Council of Ministers
Reshuffling of Council of Ministers (COM) by Prime Minister
Recently, the Prime Minister expanded and reshuffled his Council of Ministers (COM). The new council of ministers has been expanded to 77 ministers, and nearly half of them are new.
Explain the role of the Cabinet Minister in the decision making of the government. What do you mean by Collective Responsibility of the Council of Ministers and individual responsibility of ministers?
Constitutional provisions related to the Council of Ministers:
Article 74: Council of Ministers to assist and advise President
● There shall be a Council of Ministers with the PM, as the head, to aid and advise the President.
● The guidance tendered by Ministers to the President might not be inquired into in any court.
Article 75: Other Provisions as to Ministers
● The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the Presidentand the other Ministers shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
● The total number of ministers, consisting of the Prime Minister, in the Council of Ministers must not exceed 15% of the overall strength of the Lok Sabha. The provision was also included by 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 might also be disqualified to be appointed as a Minister. This provision was also included by the 91st Amendment Act of 2003.
● The various ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.
● The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lower House (Lok Sabha), Article 75(3), even though some of the ministers may belong to the Rajya Sabha.
Article 77: Related to Conduct of Business of the Government of India (GOI)
● Every executive action of the Indian Government shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the President. Orders and other instruments constituted and executed in the name of the President shall be sanctified in such manner as may be specified in rules to be made by the President.
● The Indian President shall make rules for the more convenient and suitable transaction of the business of the Government of India and for the allocation among Ministers of the said business.
Article 78: Duties of the Prime Minister
● To communicate to the President every decision of the Council of Ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation.
● If the Indian President so requires, to submit for the consideration of the Council of Ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a Minister but which has not been considered by the Council.
● To furnish such information with respect to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation as the President may call for.
Nature of Advice by the Ministers:
● The 42nd and 44th Amendments to the Constitution have made the recommendation binding on the President.
● In addition to this, the nature of advice tendered by Ministers to the President shall not be enquired by any court of law.
● The Supreme Court in 1971 ruled out that even after the dissolution of the Lok Sabha, the Council of Ministers did not cease to hold office.
Collective Responsibility of the Council of Ministers:
● The principle of collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers finds a place in Article-75(3) where it is stated that the Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lower House i.e. Lok Sabha.
● In other words, this provision implies that a Council of Ministers which loses confidence in the Lok Sabha is obliged to resign. The ministers fall and stand together.
Individual Responsibility of Ministers:
● Article 75(2) entails Individual responsibility.
● The Minister shall retain office during the pleasure of the President of India.
● Collectively the ministers survive so long as they have the requisite support in the Lower House.
● An individual minister may continue to be part of the Council of Ministers as long as he has the confidence of the Prime Minister (PM).
● Denial to oblige the Prime Minister might amount to dismissal by the President.