Concept of Collective and Individual responsibility of Ministers

Article 74 – there shall be a council of ministers to aid and advice the President.

Article 75 – Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and other ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of Prime Minister.

Categories of Ministers: Constitution does not categorize members of Council of Ministers. It is done by Prime Minister on British conventions. Presently, there are 3 categories in India but it is PM’s choice  how many categories to be included.

           




Cabinet Ministers: Senior rank ministers with portfolio, head a ministry, constitute the cabinet, assisted by Minister of State or Deputy Minister

Minister of State: Second rank minister, normally not given independent charge, assist Cabinet Min, PM may give independent charge, does not have right to attend Cabinet meeting but can be invited.

Deputy Minister: Not member of Council of Minister, appointed by PM. Basically they are MP from ruling party. Appointed to assist ministry. Take oath of office and secrecy conducted by PM.

Strength of Council of Minster: 91st amendment 2003, inserted Article 75(1A) which provides that strength of Union Council of Minister shall not exceed 15% of total strength of Lok Sabha.

Collective responsibility of Council of Ministers:
Article 75(3) of the constitution provides for the collective responsibility of Council of Minister to the LS. It means that they enjoy the majority support of LS. If any decision of CoM is defeated in LS, entire Council of Minister shall have to resign even if decision is related to a single ministry.

It means every decision taken by government is collectively approved by Council of Minister. All ministers defend it both within and outside the Parliament.

Collective responsibility ensures that there is no difference in Council of Minister once a collective decision has been taken. There may be differences of opinions in the Cabinet at the time of deliberation of policy but once a collective has been taken then all the ministers should endorse the collective decision. Ministers should not express their individual opinion contrary to decision outside the Council of Minister.

If a minister has the contrary view to collective decision then he has to change his view and support the collective decision or resign. He can’t oppose the collective decision and at the same time continue to be a member of the Council of Minister.

Individual responsibility of Ministers:
Article 75(2)- the ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of President.

So as per Article 75(2) of the constitution, ministers are also individually responsible to the President. This means ministers hold office during the pleasure of the President. They can be removed from Council of Minister without assigning a reason. However they can only be removed after PM advised the President to do so.

Individual responsibility is essential to enforce collective responsibility of Council of Minister e.g. minister disagrees collective decision but refuses to resign. In that case PM may advice the President to drop the minister so as to assure collective responsibility of Council of Minister.

Some Appreciation Please!