October 19, 2021

Powers and Duties of Indian Prime Minister

Prime Minister of India

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.

Functions and Powers of the Prime Minister are summarized below

1. He proposes the names of the members of his political party to President for appointment as Ministers.

2. He decides the distribution of charge to various ministers and can reshuffle their cabinet also.

3. He presides over the meetings of Cabinet and can change the decisions taken therein.

4. He can suggest the President of India about the resignation or removal of any Minister from his Cabinet.

5. He also controls and directs the functioning of Ministers in the Cabinet.

6. He can resign anytime and can suggest the President of India to dissolve the Cabinet. He can suggest the President to dissolve Lok Sabha and to organize fresh elections.

Note: If the Prime Minister resigns from his post or dies in office, The Cabinet stops functioning and spontaneously dissolves after the death of the Prime Minister.

Rights and powers with regard to Appointments

Prime Minister can suggest the President about appointment of the following

1. Comptroller and Auditor General of India

2. Attorney General of India

3. Advocate General of India

4. Chairman and members of UPSC

5. Selection of Election Commissioners

6. 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:

1. He decides the foreign policy of the country.

2. He is the speaker of the Central Government.

3. He is the leader of the ruling party in the Parliament.

4. He is the chairman of NITI Aayog National Development Council, National Integration Council, Inter-state Council, National Water Resources Council.

5. He is the head of disaster management team during emergency at political level.

6. 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

Article 74: To advice the President in various matters of national importance, there will be a Cabinet of Ministers which must be headed by the Prime Minister. President will take decisions based on the advice of Prime Ministers, however, he can ask for reconsideration of the decisions taken by the Cabinet of Ministers, though any such decision/advice after reconsideration are bound to be followed by him.

Article 75: The Prime Minister will be appointed by the President of India and other Ministers will also be appointed by him based on advice of the Prime Minister.

Ministers can enjoy their office till the wish and will of the President of India.

Cabinet of Ministers will be collectively responsible to the Parliament of India.

Duties of the Prime Minister

1. To report all the works done by the Cabinet Ministers to the President of India.

2. To brief the President of India about any state of Emergency or any matter of foreign policy or urgent importance.

3. 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 does not classify the members of the Council of Ministers into different ranks. All this has been done informally, following the English practice. It has now got legislative sanction, so far as the Union is concerned, in Sec. 2 of the Salaries and Allowance of Ministers Act, 1952, which defines Minister as a “Member of the Council of Ministers, by whatever name called, and includes a Deputy Minister.”

All the Ministers, however, do not belong to the same rank. They are classified under three ranks: (a) Cabinet Ministers of ‘Members of the Cabinet’; (b) Ministers of State; (c) Deputy Ministers.

Theoretically, the full executive is the Council of Ministers, with Cabinet being but one of its more three components. In reality, Cabinet is more important, influential and powerful than the full council.

The Cabinet rank ministers are the head of their departments. The Ministers of State are formally of Cabinet status and are paid the same salary as the Cabinet Ministers and they may hold independent charge of their department. The Deputy Ministers are paid lesser salary than the Cabinet rank Ministers and have no separate charge of a department.

The number of members of the Council of Ministers as per original Constitution up to the year 2003 was not specified. It was determined according to the exigencies of the time. At the end of 1961, the strength of the Council of Ministers of the Union was 47, at the end of 1975, it was raided to 60, and in 1977, it was reduced to 24, omitting the category of Deputy Ministers.

However, the 91st Constitutional Amendment (2003) inserts provision 1A in the Article 75 which provides “the total number of Ministers, including the Prime Minister, in the Council of Ministers shall not exceed fifteen percent of the total number of members of the House of the People

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