Assembly resolution urge Central Govt to amend constitution

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 09 Jan 2019 11:00:33


Staff Reporter,


Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly today passed a government resolution urging the Central government to carry out an amendment in the Article 164 (1a) of the
Indian Constitution so that the state can expand its Cabinet from existing 15 percent to 20 percent.  Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel while answering to the debate on the resolution said that appropriate initiative is essential to be taken towards amendment of Article 164 (1a) of the Constitution in the benefit of Chhattisgarh. The Chief Minister said Chhattisgarh is spread across 1.35 lakh Sq Kms and is 4.4 percent of the total area of the country.

The area of Chhattisgarh is more than states like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Bihar and West Bengal. Around 32 percent of the population in the state comprises of Scheduled Tribes (Tribal), 12 percent of the population belongs to Scheduled Castes and approximately 45 percent comprise of Other Backward Class (OBC) population. Keeping in view the population and the geographical area a bigger number of Ministers are required for the smooth functioning of the administration.

The Chief Minister while highlighting these issues, urged the Central Government to amend Article 164 (1a) of the Constitution so that the number of Ministers can be increased from 15 percent to 20 percent. It may be recalled that the Congress after ending the 15-year rule of Bharatiya Janata Party, had come to power in the recently concluded Assembly Elections in Chhattisgarh by winning 68 seats in the 90 member Assembly.

Earlier, former Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ajay Chandrakar while countering the demand made through the resolution said the Chief Minister is trying to mislead the Legislators of his own party by making such unlawful demand for increasing berths of Ministers. He said the Chief Minister very well knows that the demand he is making is never going to be fulfilled and in order to convince his MLAs who’re vying for Ministerial berth, by putting the ball in the court of centre.

The Constitution (91st Amendment) Act, 2003, limits the size of all Ministries in India. This Act stipulates that the strength of a council of ministers should not exceed 15 percent of the total number of members in the Lok Sabha (in case of the central government) or the relevant state assembly (in case of state government). Prior to Amendment of the Constitution, the Chief Minister had discretion to appoint any number in his council of ministers. But the Constitution Amendment Act in 2003 made a drastic change in curbing such power. This Amendment made a specific provision that, the total number of Ministers, including PM/CM, in no case can exceed 15 per cent of the total number of Lok Sabha/State Assembly Members.

This step was a strong step to keep a check on Coalition Compulsion and malafide politics. Earlier if one party is not able to get minimum numbers of seat to fulfil the criteria of forming government then they pleased the other group for providing them support to full criteria and in return they will appoint them minister in their Cabinet. This practice was curbed to maximum extent by making 15 percent provision mandatory.

According to Article 164 (1a), the total number of Ministers, including the Chief Minister, in the Council of Ministers in a State shall not exceed fifteen per cent of the total number of members of the Legislative Assembly of that State. As per the Article, the state of Chhattisgarh cannot have more than 13 Ministers including the Chief Minister.

The Article further states that provided that the number of Ministers, including the Chief Minister in a State shall not be less than twelve, provided further that where the total number of Ministers including the  Chief Minister in the Council of Ministers in any State at the commencement of the Constitution (Ninety-first Amendment) Act, 2003 exceeds the said fifteen per cent or the number specified in the first proviso,  as the case may be, then the total number of Ministers in that State shall be brought in conformity with the provisions of this clause within six months from such date as the President may by public notification appoint.