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The office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers

Introduction | The office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers

  • In the scheme of parliamentary system of government provided by the constitution, the President is the nominal executive authority (de jure executive) and Prime Minister is the real executive authority (de facto executive). In other words, president is the head of the State while Prime Minister is the head of the government.
  • Article 75 of the Indian Constitution mentions that a Prime Minister is one who is appointed by the President. There is no specific procedure for his election or appointment. Article 74(1) states that there shall be a Council of Ministers with a Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President. Thus, the Indian Constitution itself recognizes a Council of Ministers.

Appointment of the Prime Minister

  • The Constitution does not contain any specific procedure for the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister. Article 75 says only that the Prime Minister shall be appointed by the president. However, this does not imply that the president is free to appoint any one as the Prime Minister.
  • In accordance with the conventions of the parliamentary system of government, the President has to appoint the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister. But, when no party has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, then the President may exercise his personal discretion in the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister.
  • In such a situation, the President usually appoints the leader of the largest party or coalition in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister and asks him to seek a vote of confidence in the House within a month.

Eligibility To Be A Prime Minister

  • To become an Indian prime minister one has to be
  • A citizen of India.
  • A member of either Rajya Sabha or Lok Sabha
  • He should have completed his 30 years if he is a member of the Rajya Sabha or can be 25 years of age if he is a member of the Lok Sabha

Oath

Before the Prime Minister enters upon his office, the president administers to him the oaths of office and secrecy. In his oath of office, the Prime Minister swears:

  • To bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India,
  • To uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India,
  • To faithfully and conscientiously discharge the duties of his
  • Office, and
  • To do right to all manner of people in accordance with the
  • Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.

Term of office | The office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers

  • The term of the Prime Minister is not fixed and he holds office during the pleasure of the president. However, this does not mean that the president can dismiss the Prime Minister at any time.
  • So long as the Prime Minister enjoys the majority support in the Lok Sabha, he cannot be dismissed by the President. However, if he loses the confidence of the Lok Sabha, he must resign or the President can dismiss him.

Power and Function of Prime Minister

Prime Minister of India serves the country by following various functions. He performs his functions taking responsibilities as:

  • The leader of Country: The Prime Minister of India is the Head of the Government of India.
  • Portfolio allocation: The Prime Minister has the authority to assign portfolios to the Ministers.
  • Chairman of the Cabinet: The Prime Minister is the chairman of the cabinet and presides the meetings of the Cabinet. He can impose his decision if there is a crucial opinion difference among the members.
  • Official Representative of the country: Prime minister represents the country for high-level international meetings
  • The link between the President and the Cabinet: The Prime Minister acts as the link between President and cabinet. He communicates all decisions of the Cabinet to the President which is related to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation.
  • Head: The Prime Minister is the head of Nuclear Command Authority, NITI Aayog, Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space and Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
  • Chief Advisor: He acts as the chief advisor to the President

Council of Ministers | The office of Prime Minister and 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.
  • The principles of parliamentary system of government are not detailed in the Constitution, but two Articles (74 and 75) deal with them in a broad, sketchy and general manner.
  • 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.

Collective Responsibility of the Council of Ministers

  • In England, the Cabinet system is based on conventions. The framers of our Constitution considered it fit to incorporate the system in the Constitution.
  • The principle of collective responsibility finds a place in Art. 75(3) where it is stated that the Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. In other words, this provision means that a Ministry which loses confidence in the Lok Sabha is obliged to resign.
  • The loss of confidence is expressed by rejecting a Money Bill or Finance Bill or any other important policy measure or by passing a motion of no-confidence or rejecting a motion expressing confidence in the Ministry.
  • When a Ministry loses the confidence of the Lok Sabha the whole of the Ministry has to resign including those Ministers who are from the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Ministers fall and stand together. In certain cases, the Ministry may advise the President to dissolve Lok Sabha and call for fresh elections.

Types of Ministers

The Indian Constitution does not categorize ministers into ranks, however, in practice seen in India, ministers are of four types:

  • Cabinet Ministers—He is present and he participates in every meeting of the Cabinet.
  • Minister of State with independent charge—He is a Minister of State who does not work under a Cabinet Minister. When any matter concerning his Department is on the agenda of the Cabinet, he is invited to attend the meeting.
  • Minister of State—He is a Minister who does not have independent charge of any Department and works under a Cabinet Minister. The work to such Minister is allotted by his Cabinet Minister.
  • Deputy Minister—He is a Minister who works under a Cabinet Minister or a Minister of State with independent charge. His work is allotted by the Minister under whom he is working.

 

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