Who is an MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) in India? What does he really do?

This article deals with the role, powers and functions of an MLA or Member of the Legislative Assembly in any State in India.

Which provisions of the Constitution of India give power to an MLA?

Art 168 (2):
Where there are two Houses of the Legislature of a State, one shall be known as the Legislative Council and the other as the Legislative Assembly, and where there is only one House, it shall be known as the Legislative Assembly…

What are the qualifications required for being an MLA?

As per the Guidelines of the Election Commission, the following guidelines have been issued for qualification as a Member of Legislative Assembly to any State in India.

2.3. QUALIFICATIONS FOR ELECTION TO A LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
2.3.1. If a Candidate want to stand for election to the Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly)
of a State (other than the State of Jammu and Kashmir) or of a Union Territory
(including the National Capital Territory of Delhi), he/she must possess each of the
following qualifications:

  1. A candidate must be citizen of India [Article 173(a) of the Constitution, section 4(a)
    of the Govt. of Union Territories Act, 1963 and section 4 (a) of the Govt. of National
    Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991];
  2. Candidate must make and subscribe before some person authorized in that behalf
    by the Election Commission an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for
    the purpose in the Third Schedule to the Constitution or, as the case may be in the
    First Schedule to the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 or the Schedule to
    the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 [Article 173 (a) and
    Form VII/A in the Third Schedule to the Constitution, Section 4(a) and Form 1 in the
    First Schedule to the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 and section 4(a)
    and Form 1 in the Schedule to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi
    Act, 1991];
  3. Candidate must not be less than twenty-five years of age on the date of scrutiny of
    nominations [Article 173b) of the Constitution, section 4(b) of the Government of
    Union Territories Act, 1963 and section 4(b) of the Government of National Capital
    Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 read with section 36(2) (a) of the Representation of the
    People Act, 1951];
  4. 25a. If a candidate wants to contest for a seat in the Legislative Assembly of a State or Union Territory reserved for the Scheduled Castes or for the Scheduled Tribes of
    that State, or that Union Territory, then he/she must be a member of any of those
    Castes or, as the case may be, of those Tribes, and in addition, he/she must also be
    an elector for any Assembly Constituency in that State or that Union Territory;
    b. If a candidate wants to contest for a seat reserved for the Scheduled Tribes of an autonomous district of Assam, then he/she must be member of a Scheduled Tribe of any autonomous district and in addition, he/she must be an elector for the Assembly Constituency in which such seat or any other seat is reserved for that district;
    c. If a candidate wants to contest for a seat reserved for Sikkimese of Bhutia Lepcha origin in the Legislative Assembly of Sikkim, then he/she must be a person either of Bhutia or Lepcha origin, and in addition, he/she must also be an elector for any
    Assembly constituency in that State other than the constituency reserved for the
    Sanghas;
    d. If a candidate wants to contest for the seat reserved for the Sanghas in the
    Legislative Assembly of Sikkim, then he/she must be an elector for the Sangha
    Constituency in that State;
    e. If a candidate wants to contest for a general seat, that is to say, for a seat not
    reserved as aforesaid, then he/she must be an elector for any constituency in the
    State or Union Territory concerned.

    2.3.2. All the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the law, referred to above, are reproduced in Appendix 3.

    2.3.3. The above are the various qualifications, which a candidate must possess if he/she want to stand as a candidate for election to Lok Sabha or a Vidhan Sabha. A candidate must be very careful about this. He/she is advised to take special care in respect of the following two matters.

Do MLAs need to take an Oath?

Yes. as per Art. 188 of the Constitution of India, an MLA must take an oath or affirmation.

Art 188. Every member of the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council of a State shall, before taking his seat,make and subscribe before the Governor, or some person appointed in that behalf by him, an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule.

Constitution of India, Article 188

Is there a punshiment for MLAs who do not take an Oath?

Yes.

Art. 193. If a person sits or votes as a member of the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council of a State before he has complied with the requirements of article188, or when he knows that he is not qualified or that he is disqualified for membership thereof, or that he is prohibited from so doing by the provisions of any law made by Parliament or the Legislature of the State, he

Constitution of India, Article 193

Can an MLA travel toll-free on any National Highway in India?

Yes. Sitting MLA’s are exempt by the National Highway Authority of India from paying any toll tax for use of the highways. The MLA has to be physically present in the car when seeking exemption from toll for that journey.

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