The Constitution of India is the fountainhead from which all our laws derive their authority and force. This is next Article in the series on constitutional provisions in order to aid our readers in understanding them.
172. Duration of State Legislatures.—(1) Every Legislative Assembly of every State, unless sooner dissolved, shall continue for *[five years] from the date appointed for its first meeting and no longer and the expiration of the said period of *[five years] shall operate as a dissolution of the
Provided that the said period may, while a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, be extended by Parliament by law for a period not exceeding one year at a time and not extending in any case beyond a period of six months after the Proclamation has ceased to operate.
(2) The Legislative Council of a State shall not be subject to dissolution, but as nearly as possible one-third of the members thereof shall retire as soon as may be on the expiration of every second year in accordance with the provisions made in that behalf by Parliament by law.
Article 172 lays down the term for the Legislative Assemblies and Legislative Councils of the States. The term of the Legislative Assembly shall be five years. The Council shall be a continuing House not subject to dissolution but one‑third of its members shall retire every two years. While the Legislative Assembly shall stand dissolved on the completion of its term of five years, it can be dissolved earlier. In fact, the term is five years only unless it is dissolved earlier. Also, it is important to remember that the period of five years is to be counted from the date of the first sitting of the House and not from the date of the constitution of the House which is usually earlier and immediately on the notification of election results.
Under the Constitution, where the State Legislature is bicameral the Legislative Council is not subject to dissolution and this is a feature which distinguishes the State Legislatures from the English Houses of Parliament. In States with bicameral legislature, only the Legislative Assembly can be dissolved but not the Legislative Council. The same is the position under article 83 in regard to the House of the People and the Council of States.
The Assembly, for all intents and purposes is deemed to be duly constituted on issue of notification under section 73 of Representation of People Act, 1951 and the duration thereof is distinct from constitution. The interpretation which may lead to a situation of constitutional breakdown is to be avoided, unless the provisions are so clear as not to call for any other interpretation.
The Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976 increased the duration of Legislative Assemblies of the States from five to six years by amending article 172.
The Constitution (Forty-fourth Amendment) Act, 1978 reverted to the earlier position of a five year term.
Source: Dr Subhash C Kashyap