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Council of Ministers | CABINET

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

Cabinet Responsibility:

(i) Origin & Development: Our Constitution has provided for a 'Council of Ministers' with the Prime Minister at the Head, to aid and advice the President. One of the essential features of the English Parliamentary System is the cabinet. It is the core of the British Constitutional is the supreme directing authority that provides unity to the British System of Government . 'It is a hyphen that joins, a buckle that binds the executive and the legislature together.' Our Constitution has followed the British System. Jennings in his 'Cabinet Govt.' has discussed elaborately the position and working of the Cabinet in England. 'Cabinet' has come from 'Cabin' a secret place when the King of England used to have confidential meetings to discuss state matters with his advisors. However, George I stopped going to the Cabinet as he did not know English well. The meetings were allowed to be held without the King. These advisors (Ministers) selected one of them (the first=Prime), as the Prime Minister to preside. Thus, started the office of the Prime Minister with the Cabinet. Cabinet responsibility developed in later years.

(ii) Functions: It is the Cabinet that finally determines the policy of the Nation, it has the supreme control of the National Executive, and provides continuous co-ordination to the various ministries. The powers vested in the President are exercised by the Cabinet.

(iii) Collective & Individual Responsibility : As Dicey pointed out 'Ministerial Responsibility means two utterly different things'. Collective and Individual responsibilities. The Cabinet

is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha, and, hence if a no confidence motion is passed, the Prime Minister should resign. All other Ministers go out of gear. All sail or sink together. This is called the moral and political responsibility. Similarly, if a Bill is defeated on the floor of the House, the Prime Minister should resign. Apart from the above, the individual ministers are also responsible. In the Cabinet, if a minister does not agree to the Majority decision concerning his department, he may resign. This is because, he should not blow hot and cold in the same breath. If he accepts the Cabinet decision, he must follow the same in his dept. But if he does not accept, he may resign. Sri Chagla, resigned as Education Minister on Language issue. Smt.Tarakeswari Sinha resigned on Cabinet's non acceptance of prohibition of intoxicating liquors. Apart from the above, each minister is individually responsible for whatever happens in his department. Sri Jagjivan Ra resigned following the Kothagudi Railway Tragedy. However,if there are cases of unpopularity or maladministration, the Prime Minister may ask the minister concerned to resign. The Defence Minister resigned in England in the famous Profuma affair. Sri Krishna Menon resigned as Defence Minister on some defence matters. Recently,’sri Kalmadi and Sri Raja resigned due to their alleged involvement in corrupt practices. The concept of Cabinet responsibilit y is a product of British conventions. India is closely following this system with great success.

The Speaker of the House :

(i) Origin : 'The Speaker' was the recognized spokesman of the House in England to speak to the King on the deliberations of the House. He was elected by the House. During the period of Charles I. on one occasion [On 4 January 1642] the King himself entered the House of Commons when it was in full session. He demanded the surrender of a few members of the House. The Speaker William Lenthall replied I have neither eyes to see, nor ears to hear except what the House commands me. The King understood this and returned. The office of the Speaker is held in great esteem, much dignity, honour and power.

(ii) Speaker in India: He is elected by the Lok Sabha. He is an elected member of the House. But, once he is elected, he must divest himself of the party character, i.e., he must become nonpartisan. He may be removed after giving 14 days notice, and, by passing a resolution in the House with a majority vote.

(iii) Powers & functions:

(a) He presides over the session of the Lok Sabha. All speeches are addressed to him. As Speaker, he plays the part of an impartial and non-partisan presiding officer.

(b) He preserves and protects the rights, privileges and immunities of the House and of its members.

(c) He safeguards the rights of the minority.

(d) All points of order are decided by him. He may or may not allow an 'adjournment motion'.

(e) He conducts the deliberations according to the procedures of the House (May's Parliamentary Practice is an authoritative work followed by the House). He preserves the orderly conduct of debate .He maintains the dignity and decorum of the House. He may expunge 'un-parliamentary' language, from the deliberations.

(f) He certifies a 'money bill'.

(g) His rulings are final and serve as good precedents to the successors.

(h) The standing orders and rules of procedure have vested a number of functions on him.

(i) With the authority of the House, he exercises the privilege of the House to punish a person for contempt of the House.

(j) He may nominate members to the various Standing Committees and Sub-Committees.

(k) Publications of debates are made with his authority. The 33rd Amendment to the Constitution provides the Speaker has the power to test the genuineness of letter of resignation of a Member and the termination is subject to the acceptance by the Speaker [Union of India V.Gopal 1978 S C ]

(iv) Conclusion: The Office of our Speaker, is on the British model. The chief characteristics are his authority and of his impartiality.

Money Bills :

(i) Introduction: Bills are divided into (a) money bills and (b) Bills other than money bills. The Constitution has provided a separate procedure in respect of each category. There is a special procedure for money bills in Art. 109. The Special Status given to the money bill in respect of its initiation and of passing is predominantly due to the constitutional struggle between the two Houses in England. In 1909 attempt was made by the House of Lords to assume power over money bills. But this was resisted by the House of Commons. This struggle came to an end with the passing of the Parliament Act 1911. Major provisions of this bill are incorporated in Arts. 109 & 110.

(ii) Definition: Art. 110 define a money bill.

(a) It is a bill dealing with the imposition,abolition,remission,alteration or regulation of any tax.

(c) It is a money bill if it contains matter of regulation of borrowing of money, giving of guarantee by Government;

(d) Amendment of law in respect of government financial obligations. The custody of the Consolidated Fund or contingency fund, payment into it, or withdrawal from it.

(e) Appropriation of money from the consolidated fund.

(e) Decreasing or increasing the charges on the consolidated fund.

(f) The receipts of the money on account of consolidated fund or public accounts. The custody and auditing thereof.

(g) Any matter incidental thereto.The Constitution also provides that it is not a money bill by merely including matters in the bill relating to imposition of fines or penalties, payment of licence fee or service fee etc. Further it is not a money bill if it deals with certain matters of alteration, imposition of a tax which is purely by any local body or authority for local purposes.


(1) A money bill is initiated only in the Lok Sabha.

(2) The recommendation of the President is essential before introduction.

(3) In respect of a question whether a bill is money bill or not, the Certificate of the Speaker is final.

(4) After passing the money bill the Lok Sabha sends it to the Rajya Sabha. The Rajya Sabha should pass within 14 days. If the bill is not returned within 14 days it is deemed to

have been passed by both Houses. The Rajya Sabha may pass and send back with

recommendations. If the recommendations are rejected by the Lok Sabha partially or totally it is deemed to have been passed. If the recommendations are accepted by Lok Sabha the bill is said to have been passed by both the Houses.The bill is then sent to the President for his assent, who shall give his assent. The rules of the procedure of the two Houses, have

provided for a detailed procedure incorporating these provisions.

Privileges & Immunities of Parliament and of Members:

(i) Contents: Art. 105 of the Constitution deals with the privileges and immunities of the Parliament and of the members of the Parliament.

(a) Freedom of Speech in Parliament.

(b) Members are immune from any court proceedings for anything said or vote given in Parliament.

(c) Right of publication by the House.

(d) In all other respects, the privileges and immunities are, as may be defined by Parliament or those as are in vogue before the 44th Amendment 1978.This means as D D Basu opines until these privileges and immunities are defined by Parliament ,there cannot be a vacuum and so the existing privileges and immunities would continue.

(ii) Historical note : These privileges and immunities originated in England. Originally they were intended to protect the King, but later became customary rights of the commons,

and, in due course crystallised into privileges, from the 15th and 16th centuries. They are based on Lex et consuetudo Parliamenti (Law and custom of Parliament)

(iii) Definition : Privileges, according to Anson, are the fundamental rights of the House of Commons and of its members, against the Prerogatives of the Crown, the authority of the ordinary courts of law and, the special authority of the House of Lords. Without these the House cannot discharge its functions effectively and efficiently. Each House has its own privileges and immunities.

(iv) Procedure: These are claimed as a custom, by the Speaker in England at the commencement of each new Parliament. In India, these are provided for in Arts. 105 and 194 of the Constitution.

(v) Privileges etc. explained: According to Anson (The Law and the Custom), Privileges are of 3 kinds.

(a) Exclusive Jurisdiction within the walls of the House;

(b) Certain personal privileges attached to the Members;

(c) To punish for contempt of the House.

(a) Exclusive Jurisdiction within the House :

(1) The House may discuss any subject of its choice and frame its own rules of procedure. It is the sole judge of its proceedings. In Bradlaugh V. Gossetee, B was elected but he refused to take the oath. The House barred him from sitting as a Member, and the Sergeant prevented him as per the directions of the House. B sued the Sergeant. Held, by Blackstone J., that whatever matter arises within the House ought to be examined, discussed and adjudged in the House, and not elsewhere. All the proceedings of the House are absolute and privileged. B's case was dismissed.

Exception : Crimes are not part of the proceedings and hence, the House has no jurisdiction.

(2) Freedom of Speech :

The leading case is—Sir Eliot's case : Eliot was convicted for seditious speeches made in the House, but the House of Lords reversed this. It said the matter must be decided in the House itself. The Bill of Rights 1688 was passed. The House is the sole judge in all cases. In the Searchlight case our Supreme Court held that Art.lO5(l) was a special right and hence prevailed over the general right under Art.l9(l)(a) freedom of speech and expression.

(3) Right of Publication :

The House has the right to publish its debates, reports, paper etc. No proceedings can be taken to any court, for anything published under the authority of the House. This was declared in the Parliamentary Papers Act 1840, in England. Art 361 A inserted by the 44 th

Amendment provides that publication of substantially true report in newspaper of the parliamentary proceedings is protected against any civil or criminal liability.. Exception publication made with malice. The same rule applies to publication of State Legislative proceedings.

Leading Case:

Stockdale V. Hansard.

Hansard, a publisher had published the debates under the authority of the House. This contained certain defamatory matter against Stockdale. S sued and was awarded damages.

Hansard published again. S sued. Held, republication was also defamatory.

This led to the Sheriffs of the Middlesex case. Under these circumstances, the parliamentary Papers Act 1840 was passed. Courts have no jurisdiction over the Parliamentarypublications. Expunged (removed) portions should not be published by anybody (Searchlight case). Such publication amounts to contempt of the House.

(b) Privileges of the Members : Every member of the Parliament is entitled to certain privileges and immunities.

(1) Freedom from Arrest: A member cannot be arrested in any civil case 40 days before, during and 40 days after the Session of the Parliament. This does not apply to arrests under Criminal Law.

(ii) Freedom from service as Jurors: As the jury system is abolished in India, this has no relevance.

(iii) Exemption from attendance as witnesses in courts during the Session.

(c) To punish for contempt of the House:The power to commit is the key-stone of parliamentary privileges. The objective is to uphold and maintain the dignity of the Parliament and to defend it against disrespect and affronts. Modes of Punishment : Censure, Admonition, Imprisonment, Expulsion from the House etc.

Leading cases:

(1) John Wilks Case : He was expelled for writing libel against the Parliament (1764).

(2) Garry Alighan was expelled for selling secret information.

(3) Mrs. Indira Gandhi was expelled from the House for the contempt of the House in obstructing 4 officials from doing their duties in respect of Maruthi Ltd. Her seat was declared vacant.

(4) In re U. P. Tangle Case (1965), the U.P. Legislature gave 7 days' imprisonment to Keshav Singh for distributing pamphlets (committing the breach of the privilege of the House). Advocate Solomon moved a habeas corpus before the Division Bench. The two judges Beg and Saigal ordered the release of the petitioner. The U. P. legislature passed a resolution to admonish the Advocate and two judges. The judges moved the Full Bench of 27 judges of the Allahabad High Court which issued an order to the Speaker not to proceed further. This created a serious situation and the President referred this question to the Supreme Court which held that the U.P. Legislature had no power to take proceedings against a judge.

(5) Blitz Case : Mr. Karanjia was called before the House and was admonished for his writings in his weekly against a member of the House (he had written : Kripa Loony etc.).

6. Other cases Ramalingam V.daily Tanthi 1975 Mad.. Kiran Jain V.Sanjiva Reddy 1970 S C.

Council of Ministers | CABINET

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