Even though the parliamentary system of government in India is largely based on the British parliamentary model it never became a replica of the British system. Elaborate.
The Indian Constitution establishes the parliamentary government both at the center and the states. The Parliamentary system is based on the principle of cooperation and coordination between the legislative and executive organs, and not watertight separation of powers between the two organs.
India opted for the Parliamentary system of Government based on Britain. Thus, both exhibit certain common features such as:
- Presence of nominal and real executives
- Collective responsibility of the executive to the legislature
- Membership of the executive in the legislature
- Dissolution of the lower house
- Majority party rule, with the leadership of the Prime Minister
However, Indian parliamentary system never became a replica of the British model and modified its features suiting Indian polity. Thus, there are a few fundamental differences between the two systems:
- Constitutional Sovereignty and not Parliamentary Sovereignty – In India, unlike Britain where Parliament is supreme and can amend constitution without any restrictions, the Parliament enjoys restricted powers due to a written Constitution, federal system, judicial review and fundamental rights.
- Elected Nominal Executive – The Indian state has an elected head, i.e. the President (Republican form of Government). The British state, on the other hand has a hereditary head (monarchy). No restriction on PM to be a member of Lower House only – In India, the Prime Minister may be a member of any two houses of Parliament, while in Britain the Prime Minister should necessarily belong to the Lower House of the Parliament.
- No restriction on minister of being an MP on appointment – In India, a person who is not a member of Parliament can also be appointed as minister, for a maximum period of six months, pending election to either of the houses of the Parliament. In Britain, the members of Parliament alone are appointed as ministers
- No legal responsibility of ministers – The ministers in India do not have individual or legal responsibility – i.e. they are not required to countersign the official acts. Britain has this system, such that every minister is individually responsible for the acts passed.
- No shadow cabinet: The Shadow cabinet is a feature of the British cabinet system. It is formed by the opposition party to balance the ruling cabinet and to prepare its members for future ministerial office. There is no such institution in India.
Based on these features, it is evident that there are many differences between Indian Parliamentary system and British Parliamentary System. Thus, Indian system is not completely based on the latter.