Open In App

Appointment and Functions of The Council of Ministers

Last Updated : 17 Nov, 2023
Like Article

In our parliamentary system of government, the President is only the nominal head whereas all his powers are exercised by the Council of Ministers, which the Prime Minister heads. Although the principles of the parliamentary system of government are not provided in detail in our constitution, Articles 74 & 75 discuss them in a general manner.

Article 74 talks about the status of the Council of Ministers while Article 75 deals with the appointment, eligibility, tenure, responsibility, and salaries of the ministers.

What is The Council of Ministers?

The Prime Minister, who is the supreme governing authority of the country, heads the Council of Ministers (CoMs) and plays a vital role in their appointment. The PM nominates the members of the parliament whom he wants to be appointed as ministers and the President in a way is bound to appoint them.

Composition of The Council of Ministers

Talking about the composition of the Council of Ministers consists of three categories of ministers as listed below:

  1. Cabinet Ministers: The cabinet ministers are the heads of important ministries under the central government, such as the ministry of defence, finance, home affairs, external affairs, etc. They are the members of the central cabinet and play a significant role in the formation of important policies.
  2. Ministers of State: The ministers of state may hold independent charge of the ministries or may be attached to the cabinet ministers. In every case, they have to work under the guidance and supervision of cabinet ministers. Ministers of state do not attend cabinet meetings unless invited to do so.
  3. Deputy Ministers: This is the third category of ministers in the Council. They do not hold any independent charge of ministries but are attached to the ministers of state or cabinet ministers to assist them in their duties.

Note: There is one more category of ministers known as parliamentary secretaries. They do not hold any independent charge and are appointed to assist senior ministers. However, no parliamentary secretaries have been appointed since 1967 (except during the first phase of the Rajiv Gandhi government).

Appointment of The Ministers

The President appoints the Prime Minister and then the Prime Minister recommends names to the President for the appointment of council ministers. Although the President is given the power to appoint ministers, he can not do so without the aid and advice of the PM. Therefore, the President has no option but to appoint the persons recommended by the PM.

Here are some important points you must know regarding the appointment of the council ministers:

  • Generally, the members of either house of Parliament (Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha) are appointed as ministers. In case the appointed person is not a member of Parliament, he has to become a member within six months, otherwise, he ceases to be a council minister.
  • A minister who is a member of either house of Parliament can take part and speak in the proceedings of other house as well. However, he can not vote in the other house.

Responsibilities of Ministers

The Council of Ministers is one of the important parts of the Indian Parliamentary structure. All three categories of ministers play a significant role in the overall functioning of the parliament. The primary function of the Council of Ministers is to aid and advise the President. However, the list of their responsibilities is much longer than that as mentioned below:

1. Collective Resposibilities

As per Article 75, all the ministers of the council are collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. Simply put, they have to work as a team. In case a no-confidence motion is passed against the council of ministers in the Lok Sabha, all the ministers have to resign (even the ones who are members of the Rajya Sabha). Also, the council of ministers can advise the President to dissolve the Lok Sabha and call for fresh elections.

Along with this, the collective responsibility of council ministers also includes standing by and supporting cabinet decisions even if their views differ in the cabinet meeting. If any member disagrees with a cabinet decision, he has to resign.

2. Individual Responsibilities

Article 75 of the Constitution also deals with the principle of individual responsibility of the ministers. As per the article, a minister holds office only at the pleasure of the President. President can remove a minister even when the council enjoys the confidence of the Lok Sabha, however, he can do this only on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Alternatively, the Prime Minister can advise the President to remove a minister in case of a difference of opinion or if the minister’s performance is not up to the mark.

3. Legal Responsibilities

The Constitution of India does not contain any provision dealing with the legal responsibility of a council minister. All the courts are barred from questioning the nature of advice given by the ministers.

Important Constitutional Provisions Related to Council of Ministers

Articles 74, 75, 77, 78, and 88 of the Constitution of India contain some important provisions related to the Council of ministers.

Article 74 and Article 75 deal with the status, appointment, role, responsibility, and salaries of the ministers. Article 77 talks about the conduct of business of the Government of India while Article 78 mentions the duties of the Prime Minister, who heads the CoMs. Lastly, Article 88 talks about the rights of ministers with respect to the houses.

You can understand the same in further detail via the following table:



Article 74

(1) There shall be a council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister to aid and advise the President. However, the President may require the CoMs to reconsider such advice and he has to act in accordance with the advice given after the reconsideration.

(2) No court can question the advice tendered by the ministers to the President.

Article 75

(1) The PM shall be appointed by the President and the other ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the PM.

(2) The total number of ministers (including the PM) should not be more than 15% of the total strength of the Lok Sabha (added by 91st Amendment Act).

(3) A member of parliament who is disqualified on the ground of defection can not be appointed as a minister.

(4) The ministers hold office only during the pleasure of the President.

(5) The CoMs is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha.

(6) The President shall administer the oaths of office of the ministers.

(7) A minister should be a member of the parliament or shall become a member within six months of appointment.

(8) Parliament determines the salaries and allowances of the ministers.

Article 77

The President should make rules for the more convenient conduct of the business of the Government of India, and for the allocation among Ministers of the said business.

Article 78

(a) The PM should communicate to the President all the decisions of the Council of Ministers.

(b) It is the duty of the Prime Minister to furnish such information related to the administration of the Union affairs.

(c) If there is any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but has not been considered by the council, the Prime Minister should submit it for consideration if the President requires so.

Article 88

Every minister has the right to take part and speak in the proceedings of either house or in joint sittings. However, he is not entitled to vote in the other house.


The Council of Ministers consists of 60 to 70 ministers and is an important decision-making authority of the Indian parliamentary structure. The Consitution of India defines the appointment, roles, and responsibilities of the ministers clearly. With a mix of collective and individual responsibilities, the constitution of India ensures that every minister performs his duties faithfully.

Questions and Answers on Council of Ministers

1. Is the Council of Ministers the same as the Cabinet?

No, the Cabinet is not the same as the Council of Ministers. Though the terms are often used interchangeably, there is a significant difference between the two. The Council of ministers is a wider body while the Cabinet is a smaller (yet important) body. Their composition, role, and functions make them different.

2. Does the Consitution of India contain any special provision regarding the number of council ministers?

Though the constitution doesn’t clearly mention the number, Article 75 says that the number of ministers shall not exceed 15% of the total strength of Lok Sabha. This provision was added by the 91st Amendment Act of 2003.

3. Are central council ministers answerable to the court regarding their advice tendered to the President?

No, the courts are barred from inquiring the ministers about their advice given to the President.

Like Article
Suggest improvement
Share your thoughts in the comments

Similar Reads