PRIME MINISTER AND COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
Provisions provided in Articles 74, 75, and 78 of the Constitution deals with the role of a Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers.
THE PRIME MINISTER
- He is the real executive (de-facto executive) of the Indian State.
- He is the head of the government while President is the head of the state.
- He is directly elected by the people.
- Even the Constitution under Article 75 states that PM is appointed by the President but that is just a formality as he is directly elected/chosen by the people of India.
- However, in case of no clear majority, the discretion lies with the President to appoint a PM and usually he invites the leader of the single largest party or leader of coalition party in Lok Sabha to become the PM and seek a vote of confidence.
- A person who is not the member of the either of the House of Parliament can be appointed as a PM, however such situation is applicable only till 6 months under which he must become an MP.
- PM is the head of Council of Ministers.
Functions of PM
- Recommends members to be appointed as Council of Ministers to the President.
- Allocates and reshuffles the portfolios/Ministries among the ministers.
- He can ask a minister to resign or give President the advice to do so.
- Council of Minister exists till PM exits meaning with resignation or death of a PM, his COM also dissolves/resigns.
- The President cannot act without the advice of Council of minister headed by PM (42nd and 44th CA act 1976 and 1978 respectively.)
- He is the leader of Lok Sabha by default.
- Political head of the services and chief spokesperson of Union Government.
Note: The Prime Minister is the leader of the Lower House. In this capacity, he enjoys the following powers:
- He advises the President with regard to summoning and proroguing of the sessions of the Parliament.
- He can recommend dissolution of the Lok Sabha to President at any time.
- He announces government policies on the floor of the House.
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
- As the Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary system of government modelled on the British pattern, the council of ministers headed by the prime minister is the real executive authority is our politico administrative system.
- Article 74 deals with the status of the council of ministers while Article 75 deals with the appointment, tenure, responsibility, qualification, oath and salaries and allowances of the ministers.
- The Constitution under Article 74 states that President always has to take aid and advise from the Council of Ministers headed by the PM.
Note: The fact that President must at all time make decisions with respect to advise from COM headed by PM was added by 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act.
- Also, under Article 74, it is also said that President can ask COM headed by PM to reconsider the advice given, however he is act on the advice after re-consideration. This was added by 48 Constitutional Amendment Act,1978.
- The nature of advice tendered by ministers to the President cannot be enquired by any court.
- COM are appointed by the President on advice of the PM and holds office during his pleasure.
- The COM headed by PM are collective responsible for its actions in the Lok Sabha (Article 75). Meaning that everyone has to accept the decision of the COM and/or Cabinet and are answerable for those actions. If a minister is not ready to defend, then he/she can resign it. Example – Dr BR Ambedkar resigned because of his differences with his colleagues on the Hindu Code Bill in 1953. CD Deshmukh resigned due to his differences on the policy of re-organization of states. Arif Mohammed resigned due to his opposition to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986.
- The total number of ministers, including the Prime Minister, in the Council of Ministers shall not exceed 15% of the total strength of the Lok Sabha. This provision was added by the 91st Amendment Act of 2003.
- A member of either house of Parliament belonging to any political party who is disqualified on the ground of defection shall also be disqualified to be appointed as a minister. This provision was also added by the 91st Amendment Act of 2003.
- A minister who is not a member of the Parliament (either house) for any period of six consecutive months shall cease to be a minister. The Council of Ministers comprises of:
- a) Cabinet Ministers (the inner circle consisting of ministers holding important portfolio like defense, education, finance, home affairs, external affairs etc.
- b) Ministers of State – can have independent charge or could be attached to cabinet ministers. (outer circle consisting ministers holding portfolios which are of not so importance or are subsidiary in nature).
ROLE OF CABINET:
- It is the highest decision-making authority in our politico-administrative system.
- It is the chief policy formulating body of the Central government.
- It is the supreme executive authority of the Central government.
- It is chief coordinator of Central administration.
- It is an advisory body to the president and its advice is binding on him.
- It is the chief crisis manager and thus deals with all emergency situations.
- It deals with all major legislative and financial matters.
- It exercises control over higher appointments like constitutional authorities and senior secretariat administrators.
- It deals with all foreign policies and foreign affairs.
Kitchen Cabinet – It refers to a circle of people which is even smaller than the circle of Cabinet Ministers consisting of the most loyalist people to the PM, to whom PM can trust and can maintain secrecy. The term became popular during Indira Gandhi era and since is very popular. It might also contain people who are not ministers.
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS VS CABINET
|COUNCIL OF MINISTERS||CABINET|
A larger body of ministers consisting 60-70 members.
|A smaller body of ministers consisting of 15-20 members.|
It has three categories – cabinet ministers, ministers of state, deputy ministers.
|It falls under council of ministers.|
It does not meet as a collective body to run government work.
|It meets once in a week to perform duties and make decisions as collective body.|
Constitution provides it with more powers but in theory.
The real power exists in this as it exercises practical application of power.
Cabinet determines its functions.
It directs the COM by taking decisions and bind whole ministry.
The decision taken by Cabinet is implemented by COM
|The Cabinet supervises those implementations.|
|It is a constitutional body, given in the Articles 74 and 75 of the Constitution. However, the size and classification are not mentioned in the Constitution rather determined by the prime minister according to the exigencies of the time and requirements of the situation. Its classification into a three-tier body is based on the British Parliamentary system. It has got a legislative sanction. Thus, the Salaries and Allowances Act of 1952 defines a ‘minister’ as a ‘member of the council of ministers, by whatever name called, and includes a deputy minister.
It was inserted in Article 352 of the Constitution in 1978 by the 44th Constitutional Amendment Act. It is not part of the original text of the Constitution. Still, Article 352 only defines the cabinet as ‘the council consisting of the prime minister and other ministers of cabinet rank appointed under Article 75’ and provides its powers and functions. In other words, its role in our politico-administrative system is based on the conventions of parliamentary government as developed in Britain.
It is collectively responsible to the Lower House of the Parliament.
It enforces the collective responsibility of the council of ministers to the Lower House of Parliament.