Council of Ministers
The Council of Ministers headed by the PM is the real executive authority in India. All the executive decisions are taken by the council of ministers in the name of the president.
There shall be a council of ministers headed by PM, to aid and advise the president, who shall act, in accordance with such advice.
In 1971, the Supreme Court held that – even after the dissolution of Lok Sabha, the council of ministers does not cease to exist. Article 74 is mandatory and president cannot exercise his powers without the aid and advise of Council of Ministers.
- The PM is appointed by the President and the other ministers are also appointed by the president on the advice of PM
- Total number of ministers including PM in the council of ministers shall not exceed 15% of the total strength of Lok Sabha (91st amendment act 2003)
- An MP who is disqualified on the grounds of defection cannot become a minister (91st amendment act 2003)
- The council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to Lok Sabha
- A minister who is not a member of either house for any period of 6 consecutive months, ceases to be a minister.
Every minister shall have the right to speak and take part in the proceedings of either house, joint sitting of the houses and any committee of the parliament of which he is a member but he shall not be entitled to vote.
Composition of council of ministers
The council of ministers consists of three categories of ministers – Cabinet ministers, Minister of state and deputy minister.
- The cabinet ministers head the important ministries of the central government.
- They play an important role in deciding policies
Minister of state (MoS)
- They are of two types – MoS (Independent charge) and MoS attached to any cabinet ministers.
- In case of independent charge, they perform the same function for their ministries as cabinet ministers do for their own.
- In case of attachment, they work as a subordinate to cabinet ministers under their guidance and supervision. For ex – MoS (independent charge) – Dr.Jitendra Singh; MoS (independent charge) of science and technology, earth sciences
- MoS attached to cabinet minister – Prahlad singh patel; MoS in Jal Shakti and food processing industry.
They are attached to the cabinet ministers to MoS and assist them in their administrative, political and parliamentary duties.
Note – There is one more type of ministers i.e. Parliamentary secretaries. However, no parliamentary secretaries have been appointed since 1967 except during the first phase of Rajiv Gandhi government.
A body smaller than the cabinet (consisting of PM and 2-4 colleagues) which advises the PM on important political and administrative issues and assist him in making crucial decisions. This is a completely informal body. This phenomenon is not unique to India. It also exists in USA and Britain.
Council of Ministers
- Wider body (60-70 members)
- Functions are determined by cabinet
- Consists of all three categories of ministers
- Implements the decision taken by cabinet
- Collectively responsible to Lok Sabha
- Smaller body (15-20 members)
- Directs the council of ministers
- Only cabinet ministers
- Supervises the implementation of its decisions by the council of ministers
- Enforces the collective responsibility of council of ministers
Cabinet committees are extra-constitutional bodies (not mentioned in the constitution) set up by the Prime Minister according to the exigencies of the time and requirement of situation. Hence, their number, composition and nomenclature is not fixed.
Features of Cabinet Committees
- These committees are formed in accordance with the Government of India Transaction of Business Rules, 1961.
- According to Article 77(3) of the Constitution, the President shall make rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the Government of India, and for the allocation among Ministers of the said business.
- They are of two types – Standing and Adhoc. Adhoc committees are of temporary nature. These are constituted from time to time to deal with the special issues. However, Standing Committees are of permanent nature.
- They usually include only cabinet ministers. However, non-cabinet ministers can be part of the committees.
- They are an organizational device to reduce the workload of the cabinet.
- They are based on the principles of division of labour and effective delegation.
List of Cabinet Committees
As on 20 July 2021, there are 8 Cabinet Committees
- Cabinet Committee on Political affairs – This committee deals with all the policy matters pertaining to domestic and foreign affairs. Of all the committees, it is the most powerful committee and often described as “Super Cabinet”.
- Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs – This committee deals with economic activities of the government.
- Appointments Committee – This committee decides the higher levels of appointment like in defence, banks, financial institutions.
- Cabinet Committee on Accommodation – This committee determines the guidelines or rules with respect to the allotment of government accommodation.
- Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary affairs – This committee draws the schedule for Parliament sessions and monitors the progress of government business in Parliament.
- Cabinet Committee on Security – This committee deals with issues relating to law and order, internal security and policy matters concerning foreign affairs with internal or external security implications.
- Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth – This committee will identify key projects required to be implemented on a time-bound basis, involving investments of Rs 1,000 crore or more, or any other critical projects, as may be specified by it.
- Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development – This committee is supposed to provide “direction to all policies, programmes, schemes and initiatives for skill development aimed at increasing the employability of the workforce for effectively meeting the emerging requirements of the rapidly growing economy