The Prime Minister of India is the leader of the executive branch of the Government of India. The Prime Minister is also the chief advisor to the President of India and head of the Council of Ministers. They can be a member of any of the two houses of Parliament (the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha), but has to be the leader of the political party, having a majority in the Lok Sabha.
The Prime Minister is the senior member of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. The Prime Minister selects and can dismiss other members of the cabinet; allocates posts to members within the Government; is the presiding member and chairman of the cabinet.
The union cabinet headed by the Prime Minister is appointed by the President of India to assist the latter in the administration of the affairs of the executive. Union cabinet is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha as per Article 75(3). The Prime Minister shall always enjoy the confidence of Lok Sabha and shall resign if they are unable to prove majority when instructed by the President.
Origins and history
India follows a parliamentary system in which the prime minister is the presiding, actual head of the government and chief of the executive branch. In such systems, the head of state or the head of state's official representative (i.e., the monarch, president, or governor general) usually holds a purely ceremonial position.
The Prime Minister shall become a member of parliament within six months of beginning his/her tenure, if they are not a member already. They are expected to work with other central ministers to ensure the passage of bills by the Parliament.
Constitutional framework and position of prime minister
The Constitution envisions a scheme of affairs in which the President of India is the head of the executive in terms of Article 53 with office of the prime minister as chief of Council of Ministers to assist and advise the president in the discharge of his/her constitutional functions. To quote, Article 53, 74 and 75 provide as under;
The executive powers of the Union shall be vested in the president and shall be exercised either directly or through subordinate officers, in accordance with the Constitution.— Article 53(1), Constitution of India
There shall be a Council of Ministers with the prime minister at the head to aid and advise the president who shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice.— Article 74(1), Constitution of India
The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.— Article 75(1), Constitution of India
Like most parliamentary democracies, a President's duties are mostly ceremonial as long as the constitution and the rule of law is obeyed by the Union Cabinet and the Legislature. The Prime Minister of India is the head of union government and has the responsibility for executive power. The President's constitutional duty is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law per Article 60. In the constitution of India, the Prime Minister is mentioned in only four of its articles (Articles 74,75,78 and 366), however he plays a crucial role in the union government of India by enjoying majority in the Lok Sabha.
Role and power of the prime minister
The prime minister leads the functioning and exercise of authority of the union government of India. The President of India invites a person (subject to eligibility) who is commanding support of majority members of Lok Sabha to form the Union government, also known as the Central government, at the national level and exercise its powers. In practice the prime minister nominates the members of their Council of Ministers to the president. They also work upon to decide a core group of Ministers (known as the Cabinet) as in-charge of the important functions and ministries of the Government of India.
The prime minister is responsible for aiding and advising the president in distribution of work of the Government to various ministries and offices and in terms of the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961. The co-ordinating work is generally allocated to the Cabinet Secretariat. While the work of the Government is generally divided into various Ministries, the prime minister may retain certain portfolios if they are not allocated to any member of the cabinet.
The prime minister, in consultation with the Cabinet, schedules and attends the sessions of the Houses of Parliament and is required to answer the question from the Members of Parliament to them as the in-charge of the portfolios in the capacity as Prime Minister of India.
Some specific ministries/department are not allocated to anyone in the cabinet but the prime minister themself. The prime minister is usually always in-charge/head of:
- Appointments Committee of the Cabinet;
- Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions;
- NITI Aayog;
- Department of Atomic Energy;
- Department of Space and
- Nuclear Command Authority
The prime minister represents the country in various delegations, high level meetings and international organisations that require the attendance of the highest government office and also addresses to the nation on various issues of national or other importance.
Per Article 78 of the constitution, the official communication between the union cabinet and the president are through the prime minister. Other wise constitution recognises the prime minister as a member of the union cabinet only outside the sphere of union cabinet.
According to Article 84 of the Constitution of India, which sets the principle qualification for member of Parliament, and Article 75 of the Constitution of India, which sets the qualifications for the minister in the Union Council of Minister, and the argument that the position of prime minister has been described as 'first among equals', A prime minister must:
- be a citizen of India.
- be a member of the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. If the person chosen as the prime minister is neither a member of the Lok Sabha nor the Rajya Sabha at the time of selection, they must become a member of either of the houses within six months.
- be above 25 years of age if they are a member of Lok Sabha or above 30 years of age if they are a member of the Rajya Sabha.
- not hold any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State or under any local or other authority subject to the control of any of the said Governments.
If however a candidate is elected as the prime minister they must vacate their post from any private or government company and may take up the post only on completion of their term.
The Prime Minister is required to make and subscribe in the presence of President of India before entering office, the oath of office and secrecy, as per the Third Schedule of the Constitution of India.
Oath of office:
I, <name>, do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, that I will faithfully and conscientiously discharge my duties as prime minister for the Union and that I will do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.— Constitution of India, Third Schedule, Part I
Oath of secrecy:
I, <name>, do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I will not directly or indirectly communicate or reveal to any person or persons any matter which shall be brought under my consideration or shall become known to me as prime minister for the Union except as may be required for the due discharge of my duties as such Minister.— Constitution of India, Third Schedule, Part II
By Article 75 of the constitution of India, remuneration of the prime minister as well as other ministers are to be decided by the Parliament and is renewed from time to time. The original remuneration for prime minister and other ministers were specified in the Part B of the second schedule of the constitution, which was later removed by an amendment. In 2010, the prime minister's office reported that he did not receive a formal salary, but was only entitled to monthly allowances. That same year The Economist reported that, on a purchasing power parity basis, the prime minister received an equivalent of $4106 per year. As a percentage of the country's per-capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product), this is the lowest of all countries The Economist surveyed.
|Salary in Oct 2009||Salary in Oct 2010||Salary in Jul 2012|
|₹100,000 (US$1,600)||₹135,000 (US$2,100)||₹160,000 (US$2,500)|
The 7, Lok Kalyan Marg ( earlier name was Race Course Road) in New Delhi, serves as the official place of residence for the Prime Minister of India. For ground travel, the Prime Minister uses the highly modified armoured BMW 7 Series (F01), while for air travel, an aircraft designated by the call sign Air India One is used. The Special Protection Group is charged with protecting the sitting Prime Minister and his/her family.