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Historical Background and Evolution of Punjab Legislative Assembly and its strength

After Independence and eventual partition of India in 1947, the Punjab province of British India was divided between India and Pakistan.

Post independence, several small Punjabi princely states, including Patiala, acceded to the Union of India and got united into the PEPSU. In 1956, this was integrated with the state of East Punjab to create a new, enlarged Indian state called "Punjab". The Indian Punjab was further divided with the formation of new State of Himachal Pradesh, and thereafter new State of Haryana alongside the current state of Punjab. Ever since, Punjab Day is celebrated across the State on 1st November every year marking the formation of a Punjabi language speaking State under the Punjab Reorganization Act, 1966.

As a consequence, the Hindi-speaking southern half of Punjab became a separate state of Haryana, and the Pahari speaking hilly areas in the North-East were given to Himachal Pradesh. Chandigarh was on the border between the two states and became a separate Union Territory, but serves as the capital of both Punjab and Haryana.

Before Independence and till the promulgation of the Constitution of India in the year 1950, the Legislature was known as East Punjab Legislative Assembly and it had its first session held on 18th April, 1937 at Lahore (now in Pakistan). Due to partition of 1947, the State of Punjab was bereft of any permanent building to house the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and, therefore, it had to hold its sessions in various temporary accommodations, first at Shimla and later at Chandigarh.

The sessions of the First East Punjab Legislative Assembly were held from 1st November 1947 to 25th October 1949 at the Council Chamber, Governor General's Lodge, Shimla. The first Punjab Legislative Assembly also held its sittings from 6th March 1950 to 18th April 1953 at Assembly Chamber, Shimla. Later, from 28th September 1953 to 25th February 1961, the Assembly met in the Punjab Engineering College Hall, which was then located at Sector 10, Chandigarh and the Hall of the Junior Secondary School, Sector 10, Chandigarh.

Ultimately on 6th March 1961, the present building known as 'Vidhan Bhavan' at Chandigarh became its permanent House and the first session was held in this building from 6th March, 1961 to 30th March, 1961. Some later sittings i.e. from 20th September 1961 to 28th September 1961 of Punjab Legislative Assembly were held at the Hall of Junior Secondary School, Sector 10, Chandigarh. Finally, from 13th March, 1962 till date, all the sittings of the Punjab Legislative Assembly (Punjab Vidhan Sabha) have been taking place in the present Assembly Chamber.

Post Independence, the first Punjab Legislative Assembly constituted after the General Elections held under the Constitution of India, met for the first time on 3rd May 1952. Since then, this institution has maintained its role as a citadel of democracy and the most effective representative body of the State of Punjab.

Initially, from 1952 to 1970, the Punjab State Legislature was a Bicameral House. However, the Upper House i.e. Legislative Council of Punjab was abolished on 1st January 1970, and as a result, the Legislature of Punjab was transformed into Unicameral Legislature.

Upon reorganization in 1966, the number of Members was reduced from 154 to 87, but it again rose to 104 after the General elections of 1967. However, the number of Members represented in Punjab Vidhan Sabha has been varying from time to time as depicted in the table below:

Vidhan SabhaNo. of Seats
1. First Punjab Vidhan Sabha (1952 to 31 October, 1956)
*(1st November,1956 to 1957)
* (integration of Pepsu with Punjab)
2. Second Punjab Vidhan Sabha (1957 to 1962) 154
3. Third Punjab Vidhan Sabha (1962 to 31 October, 1966)
** (1st November,1966 to 1967)
**(Re-organization of Punjab State)
4. Fourth Punjab Vidhan Sabha (1967 to 1969)104
5. Fifth Punjab Vidhan Sabha(1969 to 1971)104
6. Sixth Punjab Vidhan Sabha (1972 to 1977)104
7. Seventh Punjab Vidhan Sabha (1977) till date i.e. 16th Punjab Vidhan Sabha (2022) 117

At present, the Assembly consists of 117 Members. The State has 23 Districts with a total Population of 2,77,43,388 (approx.) out of which about 1,46,39,465 are males and 1,31,03,873 are females. There are close to 1.84 Crore Electors in the State.

The year 2002 marked the completion of fifty years of the Punjab Legislative Assembly which was constituted under the Constitution of India in 1952.