The chief advisor to the President of India is the Prime Minister, who heads the Council of Ministers and also decides, who will become members of the council. The Council of Ministers is divided into various categories, i.e., the Cabinet, Minister of State, Deputy Minister and Parliamentary Secretaries, based on their seniority and the political importance.
It is quite common, that people interchange the terms Cabinet and Council of Ministers, and use it as if they are one and the same thing. However, the difference between the cabinet and council of ministers lies in the composition, size, power, functions and so on.
Content: Cabinet Vs Council of Ministers
|Basis for Comparison||Cabinet||Council of Ministers|
|Meaning||The Cabinet is the small body of the Council, comprising of the most experienced and influential members formed to discuss and decide policies of government.||Council of Ministers is the body that advises the President on various matters and is formed to assist the Prime Minister in running Government.|
|Body||Formerly, it was not a constitutional body but after amendment in the Act, in 1978, the cabinet got the constitutional status.||Constitutional Body|
|Size||Consist of 15-18 ministers.||Consist of 40-60 ministers.|
|Division||It is a sub part of the council.||Council of ministers is divided into four categories including cabinet.|
|Meeting||Frequently held.||Rarely held.|
|Collective Functions||Several collective functions||No collective functions|
|Policy making||Performed by Cabinet.||Not performed by the council.|
|Decisions||Takes policy decisions, and supervises its implementation.||Implements the decisions taken by the cabinet.|
|Responsibility||Enforces collective responsibility of the council to the lower chamber.||Collectively responsible to the lower house of Parliament.|
|Powers||Exercises powers and acts on behalf of the council.||Vested with all the powers, but in theory.|
Definition of Cabinet
The Cabinet is the core of the Council of Ministers. It consists of 15-18 members, who are the senior most and in fact the most effective ministers of the council. Prime Minister along with the cabinet ministers deliberate and decide various policies of national governance.
The cabinet ministers hold the key portfolios such as Home, Defence, External Affairs, Atomic Energy, Petroleum and so on. As the cabinet ministers jointly form the central decision-making authority of the nation, the Prime Ministers selects them with much care. The meetings of the cabinet under the chairmanship of PM are held once in a week and in the case of necessity, more than once in a week and even in a day. It is not the council of ministers who advises the President, but the Cabinet.
Definition of Council of Ministers
The President of India appoints the Prime Minister, from the majority party or coalition, in the Lok Sabha, who then decides the Council of Ministers. The President exercises his powers on the suggestions and recommendations of the Council. The council is broadly classified into four parts, which are Cabinet, Ministers of State, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries.
The Prime Minister is the chief of the council as he/she determines the size and composition, and also allocates ranks and portfolios to the ministers. The strength of the council is not fixed but should not be more than 15% of the total strength of the lower house of the Parliament. Further, the Parliament determines the salaries and allowances of the Ministers.
The council members hold office at the discretion of the President. However, they are collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. Collective responsibility relies on the ‘notion of solidarity’, i.e. a single vote of no confidence against a minister can lead to the resignation of the entire council. Hence, the support of the majority is a must for the council, as they can be removed anytime and replaced by the new council if they lost confidence of the lower chamber. Likewise, if there is disagreement regarding a policy or decision of the cabinet, in a minister, then he/she has to accept the decision or resign.
Key Differences Between Cabinet and Council of Ministers
The following points are substantial, so far as the difference between cabinet and council of ministers:
- The Cabinet is the small body of the Council, comprising of the most experienced and influential members formed to discuss and decide policies of the government. Council of Ministers is the body that advises the President on various matters and is formed to assist the Prime Minister in running Government.
- In the Indian Constitution, the provisions relating to the council of ministers are described in detail, in the Article 74 and 75. In contrast, the term cabinet is mentioned only once in the article 352, and that was also inserted through the 44th amendment act, in the year 1978.
- The cabinet consists of 15-18 members, which comprise of senior-most ministers. Conversely, the council of ministers is a bigger body, consisting of 40-60 members.
- The cabinet itself is the sub-part of the council of ministers whereas the Prime Ministers distributes ranks and portfolios to the ministers and in this way, the Council is divided into various classes of ministers.
- The cabinet meetings are frequently held, i.e. once in a week, to discuss and take decisions on various matters. As against this, the meetings of the council of ministers are rarely held.
- The cabinet has several collective functions, while the council of ministers does not have collective functions.
- Policies are made by the Cabinet and not by the council of ministers.
- The cabinet takes decisions relating to policies and monitors its implementation by the council of ministers. On the contrary, the council of ministers implements the decisions of the cabinet.
- The cabinet enforces collective responsibility of the council of ministers to the House of People. Unlike, the council of ministers who are responsible to the House of People, i.e. Lok Sabha.
- As per the constitutions, all the powers are vested in the Council of Ministers, but the Cabinet actually exercises these powers.
The Prime Minister leads both cabinet and council of ministers. It is said that the council of ministers advises the President, but in reality, it is the cabinet who does so. These are two different bodies that help the government to function smoothly.