FORM OF GOVERNMENT IN INDIA
This article is written by Anshika Agrawal @LEXCLIQ on the topic Forms of Government.
The Constitution of India sets up a Parliamentary government both at the Centre and the States. It stands in complete contrast to the Presidential system of the USA. Unlike USA where the Montesqueiu’s doctrine of separation of power has been adopted there is no strict separation of powers in the parliamentary system, the executive and legislature are part of the same assembly. Parliamentary government embodies the following essentials:
- The presence of a nominal executive head of the state who is supposed to act on the advice of a Council of Ministers or the Cabinet. The nominal executive head may be based upon a hereditary system like in case of England where there is a monarch or it may be an elected President like in Germany.
- The cabinet, which is the real executive, consists of leaders from a single party or from an alliance of like minded parties who have agreed on a common minimum program and who enjoy the support of majority of the members of the legislature. This group of men and women agrees to pursue a common policy under a common leader, namely, the Prime Minister.
- The Prime Minister holds a dominant position in the Cabinet. Though it is said that he is the “first among equals” but that is an extremely misleading description as he is the person who calls the shot in the cabinet formation, he not only appoints the ministers but also allots them their portfolios. He can dismiss any one of them. The Cabinet is the steering of the ship of the state. But the person managing it is Prime Minister.
- The tenure of the cabinet is dependent upon the will of the legislature, in case there are more than one houses then the support of lower house. That’s why in a parliamentary democracy it is said that the legislature controls the executive and if the ministry loses confidence of legislature it has to go.
- The responsibility of the cabinet is collective. The cabinet colleagues swim and sink together, in case if any disagreement is there between the colleagues in the cabinet then either the person having reservations on the issue will have to fall in line or else he/she must resign. The parliamentary system of government in India is based upon the Westminister form of government as being followed in the UK, under Article 53(1), the executive power of the Union is vested in the President; however reading it with the provisions of Article 74(1) in the exercise of the powers and functions , he acts on the aid and advice of the council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister. The Council of Ministers must accept responsibility for every executive act and is, therefore, accountable for its actions to Parliament. This rule is incorporated in Article 75(3) which provides that the Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of People. Thus, the condition precedent for the Council of ministers to function in the constitutional sense is it retaining the confidence of the House of people (retaining majority). The President has, therefore, the status of a formal or Constitutional head of the government which is similar to that of the Queen or King in the United Kingdom. Also, wherever the Constitution requires the satisfaction of the President for the exercise of any of his power or function, the satisfaction of the council of ministers as was held by the Supreme Court in Shamsher Singh V. State of Punjab AIR 1974 SC 2192. The same applies to the Governor of the state also, the only difference in his case being that where he is required by the Constitution to exercise his powers and functions at his own discretion. There are few important reasons why the founding fathers adopted the Parliamentary system in preference to the Presidential system. Firstly, this is the system with which the country had grown familiar with owing to the British rule which was applied in India prior to independence. Secondly, the Chief Executive, i.e. the President is not responsible to the legislature which carries a risk of irresponsible head of government who may not care much for the aspirations of the people which is minimized in case of parliamentary form of government. Thirdly, Parliamentary government ensures harmony between executive and legislature. Finally, Parliamentary system is more open to representing diverse viewpoints.