The Constitution of India provides for a Council of Ministers, with the Prime Minister as its head. The President of India exercises his authority on the advice of the Council of Ministers. In the Parliamentary form of Government, the President is the nominal head of the State and the Council of Ministers (CoM) headed by the Prime Minister is the real executive head of the State.
The Prime Minister
The Prime Minister (PM) is appointed by the President, who according to convention, invites the leader of the majority party or group in the LokSabha to form the Government. The members of the majority group/party elect their leader in the LokSabha to be appointed as the Prime Minister.
Position and Powers of the Prime Minister
The Prime Minister with the backing of the majority party or groups in the Parliament is the real executive head of the nation (i.e., de-facto head).
Council of Ministers
- The Council of Ministers consists of all the three categories of Ministers – Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers. Article 75(1) states that, “The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and other ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister”.
- Only the members of Parliament are appointed are appointed as Ministers. However, if a non-member is appointed, he must become a Member of Parliament within six months. Failing this, he will have to resign from his post.
- The Constitution originally does not specify for the number of the Council of Ministers. However, the Constitution (91st Amendment Act, 2003) put a ceiling on the size of the Council of Ministers to 15% of the strength of the LokSabha or the State Legislatures. The Constitution does not calssify the members of the Council of Ministers into different ranks.
- The Cabinet is composed of a small, but important body of senior leaders of the party. They hold important portfolios, like home, defence, finance, external affairs and railways etc. They decide major programmes and policies of the government.
- Ministers of State are the second category of ministers. They may or may not hold charge of independent ministers. They are sometimes invited to the Cabinet meetings to discuss matters related to their departments.
- The third category of ministers are the Deputy Ministers who are responsible to assist the Cabinet Ministers and the Council of Ministers. They are junior ministers and are placed under senior ministers whom they have to assist. They never take part in Cabinet deliberations.
- Ministers may be chosen from members of either House and a minister, who is a member of one House has a right to speak in an and to take part in the proceedings of the other House. Though he has no right to vote in the House of which is not a member.