State Council of Ministers: Formation, Categories and Other Details!
The Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary system of government at the state level. The Governor acts as the constitutional and nominal executive head of the state. The real executive powers are in the hands of the State Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister. The Constitution provides for each state a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as its head for aiding and advising the Governor in the exercise of his functions. However, in reality the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers act as the real executive in the State.
- Formation of the State Council of Ministers:
The procedure for the formation of the Council of Ministers at the state level is the same as in the case of the Union Council of Ministers. After each general election, the party or the group which secures majority in the State Legislative Assembly elects its leader. The Governor then summons him to form the ministry.
In other words, the leader of the majority in the State Legislative Assembly is appointed as the Chief Minister who selects his team of ministers. He submits the list to the Governor who formally appoints them as ministers. Normally, all ministers are taken from the members of the state legislature.
However, the Chief Minister can appoint even a non-member of the Assembly as a minister. But such a person has to secure a seat in the state legislature within a period of six months from the date of his appointment as minister. In case he fails to do so, he has to resign his minister-ship.
The strength of the State Council of Ministers cannot be more than 15% of the strength of State Legislative Assembly. Orissa Assembly has 147 members. As such the maximum strength of Orissa Council of Ministers can be 22. In May 2009, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) President Naveen Pattnaik was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Orissa for the third consecutive term. A 21-member Council of Ministers was formed.
- Categories of Ministers in the State Council of Ministers:
(a) Cabinet Ministers:
Cabinet Ministers are those ministers who are given cabinet rank. They hold independent charge of the important departments, like finance, Local Bodies, home affairs, health etc. They together determine the policies of the state. The CM and the cabinet ministers together constitute the State Cabinet. It is the most powerful part of the State Council of Ministers.
(b) Ministers of State:
They enjoy number two status in the Ministry. They do not attend the meetings of the Cabinet. They help the cabinet ministers and are attached to them in their departments. Currently, several Parliamentary Secretaries are appointed by the Chief Minister from amongst his party MLAs.
It is done to please them without violating legal condition which limits the maximum size of the state ministry to 15% of the total strength of State Legislative Assembly. The Parliamentary Secretaries do not get any salary. However, they enjoy some parks and perform some functions for the departments to which they are attached.
Theoretically the ministers hold office during the pleasure of the Governor. It means so long as they continue to have a majority support in the State Legislative Assembly. In fact they hold office during the pleasure of the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister can ask any minister to resign and his desire is always fulfilled by the concerned minister. If he resists, the Chief Minister can advise the Governor to dismiss him. The Governor always accepts such an advice. The Chief Minister can cause the fall of the ministry by tendering his own resignation to the Governor. As such virtually a minister holds office so long as he enjoys the confidence of the Chief Minister.
- Responsibility of State Council of Ministers to the State Legislative Assembly:
The ministers are individually responsible to the State Legislature Assembly. In case the latter passes a censure motion against a minister for any lapse in the working of his department, he has to resign from office. A minister remains in office only so long as he enjoys the confidence of majority in the State Legislative Assembly.
The State Council of Ministers is also collectively responsible before the State Legislative Assembly. In case the latter passes a vote of no-confidence against the Council of Ministers or against the Chief Minister or rejects any bill sponsored by the Ministry or rejects the budget of the Government, or rejects any policy of the Government, or cuts the funds of the state government, the entire Council of Ministers resigns. The Council of Ministers remains in office so long as it enjoys the support and confidence of the majority in the State Legislative Assembly.
- Powers and Functions of the State Council of Ministers:
The State Council of Ministers is the real executive of the state. It exercises vast executive powers.
(a) Formulation of State Policies:
The Council of Ministers in reality the state cabinet has the responsibility of formulating the policies of the state. All the policies are discussed and decided upon the State Cabinet (Not by the entire Council of Ministers.)
(b) Running of Administration:
The State Council of Ministers runs the state administration. The ministers are responsible for this work. They do so in accordance with the policies of the government as approved and passed by the state legislature. Their duty is to see and ensure that the administration of the state is run in accordance with these policies. Each minister has one or more departments under his control and he is responsible for the administration of these.
(c) Co-ordination Function:
The State Cabinet is also responsible for securing co-ordination in the working of various governmental departments. It has the responsibility to resolve conflicts and deadlocks between various departments. All the ministers are committed to follow the decisions of the cabinet.
(d) Appointment-making Powers:
The Cabinet makes all important appointments in the state. The appointments of the Advocate General, Vice Chancellors or Pro-Vice Chancellors (as in case of Punjab) of the Universities in a state, Chairman and members of the State Public Service Commission, Chairmen of various Corporations and Boards, etc., are all made by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers.
(e) Role in Law-making:
Law-making is the function of the state legislature but the ministers plays a key role in this sphere. It is the ministry which really decides the legislative agenda. Most of the bills, nearly 95%, are introduced and piloted by the ministers in the state legislature. The bills moved by the ministers are mostly passed by the legislature because the ministry enjoys the support of the majority. A private member bill has little chance of getting passed, unless it is supported by the ministry.
When the state legislature is not in session, the Council of Ministers can satisfy the need for law-making by getting ordinances issued from the Governor. These ordinances have the force of law and can be got converted into laws from the State Legislature when it comes into session. The Governor, summons, prorogues and dissolves the state legislature upon the advice of the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers. Thus, the Council of Ministers plays an important role in law-making process.
(f) Financial Functions:
The Council of Ministers manages the finances of the state. The Cabinet really determines the fiscal policies of the state. It formulates and implements all developmental policies and plans. It manages the finances of the state in accordance with the policies and budget as prepared by the State Council of Ministers and approved by the state legislature.
- Position of the State Council of Ministers:
As the real executive, the State Council of Ministers enjoys a dominant and powerful position. It “is the strongest and the most powerful institution in the state. It really runs the state administration by exercising all the powers vested in the Governor of the state. However, in an emergency under Article 356, the Governor runs the administration of the state independently and without the help and presence of State Council of Ministers.
The State Council of Ministers: it’s Power and Functions!
The Constitution provides that there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advice the Governor in the exercise of his functions except in so far as he is by or under the Constitution required to act in his discretion.
The governor appoints the Chief Minister and other Ministers on the advice of the Chief Minister.
The Council of Ministers constitutes the real executive in the State. Although the administration is carried on in the name of the Governor, actual decisions are normally made by Ministers.
Under ordinary circumstances, the Governor has to follow their advices. It is the duty of the Chief Minister of a State to communicate to the Governor regarding administration and the affairs of the State.
Thus, in theory the Governor may dismiss a minister if he so likes, but in view of the collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers to the State Legislative Assembly, he is not likely to use this power in actual practice.
The Constitution defines the position of the Council of Ministers in relation to the State Legislature by providing that the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the State. This means that they can remain in office only if they enjoy the support of a majority of members of the State Legislative Assembly.
The number of the ministers is not fixed. It is for the Chief Minister to determine the size of the Council of Ministers and he does so as the requirements of the occasion may demand.; The only constitutional requirement is that in the States of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa the Council of Ministers must have a Minister in charge of Tribal welfare and the same Minister may also be entrusted with the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes in the State.
Powers and Functions of the Council of Ministers:
The Council of Ministers performs the following functions:
(i) Formulation of Policies:
The Ministers formulate the policies of the government. The Cabinet takes decisions on all major problems—public health, relief to the disabled and unemployed, prevention of plant diseases, water storage, land tenures and production, supply and distribution of goods. When it has formulated a policy, the appropriate department carries it out.
(ii) Administration and Maintenance of Public Order:
The executive power is to be exercised in such a way as to ensure compliance with State laws. The Constitution empowers the Governor to make -rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the Government. All such rules are made on the advice of the Council of Ministers.
The Governor has the power to appoint the Advocate-General and the Members of the State Public Service Commission. The Vice-Chancellors of the State Universities and members of various Boards and Commissions are all appointed by the Governor. The Governor cannot make these appointments at his will. He must exercise these functions on the advice of his ministers.
(iv) Guiding the Legislature:
Most of the Bills passed by the Legislature are Government Bills, prepared in the ministries. They are introduced, explained and defended in the State Legislature by the Ministers. The Cabinet prepares the Governor’s Address in which it sets forth its legislative programme at the commencement of the first session of the Legislature each year.
For weeks at a stretch the Cabinet’s proposals take over every working moment of the House. The Cabinet makes sure that all government bills will be translated into laws.
(v) Control over the State Exchequer:
The State budget containing the estimates of income and expenditure for the ensuing year is placed by the Finance Minister before the State Legislature. The Legislature cannot take the initiative in the case of a Money Bill. Such a Bill must be recommended by the Governor and can be introduced only by a Minister. The initiative in financial matters lies with the Executive.
(vi) Execution of Central Laws and Decisions of the Union Government:
The Union Government is empowered to give directions to the State-governments in certain matters. The States should exercise their executive power so as to ensure compliance with the laws made by Parliament. They should not do anything which would hamper the executive power of the Union.
Railways, for instance, is a Union subject, but police, including railway police, is a State Subject. The Union Government can give directions to the State Executive as to the measures to be taken for the protection of railways within the State.