Article 75 - Appointment of the Prime Minister

Q.  Which of the following is/are true regarding the appointment of the Prime Minister (PM)?

1) Article 75 provides procedure for selection and appointment of the PM.
2) A person not belonging to any house of the Parliament can become the PM.

- Published on 01 Mar 17

a. Only 1
b. Only 2
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2

ANSWER: Only 2
  • In parliamentary system of government, the President is the nominal executive authority (de jure executive) (head of state) and Prime Minister is the real executive authority (de facto executive) (head of government).

  • Appointment of the PM -

  • The Constitution does not contain any specific procedure for the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister.

  • Article 75 says only that the Prime Minister shall be appointed by the president.

  • But, in accordance with the conventions of the parliamentary system of government, the President has to appoint the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister.

  • However, when no party has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, then the President may exercise his personal discretion in the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister.

  • In such a situation, the President usually appoints the leader of the largest party or coalition in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister and asks him to seek a vote of confidence in the House within a month.

  • This discretion was exercised by the President, forthe first time in 1979, when Neelam Sanjiva Reddy (the then President) appointed Charan Singh (the coalition leader) as the Prime Minister after the fall of the Janata Party government headed by Morarji Desai.

  • Also, when the Prime Minister in office dies suddenly and there is no obvious successor, then too, the President can exercise his/her discretion.

  • On the death of Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri when the leadership was contested, the president made temporary arrangements by appointing the senior most minister as the Prime Minister, until the formal election of the leader by the party.

  • Both the times, Gulzari Lal Nanda acted as the Prime Minister.

  • When Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 the then President Zail Singh appointed Rajiv Gandhi as the Prime Minister by ignoring the precedent of appointing a care-taker Prime Minister.

  • Later the Congress parliamentary party unanimously elected him as its leader.

  • However, if, on the death of an in cumbent Prime Minister, the ruling party elects a new leader, the President has no choice but to appoint him as Prime Minister.

  • In 1980, the Delhi High Court held that the Constitution does not require that a person must prove his majority in the Lok Sabha before he is appointed as the PM.

  • The President may first appoint him the Prime Minister and then ask him to prove his majority in the Lok Sabha within a reasonable period.

  • Charan Singh (1979), VP Singh (1989), Chandrasekhar (1990), P. V. Narasimha Rao (1991), A. B. Vajyapee (1996), Deve Gowda (1996), I. K. Gujral (1997) and again A. B. Vajpayee (1998) were appointed as Prime Ministers in this way.

  • In 1997, the Supreme Court held that a person who is not a member of either House of Parliament can be appointed as Prime Minister for six months, within which, he should become a member of either House of Parliament; otherwise, he ceases to be the PM.

  • The PM may be a member of any of the two Houses of parliament. Indira Gandhi (1966), Deve Gowda (1996) and Manmohan Singh (2004), were members of the Rajya Sabha.

  • In Britain, the Prime Minister has to be a member of the Lower House (House of Commons).

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