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  • Context (IE | TH): Recently, there has been a rising trend of appointing Deputy CMs in States.
  • Deputy CM is a political post, and it’s not a constitutional post like Vice President of India.
  • Anugrah Narayan Sinha from Bihar was the first to hold the post of deputy CM post-Independence.
  • As of Feb 2024, 14 states in India have the post of Deputy CM.

Structure of the Post of Deputy CM

  • Art 163 & 164 deals with the appointment of the CM and state’s council of ministers. However, it does not explicitly mention the Deputy Chief Minister’s post.
  • Art 163: There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions
  • Art 164: The CM shall be appointed by the Governor, and the Governor shall appoint the other Ministers on the advice of the Chief Minister.
  • Other clauses of Art 164 contain other provisions as to Ministers.
  • Appointment and removal– The appointment and removal of Deputy CM is entirely at the discretion of the Chief Minister.
    • The Chief Minister can appoint more than one Deputy CM.
    • For example, Maharashtra has two Deputy CMs, and Andhra Pradesh has five Deputy CMs.
  • Tenure – There is no fixed tenure, as the Chief Minister may reshuffle the portfolio or remove a deputy CM at any point in time.

What are the powers of the Deputy CM?

  • Rank-Deputy CM rank is equivalent to the rank of a cabinet minister in the state and has the same pay and perks as Cabinet Minister.
    • The post is considered to be the second highest-ranking executive officer of the State COMs.
  • Portfolios– It holds relatively more minor portfolios than the CM, and the actual importance of the Deputy CM is based on the portfolio he holds.
  • Financial Powers– The deputy CM does not enjoy any specific financial power and holds the same financial powers as other cabinet ministers.
    • Even for his portfolio, the Deputy CM has to get the approval of the CM for any expenditure over and above the allocated budget.
  • Deputy CM has no authority to see the files earmarked for CM, and the portfolios allotted to Deputy CM are routed to CM via Deputy CM.

Significance of Deputy CM

  • Reduce the incidents of Anti-Defection by acting as a bridge between the ruling party and its allies, hence bringing more political stability to the coalition government.
  • It reflects the political compulsion and importance of the individual/party holding the post.
  • Better representation of the community, which enhances the public’s trust in the government.
  • A post to accommodate coalition parties or when there is no single leader who commands unchallenged authority in the party in power and loyalty across all the key interest groups in the state
  • It doesn’t have constitutional backing and no clarity in its role and function; hence, it can be exploited by the Chief Minister according to his whims and fancies.
  • Deputy CM is a political post that doesn’t have a limit on the number of Deputy CMs a CM can appoint, which may lead to more appeasement of coalition parties and allies.
  • The deputy CM role is equivalent to the Cabinet minister; already, there is a separate cabinet minister post, which may lead to complexities in governance and administration.

Deputy Prime Minister

  • Sardar Vallabhai Patel was the first deputy PM of India appointed in 1947 after independence.
    • This led to the development of the post of Deputy CM in India.
  • Those who subsequently held the position of Dy PM were Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Chaudhary Devi Lal, and Lal Krishna Advani.
  • Devi Lal’s appointment as Deputy PM in 1989 was challenged in court on the ground that “the oath administered to him as such was not in accordance with the prescription of the Constitution”.

S.C on Deputy PM (K M Sharma vs Devi Lal and Ors, 1990)

  • Devi Lal is just a Minister like other members of the Council of Ministers, according to a statement made by the Attorney General.
  • Though he has been described as Deputy Prime Minister, the description of him as Deputy Prime Minister does not confer on him any powers of the Prime Minister.
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