The Cabinet system of Government in India that works on the basis of several broad principles. The features of Cabinet System in India are summarized below :
Firstly, there is a constitutional head of the Government. The Queen in England and the President in India are the constitutional heads. The position of the constitutional head is one of dignity but not of power.
The governmental powers are exercised by a council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and all other ministers are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers hold office during the pleasure of the President. But the pleasure of the President is political rather than personal. So long as the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers enjoy the support of the majority in the Lower House of the Parliament, the President cannot withdraw his pleasure. In a real sense, the Prime Minister is not the President’s nominee but the nation’s choice.
Powers of the Government are exercised in the name of the President but the President acts only on the advice of the Council of Ministers. The 42nd amendment of the constitution has made it obligatory for the President to act only on advice.
Secondly, since the President acts only on advice given by the Council of Ministers, the responsibility for the President’s action is of the Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers are collectively responsible to the House of People. If any policy or action of the Government is not supported by the majority in the House of People, the Government is obliged to vacate office. It is because of this responsibility to the Lower House, the cabinet government is also known as the responsible government.
Thirdly, in the cabinet system of government, an inner ring in the Council of Ministers, acts as the policy making part of the ministry. This policy making part, is known as the Cabinet. The Cabinet consists of the Prime Minister and the senior ministers whom the Prime Minister includes in the Cabinet. The Cabinet is an extra-constitutional body. In the constitution there is no mention of the cabinet.
Fourthly, the cabinet works on the principle of political homogeneity, The Prime Minister and the members of the Council of Ministers belong to the same party except in the rare instances of Coalition Governments. In fact all ministers are important party leaders. Collective responsibility obliges the ministers to hold the same views and to champion the same policy. Differences between ministers are ironed out in the closed door meetings of the cabinet. In public they must give the impression of solid unity. For they all sail or sink together.
Fifthly, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet maintains a close and intimate relationship with the Parliament. The Prime Minister is often a member of the Lower House and the leader of the majority. Most other members of the cabinet are drawn from the majority party in the Lower House. Ministers take part in debates, defend the government against opposition criticism, pilot bills and make the Parliament pass desired legislation.
Finally, the cabinet government in India, as it is In Britain, is the Prime Minister’s Government. The primacy of the Prime Minister is writ large everywhere. He the leader of the Cabinet and the Council of Ministers. All other ministers are appointed on his advice. The Prime Minister may dismiss any inconvenient minister at any moment. He chairs the meetings of the Cabinet. In the policy making his word is final. He is also the leader of the Parliament. With his assured majority in the Lower House of the Parliament, he can get any law passed. Tie is the Principal channel of communication between the Cabinet and the President. He is also the country’s top spokesman in foreign affairs.