The Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly: A Brief History

The Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly is the unicameral legislature of the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. Its origins can be traced back to the post-Independence era, when the state itself was created as a result of the integration of 30 erstwhile princely states. Here is a detailed look at the history of the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly.

No Pre-Constitution History

The Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly has no pre-constitution history, as the state itself is a post-Independence creation. It first came into being as a centrally administered territory on April 15, 1948, and was administered by a Chief Commissioner, aided and advised by an Advisory Council consisting of nine members, three of whom represented the erstwhile princely states, while the other six were public representatives.

From Central Territory to Part 'C' State

In 1951, Himachal Pradesh became a Part 'C' State, and was brought under a Lt. Governor with a 36-member Legislative Assembly. The first election to the Assembly was held in 1952. In 1954, Bilaspur, another Part-C State, was merged with Himachal Pradesh, and the strength of its Assembly was raised to 41.

Retaining Separate Identity

In 1956, despite the majority recommendation of the States Reorganization Commission for its merger with Punjab, Himachal Pradesh retained its separate identity, thanks to the famous dissenting note of the Chairman of the Commission, Justice Sh. Fazal Ali, which found favour with the Centre. However, a great price had to be paid, as Himachal was made a Union Territory sans Legislative Assembly, and was placed under an Administrator designated as Lt. Governor. Instead of a Legislative Assembly, it was provided with a Territorial Council with limited powers.

Restoration of Democratic Edifice

Thereafter, the people and the political leadership of the state had to literally move heaven and earth for the restoration of the democratic edifice. Their efforts finally bore fruit in 1963, when a bill was passed by the Union Parliament for providing Legislative Assemblies and Council of Ministers to certain Union Territories, including Himachal Pradesh. It was enforced in the case of Himachal Pradesh from July 1, 1963, after receiving the President's assent. The Territorial Council, which was a replica of a dyarchical form of government, was converted into a Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory. The strength of the Assembly was fixed at 43, including 2 nominated members. The Assembly held its first sitting from October 1, 1963. Continuity of the Assembly is considered from this date, hence its silver jubilee was celebrated in the year 1988.

Merger of New Areas and Full Statehood

With the merger of new areas into Himachal Pradesh in 1966, the number of members in the House rose to 56, including 2 nominated members. The strength of the House was further raised to 63 (60 elected and 3 nominated) after Section 24 (3) of Punjab Reorganization Act, 1966 (Act No. 31 of 1966) came into force in 1967. Finally, on January 25, 1971, a big leap forward was taken, and the abode of gods ("Devbhumi," as Himachal is called) made its debut as the 18th state of the Union of India. The declaration of a full-fledged state came from none other than the Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, from the historic Ridge Maidan. After delimitation of Assembly seats in the year 1971-72, the number of Members in the Assembly now stands at 68.


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