Prime Minster

He is the head of government or the real executive in the Indian system. President appoints the prime minister however no system of appointment is given in the constitution. However by convention of a parliamentary democracy the leader of the largest party of parliament becomes the PM.

The president can exercise discretion when no party has clear majority. He appoints a person and asks him to prove his majority in the house. If the PM dies and no successor is in sight then again the president can appoint a suitable person at his discretion as caretaker for continuity. However if the winning party has a candidate then the president has no choice.

To be a PM a person need not be an MP but he has to become one within 6 months of being appointed or else his appointment become void.

Though the PM occupies his post during the pleasure of the president he can’t be removed till he commands the majority in the house.

As per the Govt of India (Allocation of business) Rules created by the president, different departments were created to handle governments business. Ministers and subject distribution was done to each ministry by the president on advice of the prime minister.

Powers of the PM:

  1. As head of the council of ministers he recommends people to be appointed as ministers to the president.
  2. He allocates and reshuffles portfolios amongst them. He can ask the minister to resign or tell the president to dismiss him.
  3. He supervises activities of all ministers. His resignation or death leads to dissolution of the council of ministers.
  4.  He communicates to the president all matters related to administration of the union and proposed legislation's.
  5. He furnishes information required by the president relating to administration of the union or proposed legislation's.
  6. He submits to the consideration of the council of ministers any matter on which decision has been taken by an individual minister but the Council of Ministers hasn’t considered it.
  7. He is the leader of the lower house. He can advice president to summon or prorogue the house sessions. He can advice dissolution of Lok Sabha to the president anytime. He announces government policies on the floor of the house.
  8. He is advisor of president regarding appointments to various regulators and constitutional bodies of the union.
  9. He heads the national development council, national integration council, interstate council, Niti Aayog, national water resource council.

Council of Ministers

The PM + Council of ministers are the real executives of the union.

They aid and advice the president in the exercise of his functions but such advice is binding on the president.

No court shall inquire into the advice given by the Council of ministers to the President which means they are liable for official acts of the president done on their advice. Constitution however doesn’t grant any immunity either for personal or official acts hence ministers can be treated like ordinary citizens.

The total strength of the PM + Council of ministers shall not exceed 15% of the strength of the Lok Sabha [91st amendment]. The person who has been disqualified on grounds of defection shall also be disqualified to be appointed as the PM [91st amendment].

Council of ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. A minister who isn’t a MP for six consecutive months shall cease to be the minister. A minister can take part in proceeding of both houses as he is member of the government but can vote only in the house of which he’s a member.

Collective responsibility: This means that entire Council of ministers is a team that sinks or swims together. So if the Lok Sabha passes a no confidence motion against the Council of ministers then all have to resign. Only the Lok Sabha can pass the motion of no confidence; it can’t be against a single minister but the entire Council of ministers only.

This is due to the provision in the constitution saying:

"Council of ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha."

There are three categories of ministers in the council:

Ø  Cabinet: They attend cabinet meetings and play important role in central government.

Ø  Minister of state: They can be independent in charge of department that aren’t attached to cabinet ministries or in charge of specific department part of a ministry /specific work in a  ministry which is headed by a cabinet minister.

Ø  Deputy Minister: They are attached to cabinet ministers or ministers of state and assist them in their work.

The last two categories don’t form part of cabinet meetings. Cabinet isn’t mentioned in the original text of the constitution but only in 44th amendment it was inserted in article 352.

Cabinet ministers are also part of cabinet committees which are created to sort out issue or make policy recommendations to the cabinet.

  • The 'collective responsibility' has two meanings : the first that all the members of a government are unanimous in support of its policies and exhibit that unanimity on public occasions although while formulating the policies, they might have differed in the cabinet meeting;

  • The second that the Ministers, who had an opportunity to speak for or against the policies in the Cabinet, are thereby personally and morally responsible for their success and failure.

  • The principle of individual responsibility to the head of the State is embodied in Art. 75(2)-"The Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the the President."

  • The result, is that though the Ministers are collectively responsible to the Legislature, they shall be individually responsible to the Executive head and shall be liable to dismissal even when they may have the confidence of the Legislature.

  • But since the Prime Minister's advice will be available in the matter of dismissing other Ministers individually, it may be expected that this power of the President will virtually be, as in England, a power of the Prime Minister against his colleagues,-to get rid of an undesirable colleague even where that Minister may still possess the confidence of the majority in the House of the People.

  • Usually, the Prime Minister exercises this power by asking an undesirable colleague to resign, which the latter readily complies with, in order to avoid the odium of a dismissal.

  • But, as stated earlier, the English principle of legal responsibility has not been adopted in our Constitution.

  • In England, the Crown cannot do any public act Without the counter-signature of a Minister who is liable in a Court of law if the act done violates the law of the land and gives rise to a cause of action in favour of an individual.

  • But our Constitution does not expressly say that the President can act only through Ministers and leaves it to the President to make rules as to how his orders, etc., are to be authenticated; and on the other hand, provides that the Courts will not be entitled to enquire what advice was tendered by the Ministers to the executive head.

  • Hence, if an act of the President is, according to the rules made by him, authenticated by a Secretary to the Government of india.

  • There is no scope for a Minister being legally responsible for the act even though it may have been done on the advice at the Minister.

  • As in England, the Prime Minister is the "keystone of the Cabinet arch". Article 74(1) of our Constitution expressly States that the Prime Minister shall be "at the head" of the Council of Ministers.

  • Hence, the other Ministers cannot function when the Prime Minister dies or resigns.

  • In theory, all Ministers or members of the Cabinet have an equal position, all being advisers of the Crown, and all being responsible to Parliament in the same manner. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister has a pre-eminence, by conven- tion and usage.

  • Even though any particular Minister has tendered any advice to the President without placing it before the Council of Ministers, the President has (through the Prime Minister) the power to refer the matter to be considered by the Council of Ministers. The unity of the Cabinet system will thus be enforced in India through the provisions of the written Constitution.

  • In a Parliamentary form of government, the tenure of office of the virtual executive is dependent on the will of the Legislature; in a Presidential Government the tenure of office of the executive is independent of the will of the Legislature

  • Thus, in the Presidential form of which the model is the United States, the President is the real head of the Executive who Is elected by the people for a fixed term.

  • He is Independent of the Legislature as regards his tenure and is not responsible to the Legislature for his acts. He may, of course, act with the advice of ministers, but they are appointed by him as his counsellors and are responsible to him and not to the Legislature.

  • Under the Parliamentary system represented by England, on the other hand, the head of the Executive (the Crown) is a mere titular head, and the virtual executive power is wielded by the Cabinet, a body formed of the members of the Legislature and responsible to the popular House of the Legislature for their office and actions.

  • While the so-called Cabinet of the American President is responsible to himself and not to Congress, the Council of Ministers of Indian President shall be responsible to Parliament.

  • The reason why the framers of the Constitution discarded the American model after providing for the election of the President of the Republic by an electoral college formed of members of the Legislatures not only of the Union but also of the States, has thus been explained

  • In combining stability with responsibility, they gave more importance to the latter and preferred the system of 'daily assessment of responsibility' to the theory of 'periodic assessment' upon which the American system is founded.

  • Under the American system, conflicts are bound to occur between the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary; and on the other hand, according to modem American writers the absence of co-ordination between the Legislature and the Executive is a source of weakness of the American political system.

  • What is wanted In india on her attaining freedom from one and a half century of bondage is a form of Government which would be conducive to the manifold development of the country without the least friction,-and to this end, the Cabinet or Parliamentary system of Government of which India has already had some experience, Is better suited than the Presidential.

Q. Consider the following statements :
1. The Executive Power of the union of India is vested in the Prime Minister.
2. The Prime Minister is the ex officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?(UPSC CSAT 2015)

  • 1 only

  • 2 only

  • Both 1 and 2

  • Neither 1 nor 2

Ans . D

  1. Executive power of the Union of India is vested in the President of India.

  2. Cabinet Secretary is the ex-officio head of the Civil Services Board, the Cabinet Secretariat, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and head of all civil services under the rules of business of the Government of India.


Score more than 80% marks and move ahead else stay back and read again!