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Section A — Chapter 3

The Union Executive: The Prime Minister, the Union Cabinet and the Council of Ministers

Class 10 - APC Modern History & Civics Solutions


Short Answer Questions

Question 1

Who is at the head of the Union Council of Ministers?

Answer

The Prime Minister is at the head of the Union Council of Ministers.

Question 2

Can the President function without the Council of Ministers?

Answer

No, the President cannot function without the Council of Ministers.

Question 3

By whom is the Prime Minister appointed?

Answer

The Prime Minister is appointed by the President of India.

Question 4

Mention the circumstances under which the President may exercise some discretion in selecting the Prime Minister.

Answer

The circumstances under which the President may exercise some discretion in selecting the Prime Minister is when none of the parties gets a clear majority in the Lok Sabha.

Question 5

How is the Prime Minister a link between the Cabinet and the President?
Or
Mention an important function of the Prime Minister in relation to the President.

Answer

The Prime Minister is a link between the Cabinet and the President as the decisions of the Cabinet are conveyed to President through the Prime Minister. It is he who keeps the President informed on all matters of government.

Question 6

Mention any two ways in which the Constitution ensures the pre-eminent position of the Prime Minister in relation to the Union Council of Ministers.

Answer

Two ways in which the Constitution ensures the pre-eminent position of the Prime Minister in relation to the Union Council of Ministers are-

  1. The Prime Minister is the recognised leader of the Cabinet. The President appoints Ministers and allocates work among them on the advice of the Prime Minister.
  2. The Prime Minister's resignation means the resignation of the entire Council of Ministers. No person shall be retained as a member of the Council of Ministers if the Prime Minister says that he should be dismissed.

Question 7

How can we say that the Prime Minister occupies a unique position in the Parliament?

Answer

The Prime Minister occupies a unique position in the Parliament as-

  1. It is on the advice of the Prime Minister that the President "summons and prorogues Parliament and dissolves the Lok Sabha."
  2. The Prime Minister is the "principal spokesman" and defender of the Government in Parliament. It is he who makes all important announcements of national policies on the floor of the House.
  3. Sometimes Ministers' work comes under severe attack in the House. It is the Prime Minister who saves his Ministers from an ugly or unpleasant situation in the House.
  4. There are issues like caste wars, corruption by people in positions of authority, price-rise and terrorist attack in the Kashmir Valley which agitated the MPs. If MPs are angry or upset about something, the matter generally ends with the intervention of the Prime Minister.

Question 8

What role does the Prime Minister play as Leader of the Nation?

Answer

The Prime Minister is the recognised Leader of the Nation. The Nation looks to the Prime Minister for views on every subject; it expects leadership from him.

At the time of the General Election, usually it is the Prime Minister for whom or against whom the people vote.

Question 9

Mention any two important functions (powers) of the Prime Minister.

Answer

Two important functions (powers) of the Prime Minister are-

  1. It is on the advice of the Prime Minister that the President "summons and prorogues Parliament and dissolves the Lok Sabha."
  2. The President appoints Ministers and allocates work among them on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Question 10

Mention any two limitations on Prime Minister's position and authority.
Or
Can Prime Minister become authoritarian in his behaviour? Give two reasons for your answer.

Answer

Two limitations on Prime Minister's position and authority are as follows-

  1. There may be dissensions within the ruling party itself. The Prime Minister has to secure the willing cooperation of all important persons of his party.
  2. There are the Opposition parties that never miss an occasion to grill the Government, especially the Prime Minister.

Question 11

By whom and on whose advice are the Ministers appointed?

Answer

The President appoints Ministers and allocates work among them on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Question 12

Under what proviso (conditions under which) can a non-MP be appointed as Minister?
Or
Is there a Constitutional bar on persons, who are not Members of Parliament, becoming Ministers?

Answer

Non-MPs can also be chosen as Ministers, but such persons must get themselves elected or nominated to either House within a period of six months after their appointment.

Question 13

Who shall administer the (a) Oath of Office, and (b) Oath of Secrecy to the Union Ministers? What do they affirm under these Oaths?

Answer

The President administers Oaths of Office and Oath of Secrecy to the Union Ministers.

Under Oath of Office the minister affirms that-

  1. He shall bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India.
  2. He will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India.
  3. He will faithfully discharge his duties as a Minister without fear or favour, affection or ill will.

Under Oath of Secrecy, a Minister affirms that he will not reveal to any person any matter which shall be brought under his consideration as a Minister.

Question 14

Name the two important categories of Ministers in the Union Council of Ministers.

Answer

The two important categories of Ministers in the Union Council of Ministers are-

  1. Cabinet ministers
  2. Ministers of State

Question 15

What is meant by the Cabinet?

Answer

The 'Cabinet' means "the Council consisting of the Prime Minister and other Ministers of Cabinet rank."

Question 16

Mention any two important functions of the Union Council of Ministers (the Cabinet).

Answer

Two important functions of the Union Council of Ministers (the Cabinet) are-

  1. The Cabinet formulates external and domestic policies of the Government.
  2. The Cabinet is responsible for whole of the expenditure of Government and for raising necessary revenues to meet it. A Money Bill can be introduced in the Lok Sabha only by a Minister.

Question 17

How long can a Minister stay in office?

Answer

A minister holds office "during the pleasure of the President." It implies that the Ministers shall be liable to be dismissed by the President for their undesirable activities. However, in these matters the President acts on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Question 18

What happens to a Ministry that has lost the Confidence of the Lok Sabha?

Answer

A No-Confidence Motion expresses "lack of confidence in Government as a whole." It is generally moved by Leader of Opposition. On conclusion of the debate, the Speaker puts the Motion to Vote. If the Motion is passed, the Ministry has to resign.

Question 19

Mention any two ways in which the Parliament exercises an effective control over the Executive (Council of Ministers).

Answer

Two ways in which the Parliament exercises an effective control over the Executive (Council of Ministers) are-

  1. The Parliament puts to Ministers questions which should be properly answered. The questions give MPs some measure of control over the Executive.
  2. The Parliament can move an Adjournment Motion for discussing an important matter that should have urgent consideration.

Structured Questions

Question 1

Discuss the powers and functions of the Prime Minister of India with reference to the following:

(a) His relations with the President under Parliamentary form of Government

(b) His position in the Parliament

Answer

(a) Prime Minister is the link between the Cabinet and the President.

  1. The decisions of the Cabinet are conveyed to President through the Prime Minister.
  2. It is he who keeps the President informed on all matters of government.
  3. It is on the advice of the Prime Minister that the President summons and prorogues Parliament and dissolves the Lok Sabha.
  4. It may happen that a Minister has taken a decision on some matter which has not been considered by the Council of Ministers. If so, the President may ask the Prime Minister to submit the matter for consideration of the Council.
  5. The President can not remove a Prime Minister so long as he enjoys confidence and support of the majority in Lok Sabha.

(b) The Prime Minister occupies a unique position in the Parliament as-

  1. It is on the advice of the Prime Minister that the President "summons and prorogues Parliament and dissolves the Lok Sabha."
  2. The Prime Minister is the "principal spokesman" and defender of the Government in Parliament. It is he who makes all important announcements of national policies on the floor of the House.
  3. Sometimes Ministers' work comes under severe attack in the House. It is the Prime Minister who saves his Ministers from an ugly or unpleasant situation in the House.
  4. There are issues like caste wars, corruption by people in positions of authority, price-rise and terrorist attack in the Kashmir Valley which agitated the MPs. If MPs are angry or upset about something, the matter generally ends with the intervention of the Prime Minister.

Question 2

"The Prime Minister is the keystone of the Cabinet arch." In the light of this statement discuss any four of his powers in relation to the Cabinet (the Council of Ministers).
Or
"Prime Minister is the Head of the Council of Ministers." Describe any four implications of this statement.

Answer

Prime Minister is "the keystone of the Cabinet arch." His role as Head of the Council of Ministers requires that he shall exercise the following powers:

  1. Formation of the Cabinet — The Prime Minister is the recognised leader of the Cabinet. The President appoints Ministers and allocates work among them on the advice of the Prime Minister.
  2. Removal of the Ministers — The Prime Minister's resignation means the resignation of the entire Council of Ministers. No person shall be retained as a member of the Council of Ministers if the Prime Minister says that he should be dismissed.
  3. The Prime Minister is the Ex-officio Chairman of the Council of Ministers — The Prime Minister presides at the Cabinet meetings. He decides the agenda of the meetings. At Cabinet meetings, the Ministers put forth their views. The Prime Minister would listen to them and then give his own conclusion, which normally is the decision of the Cabinet.
  4. He directs and co-ordinates Policy — The Prime Minister co-ordinates the working of various departments. In foreign, defence, economic and technological affairs, he plays a special role in coordinating the policy of the Union.

Question 3

With regard to the Union Council of Ministers and the Cabinet, answer the following questions:

(a) What are the various categories of Ministers?

(b) What is the term of office of the Prime Minister and other Ministers?

(c) What are the four points of distinction between the Council of Ministers and the Cabinet?

Answer

(a) There are three categories of Ministers:

  1. Cabinet Ministers — The Cabinet Ministers hold major portfolios like Home, Defence, Finance, External Affairs, Railways, etc. Only Cabinet Ministers have a right to attend meetings of the Cabinet. They together determine the policy and programme of the Government.
  2. Ministers of State — They are not members of the Cabinet. They may or may not be given an independent charge of a Ministry. They do not participate in the Cabinet meetings. But they may be invited to attend meetings when matters concerning their departments are being considered.
  3. Deputy Ministers — They are junior ministers and are placed under senior ministers whom they are to assist. They take no part in Cabinet deliberations.

(b) The Constitution says "the Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the President."

  1. In fact, the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. Therefore, the President cannot dismiss a Prime Minister so long as he enjoys the support of the majority in the Lok Sabha.
  2. As far as other Ministers are concerned, they will be removed by the President on the advice of Prime Minister.
  3. President's power to dismiss a Minister is in fact a power of the Prime Minister to get rid of an unwanted colleague.

(c) The four points of distinction between the Council of Ministers and the Cabinet are-

  1. The Council of Ministers consists of all categories of Ministers — Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers. The 'Cabinet', on the other hand, is a smaller group consisting of some 25 senior Ministers (Cabinet Ministers). All Cabinet members are Ministers, but all Ministers are not Cabinet members.
  2. In the day-to-day working of the government, the Council of Ministers as a whole rarely meets. The Cabinet, on the other hand, is a small cohesive group of senior Ministers who meet as frequently as possible. They together determine the policy and programme of the Government.
  3. While Cabinet Ministers attend meetings of the Cabinet in their own right, Ministers of State can attend only if invited to attend some particular meeting. A Deputy Minister is a junior Minister. No junior Minister can attend Cabinet meeting in place of his chief, except in very extraordinary situation.
  4. According to the Constitution, the President acts on the advice of the Council of Ministers. In reality, it is not the Council of Ministers but the Cabinet that advises the President.

Question 4

Cabinet acts in the name of the Council of Ministers and exercises all the power on its behalf. Discuss its powers and functions with reference to the following:

(a) Formulation of Policies of the Government

(b) Administrative Functions

(c) Proclamation of Emergency

Answer

(a) The Cabinet formulates external and domestic policies of the Government.

  1. It takes decisions on all major problems — defence and security needs, bringing peace to Kashmir Valley, economic reforms, rural housing, medical insurance, improving relations with Super Powers as well as neighbouring countries and formation of new States, etc.
  2. Cabinet Ministers have a considerable freedom of action, but on all major matters they should necessarily consult the Cabinet.

(b) The Cabinet is essentially a policy framing body.

  1. When it has determined on a policy, the appropriate Ministry carries it out.
  2. Each Ministry or Department must faithfully follow the directions of the Cabinet.
  3. The President makes all major appointments with the aid and advice of the Ministers.
  4. Such appointments relate to the appointment of the Attorney-General of India, the Governor of a State, the Chief Election Commissioner, the Election Commissioners and others that have a high rank in government.

(c) The President cannot proclaim a state of Emergency (under Article 352) unless the Union Cabinet recommends to him, in writing, that such a Proclamation should be made.

  1. This Article relates to a proclamation of Emergency in the event of a War or External Aggression or the Armed Rebellion.
  2. Similarly, such decisions as the imposition of President's Rule in a State are taken by the Cabinet.

Question 5

The Cabinet exercises vast authority in legislation and finance, In this context describe:

(a) Its legislative functions

(b) Its control over the National Finance

Answer

(a) The Cabinet has the following legislative functions.

  1. Summoning the Houses — Although the Houses are summoned by the President, initiative in this matter is taken by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.
  2. President's Special Address — The Cabinet prepares the President's Special Address to the Parliament. The Cabinet, thus, sets forth its legislative programme at the commencement of the first session of Lok Sabha after each General Election and at the commencement of the first Session of Parliament each year.
  3. Introduction of Bills — Parliament has neither the time nor the necessary know-how for making laws. Initiative in legislation has almost completely gone to the Cabinet. More than ninety-five per cent of the Bills are Government Bills, prepared by the Ministries. They are introduced, explained and defended in the Parliament by the Ministers.
  4. Issuing Ordinances — In the matter of issuing Ordinances, as in other matters, the President acts on the advice of the Ministers.
  5. Amendment to the Constitution — The Cabinet is instrumental in planning and moving an Amendment to the Constitution.

(b) The Cabinet is responsible for whole of the expenditure of Government and for raising necessary revenues to meet it.

  1. A Money Bill can be introduced in the Lok Sabha only by a Minister.
  2. The Annual Financial Statement or the Budget occupies a peculiar position.
  3. Although it is presented to the Parliament in the name of the Cabinet, its full proposals are neither circulated among Cabinet members, nor debated by them. The proposals are disclosed to the Cabinet orally on the day when the Finance Minister is to make his/her Budget Speech in Parliament.
  4. The detailed taxation proposals are, however, shown to the Prime Minister before they are presented to the Parliament.
  5. The Cabinet can examine the Budget proposals after they have been presented to Parliament and may also suggest suitable modifications.

Question 6

With reference to the 'Ministerial Responsibility', explain the meaning of the following statements or provisions of the Constitution of India:

(a) The Council of Ministers shall be Collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha

(b) Ministers shall be Individually responsible to the President
Or
The Ministers shall hold Office during the pleasure of the President.

Answer

(a) Under Article 75(3) of the Constitution "the Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of the People."

  1. The Ministers are responsible to the Lok Sabha not as individuals alone, but collectively also.
  2. Members of the Cabinet swim and sink together.
  3. When a decision has been taken by the Cabinet, every Minister has to stand by it without hesitation.
  4. The essence of Collective Responsibility is that "a measure accepted by the Cabinet is regarded as the joint responsibility of every one, whether or not he was present at the meeting which reached the conclusion or whether he opposed it when discussed."
  5. If the Motion of No-Confidence is passed, the Ministry has to resign.

(b) Though the Ministers are collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha, they shall be individually responsible to the President.

  1. They hold office "during the pleasure of the President."
  2. It implies that the Ministers shall be liable to be dismissed by the President for their undesirable activities, such as breach of Oaths of Office and Secrecy.
  3. However, in these matters the President acts on the advice of the Prime Minister.
  4. Usually, because of something that the Minister has done, the Prime Minister asks him to resign, which he readily does.
  5. Every Minister is obliged to answer questions pertaining to his department.
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