The Concept of Collective Ministerial Responsibility in India- Theory & Practice

INTRODUCTION

Collective Ministerial Responsibility in the sole crux of Parliamentary democracy.  The principle of collective responsibility represents ministerial accountability to the legislature. In India, the doctrine of collective responsibility of the Union Executive to the House of the People and of the State Executive to the Legislative Assembly is specifically enshrined in the Constitution. Article 75(3) lays down that the Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. It means that the Government must maintain a majority in the Lok Sabha as a condition of its survival. The object of Collective responsibility is to make the whole body of persons holding ministerial office collectively, or, if one may so put it, “vicariously responsible for such acts of the others as are referable to their collective violation so that, even if an individual may not be personally responsible for it, yet, he will be deemed to share the responsibility with those who may have actually committed some wrong.”[1]

Lord Salisbury explained the principle of collective responsibility as: “For all that passes  in the Cabinet, each member of it who does not resign is absolutely irretrievably responsible, and has no right afterwards to say that he agreed in one sense to a compromise while in another he was persuaded by his colleagues. [2]

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July 19, 2016

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