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Madras Musings wishes all its readers a very Happy New Year!                      (ARCHIVE) VOL. XXII NO. 17, December 16-31, 2012
The State's Legislative Assembly – 60 years and more

The home of the Legislative Assembly and Secretariat in Fort. St. George in the early 2000s.


Fort Council Chamber (right, centre) in the 1785 when the first Legislative met in 1861.

Senate House, where the Assembly met in 1937-38.

Banqueting Hall, where the Assembly met in 1938-39.

Home of the Legislature in 1952, later
Kalaivanar Arangam.

The Assembly Hall in Fort St. George in 1911.

The Assembly Hall in Senate House in 1937.

The Speakers
1. J. Shivashanmugam Pillai
2. N. Gopala Menon
3. U. Krishna Rao
4. S. Chellapandian
5. Si.Pa. Adithanar
6. Pulavar K. Govindan
7. K.A. Mathiazhagan
8. P. Seenivasan (Acting Speaker)
9. Munu Adhi
10. K. Rajaram
11. P.H. Pandian
12. M. Tamilkudimagan
13. R. Muthiah
14. P.T.R. Palanivel Rajan
15. K. Kalimuthu
16. R. Avudaiappan
17. D. Jayakumar
18. P. Dhanapal
The Prime & the Chief Ministers
1. P.S. Kumaraswamy Raja
2. C. Rajagopalachari
3. K. Kamaraj
4. M. Bhakthavatsalam
5. C.N. Annadurai
6. V.R. Nedunchezhiyan (Acting)
7. M. Karunanidhi
8. M.G. Ramachandran
9. Janaki Ramachandran
10. J. Jayalalithaa
11. O. Panneerselvam

The first Legislature of any kind to be established in Madras was the Madras Legislative Council in 1861. First established as a non-representative advisory body, it saw the introduction of elected members in 1892. The Indian Councils Act, 1909 (under the popularly called 'Minto-Morley Reforms') officially introduced indirect election of members to the Council. In 1919, direct elections were introduced with introduction of Diarchy under the Government of India Act of 1919. Between 1920 and 1937, the Legislative Council was an unicameral legislature for the Madras Presidency. The Government of India Act of 1935 abolished diarchy and created a bicameral legislature in Madras Province. The Legislature consisted of the Governor and two Legislative bodies – a Legislative Assembly and a Legislative Council. The Assembly was the lower house and consisted of 215 members, who were further classified into general members and reserved members representing special communities and interests.

The presiding officer of the Assembly was called the Speaker of the Assembly.

The first Assembly of the Madras Presidency met in the Senate House of Madras University in 1937.

The first Legislative Assembly election for the Presidency was held in February 1937. The Indian National Congress obtained a majority by winning 159 of 215 seats. C Rajagopalachari became the first elected Chief Minister of the Presidency (called the Prime Minister or Premier until 1952) under the provincial autonomy system guaranteed by the Government of India Act of 1935. The first Assembly was constituted in July 1937. Bulusu Sambamurthi and A. Rukmani Lakshmipathi were elected as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively. The first Assembly lasted its term, till February 1943, but the Congress Cabinet resigned in October 1939, protesting against India's participation in World War II. During 1939-46, Madras was under the direct rule of the Governor and no elections were held in 1943 when the Assembly's term expired. The next elections were held only in 1946, when a political compromise was reached between the Congress and the Viceroy, Lord Wavell. The second Assembly of the Presidency was thus constituted in April 1946. The Congress won an absolute majority in the elections and again formed the Government. On August 15, 1947, India became independent and the new Indian Constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950. Madras Presidency became Madras State and the then-existing Assembly and the Government were retained till new elections could be held in 1952.

In the Republic of India, the Madras State Legislative Assembly continued to be the lower house in a bicameral legislature. The first election to the Assembly on the basis of universal adult suffrage was held in January 1952. According to the Delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies (Madras) Order, 1951, promulgated by President under Sections 6 and 9 of the Representation of People Act, 1950, the Assembly's strength was 375 members elected from 309 constituencies. Out of the 309 constituencies in the undivided Madras State, 66 were two-member constituencies, 62 of which had one seat reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates and four for Scheduled Tribe candidates. The two-member constituencies were established in accordance with Article 332 of the Indian Constitution.

The voting method and the plurality of electoral formula were defined in the Representation of People Act, 1950. These constituencies were large in size and had greater number of voters (more than 100,000) than general constituencies. Multiple members were elected only in the 1952 and 1957 elections as double member representation was abolished in 1961 by the enactment of Two-Member Constituencies Abolition Act (1961). Of the 375 seats, 143 were from what later became Andhra State, 29 from Malabar, 11 from South Canara (part of present-day Karnataka) and the remaining 190 belonged to the present-day Tamil Nadu.

On October 1, 1953, a separate Andhra State, consisting of the Telugu-speaking areas of the composite Madras State, was formed and the Kannada-speaking area of Bellary District was merged with the then Mysore State. This reduced the strength of the Legislative Assembly to 231. On November 1, 1956, the States Reorganisation Act took effect and consequently the constituencies in the erstwhile Malabar District were merged with the Kerala State. This further reduced the strength to 190.

The Tamil-speaking area of Kerala (present-day Kanniyakumari District) and Shenkottah taluk were added to Madras State. According to the new Delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Order of 1956, made by the Delimitation Commission of India under provisions of the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, the strength of the Assembly was increased to 205. The 1957 elections were conducted for these 205 seats. In 1959, as a result of the Andhra Pradesh and Madras (Alteration of Boundaries) Act 1959, one constituency from the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly was allotted to Madras, increasing its Legislative Assembly strength to 206. The 1962 elections were conducted for these 206 seats.

In 1965, the elected strength of the Assembly was increased to 234 under the Delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Order, 1965. In addition to 234, the Assembly also has one nominated member representing the Anglo-Indian community. From 1965, the number of members has remained constant.

In 1969, Madras State was renamed Tamil Nadu and subsequently the Assembly came to be known as the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly. The Legislative Council was abolished with effect from November 1, 1986 through an Act of Parliament titled the 'Tamil Nadu Legislative Council (Abolition) Act, 1986.' With the abolition of the Council, the legislature became an unicameral body and remained so for the next 24 years. Of the 14 Assemblies that have been constituted so far, four (the sixth, seventh, ninth and tenth) have been dismissed by the Central Government using Article 356 of the Indian Constitution.

The Legislative Assembly is seated in Fort St. George. Fort St. George has historically been the seat of power of the Government of Tamil Nadu from the founding of the city as Madraspatnam in 1640. During 1921-37, the precursor to the Assembly, the Madras Legislative Council, met in the Council Chambers within the Fort. Between July 14, 1937 and December 21, 1938, the Assembly met in the Senate House of the University of Madras and between January 27, 1938 and October 26, 1939 in the Banqueting Hall (later renamed Rajaji Hall) in the Government Estate. During 1946-52, it moved back to Fort St. George.

In 1952, the strength of the Assembly rose to 375, after the constitution of the First Assembly, and it was briefly moved into temporary premises in the Government Estate Complex. This move was made in March 1952, as the existing Assembly building only had a seating capacity of 260. Then, on May 3, 1952, it moved into a newly constructed Assembly building in the same Estate. The Assembly functioned from the new building (later renamed 'Kalaivanar Arangam') during 1952-56. However, with the reorganisation of States and formation of Andhra, the strength came down to 190 and the Assembly moved back to Fort St. George. From December 1956 till January 2010, the Fort remained the home to the Assembly.

In 2004, during the 12th Assembly, the AIADMK Government made unsuccessful attempts to shift the Assembly, first to a site in Queen Mary's College and later in the Anna University campus, Guindy. Both attempts were withdrawn after public opposition. During the 13th Assembly, the DMK Government proposed a new plan to shift the Assembly and the Secretariat to a new building in Government Estate. Construction began in 2008 and was completed in 2010. The new Assembly building was opened and the Assembly started functioning in it from March 2010. After the AIADMK's victory in the 2011 elections, the Assembly shifted back to Fort St. George. – (Courtesy: TCC Digest.)

The Assembly Hall in Government Estate in 1952.

The Assembly Hall in Fort St. George in the early 2000s.

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In this Issue

Confusion reigns over heritage
Chennai lags behind as a liveable city
The State to blame for power shortage
Greater focus on natural and rural heritage needed: INTACH
Safeguarding intangible heritage
The State's Legislative Assembly – 60 years and more
Animal Farm – Version 2
Driving – the Indian way...
From promoter of consumerism to consumer activist – Part II
The Mother of all Music Seasons

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write – Season Special!
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your Diary


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