- Council of Ministers headed by PM serves as Real Executive Authority.
- The principles of the Parliamentary System & the functioning of the Council of Ministers are not discussed in detail in the Constitution.
- Article 74 & 75 of the Constitution give a broad & sketchy description of the functioning of the Council of Ministers.
- 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.
Provides for the Council of Ministers headed by Prime Minister.
- Article 74 provides for a council of ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions.
- The 42nd and 44th Constitutional Amendment Acts have made the advice binding on the President.
- All Aid & advise by Council of Ministers is made binding on President, with a provision for the President to return advice for reconsideration to the Council of Ministers once.
- The advice of the Council of Ministers to President cannot be judicially reviewed.
Provides for the Composition & other broad details.
- The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
- 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.
- The ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.
- The council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha.
- The President shall administer the oaths of office and secrecy to a minister.
Conduct of Business of the Government of India.
- All executive action of the Union is to be taken in name of the President.
- The manner of authentication of Orders and exec actions taken in name of Prez shall be laid down by President himself. Such authentication cannot be judicially reviewed.
- President shall make rules for the transaction of business of Govt of India & allocation of the said business among ministers.
Deals with Duties of Prime Minister
- It includes the duty to relay the decisions of the CoM to the President,
- It also includes the duty to submit a decision of a Minister for consideration to the CoM when the President requires so.
Rights of Ministers as Respects the Houses
- Every Minister shall have the right to participate & speak in the proceedings of either House of Parliament or in a Joint Sitting of Parliament or in any Parliamentary committees whether he or she is a member of that House or of Parliament or not.
- However, a Minister will only be able to vote on an issue in the House that he is a part of. Non-MP Ministers will not vote.
Appointment of Ministers
- The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, while the other ministers are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
- This means that the President can appoint only those persons as ministers who are recommended by the Prime minister.
Responsibility of Ministers
Article 75 clearly states that the council of ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. This means that all the ministers own joint responsibility to the Lok Sabha for all their acts of commission and commission. They work as a team and swim or sink together. When the Lok Sabha passes a no-confidence motion against the council of ministers, all the ministers have to resign including those ministers who are from the Rajya Sabha.
Article 75 also contains the principle of individual responsibility. It states that the ministers hold office during the pleasure of the president, which means that the President can remove a minister even at a time when the council of ministers enjoys the confidence of the Lok Sabha.
No Legal Responsibility
The courts are barred from enquiring into the nature of the advice tendered to the Prez by the CoM. Therefore such advice cannot be challenged in a court & the CoM holds no legal responsibility if any advice violates the law.
Composition of the Council of Ministers
The council of ministers consists of three categories of ministers, namely, cabinet ministers, ministers of state,and deputy ministers.
- Cabinet Ministers: Hold Important portfolios & head important Ministries like Home, Defence, External Affairs, etc. A smaller unit within CoM that meets regularly & makes most decisions.
- Ministers of State: Can be attached to Cabinet Ministers as subordinates or can also have independent charges of ministry or departments.
- Deputy Ministers: They are attached to Cabinet Ministers or MoS as subordinates, assisting in their admin, political, & parliamentary duties.
- Parliamentary Secretary is one more rank in CoM. They are attached to Senior ministers & help them in discharging parliamentary duties. No parliamentary secretaries have been appointed since 1967.
- Prime Minister is also a part CoM as its head. Deputy PM (if nominated by PM) is also a part of the CoM.
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 the 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 deals with all foreign policies and foreign affairs.
- The cabinet, a small body consisting of the prime minister as its head and some 15 to 20 most important ministers, is the highest decision-making body in the formal sense.
- However, a still smaller body called the ‘Inner Cabinet' or ‘Kitchen Cabinet' has become the real center of power.
- Every prime minister in India has had his Inner Cabinet'-a a circle within a circle.
- During the era of Indira Gandhi, the Inner Cabinet' which came to be called the Kitchen Cabinet' was particularly powerful.
- The prime ministers have resorted to the device of inner cabinet’ (extra-constitutional body) due to its merits, namely:
1. It being a small unit, is much more efficient decision-making body than a large cabinet.
2. It can meet more often and deal with business much more expeditiously than the large cabinet.
3. It helps the Prime Minister in maintaining secrecy in making decisions on important political Issue.