The Union Executive Class 8 Civics Notes Maharashtra State Board
In the last chapter, we learned about the Union legislature which included the structure and functioning of the Parliament. In this chapter, we are going to study the Union Executive.
Structure of the Union Government:
The Union government means the central government. The Union government is made up of the following constituents.
You know that the legislature, executive, and judiciary are the three organs of the State and that they work for the welfare of the people. In a parliamentary system, the executive is part of the legislature and is responsible to the legislature. When we learn about the Executive, we need to understand who is included in the Executive, what the constitutional provisions relating to the Executive and what is the process of policymaking for public welfare. India’s Union Executive comprises of the President, the Prime Minister, and the Council of Ministers.
According to the provisions in the Constitution of India, the President is the Supreme Head of the State. The office of the President has the highest honour and prestige and it represents the Republic of India. All executive powers of the State are vested in the President by the Constitution. The Government carries out its functions in the name of the President. However, in reality, the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers run the government. Therefore, the President is the nominal and constitutional head whereas the Prime Minister is the executive head.
Election of the President:
The President is indirectly elected by the people of India. The common people do not vote in the election of the President. He is elected by directly elected representatives of the Central and State legislatures. The group of these parliamentarians and members of the state legislatures is known as the Electoral College. The tenure of the President is five years. The person contesting the presidential elections should be an Indian citizen whose age should be at least 35 years. The person elected to the position of President has to take an oath while accepting the post.
According to the oath, the President bears the responsibility of protecting the Constitution and ensuring that the government runs as per the Constitution. The President governs by the advice given by the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers. The responsibility of protecting the Constitution is shouldered by the President. But if any act of the President violates the Constitution then the Parliament has the authority to remove the President. This process is known as the process of Impeachment. Any one House can lay the charge of violation of the Constitution and the investigation of the charge is carried out by the other House. The resolution has to be passed by a special (2/3rd) majority of both the Houses of Parliament.
Powers and Functions of the President:
The Constitution has entrusted several powers and functions to the President. A few functions are enumerated as follows:
- The President summons the meeting of Parliament, prorates the session of Parliament, sends messages to both Houses, and dissolves the Parliament after the tenure is over or even before the tenure gets over.
- The bill passed by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha must be signed by the President. Without his signature, the Bill cannot become a law.
- The president appoints the Prime Minister and other ministers on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
- The President appoints the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts. The President also appoints the Governors of States, Chief Election Commissioner, and other important officers.
- The President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Decisions regarding war and peace are made by the President.
- The President has some judicial powers too. For instance, the President has the power to reduce the punishment, grant a respite or commute a sentence of a person, or in special circumstances grant pardons or reprieves on humanitarian grounds.
- The president has the power to declare an emergency in case of a crisis arising in the country. There are three kinds of emergencies mentioned in the Constitution.
- National Emergency
- State Emergency
- Financial Emergency
In the absence of the President, his functions are carried out by the vice president. The Vice-President is elected by members of both the Houses.
Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers:
The President is the constitutional head. However, in reality, his powers are nominal and the Prime Minister along with his Council of Ministers is responsible for the administration. We will now see the role and functions of the Prime Minister. The party that attains a majority in elections nominates its leader as the Prime Minister. The Council of Ministers is then formed of trustworthy colleagues from within the party. The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers must be members of the parliament. In case they are not members, they are required to get elected to the Parliament within six months of their appointment. The government in reality is run by the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers. This means that the real executive powers are vested in the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers.
Functions of the Prime Minister
- The foremost task of the Prime Minister is to form his Council of Ministers. While doing this, the Prime Minister gives priority to trustworthy colleagues while considering their administrative experience, governance skills, efficiency, and technical expertise.
- After deciding upon the members of the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister allocates portfolios to them.
- The Prime Minister leads the Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister chairs all the meetings of the Council of Ministers.
- After the allocation of portfolios, the Prime Minister has to maintain coordination in the working of various departments, facilitate cooperation amongst the departments, supervise the working of these departments to maintain efficacy and efficiency, etc.
- The Prime Minister also has various other responsibilities such as raising the image of the country in the international arena and working towards achieving a favorable opinion globally, developing trust among people, and providing strong support to people who are victims of any disaster, etc.
Functions of the Council of Ministers
- In a parliamentary form of government, the Council of Ministers takes initiative in the process of Law-making. The scheme, policy plans, etc. are drafted and discussed, and then introduced in the House. The Council of Ministers discusses important questions before making a decision.
- Education, agriculture, industry, health, and foreign relations among others are subjects upon which the Council of Ministers has to decide specific policies or direction of work.
- The Parliament needs to be taken into confidence about the policy decisions taken by the government. Therefore, the Ministers of respective departments lay their policy plans in the House to bring about a discussion on it.
- Implementation of policy is the foremost responsibility of the Council of Ministers. Once the Parliament approves the laws, the Council of Ministers implements them.
Have you heard about ‘Jumbo Ministry’?
This refers to the huge Council of Ministers. There was a trend to keep a large Council of Ministers in our country. Later, a constitutional amendment was made to limit the size of the Council of Ministers. As per this amendment, the number of ministers in the council should not be more than 15% of the total number of members in the Lok Sabha.
How does the Parliament keep a Check over the Executive?
In a parliamentary system of government, the legislature tries to keep control over the executive i.e. the Council of Ministers. The control is exercised in the lawmaking or policy-making process, implementation of policies, and even after that. A few ways of exercising control are:
1. Discussions and Debates:
Debate and discussion among the members of the House are an integral part of the lawmaking process. These debates and discussions help the members to scrutinize the policy proposals and laws and point out the shortcomings. These discussions are essential for the creation of healthy laws.
2. Question Hour:
During parliamentary sessions, the proceedings of the House begin with questions asked by the members of the House. The concerned ministers are supposed to give satisfactory answers to these questions. Question Hour is one of the most effective ways of keeping a check on the Council of Ministers. During question hour, members criticize the government and ask questions on various issues. Sometimes, when a member is not satisfied with the answer of the minister, arguments take place. Occasionally, members walk out of the House or enter into the well of the House and give slogans to record their protest.
3. Zero Hour:
During the parliamentary sessions, the period around noon is called ‘Zero Hour’. During this period, any question of public importance can be raised and discussed.
4. No-Confidence Motion:
This is one of the most effective ways to keep a check on the Council of Ministers. The government stays in power till it enjoys the support of a majority in Lok Sabha. If the members of Parliament withdraw the support, it may lead to loss of majority and the government cannot stay in power. The members of the House can move a no-confidence motion by simply expressing ‘We do not have confidence in the government’. If the motion is passed with majority support then the Council of Ministers has to resign. There is an extensive bureaucracy that works under the executive.
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