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Appointment Of Chief Minister

Context:

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s (JMM) Champai Soren took oath as the new Chief Minister of Jharkhand on February 2.

Relevance:

GS Paper 2: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers.

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Points
  2. Understanding the position of the Chief Minister
  3. Regarding Appointment of the Chief Minister
  4. Constitution assumes CM as a legislator

Key Points:

  • The appointment came after the resignation and arrest of the JMM leader and former chief minister Hemant Soren in connection with an alleged land scam case.  
  • Champai Soren, along with 43 legislators, met the Governor of Jharkhand, staking a claim to form the government in the state.
  • Soon, the Governor invited Soren to form the government in the state.
    • He has been mandated to demonstrate his majority in a floor test, which will be held within the next 10 days.
    • Of the total 81 assembly members, a party needs 41 to form a majority.

Understanding the position of the Chief Minister

  • The position of the Chief Minister at the state level is analogous to the position of the Prime Minister at the Centre and the governor is the nominal executive authority (de jure executive) and the Chief Minister is the real executive authority (de facto executive).
  • Article 163 of the Constitution says that there shall be a Council of Ministers in the states with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in exercise his functions, except those which are required to be done by the Governor on his/her discretion.
  • The council of Ministers formulates the policy of the Government and implements it practically.

Regarding Appointment of the Chief Minister

  • Article 164 only says that the Chief Minister shall be appointed by the governor. However, the Constitution does not contain any specific procedure for the selection and appointment of the Chief Minister and Article 164 does NOT imply that the governor is free to appoint anyone as the Chief Minister.
  • A Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the State, at the expiration of that period ceases to be a Minister. (Article 164)
  • A person who is not a member of the state legislature can be appointed as Chief Minister for six months, within which time, he should be elected to the state legislature, failing which he ceases to be the Chief Minister.

Constitution assumes CM as a legislator

  • We have a parliamentary democracy, which essentially means that whoever has the confidence of the majority of the members of the Lok Sabha, in the case of the Centre, will be the Prime Minister.
  • Article 164 (2): The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the State.
  • It also requires that all Ministers should be a Member of Parliament (MP) or get elected within six months. Anybody who is a Minister and is not an MP for six months automatically stands to be disqualified from the administration.
  • Article 164 (4): A Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the State shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister.
  • Hence, the Constitution visualises the Chief Minister as being elected by the members of the House of their own free will and it assumes that the Chief Minister is a member. However, there is a party high command, especially in the case of national parties, which decides who will become the Chief Minister.

-Source: The Hindu


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