Council of Ministers  

  • The Indian constitution provides for a parliamentary form of government based on British pattern and the council of ministers headed by the prime minister is the real executive authority in Indian’s politico-administrative system.

Important Constitutional provisions with respect to Council of Ministers:

Article 74:

  • It mentions that there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as the head to aid and advise the President who shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice. However, the President may require the Council of Ministers to reconsider such advice and the President shall act in accordance with the advice tendered after such reconsideration(44th amendment)
  • It also mentions that The advice tendered by Ministers to the President shall not be inquired into in any court.

Article 75:

  • It mentions that 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
  • It also mentions that theThe 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.
  • As per 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.
  • It states that the ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.
  • It mentions that the council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha.
  • As per the article, the salaries and allowances of ministers shall be determined by the Parliament.
  • According to this the President shall administer the oath of office and secrecy to a minister.
  • It mentions 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.

Cabinet and council of Minister: differences

CabinetCouncil of Ministers (CoM)
Cabinet is a smaller body consistingof 15 to 20 ministers.CoM is a wider body consisting of 60 to70 ministers.
It includes the cabinet ministers only. therefore, it is a part of the council of ministers.It includes all the three types of ministers, that is, cabinet ministers, ministers of state, and deputy ministers
Cabinet exercises, in practice, the powers of the council of ministers and thus, acts for the latter.Powers vested with it are in theory
Usually Cabinet meets, as a body, frequently and usually once in a week to deliberate and take decisions regarding the transaction of government business. Thus, it has collective functions.CoM does not meet, as a body, to transact government business. It has no collective functions.
It supervises the implementation of its decisions by the council of ministers.It implements the decisions taken by the cabinet.
It was incorporated by the 44th Constitutional Amendment Act in Article 352 of the Constitution in 1978. Thus, it did not find a place in the original text of the Constitution. Now also, Article 352 only defines the cabinet saying that it is ‘the council consisting of the prime minister and other ministers of cabinet rank appointed under Article 75’ and does not describe its powers and functions. In other words, its role in India’s politico-administrative system is based on the conventions of parliamentary government as developed in Britain.It is a constitutional body, dealt in detail by the Articles 74 and 75 of the Constitution. However, the Constitution does not mention its size and classification. Its size is 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 conventions of parliamentary government as developed in Britain. It has, however, got a legislative sanction. Thus, the Salaries and Allowances Act of 1952 defines a ‘minister’ as a ‘member of the council of ministers, by whatevername called, and includes a deputy minister
It enforces the collective responsibility of the council of ministers to the Lower House of Parliament.It is collectively responsible to the Lower House of the Parliament.

Role of executive (PM and CoM) in a Parliamentary system

  • In a parliamentary system the legislature enacts laws and the executive plays an important role in implementing them.
  • As the head of the CoM  Prime Minister makes important decisions because he/ she is the real executive authority. It is Prime Minister who decides the size of CoM
  • Prime Minister is the cornerstone of the CoM and the cabinet as well, his position is such that if he makes his resignation it would result in the fall of CoM and the government as well.
  • When it comes to the relationship between the Prime Minister and the cabinet, the Prime Minister is central to its formation, central to its life, and central to its death.
  • He is the pivot around which the entire governmental machinery revolves.
  • CoM work as a team they sink and swim together. And thee CoM is led by the Prime Minister. Though it has the power to make decisions but CoM is bound by the decisions made by Cabinet