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PM, CM do not have disciplinary control over members of council of ministers: SC | India News


NEW DELHI: Prime minister or a chief minister does not have disciplinary control over the members of the council of ministers and it is not possible at all times for them to take the whip whenever a disparaging statement is made, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.
The observation by a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice S A Nazeer came while delivering its judgement on the issue of freedom of speech and expression of public functionaries.
“The Prime Minister or the Chief Minister does not have disciplinary control over the members of the Council of Ministers. It is true that in practice, a strong Prime Minister or Chief Minister will be able to drop any minister out of the Cabinet.
“But in a country like ours where there is a multiparty system and where coalition governments are often formed, it is not possible at all times for a Prime Minister/Chief Minister to take the whip, whenever a statement is made by someone in the Council of Ministers,” Justice V Ramasubramanian, who wrote the judgement for himself and Justices Nazeer, B R Gavai and A S Bopanna, said.
The apex court said the suggestion made by the petitioners that the prime minister, in the case of a minister of the Union of India and the chief minister, in the case of a minister of the state should be allowed to take appropriate action, against the erring minister, is just fanciful.
“Governments which survive on waferthin majority (of which we have seen quite a bit), sometimes have individual ministers who are strong enough to decide the very survival of such governments. This problem is not unique to our country,” it said.
Justice B V Nagarathna, who wrote a separate judgement while concurring on the larger issue of additional restrictions on high public functionaries, however, differed on various legal questions including the one related to whether the government can be held vicariously liable for the disparaging utterances of its ministers.
The apex court ruled additional restrictions cannot be imposed on the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression of high public functionaries as exhaustive grounds already exist under the Constitution to curb that right.



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