Parliamentary Form of Government

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Notes on the Parliamentary form of Government in India

Rohini DasGupta
Governments have been classified on the basis of relationship of the political executive with the legislative branch. If the executive is answerable and responsible to the legislature it is called Cabinet form of Government or Parliamentary form of government. In such a system of government, there exists a very close relationship between the executive and the legislature. England is the traditional home of Parliamentary democracy.

Its Characteristics :

A study of its characteristic features will provide a very clear idea about the form of government.

Nominal head of the state :

Under this form of government the head of the state is nominal or titular. The person holding the post may have great stature but he does not exercise his power independently although the administration of the state runs in his name and theoretically all the power belong to him under the constitution. His powers are exercised by the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. Thus there exists dual executive in this system, the nominal and the real. The President in India or the king in England are the symbols of nominal head of the executive where as the Prime Minister is the real head of the executive.

Close collaboration between the Executive and the legislature

In this system the executive and the legislature work in close cooperation. The members of the Council of Minister are also members of the legislature. In fact the Council of Ministers is drawn from legislature. The President Summons the legislature and gives his consent to the bills passed by the legislature to make them Acts. The bills passed by the legislature are in fact drafted and initiated by the Ministers. The President of India promulgates ordinance during the recess of the legislature. The ordinance has all the force and effect of law.

Responsibility of the executive

The executive in a Parliamentary system is responsible to the legislature for all its actions. The ministers are answerable to the parliament and responsible to the Lok Sabha. The Council of Minister remains in office as long as they enjoy the support and confidence of the Lok Sabha. The legislature has the right to seek detailed information about the working of the government from the ministers, which they cannot refuse to provide.

Collective Responsibility

The responsibility of the Council of Ministers has to be collective. As a general rule every important piece of departmental policy is taken to commit the whole cabinet. Everyone in the Council of Ministers share the responsibility for the lapses of a single minister. Besides this the principle offers no scope to individual ministers to differ from the decisions taken in the Council of Ministers or cabinet in particular. In other words the minister who does not agree to the decisions of the cabinet must tender his resignation, so that he can oppose that on the floors of the legislature.

Political Homogeneity

The members of the Council of Ministers should belong to a single political party and remain committed to a definite political ideology, to remain a homogenous body. Identity of approach and views in policy formulation is better expected from a homogenous body or group of members. The presence of different political parties in the cabinet is not conducive to its harmonious working because of conflicting political ideologies and programmes.

Leadership of Prime Minister

The accepted norm of the parliamentary form of government is the leadership of the Prime Minister. H.J. Laski says that Prime Minister is central to formation, central to growth and central to the death of the Council of Ministers. This is rightly so. The process of forming the Council of Minister begins with the appointment of the Prime Minister. The President appoints his nominees as ministers and distributes portfolios among them on his recommendation. He can dismiss any...
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