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Chief Minister And Council Of Ministers: Elections, Powers, Functions And Removals

The system of government in the states closely resembles to that of the Union. The executive i.e. The state executive consists of Governor and council of ministers with the Chief minister as its head.

Defining Legislature:

Legislature is a group of people who have the power to make laws as well as change them. It is a deliberative body of persons, usually elective who are empowered to make change or repeal the laws of a country. It is one of those branches of government that has the power to make laws but at the same time is being distinguished from the executive and judicial branches of the same.For every state, there is a legislature, which consists of Governor and one House or, two Houses as the case may be.

In Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, there are two Houses known as legislative council and legislative assembly. In the remaining states, there is only one House known as legislative assembly. Parliament may, by law, provide for abolition of an existing legislative council or for creation of one where it does not exist, if proposal is supported by a resolution of the legislative assembly concerned.

Discussing the Role of Legislature:

Legislature, as already mentioned, plays an important role in governmental works such as,passing the laws, giving consent to treaties, keeping an eye on the executive branch, establishing government's budget, confirming executive appointments, impeaching and removing from office of the executive and judiciary the members, redressing the grievances of the constituencies.

Chief Minister:

Article 163 of Indian constitution talks about that there should be a chief minister along with council of ministers "to aid and advise the governor in the exercise of his functions". [article 163(1)]

As a real executive authority, chief minister is called the head of the government. Similar to the Prime minister, who is considered to be the head of the government at the Union level ; he is considered to be the head of the government, at the state level and is assisted by a group of people known as Council of Ministers. The chief minister is appointed by the governor who also appoints other ministers with the advice of the chief minister. Almost everything of a chief minister is similar to that of a prime minister.

Appointment of a Chief minister : As already mentioned the appointment of the Chief minister is done by the governor as per Article 164 of Indian constitution. Article 164(1) also mentions that the Chief minister and the other ministers shall hold the office during the pleasure of the governor.

In Mahabir Prasad Sharma v. Prafulla Chandra Ghose, the High Court said that the exercise of the Governor's pleasure under Article 164(1) is not fettered by any condition or restriction, and the withdrawal of the Governor's pleasure is a matter entirely in the discretion of the Governor

Just like the Prime minister it is also not mentioned about the appointment of the chief minister in the Constitution.

There are certain particulars which are needed to be followed by the governor before appointing any person as the Chief minister. As is evident that the leader of the ruling party i.e. the party that has won majority number of votes in the assembly elections, is appointed as the Chief minister of the state.

The particulars to be eligible for being a chief minister:
  • He/she should be a citizen of India.
  • Should be the member of the state legislature.
  • Should be of 25 years of age or more.
*An individual who is not a member of the legislature can be considered the chief minister provided that they get themselves elected to the state legislature within six months from the date of their appointment. Failing to which, they might cease to be the chief minister.

In the case of B.R. Kapoor v. State of Tamil Nadu the Supreme Court said that the person convicted of any criminal offence or has been sentenced to punishment of more than 2 years of imprisonment and also is been disqualified by the election commission to contest elections under the Representation of People's Act ; cannot be appointed as the Chief Minister, as it will be violative of Article 164(4).

Election of chief minister:

The Chief minister is elected through the majority votes in the state legislative assembly. As the governor invites the party with the majority votes to form the government. The MLAs of the party which gets the majority in the state assembly elections chose who will become the Chief minister.

As already mentioned that the CM holds the office on the pleasure of the governor and thus there is no fix term of his office. Also provided that:
  • Governor cannot remove him any time.
  • Governor cannot even dismiss him till the time he enjoys the support of the majority of the house.
  • When CM loses his majority support, he has to resign and Governor dismisses him then.

Powers and Functions of the Chief Minister:

Now, the powers and functions of the chief minister is being studied under three heads:

  • With regards to council of ministers
  • With regards to the governor
  • With regards to state legislature

With regards to the Council of Ministers:
  • The governor appoints only those persons as ministers who are recommended by the Chief Minister
  • He assigns and reshuffles portfolios to ministers.
  • In the event of a disagreement, he can ask a minister to resign or advise the governor to dismiss him.
  • He presides over meetings of the council of ministers and has an influence on its decisions.
  • He directs, supervises, and coordinates the activities of all ministers.
  • By resigning from office, he can bring the council of ministers to an end.
  • Since the Chief Minister is the head of the council of ministers, his resignation or death results in the council of ministers being dissolved
  • Any other minister's resignation or death, on the other hand, simply creates a vacancy, which the Chief Minister may or may not fill.

  1. With regards to the Governor:

    As per Article 167of Constitution of India which states about the functions of the Chief minister - Duties of Chief Minister as respects the furnishing of information to the governor, etc. - It states that it is the duty of the Chief Minister to communicate to the governor of the states about the decisions taken by the council of ministers in relation to the administration of the state affairs and the legislation proposals.

    To furnish to the governor the information which he wants related to the administration of the affairs of the state and the proposals for legislation. It is also the duty of the Chief minister, as directed by the Governor to ask the Council to consider the decision of the minister whose decision has not been considered on matter on which that minister has given his opinion.
     
  2. With regards to the State Legislature:

    The Chief minister can also advice the Governor to prorogue or summon the session of the state legislature. The Legislative assembly can be dissolved any time at the CM's recommendation to the Governor. All government policies are announced by the Chief minister on the floor of the house.
     
  3. He is the Chairman of the State's Planning Board and also by rotation serves as the Vice-chairman of the concerned zonal council, for the term of one year at a time.
  4. He is the chief spokesman of the state legislature and is also the member of Prime Minister's Inter State Council and the Governing Council of NITI Aayog.
  5. He is known as the political head of the services.

Removal of the Chief minister: The Chief Minister cannot be dismissed by the Governor as long as he/she enjoys the majority support in the legislative assembly.

The other way out that, he/she can be removed by the state legislative assembly if a no-confidence vote is passed against him/her.

As one of the case of N.T.Rama Rao v. His Excellency The Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad and Ors., N.T.R.Rao was found to be guilty of misusing his position as the Chief Minister and was removed from the office by the then Governor Thakur Ram Lal.

Council of ministers:

The state Council of Ministers are more or less similar in various aspects i.e. Analogous to the Central Council of Ministers. They are being appointed by the Governor with the advice of the Chief Minister. The Council of Minister aids and advises the Governor in the discharge of his duties, as stated in Article 163 of Indian Constitution.

Article 164 of Constitution of India talks about:
  • the number of members that shall be present in the Council of ministers,it says that the number of ministers that should be present in the State's council of ministers should not be more than 15% of the total number of members in the State legislative assembly; including the Chief Minister.
  • It also says about that the Council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the legislative assembly of the state. This means that for the decisions of the cabinet, each member of the ministry who does not resign is absolutely and irretrievably responsible. A minister, so long as he continues in the government must not in private communications or in public speeches say that he does not agree with any aspect of the government's policy.The decision is a collective decision from which no minister can dissociate; i.e. principle of collective responsibility.
  • it states that the Council of Ministers shall before resuming his/her office administer his oath and office of secrecy to the Governor, as per the forms stated in the third schedule. As it is required that a person to be a member of Council of Minister should be a member of either houses of the state legislature, if the person even after being elected as the member of council of ministers, is yet not the member of any of the houses then he/she is been given the time of 6 months to become one and if he/she still does not becomes so within that 6 months then automatically his/her term as one of the Council of Ministers collapses.
  • The wages and allowances of the ministers are decided by the state legislature from time to time by legislation and shall be as per mentioned in the second schedule until further changes by the state legislature.

Composition of Council of Ministers:

The Chief Minister decides the size and the rank of the ministers as per the requirement in the state legislature.

There are three categories of Council of Ministers:

  1. Cabinet Ministers:

    They are the highest-level leaders of the political party in power or parties which are in charge of major ministers. Cabinet ministers are the ones who take the decisions in the name of Council of ministers.
     
  2. Ministers of State:

    They are the in charge of smaller ministers. They are specially invited to cabinet meetings when needed.
     
  3. Deputy Ministers:

    They assist the cabinet ministers.

Qualifications of Council of Minister:

For being a member of Council of Minister, as already stated in article 163, if he/she is not a member of any of the houses of state legislature, he/she has to be one within a period of 6 months after becoming the minister.

Further qualifications needed for being a minister:
  • He /she must be a citizen of India.
  • He /she must have attained the age of 30 years in case of legislative council.
  • He /she must have attained the age of 25 years in case of legislative assembly.
  • He /she must bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India.
     

Powers and Functions of Council of Ministers:

  1. Formulation of policies:

    They are the in charge of formulating the government's policies. The Cabinet makes decisions on all key issues, including public health, disability and unemployment benefits, plant disease control, water storage, land tenures and production, and the supply and distribution of goods.
     
  2. Administration and maintenance of public order:

    The executive power must be used in a way that ensures that state laws are followed. The Council of Ministers advices the Governor on making rules and regulations regarding the working of the government for more efficient working.
     
  3. Guiding the state legislature:

    The majority of the bills voted by the legislature are government bills drafted by ministries.The Ministers introduce, explain, and defend them before the State Legislature. Each year, before the start of the first session of the Legislature, the Cabinet prepares the Governor's Address, in which it lays out its legislative agenda.
     
  4. Execution of laws and decisions by the Union:

    In certain situations, the Union Government has the authority to issue directives to state governments. States should use their executive power to guarantee that the laws passed by Parliament are followed. They should not do anything that might jeopardize the Union's executive power.
     
  5. Appointments:

     The Governor appoints the Advocate-General, State Public Service Commission members,the Vice-Chancellors of the State Universities, as well as members of numerous Boards and Commissions, these all are done on the advice of the Council of ministers.
     
  6. The budgets are introduced by the Ministers in the State Legislature. Like the Finance minister presents the state legislature with the state budget.
     

Responsibilities of Council of Ministers:

The responsibilities of the Council of Ministers has been categorized into two, those are collective responsibility and individual responsibility.

Collective responsibility of Council of Ministers:

The principle of collective responsibility as in article 164 which says that Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the legislative assembly (Vidhan Sabha) i.e. A ministry which loses confidence in legislative assembly is obliged to resign. The loss of confidence is expressed by rejecting any policy measure or by passing a motion of no confidence.When a ministry loses the confidence of the legislative assembly, the whole of the ministry has to resign including from the Legislative council i.e. Vidhan Parishad. They operate together as a team and sink or swim as a unit. It is the responsibility of Council of Ministers to support cabinet decisions both inside and outside the state legislature. A minister must resign if he disagrees with a cabinet decision.

Individual Responsibility of Council of Ministers:

Individual accountability is stated in Article 164. The ministers serve at the Governor's leisure, according to the law. This means that the Governor can dismiss a minister if the Council has the legislative assembly's confidence. In the event of a disagreement or unhappiness with a minister's performance, the Chief Minister may ask him to quit or advise the Governor to remove him.

Appointment of Council of Ministers:

The Council of Ministers are been appointed by the Governor of the State with the advise of the Chief Minister and are been recommended and approved by the Chief Minister.

Removal of Council of Minister:

Members of Council of Minister of the State held the office on the pleasure of the Governor, but as already known the Governor exercises his power on the recommendation of the Chief Minister.

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