Appointment of the Prime Minister
The Constitution does not contain any specific procedure for the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister. Article 75 says only that the Prime Minister shall be appointed by the president. However, this does not imply that the president is free to appoint any one as the Prime Minister. In accordance with the conventions of the parliamentary system of government, the President has to appoint the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister. But, when no party has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, then the President may exercise his personal discretion in the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister. In such a situation, the President usually appoints the leader of the largest party or coalition in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister and asks him to seek a vote of confidence in the House within a month. This discretion was exercised by the President, for the first time in 1979, when Neelam Sanjiva Reddy (the then President) appointed Charan Singh (the coalition leader) as the Prime Minister after the fall of the Janata Party government headed by Morarji Desai.
There is also one more situation when the president may have to exercise his individual judgement in the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister, that is, when the Prime Minister in office dies suddenly and there is no obvious successor. This is what happened when Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984. The then President Zail Singh appointed Rajiv Gandhi as the Prime Minister by ignoring the precedent of appointing a caretaker Prime Minister. Later on, the Congress parliamentary party unanimously elected him as its leader. However, if, on the death of an incumbent Prime Minister, the ruling party elects a new leader, the President has no choice but to appoint him as Prime Minister.
In 1980, the Delhi High Court held that the Constitution does not require that a person must prove his majority in the Lok Sabha before he is appointed as the Prime Minister. The President may first appoint him the Prime Minister and then ask him to prove his majority in the Lok Sabha within a reasonable period. For example, Charan Singh (1979), VP Singh (1989), Chandrasekhar (1990), PV Narasimha Rao (1991), AB Vajyapee (1996), Deve Gowda (1996), IK Gujral (1997) and again AB Vajpayee (1998) were appointed as Prime Ministers in this way.
In 1997, the Supreme Court held that a person who is not a member of either House of Parliament can be appointed as Prime Minister for six months, within which, he should become a member of either House of Parliament; otherwise, he ceases to be the Prime Minister.
Constitutionally, the Prime Minister may be a member of any of the two Houses of parliament. For example, three Prime Ministers, Indira Gandhi (1966), Deve Gowda (1996) and Manmohan Singh (2004), were members of the Rajya Sabha. In Britain, on the other hand, the Prime Minister should definitely be a member of the Lower House (House of Commons).
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