Legal Article

The Council of Ministers in the Union Government of India: An Essential Guide

Shivendra Pratap Singh


High Court Lucknow


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Published on: 21 Aug, 2023


The Council of Ministers is a pivotal institution in the governance structure of India. Functioning under the leadership of the Prime Minister, it plays a key role in decision-making and policy formulation at the national level. The Union Council of Ministers is a body that signifies the federal structure and the parliamentary democracy of India. In this blog post, we will dive into the structure, functions, and significance of the Council of Ministers.

Constitutional Basis

Article 74 of the Indian Constitution provides for a Council of Ministers, headed by the Prime Minister, to aid and advise the President of India in the exercise of his functions. This Council reflects the collective responsibility of the executive to the legislature, thereby forming the linchpin of India’s parliamentary democracy.

Types of Ministers

Cabinet Ministers

These are the top-ranking ministers who handle the significant portfolios like Home, Defense, Finance, and External Affairs. They are part of the inner circle that takes critical decisions on governance and policy.

Ministers of State

They assist the Cabinet Ministers and may be given independent charge of ministries or departments that are less significant compared to those handled by Cabinet Ministers.

Ministers of State (Independent Charge)

They are in charge of specific departments but do not report to a Cabinet Minister.

Functions and Responsibilities

Policy Formulation and Implementation

One of the most critical functions is the formulation of national policies and their implementation. From social welfare schemes to economic reforms, every major government initiative is framed and executed by the Council.

Legislative Role

The Council of Ministers introduces bills and arranges debates on them in Parliament. They also provide explanations and answer questions regarding the government’s actions and decisions.

Budget Preparation

The Union Budget is prepared by the Finance Minister in consultation with the Council and presented in Parliament for approval.

Defense and Foreign Policy

Critical decisions related to defense and foreign policy are taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security, a subset of the Council of Ministers.

Accountability and Checks

Collective Responsibility

The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament. If the Lok Sabha passes a vote of no-confidence against the Council, all members, including the Prime Minister, must resign.

Individual Responsibility

Each minister is individually responsible for the functioning of their ministry or department and must answer questions in Parliament regarding their area of work.

Criticisms and Challenges

While the Council of Ministers has a wide range of functions and powers, critics argue that it often operates under the shadow of the Prime Minister. This has led to debates about the concentration of power and the weakening of collective decision-making.


The Council of Ministers plays a vital role in shaping the destiny of India. By carrying out executive functions, participating in legislative processes, and being accountable to the Parliament, the Council is central to the democratic governance of the country. While it has its share of criticisms, there’s no denying the significance of the Council of Ministers in the Union Government of India.


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