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Role of Cabinet in Parliamentary Form of Government

Introduction To Parliamentary Form of Government

''A parliamentary system, often known as a parliamentary democracy, is a style of democratic administration in which the executive derives political legitimacy by seeking the approval (confidence) of the legislative branch, generally a parliament, to whom it is accountable”.

The British Parliamentary form of Government is known as “Mother of Parliaments”. It has continued to exist through its present form Constitutional Monarchy right from the revival of the Monarchy in 1658, creating it as one among world's oldest Parliaments. In a parliamentary form of Government, the heads of state and governments are typically distinct. It differs from such a presidential system in which the head of state is frequently also the head of government. UK, Japan, Canada, as well as India all have parliamentary governments. It is also referred to as cabinet government, responsible government, or Westminster government.

Features of Parliamentary Form of Government

  • Existence of a Titular or Constitutional Ruler: The existence of a Titular or Constitutional Ruler is the primary unique characteristic of the parliamentary system. The head of state is legally accountable for the administration of all state affairs. In reality, the Ministerial Council is in responsible of administration. According to the circumstances, either Monarch or President is head of state and not of government.

  • The Lower House's Primary Function in Ministry Formation: Under parliamentary system, the house of representatives of legislature, i.e., the prominent house, plays a critical role in the creation of the cabinet. The Prime Minister is opted from all the leaders of the political parties or coalitions that achieve a majority in the house.

  • Legislative accountability: In this mechanism, either Cabinet or Ministry must be account to the house of representatives for all of its policies as well as actions. In nations that have bicameral legislatures, the Cabinet is still accountable to the lower chamber, which is mainly composed of people's representatives.

In India, it is Constitutional supremacy though Parliamentary form is followed Parliament is creature of Constitution. Link between executive and legislature is that all executive members are the members of the legislature. The executive is answerable, accountable and responsible to the legislature. Legislature has to approve or give sanction. Opposition can also question the Government. Parliamentary form is unstable Government as it is elected for a period of five years but there's no guarantee for those five years. No Confidence motion can be initiated in this type of government. Dissolution of the lower house: Lok Sabha, House of commons can be dissolved by President/Emperor. Collective Responsibility is a very important feature wherein the entire government is collectively responsible to the legislature for its actions. After any decision taken by the Cabinet, members can't speak anything against, but it can comment only after resigning. In this type of government, the particular minister will initiate bill of the same and procedure of three readings and then pass it to the upper house and then the President for the sign.

Cabinet System in Parliamentary Form of Government and Its Functions

Prime ministers have been accompanied by people who give them guidance and details that helps them make decisions. Cabinet is the most prominent of these groups. In parliamentary form, there is anticipation that cabinet officials will have constructive input into executive decision. The cabinet is indeed a collective governmental body in parliamentary structures of government that consists of a prime minister but only a few important and top ministers. Cabinet decision-making is described as “a set of expanding circles” in which “the prime minister is the core” and the boundaries eventually expand further than the entire cabinet. As a result, this interpretation embraces the broader concept of cabinet system. The acts of prime minister as well as senior ministers in this mechanism are entangled with that of executive be it political or administrative outside cabinet, like junior ministers and best civil servants, as well as party leaders from outside the government and particular advisers. The members of cabinet are indeed ministers or representatives of in parliamentary democracies. They usually, but not necessarily always belong to the same political party as that of the prime minister. Cabinet members play an important role in administration and the formulation of public policy in such systems. Prime ministers must discuss with their cabinet members before taking any action.

Collective Responsibility

Cabinet collective responsibility, a protocol dating back to the 18th century, is indeed a key method of ensuring that the executive division of government speaks with one voice. The process by which the Cabinet develops its final policies is kept secret, and also what they finally decide is considered equivalently binding on any and all the members, irrespective of their independent positions or preferences during the prior deliberation. Cabinet decisions are group decisions that are developed and implemented as a group. The entire cabinet is jointly accountable. Article 75(3) of Indian Constitution contains the doctrine of collective responsibility, which relates to the special provisions of such a principle. Article 75(3) states that council of ministers must be answerable, accountable and responsible to Lok Sabha. The term “collective” implies that all cabinet members must swim, stand or walk and slip down together as well.

The Supreme Court ruled and noticed in Common Cause v Union of India that this principle of collective responsibility does have two interpretations. The first one is that all representatives of a government must agree on a policy and the second one is that cabinet members are accountable for the policies' successes and failures. In the case of S.P. Anand v. H.D. Deve Gowda, SC held that as soon as a Prime Minister is designated, he is a minister and is collectively responsible towards the council of ministers. As a result, the concept of collective responsibility implies that all cabinet members seem to be collectively responsible for each and every decision made, whether or not their assent is present. This means that their decisions must be unanimous and confidential. This is a powerful tool in the Prime Minister's hands for maintaining cabinet unity and discipline. A minister who disagrees with the Prime Minister or even the cabinet has only one option and that is to resign from cabinet. The essence of collective responsibility ensures cabinet as well as council of ministers’ unity. In accordance with this rule, CoM is collectively responsible to Lok Sabha, so if a ministry ends up losing the House's confidence, it should resign.

The cabinet collective responsibility consists of two major components:

  • Cabinet Confidentiality: This implies that all decisions made or deliberations debated in a cabinet gathering must not be made public and must be kept within the ministers.

  • Cabinet Solidarity: This implies that the cabinet members should make a unanimous decision, even if they may have conveyed a different opinion during the cabinet meeting.

Individual Responsibility

Every minister is accountable for the actions of his department's officials. It is that minister's duty to respond to questions in Parliament about the matters related to his department. The Supreme Court described this concept of individual responsibility in the case of Secretary, Jaipur Development Authority v Daulat Man Jain, holding that each and every minister is individually and collectively accountable for the acts, and policies. He is accountable and responsible to the people. As a result, in addition to the concept of collective responsibility, the concept of individual responsibility of cabinet members should be present because it is more beneficial in nature, and each minister must be held individually responsible to the Legislature.

Analysis of Indian Cabinet

The Constitution has indeed incorporated the Cabinet form of representative democracy system as practiced in the United Kingdom. The fact is that President/Governor is simply a metaphor for Council of Ministers or the Cabinet, upon whose suggestions and advice they must only act apart from very narrow or confined areas. This is under Articles 74 and 163 of the Indian Constitution. Article 74 states “Council of Ministers to aid and advise President” and article 163 states “Council of Ministers to aid and advise Governor”. The system of government established by the Constitution is fundamentally based on British model. “Not the Potomac, but the Thames, if we may use river imagery”, ascertained Krishna Iyer, J. picturesquely in Shamsher Singh & Anr vs State of Punjab, trying to bring out the essential nature of our system of government. It is also crucial to keep in mind that Cabinet enters and exits the Prime Minister's office. The resignation or fatality of PM results in a change of Cabinet. It has been correctly observed that, although the party system provides the Cabinet with uniformity, the Prime Minister's position provides it with solidarity. It is reasonable to expect that the Prime Minister, in keeping with the trust placed in him, would not select someone with a criminal record. This is exactly what the Constitution suggests, and it is the Prime Minister's constitutional responsibility. The rest must be left to his knowledge.


Cabinet decision-making is an interesting research topic in two ways. On the one side, political outputs are critical for any political system's smooth operation. Although trends such as privatization, decentralization, and globalization have “hollowed out” governments' prerogatives, executives continue to be the most fundamental institutions with the authority to make decisions that are binding on all citizens. Cabinets stand out in this regard because it is where final government decisions are made. Cabinet government is distinguished by the requirement for joint ratification, rather than the presumption that all decision making is formed jointly. The second reason to explore cabinet decision-making is related to democratic theory in particular. Realizing how government decisions are made and who is in charge offers inference shortcuts for evaluating elected politicians in terms of accountability. These hints are especially useful in coalition governments, where inter-party negotiating and compromises make identifying political responsibilities more difficult.


1. What are some other names for Parliamentary form of Government?

Ans – Parliamentary form of Government is also referred to as Cabinet Government, Responsible Government, or Westminster Government.

2. What does Article 74 of the Indian constitution state?

Ans - Article 74 of Indian Constitution states about ‘Council of Ministers to aid and advise President’.

3. Which article of Indian Constitution contains the doctrine of Collective Responsibility of the cabinet?

Ans - Article 75(3) of Indian Constitution contains the doctrine of Collective Responsibility of the cabinet.

4. What are the two major components of cabinet’s collective responsibility?

Ans – The two major components of cabinet’s collective responsibility are Cabinet Confidentiality and Cabinet Solidarity.

5. Which country's cabinet form of representative democracy system was incorporated by the framers of Indian Constitution?

Ans - United Kingdom's cabinet form of representative democracy system was incorporated by the framers of Indian Constitution

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