In this article, we will discuss Prime Minister of India. So, let’s get started.
In the scheme ot parllamentary system of government provided by the constitution, the President is the nominal executive authority (de jure executive) and Prime Minister is the real executive authority (defacto executive). In other words, president is the head ot the State while Prime Minister is the head of the government.
Appointment of the Prime Minister
The Constitution does not contain any specific procedure for the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister. Article 75 says only that the Prime Minister shall be appointed by the president. However, this does not imply that the president is free to appoint any one as the Prime Minister. In accordance with the conventions of the parliamentary system of government, the President has to appoint the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister. But, when no party has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, then the President may exercise his personal discretion in the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister. In such
a situation, the President usually appoints the leader of the largest party or coalition in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister and asks him to seek a vote of confidence in the House within a month. This discretion was exercised by the President, for the fist time in 1979, when Neelam Sanjiva Reddy (the then President) appointed Charan Singh (the coalition leader) as the Prime Minister after the fall of the Janata Party government headed by Morarji Desai.
There is also one more situation when the president may have to exercise his individual
judgement in the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister, that is, when the Prime
Minister in office dies suddenly and there is no obvious successor. This is what happened
when Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984. The then President Zail Singh appointed Rajiv
Gandhi as the Prime Minister by ignoring the precedent of appointing a caretaker Prime Minister.’ Later on, the Congress parliamentary party unanimously elected him as its leader. However, if, on the death of an incumbent Prime Minister, the ruling party elects a new leader, the President has no choice but to appoint him as Prime Minister. In 1980, the Delhi High Court held that the Constitution does not require that a person must prove his majority in the Lok
Sabha before he is appointed as the Prime Minister. The President may first appoint him the Prime Minister and then ask him to prove his majority in the Lok Sabha within a reasonable period. For example, Charan Singh (1979), V.P. Singh (1989), Chandrasekhar ((1990), P.V. Narasimha Rao (1991), A.B. Vajyapee (1996), Deve Gowda. (1996), I.K. Gujral (1997) and again A.B. Vajpayee (1998) were appointed as Prime Ministers in this way.
In 1997, the Supreme Court held that a person who is not a member of either House of Parliament can be appointed as Prime Minister for six months, within which, he should become a member of either House of Parliament; otherwise, he ceases to be the Prime Minister
Constitutionally, the Prime Minister may be a member of any of the two Houses of parliament. For example, three Prime
Ministers, Indira Gandhi (1966), Deve Gowda (1996) and Manmohan Singh (2004), were members of the Rajya Sabha. In Britain, on the other hand, the Prime Minister should definitely be a member of the Lower House (House of Commons).
Oath, Term and Salary
Before the Prime Minister enters upon his office, the president administers to him the oaths of office and secrecy. In his oath of office, the Prime Minister swears:
to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India,
to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India,
to faithfully and conscientiously discharge the duties of his office, and
to do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.
In his oath of secrecy, the Prime Minister swears that he will not directly or indirectly
communicate or reveal to any person(s) any matter that is brought under his consideration
or becomes known to him as a Union Minister except as may be required for the due discharge of his duties as such minister.
The term of the Prime Minister is not fixed and he holds office during the pleasure of the
president. However, this does not mean that the president can dismiss the Prime Minister at any time. So long as the Prime Minister enjoys the majority support in the Lok Sabha, he cannot be dismissed by the President. However, if he loses the confidence of the Lok Sabha, he must resign or the President can dismiss him.
The salary and allowances of the Prime Minister are determined by the Parliament from time to time. He gets the salary and allowances that are payable to a member of Parliament. Additionally, be gets a sumptuary allowance, free accommodation, travelling allowance, medical facilities, etc. In 2001, the Parliament increased his sumptuary allowance from ₹1,500 to ₹3,000 per month.