Chapter 22: PRIME MINISTER AND COUNCIL

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.





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.

Quiz

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