13. Prime Minister & Council   of Ministers

polity study materials 13

Prime Minister:

  • The Prime Minister is the Head of the Government.
  • He is the real executive. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President.
  • The President invites the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha to become the Prime Minster. The Prime Minster of India is
  1. Leader of the majority party
  2. Leader of the Cabinet
  3. Leader of the Parliament
  4. Link between the President and Council of Ministers
  5. Link between the President and Parliament
  6. The Chief Spokesman of the Nation
  7. Responsible for running the administration of the country
  8. Responsible for conduct of international
  • The Prime Minster is described as the ‘Keystone of the Cabinet Arch’ and ‘First among equals’. Professor Harold J. Laski called him ‘The pivot of the whole system of Government’. Sir Ivor Jennings described him as ‘The Sun around which the planets revole’.

Features of Cabinet:

  • In the Parliamentary government, the cabinet is described as the committee of parliament.
  • The cabinet brings together the executive and legislative branches. Bagehot defines cabinet as a hyphen that joins, the buckle that binds the executive and legislative departments together.

The features of cabinet are as follows: 

  1. Cabinet real executive
  2. Real executive drawn from parliament
  3. Link between the real executive and the legislature
  4. Leadership of the Prime Minister
  5. Political homogeneity
  6. Cabinet responsible to the legislature
  7. Executive subordinate to the legislature
  8. Party government
  9. Ministerial individual and collective responsibility
  10. Opposition party
  11. Cabinet secrecy


Functions of Cabinet:

 Policy Determining Function

  •  The Cabinet is a deliberative and policy formulating body.
  • It discusses and decides all sorts of national and international problems confronting the country.

Supreme Control of the National Executive

  • The Cabinet is the supreme national executive.
  • It superintends, supervises and directs the work of the civil servants of all over the Union.

The Cabinet as a Co-Ordinator

  • The function of the Cabinet is to co-ordinate and guide the functions of the several ministers or Departments of Government.

Control Over Finance: 

The Cabinet is responsible for the whole expenditure of the State and for raising necessary revenues to meet it.

Control Over Appointments:

  •  Appointments do not normally come before the Cabinet for discussion.
  • But all major appointments as those of Governors, Ambassadors and other appointments to key positions must be mentioned in the Cabinet before they are made public.

Council of Ministers:

  •  There are two categories of members in the Council of Ministers. They are Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State.
  • The Cabinet is comparatively a smaller body and the most powerful organ of the government.
  • The Cabinet Ministers are incharge of important portfolios and form the inner circle of the Council of Ministers.
  • They attend the meetings of the Cabinet and take the major policy decisions. Ministers of State come next to the Cabinet Ministers. There are some ministers of State who hold independent charge of the department and others assist the Cabinet Ministers.
  • Ministers of State cannot attend the Cabinet meetings except when invited are items of business pertaining to their departments are discussed in the meetings.
  • The Constitution provides for a Council of Minsters with a Prime minister as its head to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions.
  • The Prime Minister is appointed by the President.
  • The other Minsters are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
  • The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Lock Sabha under Article 75(3) of the Constitution.
  • The President is bound by the advice of Council of Minsters.



       MINISTERS OF STATE                     MINISTERS OF STATE

  (with independent charge)                 (Attached with Cabinet Ministers)

 The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO):

  • The PMO provides secretarial assistance to the Prime Minister.
  • It is headed by the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister. The PMO includes the anti- corruption unit and the public wing dealing with grievances.
  • The subject-matter of files required to be submitted to the Prime Minster depends of whether he is holding direct charge of the Ministry or whether there is a Cabinet Minister or Minister of State (Independent Charge) in charge of the Ministry.
  • In the case of the latter, most matters are dealt with by the Cabinet Minster / minster of State-in-charge. Only important policy issues, which the Minster concerned feels should be submitted to the Prime Minster for orders or information, are received in the PMO.
  • In cases where the Prime Minster is the Minister-in-charge, matters requiring Ministerial approval not delegated to the Minister of State / Deputy Minister, if any, are submitted for orders. The Prime Minster has traditionally been the Minister-in- charge of the Departments of Space, Atomic Energy, and Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
  • Since the Prime Minster is Chairman of the Planning Commission, relevant files are forwarded to the PMO for his comments and clearance.
  • Some of the important matters that require the Prime Minster’s personal attention include the following:
  1. Important defence-related issues;
  2. All important policy issues;
  3. All important decisions relating to the Cabinet Secretariat;
  4. Appointments to State Administrative Tribunals and the Central Administrative Tribunal, UPSC, Election Commission, Appointment of members of statutory/constitutional Committees, Commissions attached to various Ministries;
  5. All policy matters relating to the administration of the Civil Services and administrative reforms;


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