The constitution doesn’t classify the members of the council of ministers into different ranks. All this has been done informally following the English practice.
It has now got legislative sanction, so far as the union is concerned, in Sec. 2 of the salaries and Allowances of ministers Act, 1952, which defines minister as a “member of the council of ministers, by whatever name called, and includes a Deputy Minister.”
All the ministers, however, don’t belong to the same rank. They are classified under three ranks: (a) Cabinet ministers or i ‘members of the Cabinet”; (b) Ministers of State; (c) Deputy Ministers:
The number of members of the council of ministers isn’t specified in the constitution. It is determined according to the exigencies of the time. At the end of 1961, the strength of the council of ministers of the union was 47, at the end of 1975, it was raised to 60, and in 1977, it was reduced to 24, omitting ft the category of Deputy ministers. Today in 1992, there are 62 ministers in the council of ministers.
The rank of different ministers is determined by the Prime Minister according to whose advice the President appoints the ministers and also allocates business amongst them. While the council of ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha and Article 78 (c) enjoins the Prime Minister.
When required by the President, to submit for the consideration of a council of ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by the minister but which hasn’t been considered by the council; in practice, the council of ministers seldom meets as a body. It is the cabinet, an inner body within the council, which shapes the policy of the Government.
While cabinet Ministers attend meetings of the cabinet of their own right, Ministers of state aren’t members of the cabinet and they can attend only if invited to attend any particular meeting. A Deputy Minister assists the minister in change of a Department or Ministry and takes no part in Cabinet deliberations.