Government of India

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The Government of India (Hindi: भारत सरकार Bhārat Sarkār), officially referred to as the Union Government, and commonly as Central Government, was established by the Constitution of India, and is the governing authority of a federal union of 28 states and 7 union territories, collectively called the Republic of India. The basic civil and criminal laws governing the citizens of India are set down in major parliamentary legislation, such as the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, etc. The federal (union) and individual state governments consist of executive, legislative and judicial branches. The legal system as applicable to the federal and individual state governments is based on the English Common and Statutory Law. India accepts International Court of Justice jurisdiction with several reservations. At the local level, the Panchayati Raj system has several decentralised administrative functions.

Legislative branch

India's bicameral parliament (also known as the Sansad) consists of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). The Union Council of Ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha. In India's parliamentary system, the executive is nominally subordinate to the legislature. There are 542 members in the Lok Sabha that are elected from the various states on the basis of proportional representation.

The Indian Government uses two official languages: Hindi and English.

Executive branch

The Executive arm consists of the President, Vice-President, the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers. Any minister holding a portfolio must be a member of either house of parliament. A non-member can also be appointed as minister but he has to get elected as member of either house within six months of taking oath.

President of India

The government exercises its broad administrative powers in the name of the President of India, who is the Head of State, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and the chief guardian of the Constitution of the Republic.

The President's actual role is mostly ceremonial. He or she is the Supreme Commander of the nation's armed forces, has the authority to dissolve Parliament and call fresh elections, declare a state of emergency, and dismiss governments in the states, but all upon the counsel of the Prime Minister and the elected government.

The Council of Ministers

Real national executive power is centered in the Council of Ministers, the Union Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister of India, who is the Head of Government. The President appoints the Prime is the designated leader of the political party or coalition commanding parliamentary majority. All Central Government decisions are nominally taken in the name of the President.

The Ministers may be of 3 types - Cabinet Minister, Minister of State (Independent Charge) and deputy ministers, in order of seniority. Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State with independent charge may usually attend Cabinet meetings.

The Union Ministries

The North Block situated at Raisina Hill, Delhi houses Finance and Home Ministries and Department of Personnal and Training (Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions)
The North Block situated at Raisina Hill, Delhi houses Finance and Home Ministries and Department of Personnal and Training (Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions)

The day-to-day enforcement and administration of national laws lies in the hands of the various federal Union Ministries and Departments, created by the Indian Parliament to deal with specific areas of national and international affairs. In matters delegated to the States, Ministries act in advisory and funding capacity.

  • Ministry of Agriculture
  • Ministry of Agro and Rural Industries
  • Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers
  • Ministry of Civil Aviation
  • Ministry of Coal
  • Ministry of Commerce and Industry
  • Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
  • Ministry of Company Affairs
  • Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
  • Ministry of Culture
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region
  • Ministry of Earth Sciences
  • Ministry of Environment and Forests
  • Ministry of External Affairs
  • Ministry of Finance
  • Ministry of Food Processing Industries
  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
  • Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises
  • Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation
  • Ministry of Human Resource Development
  • Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
  • Ministry of Labour and Employment
  • Ministry of Law and Justice
  • Ministry of Mines
  • Ministry of Minority Affairs
  • Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
  • Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs
  • Ministry of Panchayati Raj
  • Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs
  • Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
  • Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas
  • Ministry of Planning
  • Ministry of Power
  • Ministry of Railways
  • Ministry of Rural Development
  • Ministry of Science and Technology
  • Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways
  • Ministry of Small Scale Industries
  • Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
  • Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
  • Ministry of Steel
  • Ministry of Textiles
  • Ministry of Tourism
  • Ministry of Tribal Affairs
  • Ministry of Urban Development
  • Ministry of Water Resources
  • Ministry of Women and Child Development
  • Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports

Central Government (Independent Departments):

  • Department of Atomic Energy
  • Department of Space

Independent Executive Agencies

The Constitution of India also provides for following independent organisations, which are answerable only to the Parliament and are not under the purview of any Ministry,

  • Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) - premier national investigative agency, analogous to the United States FBI, but limited in authority.
  • Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)
  • Central Information Commission
  • Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG)
  • Election Commission of India
  • National Commission for Women
  • National Commission on Population
  • National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
  • Planning Commission - The premier agency
  • Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) - Telecom regulator
  • Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) - The recruitment agency for civil service positions
  • Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) - Nuclear regulator

Judicial branch

India's independent judicial system began under the British, and its concepts and procedures resemble those of Anglo-Saxon countries. The Supreme Court of India consists of a Chief Justice and 25 associate justices, all appointed by the President on the advice of the Chief Justice of India. In the 1960s, India moved away from using juries for most trials, finding them to be corrupt and ineffective, instead almost all trials are conducted by judges.

Unlike its US counterpart, the Indian justice system consists of a unitary system at both state and federal level. The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court of India, High Courts at the state level, and District and Session Courts at the district level.

National Judiciary

The Supreme Court of India has original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. Its exclusive original jurisdiction extends to any dispute between the Government of India and one or more states, or between the Government of India and any state or states on one side and one or more states on the other, or between two or more states, if and insofar as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or of fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends.

In addition, Article 32 of the Indian Constitution gives an extensive original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in regard to enforcement of Fundamental Rights. It is empowered to issue directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari to enforce them. The Supreme Court has been conferred with power to direct transfer of any civil or criminal case from one State High Court to another State High Court, or from a court subordinate to another State High Court.

Public Interest Litigation: Although the proceedings in the Supreme Court arise out of the judgments or orders made by the Subordinate Courts, of late the Supreme Court has started entertaining matters in which interest of the public at large is involved, and the Court may be moved by any individual or group of persons either by filing a Writ Petition at the Filing Counter of the Court, or by addressing a letter to Hon'ble The Chief Justice of India highlighting the question of public importance for invoking this jurisdiction.

Such a concept is known as Public Interest Litigation, or PIL and several matters of public importance have become landmark cases. This concept is unique to the Supreme Court of India, and perhaps no other Court in the world has been exercising this extraordinary jurisdiction.

State Judiciary

The High Court stands at the head of a State's judicial administration. There are 21 High Courts in the country, three having jurisdiction over more than one state. The Union Territories come under the jurisdiction of different State High Courts. Each High Court comprises a Chief Justice and such other Judges as the President may, from time to time, appoint.

Each High Court has powers of jurisprudence over all subordinate courts within its jurisdiction, namely the District and Sessions courts and other lower courts. It can call for returns from such Courts, make and issue general rules and prescribe forms to regulate their practice and proceedings and determine the manner and form in which book entries and accounts shall be kept.

The District and Session Courts comprise the highest level of courts in a District for Civil and Criminal cases respectively, and may be trial courts of original jurisdiction, applying both federal and state laws. States are divided into districts and within each, a District and Sessions Judge is head of the judiciary. A District Judge presides over civil cases, while a Sessions Judge over criminal cases. These judges are appointed by the Governor of the state in consultation with the state's High Court. There is a hierarchy of judicial officials below the district level, many selected through competitive examination by the state's public service commissions.

Civil cases at the sub district level are filed in sub district or munsif courts. Lesser criminal cases are entrusted to courts of magistrates functioning under the Sessions Judge. At the village level, disputes are frequently resolved by Panchayats or Lok Adalats (Hindi: People's Courts), appealable to the District and Sessions Court.

Note: The judicial system retains substantial legitimacy in the eyes of many Indians despite its politicization since the 1970s. In fact, as illustrated by the rise of social action litigation in the 1980s and 1990s, many Indians turn to the courts to redress grievances with other social and political institutions. It is frequently observed that Indians are highly litigious, which has contributed to a growing backlog of cases.

Indeed, the Supreme Court was reported to have more than 150,000 cases pending in 1990, the high courts had some 2 million cases pending, and the lower courts had a substantially greater backlog. Research in the early 1990s show that the backlogs at levels below the Supreme Court are the result of delays in the litigation process and the large number of decisions that are appealed, and not the result of an increase in the number of new cases filed.

Name Year of Establishment Jurisdiction Seats
Allahabad 1866 Uttar Pradesh Allahabad (Bench at Lucknow)
Andhra Pradesh 1956 Andhra Pradesh Hyderabad
Bombay 1862 Maharashtra, Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu Bombay (Benches at Nagpur, Panaji and Aurangabad)
Calcutta 1862 West Bengal and Andaman & Nicobar Calcutta (Circuit Bench at Port Blair)
Chhattisgarh 2000 Chhattisgarh Bilaspur
Delhi 1966 Delhi Delhi
Guwahati 1948 Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh Guwahati (Benches at Kohima, Aizwal &Imphal. Circuit Bench at Agartala &Shillong)
Gujarat 1960 Gujarat Gandhinagar
Himachal Pradesh 1971 Himachal Pradesh Shimla
Jammu &Kashmir 1928 Jammu &Kashmir Srinagar &Jammu
Jharkhand 2000 Jharkhand Ranchi
Karnataka 1884 Karnataka Bangalore
Kerala 1958 Kerala and Lakshadweep Ernakulam
Madhya Pradesh 1956 Madhya Pradesh Jabalpur (Benches at Gwalior and Indore)
Madras 1862 Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry Chennai (Bench at Madurai)
Orissa 1948 Orissa Cuttack
Patna 1916 Bihar Patna (Bench at Ranchi)
Punjab & Haryana 1975 Punjab, Haryana &Chandigarh Chandigarh
Rajasthan 1949 Rajastan Jodhpur (Bench at Jaipur)
Sikkim 1975 Sikkim Gangtok
Uttarakhand 2000 Uttarakhand Nainital

Type of Government

The Preamble lays down the type of government that India has adopted - Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic.


The word sovereign means supreme or independent. India is internally and externally sovereign - externally free from the control of any foreign power and internally, it has a free government


The word socialist was added to the Preamble by the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976. It implies social and economic equality for all its citizens. There will be no discrimination on the basis of caste, colour, creed, sex, religion, language etc. Everybody will be given equal status and opportunities. The government will make efforts to reduce the concentration of wealth in a few hands, and provide a decent standard of living to all.

India has adopted a mixed economic model, and the government has framed many laws to achieve the goal of socialism, such as Abolition of Untouchability and Zamindari Act, Equal Wages Act and Child Labour Prohibition Act.


The word secular was inserted into the Preamble by the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976. It implies equality of all religions and religious tolerance. India does not have any official state religion. Every person has the right to preach, practice and propagate any religion of their own choice. The government does not favour or discriminate any religion. It treats all religions with equal respect. All citizens, irrespective of their religious beliefs are equal in the eyes of law. No religious instruction is imparted in government or government - aided schools.


India is a democratic, election from any location, specific seats are allocated for Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes (22%) in parliament called (reserved constituencies), in local body election a percentage of seats are allocated for women candidates.

There is also a proposal to allocate 33% seats in all elections to woman candidates, currently there is no consensus in how to implement it and which seats should be allocated.

The pillar of Indian Democracy is Election Commission of India, it is one of the most trusted organizations and has been praised by all for conducting free and fair elections.


As opposed to a monarchy, in which the head of state is appointed on hereditary basis for a lifetime, or until he abdicates, a republic is a state in which the head of state is elected, directly or indirectly, for a fixed tenure. The President of India is elected by an electoral college for a term of five years.

Parliamentary govt.

India has adopted a parliamentary system of government similar to that of the United Kingdom and Japan. It is based on the fusion of powers between the executive and the legislature.

Under the Indian system, the Parliament is supreme as it is an elected body. There is a presence of two executives - the nominal executive and the real executive. The nominal executive is the President of India. He enjoys all the constitutional powers, but exercises them only on the advice of the real executive. The real executive, that is the Prime Minister of India and the Cabinet, enjoy all the real powers and make all the important policy decisions.

All the members of the Council of Ministers as well as the Prime Minister have to be members of either house of the Parliament. If they are not, they must get elected within a period of six months from the time they assume their respective office. The Executive, the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers are responsible to the Lok Sabha, both individually as well as collectively.

Individual responsibility

Every individual minister is in charge of a specific portfolio or department. He is responsible for any act of failure in all the policies relating to his department. In case of any lapse, he himself is individually responsible to the Parliament. If a vote of no - confidence is passed against the individual minister, he has to resign. Individual responsibility can amount to collective responsibility. Therefore, the Prime Minister, in order to save his government, can ask for the resignation of such a minister.

Collective responsibility

The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers are jointly accountable to the Lok Sabha. If there is a policy failure or lapse on the part of the government, all the members of the council are jointly responsible. If a vote of no - confidence is passed against the government, then all the ministers headed by the Prime Minister have to resign.

Welfare State

A welfare state is a state in which the government provides for a wide range of social services and carries out a large number of welfare and developmental activities, like providing education, setting up of hospitals, protection of minorities, promoting agriculture and protecting the monuments along with the performance of police functions.

The Directive Principles of State Policy, enshrined in Part IV of the Indian Constitution reflects that India is a welfare state. Seats are reserved for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in government jobs, educational institutions, Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha. The government has passed a number of laws for the abolition of untouchability, Begar and Zamindari. The government has opened fair - priced shops, where certain essential commodities are sold at very reasonable prices to the poorer sections of the society.

Revenues of Government

Gross tax revenues of the Government of India has grown steadily from around Rs.1 billion in 1945 to over Rs.1 trillion by 1995. It is expected to reach Rs.8 trillion by 2010 at the current rate of growth. Given below is a chart of trend of gross tax revenues (before splitting shares of States) of the Government of India assessed by the Finance Commissions from time to time with figures in millions of Indian Rupees.

Year Gross Tax Revenues Excise Duties Corporation Tax Customs Income Tax Service Tax Wealth Tax
1945 463 753 736 1,023
1950 675 404 1,571 1,327
1955 1,452 370 1,667
1960 3,949 1,375 1,275
1965 16,827 8,141 3,716 4,195 2,940
1995 1,060,220 458,220 145,860 299,010 128,600
2000 1,982,260 768,390 379,780 535,720 315,900
2005 3,437,030 1,147,410 968,450 581,560 559,810 171,220 1,490

^  includes service tax, et al

This is a chart of trend of non-tax revenues of the Government of India assessed by the Finance Commissions from time to time with figures in millions of Indian Rupees.

Year Non-tax Revenues Interest Dividend
1995 355,210 180,460 58,210
2000 574,640
2005 701,350

^  includes dividend and profit from public sector undertakings and RBI, et al

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