Parliamentary System – UPSC Notes

Students often forget to study the very basis of our constitution. It is necessary to read other topics but without understanding the principles and the vision of the founding fathers of our Constitution, it is incomplete. It is one of the topics which tells us the vision of the founding fathers of our Constitution.

Modern democratic governments are classified into parliamentary and presidential based on the nature of the relation between the executive and the legislative organs of the government. Under Parliamentary form of government, the executive is a part of the legislature and is directly responsible to the legislature for its policies and acts.

Under the Presidential form of government, on the other hand, the executive is constitutionally independent of the legislature in respect of its term of office. They both are a separate entity.

In the above lines, we are only talking about democratic government although many types of government exist in this world viz. Anarchy, Aristocracy, Colonialism, Monarchy, Totalitarian and many more.

The Parliamentary system of government is prevalent in Britain, Japan, Canada, India, Australia, etc. And the Presidential form of government is prevalent in the USA, Brazil Russia, Sri Lanka, etc.

Ivor Jennings called the parliamentary system as ‘cabinet system’ because the cabinet is the nucleus of power in a parliamentary system. The parliamentary government is also known as ‘responsible government’ as the cabinet is accountable to the Parliament and stays in the office so long as it enjoys the latter’s confidence.
Although it is the feature of the parliamentary system of government, that the executives are responsible for parliament. But in the Indian context, the executives are responsible to the lower house (one of the two houses of Parliament).
It is also called the Prime ministerial form of government because the Prime minister has a great role and power in the parliamentary form of government.

Features of Parliamentary Government

The broad features of the Parliamentary form of government are described above. Now we will talk about the parliamentary form of government in India.

1. Nominal and Real Executives

Unlike many of the parliamentary government, India has two executives viz. Nominal Executive (the President) and Real Executive (the Prime Minister). In other Parliamentary governments i.e. in Britain and Japan, there is only one executive that is Prime Minister who is head of the government and the queen or king is the head of the State.
The President is the head of state while the Prime Minister is the head of the government. According to article 74, there should be a council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister to aid and advise the President.
It should be noted here that the advice rendered by the council of ministers to the President is binding on the President. Therefore, he is only a nominal head executive and the real powers are vested in the council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister. This is why he is called Real Executive.

2. Majority Party Rule

The political party which secures majority seats in the Lok Sabha forms the government. The leader of the party is appointed as the Prime Minister by the President. And the other ministers are also appointed by the President but on the advice of Prime Minister.

3. Collective Responsibility

This is the main feature of the parliamentary system of government. The council of ministers is collectively responsible for the house of people i.e. Lok Sabha. (Article 75). They act as a team and swim and sink together. That is why it is also called ‘responsible government’.

4. Political Homogeneity

The members of the council of ministers belong to the same political party, and hence they share the same political ideology and belief. In the case of a coalition government, the ministers are bound by consensus.

5. Double Membership

It is also one of the basic features of the parliamentary system of government. 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 (either of Lok sabha or Rajya sabha).
Although, a minister can be a minister without being a member of the Parliament. But only for 6 months. He/she has to be a member of either of the house within six months, otherwise, he/she ceases to be a minister.

6. The leadership of the Prime Minister

The Prime Minister plays a leadership role in this system of government. He is the leader of the council of ministers, leader of Parliament, and leader of the party in power. So, he plays a very important role.

7. Dissolution of the Lower House

In the Indian parliamentary system, the lower house of the parliament i.e. Lok Sabha is subject to dissolution. 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.

8. Secrecy

The ministers take the oath of secrecy before the President before entering the office. They cannot divulge information about their proceeding, policies, and decisions.

These were the feature of the Indian parliamentary form of government. It can be more useful in prelims, as UPSC tries to confuse the students mainly on concepts.

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