In the constitution of India, there are no special provisions specified to choose a Prime Minister of India. Article 75 of the Indian Constitution envisages that there will be a Prime Minister of India who shall be appointed by the President. Prime Minister is the leader of the Cabinet Ministers. The main executive powers of the government are vested in the Prime Minister while the President is the nominal head of the State. Therefore, The President is the head of the State whereas the Prime Minister is the head of the Government.
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Functions and Powers of the Prime Minister
- The Prime Minister plays a key role in suggesting individuals from his political party to the President for appointment as Ministers.
- With the authority to decide how responsibilities are divided among ministers, the Prime Minister can also make changes to the cabinet lineup.
- Chairing Cabinet meetings, the Prime Minister has the power to influence and alter decisions made during these gatherings.
- In advising the President of India, the Prime Minister can propose the resignation or removal of any Minister from the Cabinet.
- Responsible for guiding the actions of ministers within the Cabinet, the Prime Minister exercises control and direction over their functioning.
- The Prime Minister holds the option to resign at any time, and can recommend to the President of India the dissolution of the Cabinet. Additionally, the Prime Minister can suggest dissolving the Lok Sabha and calling for fresh elections.
Notably, if the Prime Minister resigns or passes away, the Cabinet automatically dissolves.
Rights and Powers
Prime Minister can suggest the President about appointment of the following:
- Comptroller and Auditor General of India
- Attorney General of India
- Advocate General of India
- Chairman and members of UPSC
- Selection of Election Commissioners
- Members and chairman of Finance Commission
Rights/Powers with regard to Parliament of India
Prime Minister is the leader of the lower house and can exercise following powers:
- He decides the foreign policy of the country.
- He is the speaker of the Central Government.
- He is the leader of the ruling party in the Parliament.
- He is the chairman of NITI Aayog National Development Council, National Integration Council, Inter-state Council, National Water Resources Council.
- He is the head of disaster management team during emergency at political level.
- He is the political head of all the forces.
Relations with the President
Following articles in the constitution of India explain the relation between President and Prime Minister of India.
- A group of Ministers, known as the Cabinet, exists to provide guidance to the President on crucial national matters.
- The Prime Minister serves as the head of the Cabinet, overseeing discussions and decisions.
- The President relies on the advice given by the Prime Minister when making decisions.
- Although the President can request a review of decisions made by the Cabinet, the final decisions, once reconsidered, must be followed by the President.
- The President appoints the Prime Minister, who is entrusted with the responsibility of leading the government.
- Other Ministers are also appointed by the President, acting upon the advice of the Prime Minister, to form a cohesive team for governance.
Duties of the Prime Minister
- To report all the works done by the Cabinet Ministers to the President of India.
- To brief the President of India about any state of Emergency or any matter of foreign policy or urgent importance.
- To inform the functioning of the Government and Union of India to the President.
While drafting the constitution of India, Dr. Ambedkar enumerated the role of the Prime Minister of India to be a functionary which can be compared to the President of United states.
Therefore, it can be said that in India, President is the nominal head while the Prime Minister is the executive head of the Government.
Council of Ministers and Cabinet
The Constitution doesn’t formally categorize Council of Ministers members into different ranks. Instead, this informal classification, following the English practice, has gained legislative approval for the Union through the Salaries and Allowance of Ministers Act, 1952. According to this law, a Minister is defined as a “Member of the Council of Ministers, by whatever name called, and includes a Deputy Minister.”
Despite being part of the same executive body, Ministers fall into three ranks: (a) Cabinet Ministers or ‘Members of the Cabinet,’ (b) Ministers of State, and (c) Deputy Ministers. While the full Council of Ministers holds theoretical executive power, the Cabinet is significantly more influential in practice.
Cabinet rank ministers head their respective departments, while Ministers of State, although formally of Cabinet status, may also hold independent charge of their department. On the other hand, Deputy Ministers, paid a lesser salary than Cabinet rank Ministers, do not have separate charge of a department.
The number of Council of Ministers members was not specified in the original Constitution until 2003; it was determined based on the needs of the time. By the end of 1961, the Union’s Council of Ministers comprised 47 members, increased to 60 by the end of 1975, and then reduced to 24 in 1977, eliminating the category of Deputy Ministers.
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