Before the Islamic Revolution, Majlis was also the name of the lower house of the Iranian Legislature from 1906 to 1979, the upper house being the Senate.
It was created by the Iran Constitution of 1906 and first convened on 7 October 1906 (Iranian Calendar: 1285-Mehr-13), soon gaining power under the rule of the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Noteworthy bills passed by the Parliament under the Pahlavi Dynasty include the Oil Nationalization Bill (15 March 1951) and the Family Protection Law (1967), which gave women many basic rights such as custody of children in the case of divorce.
Women were not allowed to vote or be elected to the Parliament until 1963, as part of reforms under the Shah's "White Revolution". The twenty-first National Consultative Assembly, which included female representatives, opened on 6 October 1963.
The last session of the Pre-Revolution Parliament was held on 7 February 1979 (18 Bahman 1357 AP).
After the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the Senate of Iran was abolished and was effectively replaced by the Guardian Council thus the Iranian legislature remained bicameral. In the 1989 revision of the constitution, the National Consultative Assembly became the Islamic Consultative Assembly.
The Parliament of Iran has had six chairmen since the Iranian Revolution. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was the first chairman, from 1980 to 1989. Then came Mehdi Karroubi (1989–1992), Ali Akbar Nategh-Nouri (1992–2000), Mehdi Karroubi (2000–2004), Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel (2004–2008) and Ali Larijani since 2008.
Over its history the Parliament is said to have evolved from being "a debating chamber for notables," to "a club for the shah's placemen" during the Pahlavi era, to a body dominated by members of "the propertied middle class" under the Islamic Republic.
The Islamic Consultative Assembly can legislate laws on all issues within the limits of the Constitution. The Assembly cannot, for instance, enact laws contrary to the canons and principles of the official religion of the country or to the Constitution.
Government bills are presented to the Islamic Consultative Assembly after receiving the approval of the Council of Ministers.
The Islamic Consultative Assembly has the right to investigate and examine all the affairs of the country.
International treaties, protocols, contracts, and agreements must be approved by the Islamic Consultative Assembly.
Receiving and issuing national or international loans or grants by the government must be ratified by the Islamic Consultative Assembly.
The President must obtain, for the Council of Ministers, after being formed and before all other business, a vote of confidence from the Assembly.
Whenever at least one-fourth of the total members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly pose a question to the President, or any one member of the Assembly poses a question to a minister on a subject relating to their duties, the President or the minister is obliged to attend the Assembly and answer the question.
All legislation passed by the Islamic Consultative Assembly must be sent to the Guardian Council. The Guardian Council must review it within a maximum of ten days from its receipt with a view to ensuring its compatibility with the criteria of Islam and the Constitution. If it finds the legislation incompatible, it will return it to the Assembly for review. Otherwise the legislation will be deemed enforceable.
Currently, the Parliament's 290 members, fourteen of whom represent non-Muslim religious minorities (4.8%), are popularly elected for four-year terms. About 8% of the Parliament are women, while the global average is 13%. The Parliament can force the dismissal of cabinet ministers by no-confidence votes and can impeach the president for misconduct in office. Although the executive proposes most new laws, individual deputies of the Parliament also may introduce legislation. Deputies also may propose amendments to bills being debated. The Parliament also drafts legislation, ratifies international treaties, and approves the national budget.
All People's House of Iran candidates and all legislation from the assembly must be approved by the Guardian Council. Candidates must pledge in writing that they are committed, in theory and in practice, to the Iranian constitution.
Members of Parliament elect their speaker and deputy speakers during the first session of Parliament for a one-year term. Every year, almost always in May, elections for new speakers are held in which incumbents may be re-elected.
The current Speaker of Parliament is Ali Larijani, with First Deputy Speaker Masoud Pezeshkian and Second Deputy Speaker Ali Motahari.
The last elections of Parliament of Iran were held on 26 March 2016 with a second round will be held in April in those 71 districts where no candidate received 25% or more of the votes cast. More than 12,000 candidates registered but leaving about 6,200 candidates to run for the 290 seats representing the 31 provinces. The results indicate that the results would make a hung parliament with reformists having a plurality.
From 1979, the Parliament had convened at the building that used to house the Senate of Iran. A new building was built for the Assembly at Baharestan Square in central Tehran, near the old Iranian Parliament's building that was used from 1906 to 1979. After several debates, the move was finally approved in 2004. The first session of the Parliament was held on 16 November 2004 in the new building.
The old building is depicted on the reverse of the Iranian 100 rials banknote.