Article 76 of the constitution of the India provides that there shall be a council of ministers with the Prime Minister as its head to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions.
The first step in the process forming the council Ministers is the appointment of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President but his choice in the matt is limited. He must select the leader of the majority party in the Parliament, and its there is no single party commanding the majority a then he must elect such a person who in his opinion can form stable Government.
After the Prime Minister has been selected the Ministers are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Though the President may refuse to accept recommendations of the Prime Minister, but that is not the practice of the parliamentary Government.
The President has no option but to accept the recommendations of the Prime Minister or choose another Prime Minister. Thus the description of the President in the choice to the Prime Minister and other ministers is limited.
A member of the Rajya Sabha also can be appointed the Prime Minister. Mrs. Indira Gandhi was from Rajya Sabha when she was appointed the Prime Minister on the death of Shri Lalbahadur Shastri.
The constitution does not lay down any limit as regard to the number of minister. It is for the Prime Minister to determine the size of the council and the categories of minister. At Present there are three types of Minister, (i) Cabinet Minister (ii) Minister of State, and (iii) Deputy Minister. Nor does the constitution prescribel any qualification for holding the office of a minister.
It only says that the minister must be a member of either House of Parliament though for a period of six month a non-member also may be appointed the minister. The minister hold office during the pleasure of the President which in fact means the pleasure of the Prime Minister.
Functions of the Cabinet:
The Cabinet holds a pivotal position in the Union Government. All the powers of the President are in fact the powers of the Cabinet. The functions of the Cabinet may be considered under the following heads:
(1) Executive functions:
The Cabinet is the real executive in the country. It discusses and decides all sorts of national and international problems and decides the policy as regard to them. After the policy has been approved the appropriate department carries of out. If an individual minister does not agree with the policy, the proper course for him is to resign.
One cannot remain in the council of ministers and yet disagree with the policy determined by the cabinet. The cabinet usually meets once a week. Generally at the major appointments are placed before the cabinet for its approval.
(2) Coordinating functions:
To ensure the property working of the different departments the cabinet co-ordinate their activities. The departments have to abide by the decisions of a disposed matter between the different departments.
(3) Legislature Functions:
The Cabinet plans the legislative programme at the beginning of each parliamentary session and introduces the Government Bills. No minister can introduce a bill without the approval of the Cabinet. It is for the Cabinet to decide what bills will be introduced in a session.
The control of the cabinet over legislation is complete that is fixes to exaggeration to say that the cabinet legislates with approval of the parliament. The power of delegated legislation has further increased the legislative authority by the cabinet.
The Parliament passes the bill in skeleton from with power to the Cabinet to fill in the details. The rule making power of the cabinet has added vastly to the powers of the cabinets.
(4) Financial Functions:
The cabinet of the main body to decide what expenditure is to be incurred on the affairs of the union and how that money is to be raised and which taxes are to be levied from the purpose. No money bill can be introduced in the Parliament by a private member.
At the beginning of every financial year the cabinet places the budget before the parliament. No change in the budget may be effected unless the cabinet agrees to it. Thus the control of the cabinet over the finances of the country is complete.
All the above powers and functions have made the cabinet the steering wheel of the state. Its powers are enormous in the executive, legislative and financial fields. In short, the cabinet is the Government.