The office of the Prime Minister first originated in England. Lord Morley described the Prime Minister as primus inter pares (first among equals); Sir William Vernon called him inter Stellas luna minores (moon among the stars); Harold Laski described him as “The pivot of the whole system of Government”. Ivor Jennings called the Prime Minister the sun around which the planets revolve
As stated by Laski, the Prime Minister is central to the formation of the council of Ministers, central to its life and central to its death because in the event of death or resignation of the Prime Minister, the Council of Ministers cannot continue as they are appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
Council of Ministers to aid and advice the President
There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as its head to aid and advice the President who shall in exercising his functions act in accordance with such advice in accordance with such advice. However the President may require the Council of Ministers to reconsider such advice and president shall act in accordance with the advice tendered after such reconsideration.
The advice tendered by the Council of Ministers is made binding on the President by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act 1976. The reconsideration clause was added by the 44th Constitutional Amendment Act 1978.
The President of India shall appoint the Prime Minister and on his advice the Council of Ministers. The ministers shall hold office individually during the pleasure of the President and the Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to House of People.
The article prohibits the courts from enquiring into the advice tendered by the Council of Ministers to the President.
Prime Minister as a link between the President and the Council of Ministers
This article in other words defines the duties of the Prime Minister. According to this article the Prime Minister acts as a link between President and Council and individual ministers and the council.
The duties of the Prime Minister as defined in this Article are
(i) The Prime Minister communicates all the decisions of Council of Ministers to the President.
(ii) The Prime Minister must furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation to the president.
(iii) The President requires the Prime Minister should submit for the consideration of any matter to the Council of Ministers
(iv) Any decision taken by the minister which has not been considered by the cabinet should be communicated to the council.
Appointment of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers
– The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister
– The Minister shall hold office during the pleasure of the President
– The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of the People
Size and shape of the Council of Ministers.
In the original constitution nothing was mentioned about the size of the council of ministers. The 91st Constitutional Amendment Act 2003 fixed the size of the Council of Ministers. According to the Amendment –
(i) The number of ministers in the centre should not exceed 15% of the total strength of Lok Sabha.
(ii) A state should have a minimum number of 12 ministers and the maximum should not exceed 15%of total strength of state Legislative Assembly.
Classification of the Council of Ministers
The constitution does not give any classification of Ministers. According to the constitution all Ministers are equal in status & rank. However for administrator convenience following, Ministers are classified into three categories by Gopalachari Ayyenger in 1947.
Cabinet Ministers – Cabinet Ministers are first in order. They are independent and hold a particular portfolio. The Prime Minister presides over the cabinet meeting which are usually held over cabinet meeting which are usually held once in a week.
States ministers- are second in order
Deputy ministers- are third in order and are usually considered as assistants to Cabinet Ministers.
Oath of office
Before a minister enters office he is administered Oath of office by the President.
(i) Should be a citizen of India.
(ii) Should have completed the age of 25 years.
Conditions of office
A Minister, who for any period of 6 consecutive months is not a member of either houses of parliament shall at the expiry of the period cease to be a minister.
In other words a minister must become a member of parliament from the date of his appointment as a Minister and continue to be a member of the parliament.
Salaries & Allowances
Salaries & allowances is determined by the parliament and is specified in schedule-II of the constitution.