Chief Minister (India)
A Chief Minister is the elected head of the government in an Indian state or union territory with a legislative assembly. The role of the Chief Minister is analogous to that of a governor in a U.S. state.
According to the constitution, the governor of a state is the constitutional head (de jure head) of the state. However, the real power is vested in the chief minister i.e. de facto powers rest to him/her.
APPOINTMENT OF Chief Minister
There is no special provision in the constitution regarding the appointment of the Chief Minister. However, as per the provision in the Constitution, the Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor (Article 164 (1)). However, The Governor must adhere to a provision and cannot simply choose anyone to serve as Chief Minister in a state or UT.
The GENERAL process of how a Chief Minister is chosen involves the following steps:
- Election as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA): To become a Chief Minister, an individual first needs to be elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the respective state or union territory. MLAs are elected by the citizens of the state or union territory through a general election.
- Selection as the Leader of the Majority Party: After the election results are announced, the political party or coalition that secures a majority of seats in the legislative assembly is invited to form the government. The MLA who is the leader of the majority party or coalition is usually chosen as the Chief Minister.
- Appointment by the Governor: Once the leader of the majority party or coalition is selected, they are invited by the Governor of the state or union territory to become the Chief Minister. The Governor is the constitutional head of the state and acts as a representative of the President of India in the state.
Oath of Office: After being appointed as the Chief Minister, the individual must take an oath of office and secrecy, pledging to uphold the Constitution and perform their duties faithfully. This oath is administered by the Governor.
Formation of the Council of Ministers: The Chief Minister, after assuming office, forms the Council of Ministers, also known as the state cabinet, by appointing ministers responsible for various government departments.
Term of the office of Chief Minister
The term of a Chief Minister’s office in India is not fixed by law and can vary from state to state. In most states, the Chief Minister’s term is linked to the term of the legislative assembly, which is typically five years.
The Chief Minister and their Council of Ministers hold office for as long as they enjoy the support and confidence of the majority of the Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs). The term of the legislative assembly is five years, and during this period, the Chief Minister can continue in office if they maintain the majority support of the MLAs.
If the government loses a vote of confidence or if the assembly is dissolved for other reasons, new elections may be held, and a new Chief Minister may be chosen based on the election results.
The Chief Minister’s term can be cut short if they lose a ‘no confidence motion’ in the legislative assembly. If the government is unable to secure the majority’s support on a crucial issue or if it faces a ‘vote of no confidence. also known as a no-confidence motion, the Chief Minister may be required to resign. In such cases, the Governor may either invite the leader of the opposition or dissolve the legislative assembly, leading to fresh elections.
Eligibility for Chief Minister
To become a Chief Minister of a state, the following eligibility or conditions are required.
- The person eligible for the post of Chief Minister must be an Indian citizen.
- The Chief Minister must be a member of the State Legislature. If someone is not a member of the legislature, he must be a member within 6 months.
- Must be at least 25 years of age.
Roll and Function of a Chief Minister
- Chief Minister is the Leader of the Legislative Assembly.
- Chief Minister is the leader of the state cabinet.
- Chief Minister is the leader of the majority party.
- He/She is also a Chief Advisor to the Governor.
The role of the Chief Minister in India is primarily defined by the provisions of the Constitution of India, particularly Articles 163, 164, and 167. These articles outline the powers, functions, and role of the Chief Minister in the state government. Here’s a summary of the Chief Minister’s role as outlined in these constitutional articles:
Article 163: Council of Ministers to Aid and Advise the Governor
- Article 163 of the Indian Constitution states that there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in matters where the Governor is required to act in his discretion.
- The Chief Minister is the leader of the Council of Ministers and is responsible for coordinating the government’s activities and providing advice to the Governor.
Article 164: Other Provisions as to Ministers
- Article 164 outlines the appointment and tenure of ministers, including the Chief Minister. It includes the following provisions:
- The Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor and other ministers are appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister.
- The Chief Minister must be a member of the legislative assembly (MLA), and if not already an MLA, they must become one within six months of assuming office.
- The Council of Ministers, including the Chief Minister, is collectively responsible to the legislative assembly of the state.
Article 167: Duties of Chief Minister as to the furnishing of information to the Governor, etc.
- Article 167 describes the duties of the Chief Minister with respect to the Governor. It includes the following provisions:
- The Chief Minister shall communicate to the Governor all decisions of the Council of Ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the state and proposals for legislation.
- The Chief Minister shall furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the state as the Governor may call for.
- The Chief Minister shall 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 addition to these constitutional provisions, the role of the Chief Minister is influenced by state laws, conventions, and political dynamics. The Chief Minister is the leader of the state government and plays a vital role in policy formulation, administration, and governance in the state. They work closely with the legislative assembly, the Governor, and other stakeholders to ensure the effective functioning of the state government.
In short, the Chief Minister has a number of important functions, including:
- Appointing and dismissing the other members of the state cabinet.
- Advising the Governor on the appointment of judges to the state high court and other senior government officials.
- Presenting the state budget to the assembly.
- Ensuring that the laws passed by the assembly are implemented.
- Maintaining law and order in the state.
- Representing the state at the national level.
Here are some examples of how the Chief Minister might exercise their functions:
- The Chief Minister might appoint a new finance minister to their cabinet if the current finance minister resigns.
- The Chief Minister might advise the Governor to appoint a new judge to the state high court if a current judge retires.
- The Chief Minister might present the state budget to the assembly, which outlines the state government’s spending plans for the upcoming financial year.
- The Chief Minister might direct the state police to take action to maintain law and order during a period of civil unrest.
- The Chief Minister might represent the state at a meeting of the National Development Council, which is a forum for central and state governments to discuss and coordinate development planning.
Overall, the Chief Minister is responsible for the overall governance of the state and for ensuring that the state government functions effectively.
Salary of Chief Minister
The salaries and allowances of the Chief Minister and other Ministers will be fixed by the concerned State Legislative Assembly as per Article 164. In other words, the salary of the Chief Minister varies according to the state.
Removal of CM
The no-confidence motion against the Chief Minister should be passed in the state assembly.
In order to bring a no-confidence motion, it is necessary to get the signatures of 2/3 of the members of the opposition.
Subject to the Governor’s permission, the no-confidence motion against the Chief Minister should be passed in the Legislative Assembly and therefore the Chief Minister, as well as other ministers, could be removed from their posts.
Resignation: The Chief Minister can voluntarily resign from their position by submitting their resignation to the Governor.
Criminal Conviction and Disqualification: If the Chief Minister is convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to imprisonment for a certain period, they may be disqualified from holding office.
Governor’s Discretion: In certain situations where the Governor believes that the Chief Minister is unable to effectively govern or if there are serious issues affecting the state’s administration, the Governor may use their discretionary powers to recommend a change in leadership or dissolve the assembly.
UPSC Sample Questions
What are the key constitutional provisions that define the role and powers of a Chief Minister in a state government in India? Discuss the significance of Article 164 in this context.
Describe the powers and functions of a Chief Minister in India, highlighting their role in policy formulation and administration.
What is the significance of the Chief Minister’s role in maintaining law and order within a state? Provide examples of situations where a Chief Minister’s leadership in this regard was crucial.
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