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The Seat of Deputy Minister: A Political Prominence, Not Constitutional

The position of deputy minister comes with some restriction and class, though one can enjoy all the perks as of a CM and hence, this alienates some from the responsibilities and disabilities for the leaders with a mindset for change. The post is not a part of constitution which lays down the basic structure of the government under which its people are to be governed. The past loopholes that are acclimatized as the part of the system has come again in the controversy after the removal of young and ambitious leader, Mr. Sachin Pilot, from the post of deputy CM after his allegations on Rajasthan CM Gehlot for treating him unfairly ever since the party’s government came to power.


Article 74(1) of Indian constitution lays down the appointment of chief minister to aid and advice PM with no information regarding deputy CM neither of its election but in The Salaries and Allowances of Minister Act, 1952 "Minister" means a member of the Council of Ministers, by whatever name called, and includes a Deputy Minister. And so the wave of controversies always direct towards this portfolio and of deputy PM and its oath from 1875 with the selection of first deputy PM and again in 2020 with the removal of deputy CM pilot which direct toward many question such as of their appointment and oath, limited power along with the same perks as CM but same tax from people and many more which juggle sanctity of constitution with politics.


RIPPLES FROM PAST

The love for politics shaped in 1989 when Devi Lal audaciously altered the oath of cabinet minister replacing it by deputy prime minister as mentioned in the book ‘Commissions and Omissions of Indian President’ quoted by Venkataraman and then challenged in the Supreme Court alleging that the taken oath was not prescribed by article 75(4) followed by schedule III of the constitution.


In K.M. Sharma v. Devi Lal & Ors., the learned attorney general contended that “the prescribed oath should be divided in two parts which is descriptive and substantial and as long as substantial part followed a mere mistake or error in the descriptive part, it won’t vitiate the oath.” He further told the court that “since the prime minister was also a member of council of ministers and he took the same oath as the other ministers, the only difference was being the word “prime minister” in place of “minister” as there’s no specific oath for PM in the constitution and describing Devi as deputy PM is descriptive only and for all purposes and he is a minister and there is no constitution sanction for a deputy PM”.


The Supreme Court accepted the argument and declared Devi Lal to be just a minister though he was described as deputy PM- the post which was held earlier by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Morarji Desai, Chaudhary Charan Singh and Jagjivan Ram without taking such oaths. Also Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy who once was the deputy CM refused to have deputy when appointed as the CM of state connoting it as unnecessary post. And yet this anticipated position caught a trend and moves along with the generation of politics and yet remain untouched by the Constitution though it was before the adoption of constitution (1950) and the appointment become more like a fantasy then its need and role in democracy.


The Administrative Reforms Commission Report on the machinery of the government of India and its procedure of work (September 1968) stated “However, we understand that a good many Deputy Ministers feel frustrated as they have not been given a worthwhile role in the Government organization. There, does not exist today any guideline for assigning responsible work to Deputy Ministers, nor for delegating to them suitable decision-making powers.


A study conducted at the instance of the Commission in July, 1967, showed that only about half of the Deputy Ministers had substantial work assignment. Further, two-fifths of them were working, more or less, as general assistants to senior Ministers. The senior Ministers concerned have at times been consulted in regard to the posting of a particular Deputy Minister. But this has not been the· general practice.”


CURRENT LIST HOLDERS OF DEPUTY CM IN 2020

i. The position is vacant in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Puducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, West Bengal.

ii. As per the data of June 2019, Andhra Pradesh had 5 deputy CM;

iii. Goa have 2 deputy CM ;

iv. Karnataka have 3 deputy CM;

v. Uttar Pradesh have 2 deputy CM;

vi. Other states have only 1 deputy CM, as of now.


Indian politics is complex to understand it from Indian constitution. In a nutshell,13 states have one Deputy CM and other 4 states consist of 12 and other 11 states and UTs don’t have even one as of data mentioned above (28 states and 8 UTs, as of data of June 2020).


In Goa, Manohar Ajgaonkar appointed as deputy CM only few days after he quit MGP and joined BJP and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) in now down to just one lawmaker which was the first ruling party of goa.


In Karnataka, Laxman Savadi is not an elected MLA but has been appointed as one of the deputy CM and has got all the unallocated portfolios.


In Rajasthan also the appointment of Sachin as deputy CM is to end the tussle and to keep the both faction happy but this tussle resulted into anomaly and a disruption within the party.


Though in Arunachal Pradesh, the selection of 5 deputy CMs was appointed to create caste balance along the state one for SC another for ST, backward caste, minority and kappu community which may also do the fine job by indulging all this in less number.


Now here the question arises- If the selection of deputy CM in Arunachal is to appease the caste system then how much deputy PM of India needs on the basis of population and why there’s not even one? The post of deputy PM a member of union cabinet in the government of India will be the second most important functionary in the executive. Even in past this post was adorned by great leaders such as Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Morarji Desai and the seventh and last one was Advani .


But this wrecked the government also cause it’s an alternative power system which can undermine PM also as Charan Singh in 1979 and Devi Lal in 1991 to use this power to become PM itself and in Vajpayee’s rule Advani was the deputy PM, as they are friends from long and sharing same ideology so there’s no political hustle, this explains much about the political reasons are the priority for appointment.


ROLE OF A DEPUTY CM

CM basically keep important portfolio such as home, vigilance but if it’s a coalition party then senior leader of the largest coalition party can have finance and revenue (as in Bihar, deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi holds the power of finance portfolio and is the longest serving PM) and CM has the authority regarding posting and transfer of class-1 officers in the state. The matter of administration was also handled by CM. Deputy CM holds no power to see the record reserved for CM.


In fact, she is required to route all the documents relating to portfolio distributed to her to the CM for clearance. The deputy CM can’t profess to manage deputy meeting all alone or issue directions to different offices than dispensed to her by the CM and like all other minister deputy CM also need to seek permission from CM for expenditure over and above the budget allotted to her departments and yet deputy CM get indistinguishable compensation and advantages same as cabinet rank ministers and enjoy tax free pay and perks.


CONCLUSION

“The mere existence of a Constitution by itself does not ensure constitutionalism. What is important are the political traditions of the people and its spirit and determination to work out its constitutional salvation through the chosen system of its political organization.”

Justice Mr. M.N. Venkatachaliah


This post acts like more to convey the political weight whether in coalition government or within the party because this post attains same perks and is secondary in the hierarchy.Hence, it’s significant for the balanced and hitch free survival of government and can run the machinery efficiently. Deputy CM can work to relive the burden on higher authority by:

(a) handling or overseeing implementation of programs and policy,

(b) a department with power to take minor decisions,

(c) and parliament work rather than appeasing the allies, communities and vote bank and to or to maintain alliance.


But are too many ministers good for any government? As such there is no evidence that more ministers has led to better governance with the 17 minister I first cabinet and 70 in Manmohan singh government and 57 in BJP government 2020 as mentioned by PM, we need more governance with minimum government as India is still a developing country the hustle between political party will only take us apart from the surge need of efficient politics for the people within the country cause and too many ministers is harmful for good government and costly to taxpayers.

ENDNOTES

1. “Deputy CM: Not in Constitution, yet a post with a long history”, The Times Of India.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/deputy-cm-not-in-constitution-yet-a-post-with-a-long-history/articleshow/62259990.cms

2. “The salaries and allowance of ministry act 1952”

https://www.indiacode.nic.in/handle/123456789/2129?view_type=browse&sam_handle=123456789/1362

3. “Administrative Reform Commission Report”

https://darpg.gov.in/sites/default/files/07_Machinery%20of%20the%20Govt%20of%20india07052019100544.pdf

4. “Goa CM Pramod Sawant drops deputy Sudin Dhavalikar after 2 MGP lawmakers break away from party”, Hindustantimes

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/goa-cm-pramod-sawant-drops-deputy-sudin-dhavalikar-after-2-mgp-lawmakers-break-away-from-party/story-djA78nFEkTQ2C

5. “Karnataka CM Yeddyurappa names 3 deputy CMs, allocates Cabinet portfolios”, India Today

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/karnataka-cm-yediyurappa-names-3-deputy-cms-allocates-cabinet-portfolios-1591878-2019-08-26

6. “Deputy CM’s post emerges as unifier amid caste, coalition compulsion”, The Economic Times

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/deputy-cms-post-emerges-as-unifier-amid-caste-coalition-compulsions/articleshow/71884835.cms

7. “What do deputy ministers do”, India Today

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/maharashtra-politics-deputy-chief-ministers-india-constitution-1623441-2019-11-28

8. K.M. Sharma vs Devi Lal & Ors on 9 January, 1990; Equivalent citations: 1990 AIR 528, 1990 SCR (1)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This blog has been authored by Tanisha Sinha who is a 3rd Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) student at Galgotias University, Noida.

[PUBLICATION NO. TLG_BLOG_20_7004]

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