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PMO and Cabinet Secretary

29-JUL-2015 09:56

    The Secretariat assists in decision-making in Government by ensuring Inter-Ministerial coordination, ironing out differences amongst Ministries/ Departments, evolving consensus through the instrumentality of the standing/ ad-hoc Committees of Secretaries.

    The PMO provides secretarial assistance to the Prime Minister. It is headed by the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. The PMO includes the anti-corruption unit and the public wing dealing with grievances.

    Having seen the powers and composition of PMO, cabinet secretariat is also similar institution but it aids in decision making particularly with the cabinet. Similar to PMO cabinet secretariat is politically headed by Prime Minister but it is administratively headed by cabinet secretary. Unlike as PMO a single institution cabinet secretary has 3 subdivisions namely civil, military and intelligence. It is said that cabinet secretary serves as eyes and ears for PM.

    Comparisons from various countries

    United Kingdom – The legislative system of UK consists of 3 components i.e.

    1. The Crown– Hereditary head ( king or queen ) with virtually no power of administration
    2. House of Lords – Made up of house and appointed members. All the bills except money bills are debated and voted in this house. It can delay any bill for only maximum of 2 parliamentary sessions over a year. Highest English court consists of members from this house. To some extent it is comparable to Rajya Sabha of Indian legislative system, but our judiciary is completely devoid of political members.
    3. House of Common – This 3rd element of UK legislature consists of members directly elected by the people for a period of 5 years, unless dissolved earlier. It can be said that it is comparable to Indian Lok Sabha. All legislation must be passed through house of common to become law and it controls taxation and supply of money to the government. There are many select committees to scrutinize any issues affecting their constitution or working of constitution.

    UK has adopted bi-party system, though there are many other political parties, it is Labour Party and conservative parties usually share power alternatively. In India we don’t have such fixed norm. In India party which secures majority in House of Commons forms government. Leader of party is appointed as PM by king. However members of House of Lords cannot become PM. Ministers are individually and collectively responsible to House of Commons and they remain in office till they enjoy the majority support in the house. King (similar to President in India) can dissolve House of Commons on advice of PM.

    United States of America –

    US congress legislature is a federal government with bicameral government consisting of senate (Upper House) and House of Representatives (Lower House). Senate consists of 100 members elected from each state (2 members from each state). House of representatives consists of 435 members for a fixed period of 2 years. Senate is most powerful than house of representatives and is presided over Vice-President. USA follows Presidential government hence US President is comparable to Indian PM in respect to powers. The President of US acts as both head of state and head of government. He is the chief real executive. He is elected by an electoral college for a fixed period of 4 years. He can be impeached only by congress for grave unconstitutional act. He governs the country with the help of small body called kitchen cabinet but it is only advisory body selected and appointed by him. The members of kitchen cabinet are not members of congress whereas in India the members of cabinet are only the members of either house of Parliament.


    The constitution of France has a unique mix of chief elements of British Parliamentary system and the American Presidential system. It can be said that France is more unitary than Britain. There is no division of powers and all the powers are vested in the single supreme central government. It provides for directly elected President and a nominated council of ministers headed by PM. The PM is appointed by President. All the powers of President after appointing PM have to be countersigned by President. Legislature of France consists of senate and the National Assembly. The National Assembly may force resignation of the cabinet including PM by voting a motion of censure. For this reason PM and cabinet are necessarily from dominant party coalition in assembly.


    The constitution of Japan is called MacArthur or Showa constitution. It also follows unitary government with no division of powers and all the powers are vested in the single supreme central government. Provisions are subordinate units and enjoy those powers conferred by central government. It has adopted Parliamentary form of government with Emperor as nominal head while the cabinet headed by PM and 20 other ministers of state as real executives. The party that secures majority in House of Representatives forms the government. Cabinet is collectively responsible for Diet (in India it is Lok Sabha) and resigns if house of Representatives passes no-confidence motion.


    DISCLAIMER: JPL and its affiliates shall have no liability for any views, thoughts and comments expressed on this article.

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