In this article we will discuss about the relationship between the council of ministers and the parliament.
The Council of Ministers has very close relationship with the Parliament. Each of its member must be a member of either house of Parliament. He can remain a Minister, without his being a member of either House of Parliament, only for a maximum period of 6 months. Within this period he must become a member of the either House, failing which he will have to quit ministerial job.
There have been instances when a Minister had to quit his position, simply because he could not become a member of the either House of Parliament. In case the Prime Minister finds that due to one reason or the other it is not possible to get him elected, to the Lok Sabha he can be nominated to the Rajya Sabha.
Thus, each member of the Council of Ministers, being a member of the either House of Parliament, actively participates in the proceeding of the Parliament.
He is responsible for defending the policies of the government in general and his Ministry in particular. He cannot take shelter on the plea that he has been misguided by civil servants of his Ministry. He also cannot criticise his civil servants on the floor of the House, because they are not there to defend themselves.
As active members of the House the Ministers are required to pilot all legislative financial administrative and other measures. No Minister can take the plea that a particular measure could not be taken because there was no legislative authority behind that. It is the responsibility of the Minister to get the Bill piloted by him passed and see that the work of his department runs smoothly.
The Parliament in turn controls the Council of Ministers in several ways. It checks its activities by putting questions, rejecting the Bills initiated by the Minister, by way of moving adjournment motions and ultimately by moving a vote of no-confidence against the Government.
In the history of Indian Parliament several times votes of no-confidence have been moved against “the Council of Ministers, but it was only in 1979 that for the first time such a motion was carried out.
This time the motion was moved by the leader of the opposition Y.B. Chavan and due to political defections in the Janata Party, the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai resigned from his office.
A motion of vote of no confidence against the Council of Ministers, however, in effect means, exposing the weaknesses of the Government in the House for the consumption of the electorates, because as long as the party enjoys the majority and is solidly behind the government, moving of such a motion is a ritual and a routine exercise.
It also provides an opportunity to the government to defend its policies and programmes. But a vote of no-confidence against the Government can also have its own repercussions, because if the Government feels that it is likely to be defeated on the floor of the Lok Sabha, then instead of resigning, it may request the President to dissolve the House.
This is what happened in 1979, when the then Prime Minister Choudhary Charan Singh, knowing that Congress (I) had withdrawn its support from the government and that was not likely to survive, he not’ only himself resigned, but also advised the President to dissolve the House.
As is well known that whereas every general election puts heavy economic burden on the country, many members of the. dissolved House may not get re-elected.
In 1979, when the House was dissolved, Lok Dal and Congress (U) were in power at the centre. Immediately before that Janata Party was in power. But in 1980, when elections were again held, many stalwarts of these parties could not get themselves elected and their constituencies returned Congress (I) candidates.
Dissolution of the House has also assumed greater significance, because those members of the House who complete 5 years as a member of Parliament are entitled to get some pension for their whole life.
In case the House is dissolved earlier than this period, which is normal life of the Lok Sabha, then the members lose their pensionery benefits as well, which is no less a loss, for any member of Parliament, because that is for the whole life.
But in its relation with the Parliament, the executive need fear only when the party is indisciplined or when some of the factions or groups in the party fry to be indisciplined. As long as the party is disciplined, it need not fear from the House. This fear has become less since the passing of Anti-Defection Act.
Any defection from political party on whose ticket one was elected to the House entails disqualifications from the membership of the House. It also means set back to political career which many parliamentarians do not like or cannot afford.