Questioning the Continuance of Dr. Manmohan Singh in the

On the floor of the House, the Prime

Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has

expressed in the last session of the

parliament, that it is the Coalition

Compulsion on account of which he

was not able to take an effective step

to stop the activities of his Cabinet

colleague Raja, who was involved in

2 G spectrum Scam. It means that

in order to keep him in majority a

Prime Minister may ignore

unconstitutional act of his Cabinet

colleague.

There was a lot of hue and cry in the

Parliament on this issue in the last

session which is also likely to

continue in the coming sessions and

since Dr. Manmohan Singh

commands the majority, by heading

a coalition Govt., if he does not resign

he will set a wrong Parliamentary

practice of not resigning although

owning collective responsibility of the

cabinet in a parliamentary

democracy.

The founding fathers of our

Constitution seemed to be aware of

providing a mechanism to deal with

a situation like this and it is that

scheme of the Constitution which is

required to be brought to the notice

of the President of India by hedding

light on the obscure by the members

of the Lok Sabha and suggest her to

Letter to Hon’ble members of Parliament:

exercise her powers to dismiss the

Prime Minister in the present

situation. Those Hon.ble members of

Lok Sabha who are in opposition or

some of them should file a

memorandum before the President

of India, inviting her attention to her

powers to dismiss the Prime

Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh .The

Constitutional scheme is like this;

Under Article 53 of Constitution the

executive power of the Union vests

in the President. The President of

India is also a constituent of the

Parliament in as much as Article 79

of Constitution provides that the

Parliament consists of the President

PUCL BULLETIN, SEPTEMBER 2011 5

and two Houses to be known

respectively as the Council of States

and House of the People.

Article 75(1) of the Constitution

provides that thePrime Minister shall

be appointed by the President and

other ministers shall be appointed by

him on the advice of the Prime

Minister. Article 75(2) of the

Constitution provides that the

.Ministers shall hold office during

the pleasure of the President..

Article 75(3) speaks of collective

responsibility of the Council of

Ministers.

The Supreme Court in State of

Karnataka v Union of India,AIR 1978

SC 68 has held: .The object of

collective responsibility is to make

the whole body of persons holding

ministerial office collectively, or, if one

may so put it, .vicariously

responsible for such acts of the

others, as are referable to their

collective violation so that, even if an

individual may not be personally

responsible for it, yet he will be

deemed to share the responsibility

with those who may have actually

committed some wrong.

Article 367(1) reads as follows:

367 (1) INTERPRETATION -Unless

the context otherwise requires, the

General Clauses Act, 1897, shall,

subject to any adaptations and

modifications that may be made

therein under article 372, apply for

the interpretation of this Constitution

as it applies for the interpretation of

an act of the Legislature of the

Dominion of India.

Section (16) of the General Clauses

Act is relevant and read as follows:

.Where, by any [Central Act] or

Regulation, a power to make any

appointment is conferred, then,

unless a different intention appears,

the authority having [for the time

being] power to make the

appointment shall also have power

to suspend or dismiss any person

appointed [whether by itself or any

other authority] in exercise of that

power.

Article 78 is most relevant which

reads as follows:

.It shall be the duty of the of the

Prime Minister .

(a) To communicate to the

President all decisions of the

Council of Ministers relating

to the administration of the

affairs of the Union and

proposals for legislation;

(b) To furnish such information

relating to the administration

of the affairs of the Union and

proposals for legislations as

the President may call for ;

and

(c) If the President so requires,

to submit for the

consideration of the Council

of Ministers any matter on

which a decision has been

taken by a Minister but which

has not been considered by

the Council.

In the context of the power of the

Chief Justice UnderArticle 229 of the

Constitution, which provides that the

appointment of officers and servants

of the High Court shall be made by

the Chief Justice of the court, the

Supreme Court in, Pradyut Kumar

Vs Chief Justice of Calcutta, 1956

AIR 285 has ruled as follows :

.It must be mentioned, at this stage,

that so far as the power of dismissal

is concerned, the position under the

Constitution of 1950 is not open to

any argument or doubt.Article 229(1)

which in terms vests the power of

appointment in the Chief Justice is

equally effective to vest in him the

power of dismissal.

This results from S.16 General

ClausesAct which by virtue of Article

367(1) of the Constitution applies to

the construction of the word

.appointment. in Art. 229(1). Section

16(1), General Clauses Act clearly

provides that the power of

.appointment. includes the power .to

suspend or dismiss..

The Supreme Court in the aforesaid

judgment has considered the

application of Article 367(1) of the

Constitution to the construction of

the word . appointment. in relation

to the powers of the Chief Justice to

appoint officers and servant of High

Court, but so far as the constitutional

scheme in relation to the power of

appointment of a Prime Minister and

other Ministers by the President is

concerned, there are other provisions

also namely, Article 53, 75(1), 75(2),

75(3) and 78, which read together,

leave no room for doubt, that the

President of India does has the

power to dismiss the Prime Minister.

It may be emphasized here even at

the cost of some repetition that

ministers hold office during the

pleasure of the President .There

is a collective responsibility of the

Council of Ministers. The Prime

Minister is the first among the

equals. He is appointed by the

President, and other ministers are

appointed by the President on his

advice. In order to ensure the holding

of the ministers, .during the

pleasure of the President., it has

been made the Duty of the Prime

Minister, under article 78 of

Constitution:

(d) To communicate to the

President all decisions of the

Council of Ministers relating to

the administration of the affairs

of the Union and proposals for

legislation;

(e) To furnish such information

relating to the administration of

the affairs of the Union and

proposals for legislations as the

President may call for ; and

(f) If the President so requires, to

submit for the consideration of

the Council of Ministers any

matter on which a decision has

been taken by a Minister but

which has not been considered

by the Council.

The President exercises his/her

functions in accordance with the

advice of the council of Ministers

appointed by the President. The

power to appoint the Council of

PUCL BULLETIN, SEPTEMBER 2011 6

Ministers has to be exercised by the

President independently as head of

theState to enable him or her to have

a council of ministers which may

advice him to exercise those powers.

Except in the case of appointment

of Chaudhary Charan Singh as Prime

Minister in 1979 by Neelam Sanjeeva

Reddy there has never been any

problem in exercise of this power by

the various Presidents of India from

1952 to 1989, as one party or the

other used to have absolute majority.

The era of Coalition Govts. started

from 1989. Since then all the Govts.

have been coalition Govts. R.

Venkataraman was the President

during the initial period of coalition

Govts. and he had to his credit the

appointments of as many as 3 Prime

Ministers of coalition Govts.

In his celebrated book .My

Presidential Years. R.

Venkataraman has observed:-

.In my view, the President is not a

Public Service Commission

examining the merits of candidates

for the Prime Minister.s office. He has

only to satisfy himself whether the

person chosen as Prime Minister

has prima facie strength in the Lok

Sabha to carry on the government

and is free from any proven

constitutional disability. To allow the

President to stray from this narrow

path would lead to a distortion of the

Constitution. He further said in the

same book: .while the monarchy in

Britain is hereditary and

unconnected with parties, the

President of India is elected by the

majority party and his actions could

be partisan or liable to be questioned

as partisan. On the other hand, if he

followed strictly the criterion of calling

the largest party, he would avoid the

charge of partisanship. Besides, the

President would not be able to play

politics by calling a party other than

the largest on the basis of his

subjective assessment that such a

party, in his opinion, was capable of

providing a stable govt..

It is thus clear that the President of

India while appointing a Prime

Minister has only to satisfy himself

whether the person chosen as Prime

Minister by him prima facie has

strength in the Lok Sabha to carry

on the Govt. After a person is

appointed as Prime Minister and

proves majority to form a Govt. the

person appointed remains under the

constant scrutiny of the President of

India.

V.P. Singh was appointed by

Venkataraman as the first Prime

Minister of India of a coalition Govt.

It is interesting to see in his book as

to how he did it:

.At about 7 p.m, V.P. Singh, Madhu

Dandvate, Dinesh Goswami and a

few others called on me. Dandvate,

who was the chairman of the meeting

which elected V.P. Singh as leader,

handed over to me a letter to the

effect . He also handed over another

letter saying that the BJP with 85

members and the Left Front with 52

members had pledged their support

to a National Front government .I

replied that .As the largest single

party had not staked its claim to form

the government, I invite you

(V.P.Singh) as the leader of the

second largest party to form the

government and take a vote of

confidence of the House within 21-

30 days.. V.P. Singh wished to have

30 days and I agreed..

Thereafter he appointed

Chandrashekhar as the second

Prime Minister of a coalition Govt.

on 10th Nov 1990. Following

communiqué was issued by

Rashtrapati Bhawan on that day:

.Consequent on the fall of the National

Front government headed by Shri

V.P. Singh, the President asked the

Leader of the Opposition and the

Congress (i) whether he was able to

form a viable government . The

Congress (I) did not stake a claim

for forming the government but offered

unconditional support to Shri

ChandraShekhar…..

The President has therefore invited

Shri Chandra Shekhar to form the

Government and prove his majority

in the House of the People on or

before 30 November, 1990..

The trend had been set and the

criteria had been laid down by R.

Venkataraman for the successive

Presidents of India to exercise the

power of appointment of a Prime

Minister. On that criteria were

appointed even DeveGowdaand I.K.

Gujaral. But for the fact that the

largest single party nominated these

two persons to be appointed Prime

Minister they would not have been

so appointed. They did not represent

the majority opinion of the People of

India, as those persons appointed as

Prime Ministers who were appointed

during the period prior to Coalition

Era.

Dr. Manmohan Singh has never been

elected as a member of Lok Sabha .

He had been thrust upon by the

largest single party of UPA.

Therefore, like Deve Gowda and

I.K.Gujral he has been appointed by

the President of India on the criteria

laid down by R.Venkataraman and

he also does not represent the

People of India .

The compulsion of coalition, is likely

to continue as in the near future, no

party seem to be able to secure a

majority in the Lok Sabha . This

compulsion of coalition cannot be

permitted to be an excuse for

succeeding Prime Ministers. Dr.

Manmohan Singh must have

resigned. He cannot continue to be

the Prime Minister with impunity for

the misdeeds of his Cabinet

colleague Raja.

The President of India is the true

representative of the People .He is

elected by an electoral college

consisting of . (a) The elected

members of both Houses of

Parliament (b) the elected members

of the Legislative Assemblies of the

States. Article 55 of the Constitution

provides that as far as practicable

there shall be uniformity in the scale

of representation of different states

at the Election of the President, and

PUCL BULLETIN, SEPTEMBER 2011 7

for the purpose of securing such

uniformity, the number of votes which

each elected member of Parliament

and Legislative Assembly of each

State is entitled to cast at such

election, has to be determined in a

manner provided in that Article, and

the election of the President is held

in accordance of the system of

Proportional Representation by

means of Single Transferable Vote.

Hence, the President of India truly

represents .We the People of

India..

It is .We the People of India. who

authorize him to appoint a Prime

Minister who has to hold office

.during the Pleasure of the

President. and is given input by the

Prime Minister by making it his duty

Under Article 78 to inform the

President relevant information on the

basis of which the President shall

exercise the .Pleasure..

In any case, the President has an

option of asking the Prime Minister

to resign even if she does not straight

away wish to dismiss him, to give

way to appoint another Prime

Minister .The power to appoint a

Prime Minister subject to his proving

the majority is there. But merely

because a person appointed as

Prime Minister commands majority

cannot lead to the conclusion that

the President of India will become a

mute spectator. In the situation like

this, the attention of the President

of India should be invited so that she

may see that this Prime Minister is

removed and she appoints another

Prime Minister, may be on the same

criteria on which Prime Ministers

have been appointed during the era

of coalition Governments that is by

selecting another person to be

appointed as Prime minister who is

nominated by the largest single party

subject to his or her proving the

majority in the Lok Sabha.

 

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