The President is the nominal executive authority (de jure executive) and Prime Minister is the real executive authority (de facto executive), in the scheme of the parliamentary system of government provided by the constitution.
In other words, the president is the head of the State while the Prime Minister is the head of the government. Prime Minister is the leader of the Cabinet Ministers.
Eligibility for becoming Prime Minister
To be eligible for the position of the prime minister of India, a person should:
- Be a citizen of India.
- Be a member of either the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha.
- Complete 25 years of age if he is a member of the Lok Sabha or 30 years if he is a member of the Rajya Sabha.
A person cannot be the Prime Minister of India if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India, the government of any state, or any local or other authority subject to the control of any of the said governments.
Appointment of Prime Minister
- Article 75 – The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President.
- However, the president must appoint the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister. But, when no party has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, then the President may exercise his discretion in the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister.
- In such a situation, the President usually appoints the leader of the largest party or coalition in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister and asks him to seek a vote of confidence in the House within a month.
- In 1997, the Supreme Court held that, if a person is not a member of either House of the Parliament then he has to be elected to either House within six months of his appointment.
- The Prime Minister can be a member of either house of the parliament. However, in Britain, the PM should definitely be a member of House of Commons.
Oath and Terms of the office of PM
- The oath to the office of PM is administered by President.
- The PM holds office so long as he enjoys the majority in Lok Sabha.
- If the PM loses the confidence of Lok Sabha, he must resign or the president can dismiss him.
Powers and Functions of PM
In relation to President
Article 74 - There shall be a council of ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President who shall act in accordance with such advice.
Article 78 - He is the crucial medium of communication between the President and the council of ministers. It is the duty of the prime minister:
- To communicate to the President all decisions of the council of ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation
- To furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation as the President may call for.
- If the 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.
- He advises the president with regard to appointment to the office of constitutional bodies like finance commission, CAG, UPSC etc.
In relation to Council of Ministers
The Prime Minister is the head of council of ministers. Hence in case of resignation of PM, or death of PM, the council of ministers dissolves automatically. With respect to the council of ministers, the PM enjoys the following power:
- The Ministers are appointed by the president only on the recommendation of PM.
- The PM can reshuffle portfolios of the ministers and can also ask a minister to resign.
- He presides over the meeting of the council of ministers and influences its decisions, guides, directs, controls, and coordinates the activities of all the ministers.
Miscellaneous Powers and Functions
- He is the chairman of NITI Aayog, National Development Council, National Integration Council, Inter-State Council, and National Water Resources Council.
- He plays a significant role in shaping the foreign policy of the country.
- He is the chief spokesman of the Union government.
- He is the political head of the services.