Council of Ministers

Council of Ministers

This article deals with ‘Council of Ministers  .’ This is part of our series on ‘Polity’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here


  • Parliamentary System of Government in India
  • Council of Ministers headed by Prime Minister is the Real Executive (note – Prime Minister is not Real Executive but head of Real Executive)

Article 74

  • Council of Ministers to Aid & Advice President
  • There shall be a Council of Ministers headed by Prime Minister to aid & advise President  who shall in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice. President may require Council of Ministers to reconsider such advice but must act in according of advice tendered after such reconsideration
  • Advice tendered cant be inquired into any court (implication – beyond purview of RTI )
Original There shall be a Council of Minister with the Prime Minister at its head to aid and advice the President
42nd Amendment President shall act as per the advice of Council of Ministers
44th Amendment President can ask the Council of Ministers to reconsider the advice but bound by the advice if rendered again by Council of Minister

Article 75 – other provisions related to Council of Ministers 

  • Prime Minister to be appointed by President & Council of Ministers  by President on advice of Prime Minister
  • Council of Ministers shall not exceed 15% of strength of Lok Sabha (91st Amendment,2003)
  • Ministers to hold office during pleasure of President
  • Collective Responsibility of Council of Minister to Lok Sabha
  • Minister if not already member of any house should become in 6 months
  • Salaries & Allowances of Ministers to be determined by Parliament

Article 77

  • Conduct of Business of Government of India
  • All Executive action of Government of India to be taken in name of President
  • Orders & other instruments made & executed in name of President shall be authenticated in manner as specified in rules to be made by President

Article 78

  • Duties of Prime Minister
  • To communicate to President all decisions of Council of Ministers
  • President can seek information from the Prime Minister about important Legislative Bills / Administrative Decision being contemplated by the Government.
  • If President may require consideration on matter on which decision has been taken but not considered by Council of Ministers

Nature of Advice

  • 42nd & 44th Amendment – Advice of Council of Ministers binding on President
  • Wherever constitution requires satisfaction of President, the satisfaction is not personal satisfaction but is satisfaction of Council of Ministers

Supreme Court Rulings

1971 Council of Ministers must always exist to aid  President even after dissolution of Lok Sabha & until new Council of Ministers form existing ministry may continue
1974 Except in matters where President is to act in his discretion, the President  has to act on aid & advice of Council of Ministers


1 . Collective Responsibility

  • Fundamental Principle of Parliamentary System of Government
  • Article 75 – Council of Ministers to be Collectively Responsible to Lok Sabha (Remember Article for Prelims)
  • They would work as team and Swim & Sink together
  • It also means that Cabinet Decisions bind all ministers even if they deferred in Cabinet meeting & it is duty of all  ministers to stand by & support them
  • If minister disagrees with cabinet decision & is not prepared to defend it then he must resign

2. Individual Responsibility

  • Article 75 – Minister holds office during pleasure of President
  • Prime Minister can ask President to remove Minister in case of difference of opinion or dissatisfaction with performance of Minister

3. No legal Responsibility

It is not required that an order of President for public act to be countersigned by minister + courts are barred from inquiring into nature of advice rendered by ministers to President. (In Britain Minister has to countersign with Monarch)

Composition of Council of Ministers

  • Doesn’t specify size & ranking of  Council of Ministers
  • Determined by Prime Minister according to exigencies of time & requirement of situation
Cabinet Head of important departments like Home, Defence, Finance etc
Play most important role in deciding policies of nation
Minister of State Either given independent charge or can be attached to Cabinet Ministers
They aren’t part of cabinet & can’t attend Cabinet Meetings unless specially invited when something of their department is under consideration
Deputy Ministers Are not given independent charge & are attached either to Cabinet Minister or Minister of State with independent charge
Deputy Prime Minister Some regimes  have created this post like Patel, Advani, Devi Lal etc
Appointed mostly for political reasons than administrative reasons


Smaller body consisting of 15 to 20 members & wasn’t part of Original constitution . Added later via 44th Amendment in Article 352(ie Council consisting of Prime Minister & other ministers of Cabinet Rank appointed under Article 75 but  also don’t mention its functions & powers )

Cabinet is nucleus of Council of Ministers with following roles

  • Highest decision making authority
  • Chief policy formulating body
  • Supreme executive authority + Chief coordinator of  administration
  • Chief crisis manager of nation 
  • Exercises chief control over higher appointments like Constitutional Bodies or Secretariat
  • Deals with all foreign policies & foreign affair

Role description of Cabinet

  • Ramsay Muir – Cabinet is Steering Wheel of Ship of State
  • Lowell – Keystone of Political Arch
  • Gladstone –  solar arch around which all other bodies revolve
  • Barker –  Magnet of Policy

Kitchen Cabinet

  • Even smaller body than Cabinet
  • Has become real centre of power
  • Consist of 2 to 4 most faithful colleagues of Prime Minister with whom he can discuss all  problems
  • Consist of not only ministers but outside members too
  • Called so because decisions are already cooked and then placed before Cabinet


  • Smaller & hence more efficient
  • Can meet more frequently
  • Help in maintaining secrecy


  • Reduces authority of Cabinet as highest decision making body
  • Allows outer person to influence decisions of cabinet who is not responsible to Parliament

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