1. Appointment of Ministers:
While the Prime Minister is selected by the President, the other ministers are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister [Article 75(i)] and the allocation of portfolios amongst them is also made by him.
President’s power of dismissing an individual Minister is virtual power at the hands of the Prime Minister. In selecting the Prime Minister, the President must select the leader of the party in majority in the Lok Sabha, or, a person who is in a position to win the confidence of the majority in that House.
2. A Composite Body:
The Constitution does not classify the members of the Council of Ministers into different ranks. All this has been done informally, following the English practice.
Salaries and Allowances of Ministers Act, 1952, define Minister as a “Member of the Council of Ministers, by whatever name called, and includes a Deputy Minister.”
Council of Minister consists of 3 different categories of Ministers:
1. Cabinet Minister
2. Minister of State
3. Deputy Minister
The Cabinet rank ministers are the head of their departments. They attend the Cabinet meetings as a matter of right. However, a person can be appointed Cabinet Minister without a portfolio. The 44th Constitution Amendment Act (1978) has conferred Constitutional status on the Cabinet Ministers.
The Ministers of State are formally of Cabinet Status and are paid the same salary as the Cabinet Ministers and they hold independent charge of their departments. But, they attend the Cabinet meeting only when invited.
The Deputy Ministers work under Minister of State and have no separate charge of a department.
They get lesser salary than Minister of State or Cabinet Minister. They assist the Minister in charge of a Department or Ministry and take no part in Cabinet deliberations.
3. Size of the Council of Minister:
The original constitution did not provide for limiting the size of ministry. As a result, it remained the discretion of Prime Minister to increase or decrease the number of Council of Ministers.
Recently, Parliament has limited the size of ministry not to exceed 15% of the effective strength of the lower house in Parliament and Assemblies in States.
A Minister must be a member of either House of the Parliament. A non-member can also be appointed as Minister but he must get himself elected to either House of Parliament before the expiry of a period of six months commencing from their appointment.
5. Collective Responsibility:
In essence, Indian Constitution follows in the British Principle except as to the legal responsibility of individual Ministers for acts done by or on behalf of the President.
According to Article 75(3) of the Constitution “The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of People.” So, the Ministry, as a body, shall be under a constitutional obligation to resign as soon as it loses the confidence of the popular House of the Legislature. The collective responsibility is to the House of the People even though some of the Ministers may be members of the Council of States.
6. Individual Responsibility:
The principle of individual responsibility of the head of the State is embodied in Article 75(2) — “The Minister shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.”
The result is that, though the Ministers are collectively responsible to the Legislature, they shall be individually responsible to the Executive head and shall be liable to dismissal even when they may have the confidence of the Legislature.
But since the Prime Minister’s advice will be available in the matter of dismissing other Ministers individually, it may be expected that this power of the President will virtually be, as in England, a power of the Prime Minister.
Usually, the Prime Minister exercises this power by asking an undesirable colleague to resign, which the latter readily complies with, in order to avoid the odium of a dismissal.