Its revival has again been mooted by Karunanidhi

The Legislative Council, whose revival has again been mooted by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, had a chequered history of nearly 50 years.

It was under the Government of India Act, 1935 that a bi-cameral legislature was established in the erstwhile Madras Presidency in 1937. Even though the Presidency had a body called Legislative Council since 1921, it was different in character as most of its members were elected. The Second, Third and Fourth Councils were constituted following the general elections held in 1923, 1926 and 1930.

Since July 1937, the Legislative Council was a permanent body not subject to dissolution but one-third of its members retired every three years. It consisted of not less than 54 and not more than 56 members. The composition of the House was 35 general seats; 7 seats for Muslims; one for European; three for Indian Christians and not less than 8 and not more than 10 nominated by the Governor. On July 14, 1937, U. Rama Rao became the first chairman of the Council.

The arrangement went on till 1952. Then, the strength of the Council went up to 72, which included 24 representatives each from local bodies and Legislative Assembly constituencies. There were six seats each for graduates and teachers while the number of nominated members was 12. It was also decided that one-third of members would retire every two years.

When the Congress formed the Ministry in April 1952 following the general elections to the Legislative Assembly, C. Rajagopalachari became a nominated member of the Council before he was sworn in Chief Minister.

Between 1953 and 1957, the strength of the Council went down and up — 51 members in 1953, 50 in 1956 and 63 in 1957. This remained the sanctioned strength till the end. While the representatives of local bodies and Assembly constituencies accounted for 21 each, teachers and graduates had six representatives each with nine nominated members from different fields such as literature, arts, science and social service. When the first Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam regime was established in 1967, C. N. Annadurai, who became the Chief Minister, became an MLC in April that year. M.G. Ramachandran, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam founder, was a member of the Council in the early 1960s. Mr. Karunanidhi was sworn in an MLC in April 1984.

The Assembly adopted a government-sponsored resolution in May 1986 to abolish the Council. After the two Houses of Parliament approved the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council (Abolition) Bill 1986, the President gave his assent in August that year. The Council's abolition came into effect from November 1, 1986.

When the DMK came to power in January 1989, the Assembly adopted a resolution on February 20 that year, seeking to revive the Council. Though the Rajya Sabha approved, in May 1990, the legislation to revive the House, the Bill could not be passed in the Lok Sabha. In October 1991, the Assembly adopted a resolution, rescinding the 1989 resolution.

Yet another attempt was made in July 1996 after the return of the DMK regime two months earlier. A year later, the Union Cabinet even decided to introduce the Bill in Parliament. Again, this effort failed with the Assembly in September 2001 passing a resolution against the revival of the Council.

In Andhra Pradesh, the Legislative Council, which was abolished around the same time as Tamil Nadu Legislative Council, was revived in April 2007.

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