features of parliamentary government
The features or principles of parliamentary government in India are:
- Nominal and Real Executives: The President is the nominal executive (de jure executive or titular executive) while the Prime Minister is the real executive (de facto executive). Thus, the President is head of the State, while the Prime Minister is head of the government. Article 74 provides for a council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions. The advice so tendered is binding on the President.
- Majority Party Rule: The political party which secures majority seats in the Lok Sabha forms the government. The leader of that party is appointed as the Prime Minister by the President; other ministers are appointed by the President on the advice of the prime minister. However, when no single party gets the majority, a coalition of parties may be invited by the President to form the government.
- Collective Responsibility: This is the bedrock principle of parliamentary government. The ministers are collectively responsible to the Parliament in general and to the Lok Sabha in particular (Article 75). They act as a team, and swim and sink together. The principle of collective responsibility implies that the Lok Sabha can remove the ministry (i.e. council of ministers headed by the prime minister) from office by passing a vote of no confidence.
Political Homogeneity: Usually members of the council of ministers belong to the same political party, and hence they share the same political ideology. In case of coalition government, the ministers are bound by consensus.
Double Membership: The ministers are members of both the legislature and the executive. This means that a person cannot be a minister without being a member of the Parliament. The Constitution stipulates that a minister who is not a member of the Parliament for a period of six consecutive months ceases to be a minister.
Leadership of the Prime Minister: The Prime Minister plays the leadership role in this system of government. He is the leader of council of ministers, leader of the Parliament and leader of the party in power. In these capacities, he plays a significant and highly crucial role in the functioning of the government.
Dissolution of the Lower House: The lower house of the Parliament (Lok Sabha) can be dissolved by the President on recommendation of the Prime Minister. In other words, the prime minister can advise the President to dissolve the Lok Sabha before the expiry of its term and hold fresh elections. This means that the executive enjoys the right to get the legislature dissolved in a parliamentary system.
Secrecy: The ministers operate on the principle of secrecy of procedure and cannot divulge information about their proceedings, policies and decisions. They take the oath of secrecy before entering their office. The oath of secrecy to the ministers is administered by the President.