The Indian Constitution provides for separation of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary with well-defined roles and responsibilities for each one of them. Since India is a parliamentary democracy, there is an interface between the legislature and the executive at the level of the Council of Ministers, which is collectively responsible to the legislature.

In terms of Articles 53 and 154, the execu­tive power of the Union and the States vests in the President or Governor directly or through officers subordinate to him. These officers constitute the permanent civil service and are governed by Part XIV of the Constitution.

The other part of the executive is the ‘political’. The President or Governor is required to act accord­ing to the aid and advice of his/her Council of Ministers, appointed under Articles 73 and 163 of the Constitution.

The President and Governor frame rules for the conduct of business in the government. Work is allocated among Ministers as per the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules and the manner in which the officers are required to help the President or Governor to exercise his/her executive functions is governed by the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules.


What this means is that though officers are subordinate to the President or Governor, they carry out the orders of the Council of Ministers in accordance with the rules framed in this behalf.

The Rules of Business of Government do provide for the Secretary to the Government to advise his/ her Minister about the course of action proposed in a particular matter and to submit to him a note which tells him about the propriety or legality of his/her orders and suggest that either such orders not be given or that they be suitably modified.

The relationship between the Secretary and the Minister is organic. The Minister has the mandate of the people to govern, but the Secretary has an equivalent constitutional mandate to advise the Minister.

Once his/her advice has been suitably considered, unless the Minister passes an illegal order, the Secretary is bound to implement it. The Minister, on his/her part, is required to support the Secretary who is implementing his/her order. Once a law is framed or rules and regulations are ap­proved, they apply to everyone, whether a member of the political executive or of the permanent civil service. A civil servant is required to implement the orders of government without bias, with honesty and without fear or favour. It is precisely in this area that a degree of a difference of opinion often occurs between the political executive and the civil servants.