Difference between Unicameral and Bicameral - Union & States

The two terms, Unicameral and Bicameral are related to the state legislatures of the world. The legislature is an important organ of the government which is responsible to administer the laws in the country. Members are elected/nominated in the legislature and are delegated duties to perform various functions.

The terms, ‘Unicameral’ and ‘Bicameral’ have often confused IAS Exam aspirants hence, this article will help candidates understand the basic differences between these two. The article will aid candidates’ preparation for UPSC Prelims and Mains GS-II Polity section as it talks about the basic terms used in Political Science subjects often.

What is Unicameral Legislature?

It is a form of the legislature where only one house (one central unit) exists to make and implement laws for the state/country. To understand it clearly, let’s categorize it into two parts:

  • Unicameral National Legislature

In the case of Unicameral Union Parliament, the first example can be given of the country China where the National People’s Congress is the national legislature and is the highest organ of the nation. There is no other organ in China which administers laws for the country. A few other examples of the nations that have Unicameral National Legislatures are:

  1. Iran
  2. Norway
  3. Sweden
  4. Hungary
  • Unicameral State Legislature
    In the case of the unicameral state legislature, Indian states are best examples to understand. Aspirants might know that in India, a few states’ parliaments are unicameral in nature i.e. they have only one house to make a law. In states, these are called as ‘legislative assemblies.’

Out of 28 Indian States, there are 24 states which have a unicameral structure. The list of these states are given below:

  1. Arunachal Pradesh
  2. Assam
  3. Chhattisgarh
  4. Delhi
  5. Goa
  6. Gujarat
  7. Haryana
  8. Himachal Pradesh
  9. Jharkhand
  10. Kerala
  11. Madhya Pradesh
  12. Manipur
  13. Meghalaya
  14. Mizoram
  15. Nagaland
  16. Odisha
  17. Puducherry
  18. Punjab
  19. Rajasthan
  20. Sikkim
  21. Tamil Nadu
  22. Tripura
  23. Uttarakhand
  24. West Bengal

What is Bicameral Legislature?

It is a legislative body with two houses. India is one such example where there are two houses both at union and also at 6 of its 28 states. In a bicameral legislature, the function to administer and implement the laws are shared between the two houses.

At the central level, the Indian Parliament has two houses:

  1. Lok Sabha (Lower House)
  2. Rajya Sabha (Upper House)

To know the difference between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, check the linked article.

At the state level, six of the 28 state legislatures have two houses:

  1. Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha)
  2. Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad)

The names of the six states having bicameral legislature are:

  1. Andhra Pradesh
  2. Bihar
  3. Karnataka
  4. Maharashtra
  5. Telangana
  6. Uttar Pradesh

Basic Differences between Unicameral and Bicameral

The differences that aspirants should know between the two for UPSC 2020 are given in the table below:

Difference between Unicameral and Bicameral
Difference Unicameral Bicameral
Number of House One Two
Sharing of Power Concentrated in one house Shared between two houses
System of Government Unitary Federal
Decision-Making Flexible and efficient as bills are introduced and passed in only a single house Time-Consuming as both the houses have to pass the bill hence, their approval is a tedious task

(To know more on how a bill is passed in Indian Parliament, check the linked article)

Deadlock Rare to None Common as the two houses can disagree on a bill hence, a deadlock appears which is sorted with the help of joint sitting
Members Elected/Nominated Elected/Nominated

Aspirants should understand that unicameralism is mostly followed in countries or states having smaller size against bicameralism which appears in larger countries and states.

Candidates can find out what are the topics in the UPSC Exams by visiting the UPSC Syllabus page. For more preparation materials they can refer to the links given in the table below. 

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