Prime Minister – Appointment, Powers and Functions
The Prime Minister is the real executive or de facto head of the govt in the Parliamentary type of democracy and President is just a nominal authority or de jure head of the state. As on the paper, office of Prime Minister is the 3rd highest office in India but actually he holds the most powerful office in the country.
- The Article 75 of the constitution says that Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President. But President has no discretion over appointment rather he has to appoint majority party leader as Prime Minister.
- The President can apply his discretion to appoint Prime Minister when ruling party loses confidence in LS (such as Charan Singh appointed in 1977) or no clear majority party then he can appoint leader of any party as PM and call him to prove majority on the floor of Lok Sabha within 1 month. However on death of incumbent Prime Minister, the ruling party elects a new leader and President has to appoint him.
- The Prime Minister shall be qualified as a Member of Parliament. The PM can be a member of any house either Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. The Indira Gandhi (1966), Deva Gowda (1996) and Manmohan Singh (2004, 09) were members of Rajya Sabha. Unlike British Prime Minister, who must be a member of lower house or House of Commons.
- In 1997, the SC held that a person who is appointed as Prime Minister need not be a Member of Parliament but shall be elected as an MP within six months of his appointment otherwise ceases to be Prime Minister.
Relationship and Powers of the Prime Minister
Council of Ministers (CoM)
- The Article 75 says that CoM includes Prime Minister are collectively responsible to the LS.
- He recommends names of persons to be appointed as Ministers and President is bound to advice.
- He can recommend to President to dismiss a person as Minister and the President has to follow the suit.
- The allocation of business amongst the Ministers is a function of Prime Minister. The PM can transfer or change the portfolios of the Ministers.
- He is the head of cabinet and summons its meetings and presides over them. He can reshuffle his cabinet to the persons as he desires.
- The Council of Ministers have to resign from their office if Prime Minister resigns from his office.
- The Prime Minister advises the President in relation to Summoning and Proroguing the sessions of Parliament.
- He announces policies of govt on floor of the house.
- He can recommend the President at any time in relation to dissolution of the LS.
- Article 74 says that there shall be CoM with the Prime Minister at head to aid and advice the President who shall exercise his functions in accordance with such advice and he can seek for reconsideration of such advice but only once. The question related to advice can’t be challenged in any court.
- The PM advises President regarding appointment of govt officials such as Attorney General, UPSC Chairman & its members, CAG, Election Commissioners etc.
- Article 78 says that it shall be the duty of Prime Minister
- To communicate to the President all decisions of the CoM relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation;
- To furnish information related to administration of the affairs of Union and proposals of legislation as President call upon for;
- If the President so requires, to submit for the consideration of CoM any matter on which a decision has been taken by a Minister but has not been considered by the Council.
Other Functions and Powers
- The Prime Minister is act as chairman of the Planning Commission, National Development Council (NDC), Inter-State Council, National Integration Council and National Water Resources council.
- He plays important role in formulation of foreign policy of the country.
- He is the chief spokesman of the govt.
- He is in charge of co-ordinating the policy of the govt and has a right of supervision over all the depts.
While describing Powers of Prime Minister, Dr B R Ambedkar stated that “If any functionary under our constitution is to be compared with the US president, he is to be Prime Minister and not President of the Union”.