A first for the Siddi community
Mr. Siddi, who lives in his modest home on the outskirts of the forest in Hitlalli village of Yallapur in Uttara Kannada district, has become the first person from the Siddhi tribal community to be nominated to the Karnataka Legislative Council. He is among the five persons nominated by the State government to the Council.
Base For Formation
- India has a bicameral system of legislature. Just as Parliament has two Houses, the states can also have a Legislative Council in addition to the Legislative Assembly through Article 169 of the Constitution.
- Six States having a Legislative Council: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka.
- Recently, the Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Council has been abolished through the J&K Reorganisation Bill, 2019, which reduced the State of J&K to the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
Abolition or Creation - Article 169
- The Parliament can abolish a legislative council (where it already exists) or create it (where it does not exist) by a simple majority, that is, a majority of the members of each House present and voting, if the legislative assembly of the concerned state, by a special majority, passes a resolution to that effect.
- Special majority implies
- A majority of the total membership of the assembly and
- A majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the assembly present and voting.
- Under Article 171 of the Constitution, the Legislative Council of a state shall not have more than one-third of the total strength of the State Assembly, and not less than 40 members.
- Like the Rajya Sabha, the legislative council is a continuing chamber, that is, it is a permanent body and is not subject to dissolution. The tenure of a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) is six years, with one-third of the members retiring every two years.
Manner of Election
- One-third of the MLCs are elected by the state’s MLAs,
- Another 1/3rd by a special electorate comprising sitting members of local governments such as municipalities and district boards,
- 1/12th by an electorate of teachers and another 1/12th by registered graduates.
- The remaining members are appointed by the Governor for distinguished services in various fields namely, literature, science, art, cooperative movement and social service.
- The legislative power of the Councils are limited. Unlike Rajya Sabha which has substantial powers to shape non-financial legislation, Legislative Councils lack a constitutional mandate to do so.
- Assemblies can override suggestions/amendments made to legislation by the Council.
- Again, unlike Rajya Sabha MPs, MLCs cannot vote in elections for the President and Vice President. The Vice President is the Rajya Sabha Chairperson while a member from the Council itself is chosen as the Council
- The Siddi community is also known by different synonyms such as Habshi and Badsha.
- It is believed that they are of African origin because they clearly show the Negroid racial strain in their physical features.
- Descendants of Bantu people of East Africa, Siddi ancestors were largely brought to India as slaves by Arabs as early as the 7th Century, followed by the Portuguese and the British later on.
- When slavery was abolished in the 18th and 19th centuries, Siddis fled into the country’s thick jungles, fearing recapture and torture.
- At present, the Siddis are living on the western coast of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka states.
- In Karnataka, they mainly live in Dharwad, Belagavi and Uttar Kannada districts.
- In India, the Union government in 2003, classified Siddis under the list of Scheduled Tribes.
- They are included in the Centre’s list of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups
- Previously they depended on hunting and gathering but at present, their main source of livelihood is labour and agriculture.