex-officio members of the Bihar & Orissa Legislative Council under section 72 (5) of the Govt. of India Act, 1919. Besides the ex-officio members, there were 76 elected members and 27 members nominated by the Governor. The province was divided into 76 constituencies – out of which 66 were called general constituencies and the remaining 10 were known as special constituencies. It is notable that only the male voters could cast their vote those days. The system of a panel of members for the purpose of presiding over the House in the absence of the Chairman or the Vice-Chairman was in practice and the quorum required a total of 25 members. The system of Question (like the present system of Question Hour) was there and the members enjoyed the democratic weapon of Adjournment Motion as well.

The third and last step of parliamentary development in Bihar took place in 1936, when Bihar attained its separate statehood. Under the Govt. of India Act, 1919, the unicameral legislature got converted into a bicameral shape, that is, the Bihar Legislative Council and the Bihar Legislative Assembly.

Under the Govt. of India Act, 1935 the Bihar Legislative Council consisted of 29 members. The members were elected indirectly and a few were nominated, too. By the order of the Governor, Rai Bahadur Satish Chandra Sinha became its Chairman. Later, Rajiv Ranjan Sinha was elected as the Chairman of the BLC. During the period, 1939 to 1946, the BLC was not in function.

After India became a Republic, the BLC was summoned on 16th February, 1950, under the Chairmanship of Shyama Prasad Sinha and a resolution was passed seeking a separate secretariat for itself.

On 1st April, 1950, the secretariat of BLC started functioning.

After the first general elections the number of members was increased up to 72 and by 1958 the number was raised to 96.

From the very beginning, the Bihar Legislative Council has been taking initiatives in the direction of public welfare. In 1913 the newly formed Bihar & Orissa Council spearheaded the cause of providing educational facilities to the children of the capital and got success. In 1921 it was the Council itself which gave orders to the district councillors to open Tibbi and Ayurvedic Dispensaries. On 22nd November, 1921 an important debate on the voting rights of female took place for the first time in the Council and as a result the female got such rights.

The tenure of the present Chairman, Prof. Jabir Husain, started on 5th April, 1995. Under the chairmanship of Prof. Jabir Husain, the Bihar Legislative Council has not only maintained its glorious past but also added different new dimensions to the parliamentary politics through meaningful dialogues and parliamentary interventions. Special debates in the House and seminars on topical social and political issues like Perils of Parliamentary Democracy, Fate of Indian Rivers, Child Labour in Bihar, Food Security, Jharia Landslide Problems, Uranium Radiation Effects in Jadugoda etc. have led the government and agencies concerned to take conclusive decisions. It was the concern of the Council, for example, that led to the formation of Bihar State Child Labour Commission and passing of the Witchcraft Prevention Act, 1999 in the state, and several other such measures are in the offing.

The Seminar Hall of the Council remained buzzing with activity during the present Chairman Prof. Jabir Husain. The Child Assembly that was consecutively organised thrice in the seminar hall was a phenomenal success. The children from different parts of the state had the occasion to present their problems themselves before their elders and demand urgent solutions. These occasions also witnessed the gracious presence of personalities like Gulzar and Farooque Shaikh.

In tune with the grace of the upper house, its present Chairman has also added new literary and cultural dimensions and dignity to the house not only by earning for himself the Sahitya Akademy Award for the year 2005 for his book Ret Per Khema (Urdu), but also by organising from time to time, literary seminars on cultural and literary issue. The grand meeting hall of the Council has so far witnessed the gracious presence of literary figures like Nirmal Verma, Ashok Vajpai, Krishna Sobti, Rajendra Yadav, Vishnu Prabhakar, Namvar Singh, Ali Sardar Jafri, Kamleshwar, Gulzar, Akhtar Payami, Ali Amjad and Kedarnath Singh.

 

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