Ministers of State: India
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
"Being a Minister of State is like standing in a cemetery. There are a lot of people under you but nobody is listening to you."
Dr. Shashi Tharoor, MP, noted author and Minister of State in UPA-2 (2009-14)
What is a Minister of State?
There are Cabinet Ministers and Minister of State both in the Government of India (central government) and in the governments of individual states and union territories.
What is the difference between a Cabinet Minister and a Minister of State?
Cabinet Ministers are full-fledged ministers in-charge of a particular Ministry. A Cabinet minister or Union minister is the person who commands utmost authority of the concerned ministry. He/she is appointed by the President following a consultation with the Prime Minister. When it comes to eligibility, the individual has to be a member of either of the two houses of the Parliament. A Cabinet Minister is treated as the head of a particular ministry such as Education, Health, Home, Foreign, etc
The union Cabinet is the highest decision making body of the country and a Minister enjoying Cabinet status is eligible to attend its meetings. The term cabinet enjoys a constitutional recognition under Article 352 (which, inter alia, mentions that a National Emergency can be proclaimed only on the Written advice of the Cabinet). Nowhere else in the Constitution have the different types of ministries been mentioned.
A cabinet minister is in-charge of a specific ministry and represents the Ministry in cabinet meetings chaired by the Prime Minister.He has the authority to take independent decisions for matters concerning his ministry and is accountable for it.
Every Cabinet Minister has the power to take independent decisions pertaining to his/her ministry. The PM can advise them on policies and convene cabinet meetings to assess progress and status of relevant administrative functions
Minister of State But when the ministries are large say, Home, Finance, Defence or External Affairs, the Prime Minister may appoint a Minister of State to assist the Minister in his working. [MoSes are appointed in smaller Ministries, too, in order to give MPs of middling importance a berth.] It is the prerogative of the Cabinet Minister to give him some responsibility or not. He may be asked to handle certain specific departments (Kiren Rijiju, MOS Home, 2014-, handles police modernisation, visa issues for foreigners) inside the Ministry of Home Affairs or to handle the day to day working of the ministry if the Cabinet Minister in-charge of the Ministry asks him to (Rajyavardhan Singh, 2014-, as MoS handles I & B Ministry as Arun Jaitley handles multiple portfolios). A Minister of State rank minister may represent the Ministry in Cabinet Meeting in the absence of Cabinet Ministers or when the PM asks him to. Generally they don't.
A Minister of State reports to the Cabinet Minister. To be precise, he/she is the junior member who works in close coordination with a Union Minister to help the latter in meeting national goals pertaining to that Ministry. It is incumbent upon a State Minister to deal with issues of the ministry under the aegis of the Union Minister.
Minister of State (Independent Charge) is another category. Sometimes a State Minister is given independent charge of ministries, which don’t have a Cabinet Minister to oversee the operations. When a minister is new but talented [or sufficiently powerful politically but not senior enough] and can handle a ministry independently he is made Minister as MoS (IC). They do not attend the meetings of the Cabinet usually but can when the PM asks them to. Their work is [sometimes] routed through the PMO i.e. [some of] their files are sent to PM for approval. So, if a PM wishes to micromanage a ministry he can appoint a MoS (IC) to keep check. Narendra Modi has kept Coal, Power & Renewable Energy and MoEF as MoS(IC) so that he can look into their working effectively as they are critical to his vision for development. He/she has an authority to take decision independently without an overseeing of Cabinet Minister. He/she is in charge of his ministry. MoS with Independent Charge can attend Cabinet meetings in case of important issue. MoS with Independent charge do not come under any cabinet Minister but yet are of lower rank than cabinet minister. "Minister of State (IC) " heads his respective ministry but he is not considered a member of "Cabinet". So he is not a regular attendee of Cabinet meetings and doesn't enjoy any other perk kept exclusively for Cabinet ministers or posts equivalent to Cabinet ranks (Leader of opposition etc.).
Deputy Minister . They are junior ministers and cannot attend the meetings of the Cabinet under any circumstances. They are made Minister so that they can gain exposure and maybe, promoted later. This trend has been discontinued lately and no Deputy Ministers are appointed now-a-days. Kumari Selja was a Deputy Minister in P V Narasimha Rao Cabinet and later rose to become a Cabinet Minister under Manmohan Singh.
Minister without Portfolio i.e. they do not hold a portfolio or ministry but enjoy Cabinet Status and thus can attend the meetings of the Cabinet so that the Government can use their expertise in decision making. K Natwar Singh was a Minister without Portfolio.
The powers of an MoS
The powers of an MoS depend on the Prime Minister/ Chief Minister, who may allot more powers or less. Sometimes one Cabinet Minister concerned gives MoSes more powers than other Cabinet Ministers in the same government, which his successor to the same portfolio might take away.
Jammu & Kashmir
The PDP-BJP coalition that ruled Jammu & Kashmir (2015- ), is a particularly good example of a government that actually defines the powers of MoSes.
2015: under Mufti Muhammad Sayeed
The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed delegated powers to the ministers of state which they can exercise independently besides the power delegated by the ministers in-charge.
The ministers of state can exercise these powers in the following matters:
To approve the transfers of non-gazetted staff, which require approval of the administrative department, as per the transfer policy.
To accord administrative approval to the works beyond the competence of HoDs upto Rs 3 crore.
To sanction advance withdrawal upto Rs 15 lacs with the concurrence of F A and CAO.
To sanction medical treatment outside the state in respect of the non-gazetted staff under the J&K Medical Attendance-cum-Allowance rules.
To sanction charge allowance in favour of the offciers/officials, officiating on the higher posts.
To sanction deputation of non-gazetted staff to attend the technical conferences.
To sanction festival advance in favour of the staff.
To refer gazetted and non-gazetted vancancies to the Selection committees/ SSB/PSC.
To approve constitution of the Survey Committees for surplus and un-sevicable storesin the departments subordinate to them.
To sanction under Rule 18.18 of the J&K Financial Code, 'writing off' of irrecoverable value of stores and livestock lost when thre is no fraud or negligence.
To sanction condemnation of old vehicles and recommend purchase of new ones in replacement thereof, subject to budgetary allocation.
To approve blacklisting of contractors and suppliers as per the norms laid down under Rule 18. 1 of the J&K Financial code.
To lay the reports of different committees, wherever constituted, before the State Legislature.
To order withholding of increments under Rule 30 (iii) of the J&K Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules in case of the non-gazetted employees under their administrative control.
To sanction expenditure in connection with the ceremonial functions, such as laying of foundation stone or opening of a public building, etc.
To sanction honararium in favour of the non-gazatted employees with the concurrence of the Finance Department.
The Chief Minister further directed that:
The Transfer and posting proposals of the gazetted officers, which require approval of the administrative department, shall be placed before the Minister-in Charge through the minister of state.
All proposals in respect of the PPP projects and other projects relating the developmental initiatives, shall be placed before the Minister-in-charge by the minister of state.
All files requiring approval of the Minister-in-Charge shall be routed through the Minister of state, and the files should be disposed of within one week.
2016: under Mehbooba Mufti
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today allocated several administrative, financial, decision-making and departmental powers to Ministers of State in Jammu and Kashmir, which would empower six junior Ministers in the Council of Ministry.
In 23-member Council of Ministry headed by Mehbooba Mufti, there are six Ministers of State while 17 others including the Chief Minister are Cabinet Ministers. BJP and PDP shared three posts each of Ministers of State. They are Sunil Sharma, Priya Sethi and Ajay Nanda (all BJP), Asiea Naqash, Farooq Ahmad Andrabi and Zahoor Mir (all PDP). Sunil Sharma holds Independent charge of Transport.
An official order issued by the General Administration Department (GAD) said the Ministers of State have been empowered with transfers of non-gazetted staff, which required approval of the Administrative Department, as per the Transfer Policy. They have also been given powers of according administrative approval to the works beyond the competence of Head of Departments up to Rs 3 crores. They will also sanction advance withdrawals up to Rs 15 lakh with the concurrence of FA&CAO.
“The transfer and posting proposals of Gazetted officers, which require approval of the Administrative Department, will be placed before the Minister Incharge (Cabinet Minister) through the Minister of State,” the GAD order said.
It added that all proposals in respect of the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode and other projects related to the development initiatives, shall be placed before the Cabinet Ministers through the Ministers of State.
Further, the Government order said, all files and matters requiring approval of the Minister Incharge, shall be routed through the Minister of State and such matters/files should be disposed of by the concerned Minister of State within seven days from the date of such reference/receipt of file.
The Ministers of State have also been empowered with referring non-gazetted and gazetted vacancies to the Selections Committees, Public Service Commission (PSC) and Services Selection Board (SSB). They would also have the powers to approve blacklisting of contractors and supplies as per the norms laid down under Rule 18.1 of the Jammu and Kashmir Financial Code.
“The Ministers of State will sanction medical treatment outside the State in respect of non-gazetted staff under Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Medical Attendance-cum-Allowance) Rules. They will also sanction charge allowance in favour of the officers/officials, officiating on the higher posts, deputation of non-gazetted staff in connection with official work outside the State but within the country, deputation of non-gazetted staff to attend the technical conferences, festival advance in favour of the staff and approve constitutions of the Survey Committees for surplus and un-serviceable stores in the departments subordinate to them,” the Government order said.
As per the order, the Ministers of State will also have powers to sanction ‘writing off’ of irrecoverable value of stores and livestock lost when there is no fraud or negligence under Rule 18.18 of the Jammu and Kashmir Financial Code. They will also sanction condemnation of old vehicles and recommend purchase of new ones in replacement thereof, subject to budgetary allocation.
“The Minister of State will lay the reports of different Committees, wherever constituted, before the State Legislature. They will also order with-holding of increments under Rule 30 (iii) of the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules in case on non-gazetted employees under their administrative control,” the order said.
Other powers conferred upon the Ministers of State included sanctioning local purchase of stationery articles from the contingency grants of the department, expenditure in connection with the ceremonial functions such as laying of foundation stone or opening of a public buildings, House Building Advance in case of non-gazetted employees subjection to conditions laid down in Jammu and Kashmir Financial Code and honorarium in favour of non-gazetted employees with the concurrence of the Finance Department.