In every state, the legislature means the legislative Assembly, even in the State where the legislative council exists. Actually, the Legislative Assembly is the first chamber or Lower House of the state legislature. Tamil Nadu legislature has only one house known as Legislative Assembly.
According to Article 170 of the Constitution, the Legislative Assembly of a state shall consist of not more than 500 and not less than 50 members. However, the parliament has the power to fix the minimum strength of a Legislative Assembly through the amendment of the constitution. The Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu consists of 235 members out of which 234 members are directly elected by the people from the constituencies on the basis of adult franchise and one member is nominated by the Governor from the Anglo-Indian community. However, seats shall be reserved in the house for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
A Person seeking election to the Legislative Assembly should have the following qualifications.
(i) He must be a citizen of India.
(ii) He must have attained 25 years of age and,
(iii) He must possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed by the parliament by law.
Normally, the term of the Legislative Assembly is five years except the state of Jammu and Kashmir where it has six years duration. However, it may be dissolved by the Governor at any time as result of the presidential order promulgated under Article 356 which is called as the state emergency. But, in case of National Emergency under Article 352, the tenure of the Legislative Assembly can be extended by parliament but not beyond one year at a time. Yet, fresh elections must take place within six months after the proclamation is withdrawn. Besides, the Chief Minister may voluntarily come forward to recommend for the dissolution of the Assembly to the Governor even before the expiry of the tenure.
In Tamil Nadu, the Legislative Assembly is a multi-functional political institution. It exercises the following powers and functions.
1. Making a law on any subject included in the State List as well as in the concurrent List, subject to the restraints imposed by the constitution.
2. Making and un-making the government.
3. Controlling the finances of the state.
4. Introducing the Money Bills and passing them.
5. Giving approval or disapproval to a Constitutional (Amendment) Bills passed by the parliament and referred to the states by the president for ratification.
6. Considering the reports submitted by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission, Auditor General and others.
7. Constituting various committees for various business.
8. Electing its Speaker and the Deputy speaker.
9. Initiating for no-confidence motion against the ruling government, and
10. Participating in the election of the president of India.
The above stated powers belong to the Legislative Assembly alone. Thus, in theory and practice, the Legislative Assembly has enormous powers. Hence, the Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) have more powers and functions rather than the Members of Legislative Council (MLCs). But, in Tamil Nadu we have MLAs and not MLCs.
As far as other important offices of the legislature are concerned, the Legislative Assembly elects its Speaker and the Deputy speaker. As such, the Legislative Council elects its Chairman and the Deputy chairman. Above all, the Advocate General is the only non-member of the state legislature who has the right and power to take part in the proceedings of the legislature, as the Attorney General of the Union Government.
Since 1951-52, general elections were held for electing the representatives to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly. Details of political parties winning in the elections are given below:
S.No Year Ruling party
1. 1952 Congress
2. 1957 Congress
3. 1962 Congress
4. 1967 DMK
5. 1971 DMK
6. 1977 AIADMK
7. 1980 AIADMK
8. 1985 AIADMK
9. 1989 DMK
10. 1991 AIADMK
11. 1996 DMK
12. 2001 AIADMK
13. 2006 DMK