Do you think the Union Cabinet and the Prime Minister’s Office are evolving into more powerful offices than the Parliament? Critically comment. (200 Words)

DAY – 23: Insights Self Study Guide for Prelims + Mains – 2015

26 June 2015

Following Questions are Based on this TIMETABLE

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1) Do you think the Union Cabinet and the Prime Minister’s Office are evolving into more powerful offices than the Parliament? Critically comment. (200 Words)

General

  • Varrun

    Yesterday we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the emergency.It brought again the repeated rhetoric of the ‘gift’ of democracy that we have.
    Agreed , a dictatorial regime is a far cry from the (relatively) more secure political environment today but then again the occasion also demands some internal introspection.

    In this respect one has to unfortunately admit that majoritarian attitude and a tendency of hastiness in political life have become desirable traits. These are fueled by the greediness of ‘quick change’ desperately craved by the country’s population.

    The recent promulgation of ordinace related to land acquisition despite widespread protest by the opposition and the citizens alike is a case in the point.

    Take another example.Planning commission which had acquired the status of a ‘super cabinet’ is now dressed in a different garb of NITI Aayog.They inherently are one and the same. These institutions reminds one of a unitary government pushing through laws and reforms without accountability or restraint.

    There are safeguards for assuring the accountability of the executive over the parliament,but alas the same has been eroded significantly due to a puny opposition preoccupied in reassembling its shattered pieces…

    ‘With power comes responsibility’ but the huge irony in this case is that more power has resulted in lesser responsibility.

    • Nikhlesh Katare

      4/10.
      Answer is very generalistic in nature

      • Varrun

        Thanks Nikhlesh!
        Can you suggest me ways in which the answer could be more specific?
        As in should i mention more constitutional provisions?
        Or should i shorten the descriptive introduction??
        Please try to make some time for replying… means a lot!

        • Nikhlesh Katare

          Add constitutional provisions and keep introduction brief in nature..

  • COOL FIGHT 2015

    Parliament consists of three bodies consisting Loksabha,
    Rajya Sabha and President. The union cabinet and office of Prime Minister are
    seen more powerful in following cases:

    1)
    The Prime Minster being head of Government is
    real executive of it where as all transactions done on the name of President
    who is just a nominal executive.

    2)
    If Prime Minister resigns, Lok sabha is
    dissolved automatically.

    3)
    All executive powers are vested in these offices
    in practical.

    4)
    As per article 74, advice of council of
    ministers is binding on President.

    But due to foresightedness of our constitution makers,
    the constitution provide some tools to parliament to check dictatorship of
    Prime Minister’s office and Union Cabinet:

    A)
    Council of
    Minster enjoys power till it enjoys majority in parliament.

    B)
    Parliament has tools like zero hour, question
    hour, adjournment motion, no-confidence motion.

    So, on the one hand it seems Prime
    Minister and his cabinet is more powerful. But the constitution provided a
    satisfactory balance between powers of Legislature, Executive and Judiciary.

    • Silver_star

      Hi.. good answer.. There is a small mistake however..
      If Prime Minister resigns, only his council of ministers have to resign i.e. the Lok sabha is not dissolved automatically.

    • Varrun

      Great answer!
      But you haven’t mentioned the recent happenings which is causing this debate…

  • Deepak Kumar Pandit

    It is true that the Union cabinet and PMO are evolving into more powerful offices than the parliament because in the recent past we have seen many powers are lingering around PMO & Union cabinet since the PM Modi government elected last year. Whatever major decisions have been taken whether it is good or bad, best or worst in any way. These have come from only one or both. For example the controversial land bill which is lingering in terms of Ordinance 3rd time in a row or high speed railway project etc. The power has been concentrated and the parliament as an institution is fading. This is not the only this government’s story but also in the recent past i.e UPA1 & UPA 2 government the power was to the cabinet as congress chief was behind the central league to run the show, even in the previous NDA government when PM A. B vajpayee was running the show the power was lingering to him and his cabinet. In that sense both PMO & Union cabinet has been term Kitchen cabinet or super cabinet by many scholars. In any democracy if power flows from only direction be it the cabinet or PMO, it will become autocracy rather democracy. As in the democracy every institution has been given due power and authority by the constitution and that can’t be undermined. In the recent scenario the trend of bypassing the constitutional institution has become a new trend and all the powers become centered to only one man show or a group of few selected men show. In the democracy it is the institution which has larger importance than the man who is running the show. In the concluding remark I would like to say that institutions are being made for people at large whose value and dignity should not be maligned.

    • Nikhlesh Katare

      Your answer do not carry critical part..
      you have to give critical remark to it

      • Deepak Kumar Pandit

        Thanks Nikhlesh, I missed certain critical point due to word limit. But will take care of it in next answers.

  • Batman

    In the recent years ,there has been an apparent perception that the Executive comprising the office of Prime Minister and the Union Cabinet headed by him is evolving into a more powerful body than the Parliament .The origin of such notions can be attributed to following main reasons:-
    1. Increasing number of ordinances being promulgated and re-promulgated on frequent basis due to varieties of reasons like political and economic compulsions ,while no attempt are made to introduce them in the Parliament while it is in session, before the six weeks form the start of that ‘next session’ , forcing some to call it as ‘Ordinance Raj ‘ .
    2. When the party in power has a resounding majority in Lower House or both ,it is seen that several legislation facing stiff opposition from the parties in opposition ,are passed forcibly, taking the advantage of it’s majority without giving due consideration to the concerns and demand raised by the opposition in that particular House.
    3. With regard to policy and legislative matters, the practice of making consultation with the opposition for the smooth passage of the legislative business in the Parliament ,has significantly decreased over time with the PMO and the Union Cabinet acting almost solely .

    However, this may not be the case in reality ,if we consider the very nature of the functions performed by the government led by the PM on daily.The power excised by the government basis are well within the scope of the Constitution .Ordinances are ultimately brought into bills after criticism .Also very rarely, a ruling party enjoys majority in both Houses, so while a legislation may get through easily in one House,it is likely to face resistance in the other,thus counteracting the dominance of the ruling party.There is sufficient safeguards provided by the Constitution to maintain the supremacy of the Parliament with regard to legislative matter and no government can trample that .

    • Nikhlesh Katare

      Nice but conclusion is not upto the mark

    • Varrun

      I think the fact that we have to citically comment means we cannot write a balanced answer?
      I mean we have to criticise isn’t it?
      Otherwise the answer is perfect!

      • Batman

        Hey brother, your doubt is very common.Even i too, face dilemma regarding deciding about the content of the answer to a question when when it asks us to ‘critically examine or critically comment ‘ on something . Does it mean only to criticize or bring out the flaws in something or to write only negative points associated with it. Or ,does it mean writing both negative and positive aspects of it and then give your opinion at the end.

        Actually ,the word ‘critically’ is associated with the word ‘critical’ ,so it is very natural to think that we have to be critical about or criticize something by bringing out it’s negative aspects when we are asked to ‘critically analyze it’ .

        So, to clear your doubt and mine too, i searched Google(You know Google has answer to almost everything) about the meaning of ‘ what it means when someone says us to critically comment about something’ . So,here is what i found that explains the best.And this is on this website itself ,where in an article ,this thing among others has been explained .

        This Insight article dated July 4,2014 explains the meaning of critically examine or critically comment and i am quoting word by word.It explains ,”The word ‘Critically‘ is usually added when the examiner clearly demands a fair judgementfrom you. You can not take a single stance, or be blind to other facts”.In the above question, the directive ‘Critically Examine’ is given because at the end of the question you are asked to examine its ‘Success‘ too. Someone might think that it is not good to write negative things about the Mid Day Meal scheme because UPSC likes only ‘positive’ answers and the question itself is asking to write about ‘success’ alone. It’s wrong. Here, you should talk about its shortcomings too. You can not just write a glowing tribute to the scheme and try to impress the examiner.

        But, if the directive was just ‘Examine’, can we just mention only positive or negative facts?

        No. You still have to balance your answer with fair judgement, but emphasis should be more on‘establishing facts’, not worrying much about good or bad about those facts”.

        YOU CAN SEE THIS ARTICLE OF ‘INSIGHT’ THROUGH THIS LINK : http://www.insightsonindia.com/2014/07/04/directives-explained-examine-critically-examine-analyse-critically-analyse/.

        You can visit this link too: https://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081108075805AAhtTyP.

        I hope , we are now clear about it.
        Many thanks to ‘INSIGHT’ for this and for helping us by posting daily questions for our practice .Whoever is behind all this , is really generous and deserves a lot of respect for his and his teams efforts.

        • Varrun

          thanks for the reply and the effort!
          The article was really ‘insightful’

    • MIP

      Good answer

    • Hangul

      I think a point about how the tenth schedule (anti-defection) makes a few individuals in the cabinet very strong should be made here. The argument being that a whip of the party issued by the top few of the cabinet cannot be ignored by any of the members of that party, and hence, makes the cabinet too powerful.

      This is one thing that I could think of. But, you covered many other things that I wouldn’t have thought of, in your answer. 🙂

  • Upasana Singh

    A. The Indian democracy, well foreseen by our political ancestors during the making of our constitution, is the outcome of the highly insightful constitution makers and the long process of evolution it has undergone through several decades. They kept their utter diligence in use while decentralizing the powers keeping in mind the nature of our society and what all securities and provisions it shall hold to keep the justice and equality, two important constituents of a democracy, intact.
    There emerges a Union Cabinet today, within the central Council of Ministers, which is the highest decision-making body of the Executive machinery. It is so powerful that it influences almost all major policies of the country. It is headed by the Prime minister, making him the most important functionary in the government. He operates through his immediate staff providing him secretarial assistance (Principal Secretary in lead and other Civil servants as a supporting staff) to run the PMO & the Government.
    Undoubtedly, they together form the most influential part of the entire government but its is not that they are not subjected to scrutiny. The Parliament holds the right to question the legitimacy of the policies framed & decisions taken. As a foremost point, Council of Ministers is accountable to the Lok Sabha and if it loses the support of the majority, it ceases to exist. Here, a strong and value-driven opposition plays an important role in curbing the autocratic glimpses seen sometimes in the Party in power.
    To conclude, howsoever overpowering it may seem, there is always a mechanism designed in our constitution to keep a check on the growing powers of any single organ.

    • Upasana Singh

      Kindly review guys! thank u 🙂

    • Varrun

      I think Upasana mam that the question is asking us to evaluate the power of Union cabinet in the present scenario. So explaining the constitution of the system could be shortened…..and also the answer seems pretty generalistic.You could have mentioned some points like ordinances,too much majority etc..
      The style of writing is very good though 🙂
      My opinion strictly!!

      • Upasana Singh

        Thanks a ton Varun for your valuable feedback! Infact I too feel I coudnt properly ‘Critically examine’ properly this one. Would try n improve next time! 🙂

  • gamma

    i cannot write good answers

    • Maninder Pal Singh Sandhu

      dont be disheartned my dear friend…there is nothing sort of good or bad answer..it is only the matter of one’s perception and view point. so just go there and express yourself fully.

  • gamma

    just mere reading does not enable you to write good answers

  • Cooties

    Please Review

    In the parliamentary system adopted by India, parliament is the supreme authority after constitution and executives are responsible to it. But a conclusion can be made that Union Cabinet and Prime Minister’s Office(PMO) are evolving into more important office than parliament due to following reasons:
    -Cabinet comprises of the dominant leaders of the ruling majority party and their diktat becomes the opinion of the majority
    -Rajya Sabha has limited powers when it comes to some important provisions like Money Bill etc.
    -MPs lack technical sharpness to properly scrutinise the bills unlike government which has better machinery for this purpose
    -Non constitutional and non statutory bodies like NITI Aayog which greatly influence policy making in the country
    -Increasing use of ordinances is weakening the control of parliament over legislation

    However, we can conclude that situation is not that bad as it seems in first look. Ordinances have to be finally passed by parliament for becoming bill and any adventurism in this regard is punished by the people during elections. Rajya Sabha acts as a second check to the policies in most areas barring few. Also, MPs have tools like Question Hour, Zero Hour etc. to caution government on any of its steps

    • sri

      Simple and clear

  • Abhishek Gupta

    The Indian Constitution mandates that the Executive be constituted from the Legislative – hence, commanding a major of the elected representatives. This is in line with the accountability of the PM and the collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers to the Parliament.

    Since the Executive enjoys majority support of the LS, it is possible that Cabinet might impose its policies and laws. But, it has to be ratified in the Upper House too. Also in cases of Ordinances, there are distinctive safeguards at the hands of the Parliament. However, the most important aspect of Indian democracy and balance of power between the Executive and Legislature is the supremacy attached to ‘public reason’, rather it being just a game of numbers. In the 1970s, Indira Gandhi sought to take on a dictatorial path but had to face a crushing defeat in the next elections. The peoples’ will prevailed!

    The much smaller size of the Cabinet and the PMO in contrast to the Parliament make it significantly easier to discuss on policy matters, but the Parliament must accept and ratify the same. This makes the ruling party more visible to the public but nonetheless accountable to the Parliament. The coalition era also ensured that Parliament would always keep the political executive on its toes.
    Sometimes, the credibility of the Parliament is also at stake due to non-serious members, etc. But in 2015, a Private Member’s Bill being passed for the first time in decades is a positive sign.

    Thus, it is safe to say that the PMO and the Cabinet are not becoming more powerful at the behest of the Parliament – something which is probably never possible. More so, in these times of heightened public awareness through social media and other forum.

  • Aura

    Prime Minister’s Office emerged as a powerful constituent of Indian polity at the time of Lal Bahadur Shastri and at the time of Indira Gandhi’s tenure, especially during emergency, its role enhanced to be regarded as a parallel government.

    PMO and Union cabinet have important place in policy making of government. As a supreme executive body Union cabinet has upper hand in formulation of policies and laws. But our constitution though acknowledging the role of Union cabinet has placed necessary check in the form of oversight by legislative body i.e. Parliament.

    Laws can not be passed without their acceptance by majority of both the houses of Parliament. But when a party already has a majority in Lok Sabha and a strong anti-defection law which does not allow any member to go against the party line present a serious situation and can be harmful for Indian democracy.

    Recent incidences when government by-passed request from opposition to put some of the laws under the scrutiny of parliamentary committees and laws were passes without proper discussion on major policy elements indicate the growing power of Union cabinet and PMO in policy and law formulation.

    Presence of Upper house has somewhat restricted these tendencies of government to by-pass the demands of opposition.

    After a long period of coalition India do need strong policies to achieve higher growth and welfare of masses. But passing the scrutiny of Parliament is not answer, government should work to build consensus otherwise it will result in rule of majority which is harmful for a democratic nation.

    PLEASE REVIEW FRIENDS 🙂

    • ExperimentsWidWriting

      i think answer shall focus more on other executive organs of govt ie ministeries, policy decisions etc.
      law is prorogative of legislature. current problem is that of majority and not directly related to pmo.

    • ExperimentsWidWriting

      anti defection wala point well argued 🙂

    • Faith Patience

      Can we also mention the points of recourses to guillotine closures due to lack of time and growth of delegated legislation as reaons weakening the parliament with respect to the PMO and cabinet?

      • Aura

        use of guillotine and delegated legislation emphasis increasing role of executive. Here we are talking about a subset of executive.

  • Ankith

    Balance of power (BoP) between the executive and the legislature is one of the foundation stone on which the democratic polity of India has been designed. However, BoP seems to be tilting more towards the executive, nonethless legislature is empowered and attempts to correct the things.

    1. The quality time put in by the Parliament had definitely come down, this impacted the scope of legislature to monitor the actions of executive and discuss the issues of popular sentiment. A simple example being the corruption by the people in the higher executive in the past decade.

    2. Constitution had given the power to make ordinances only under dire conditions but numerous times government had promulgated ordinances, this had circumvented the Parliamentary discussions.

    3. Extra constitutional instutions like the Parliamentary committees, NITI Aayog, had eaten in to the share of powers enjoyed by the Parliament.

    Constitutional makers had embedded enough safe guards to ensure the BoP between Legislature and Executive.

    1. Gone are those days where one party used to enjoy majority in both the houses of Parliament. Increase in coalition politics had curbed the single handed show of the executive.

    2. Instruments like Confidence Motion, Question Hour, Zero Hour etc are available for making the executive accountable.

    3. In the mid 70’s national emergency was declared, those were clearly the days when executive was at it’s utmost peak vis-a-vis legislature. However, 43rd and 44th amendments by the successive government had reverted the executive’s arbitrary usage of power.

    Balance among various organs is of paramount importance, supremacy of one organ over the other led to numerous troubles for the governance of this nation.

  • adityaka

    The bedrock principle underlying Parliamentary Democracy is that of Collective Responsibility of the Council of Ministers to the Lok Sabha. The Council of Ministers form the power center that controls all executive action, and the nucleus of this power centre is the Union Cabinet and the Prime Minister’s Office(PMO). The PM is the main decision maker and is aided by various agencies within the PMO as well as the cabinet

    Strictly speaking, the power wielded by the PMO is dependent upon the mandate given to the ruling party. A fractured mandate, leading to a coalition government, dilutes the power held by the PMO. This is very evident from when the Indira Gandhi/ Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh governments are contrasted and compared. With a mandate of above four hundred seats in the Lok Sabha, Rajiv Gandhi was able to pursue key reforms, most notable being the 73rd and 74th amendments. In contrast, the Manmohan Singh government, though taking many momentous decisions, was hindered by politics. It faced policy paralysis when it came to mega projects being put on hold. Also on the external front the foreign policy on Srilanka was affected due to internal politics

    That being said, the recent trend of associating experts and technocrats with the PMO has definitely made it a powerful office when compared to the parliament. The parliament, being the highest deliberative body, consists of laymen who do not have technical expertise to deal with the increasing complexities of modern administration. The Economic Advisory Council, PM’s Council on Climate Change serve as major expert bodies for the PMO to take quick and important decisions

    One of the main reasons why India adopted the first post the past system over proportional representation system to elect its direct representatives was because it would ensure stability of the government and strong Executive to take quick and sturdy decisions. The PMO is indeed evolving into powerful offices, the lack of which could undermine the motive of stability and decision making.