About,State Council of Ministers of India
The Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary system of government at the state level. The real executive powers are in the hands of the State Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister. The Constitution provides for each state a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as its head for aiding and advising the Governor in the exercise of his functions. However, in reality the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers act as the real executive in the State.
1.Formation of the State Council of Ministers of India:
The procedure for the formation of the Council of Ministers at the state level is the same as in the case of the Union Council of Ministers. After each general election, the party or the group which secures majority in the State Legislative Assembly elects its leader. The Governor then summons him to form the ministry.
In other words, the leader of the majority in the State Legislative Assembly is appointed as the Chief Minister who selects his team of ministers. He submits the list to the Governor who formally appoints them as ministers. Normally, all ministers are taken from the members of the state legislature.
However, the Chief Minister can appoint even a non-member of the Assembly as a minister. But such a person has to secure a seat in the state legislature within a period of six months from the date of his appointment as minister. In case he fails to do so, he has to resign his minister-ship.
The strength of the State Council of Ministers cannot be more than 15% of the strength of State Legislative Assembly. Orissa Assembly has 147 members. As such the maximum strength of Orissa Council of Ministers can be 22. In May 2009, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) President Naveen Patnaik was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Orissa for the third consecutive term. A 21-member Council of Ministers was formed.
2.Categories of Ministers in the State Council of Ministers of India:
(a) Cabinet Ministers:
Cabinet Ministers are those ministers who are given cabinet rank. They hold independent charge of the important departments, like finance, Local Bodies, home affairs, health etc. They together determine the policies of the state. The CM and the cabinet ministers together constitute the State Cabinet. It is the most powerful part of the State Council of Ministers.
(b) Ministers of State:
They enjoy number two status in the Ministry. They do not attend the meetings of the Cabinet. They help the cabinet ministers and are attached to them in their departments. Currently, several Parliamentary Secretaries are appointed by the Chief Minister from amongst his party MLAs.
It is done to please them without violating legal condition which limits the maximum size of the state ministry to 15% of the total strength of State Legislative Assembly. The Parliamentary Secretaries do not get any salary. However, they enjoy some parks and perform some functions for the departments to which they are attached.
Theoretically the ministers hold office during the pleasure of the Governor. It means so long as they continue to have a majority support in the State Legislative Assembly. In fact they hold office during the pleasure of the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister can ask any minister to resign and his desire is always fulfilled by the concerned minister.
If he resists, the Chief Minister can advise the Governor to dismiss him. The Governor always accepts such an advice. The Chief Minister can cause the fall of the ministry by tendering his own resignation to the Governor. As such virtually a minister holds office so long as he enjoys the confidence of the Chief Minister.
4. Responsibility of State Council of Ministers to the State Legislative Assembly:
The ministers are individually responsible to the State Legislature Assembly. In case the latter passes a censure motion against a minister for any lapse in the working of his department, he has to resign from office. A minister remains in office only so long as he enjoys the confidence of majority in the State Legislative Assembly.
The State Council of Ministers is also collectively responsible before the State Legislative Assembly. In case the latter passes a vote of no-confidence against the Council of Ministers or against the Chief Minister or rejects any bill sponsored by the Ministry or rejects the budget of the Government, or rejects any policy of the Government, or cuts the funds of the state government, the entire Council of Ministers resigns. The Council of Ministers remains in office so long as it enjoys the support and confidence of the majority in the State Legislative Assembly.
5. Powers and Functions of the State Council of Ministers:
The State Council of Ministers is the real executive of the state. It exercises vast executive powers.
(a) Formulation of State Policies:
The Council of Ministers in reality the state cabinet has the responsibility of formulating the policies of the state. All the policies are discussed and decided upon the State Cabinet (Not by the entire Council of Ministers.)
(b) Running of Administration:
The State Council of Ministers runs the state administration. The ministers are responsible for this work. They do so in accordance with the policies of the government as approved and passed by the state legislature. Their duty is to see and ensure that the administration of the state is run in accordance with these policies. Each minister has one or more departments under his control and he is responsible for the administration of these.
(c) Coordination Function:
The State Cabinet is also responsible for securing co-ordination in the working of various governmental departments. It has the responsibility to resolve conflicts and deadlocks between various departments. All the ministers are committed to follow the decisions of the cabinet.
(d) Appointment-making Powers:
The Cabinet makes all important appointments in the state. The appointments of the Advocate General, Vice Chancellors or Pro-Vice Chancellors (as in case of Punjab) of the Universities in a state, Chairman and members of the State Public Service Commission, Chairmen of various Corporations and Boards, etc., are all made by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers.
(e) Role in Lawmaking:
Law-making is the function of the state legislature but the ministers plays a key role in this sphere. It is the ministry which really decides the legislative agenda. Most of the bills, nearly 95%, are introduced and piloted by the ministers in the state legislature. The bills moved by the ministers are mostly passed by the legislature because the ministry enjoys the support of the majority. A private member bill has little chance of getting passed, unless it is supported by the ministry.
When the state legislature is not in session, the Council of Ministers can satisfy the need for law-making by getting ordinances issued from the Governor. These ordinances have the force of law and can be got converted into laws from the State Legislature when it comes into session. The Governor, summons, prorogues and dissolved the state legislature upon the advice of the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers. Thus, the Council of Ministers plays an important role in law-making process.
(f) Financial Functions:
The Council of Ministers manages the finances of the state. The Cabinet really determines the fiscal policies of the state. It formulates and implements all developmental policies and plans. It manages the finances of the state in accordance with the policies and budget as prepared by the State Council of Ministers and approved by the state legislature.
6. Position of the State Council of Ministers:
As the real executive, the State Council of Ministers enjoys a dominant and powerful position. It “is the strongest and the most powerful institution in the state. It really runs the state administration by exercising all the powers vested in the Governor of the state. However, in an emergency under Article 356, the Governor runs the administration of the state independently and without the help and presence of State Council of Ministers.