Before the adoption of the portfolio system in the Government of India, all governmental business was disposed of by the Governor-General-in Council, the Council functioning as a joint consultative board. As the amount and complexity of business of the Government increased, the work of the various departments was distributed amongst the members of the Council only the more important cases being dealt with by the Governor-General or the Council collectively.
This procedure was legalised by the Councils Act of 1861 during the time of Lord Canning, leading to the introduction of the portfolio system and the inception of the Executive Council of the Governor-General. The Secretariat of the Executive Council was headed by the Private Secretary to the Viceroy, but he did not attend the Council meetings. Lord Willingdon first started the practice of having his Private Secretary by his side at these meetings. Later, this practice continued and in November, 1935, the Viceroy's Private Secretary was given the additional designation of Secretary to the Executive Council.
The constitution of the Interim Government in September 1946 brought a change in the name, though little in functions, of this Office. The Executive Council's Secretariat was then designated as Cabinet Secretariat. It seems, however, at least in retrospect, that Independence brought a sort of change in the functions of the Cabinet Secretariat. It no longer remained concerned with only the passive work of circulating papers to Ministers and Ministries but developed into an organisation for effecting coordination between the Ministries.
· Secretarial assistance to the cabinet and cabinet committees
- Convening of the meetings of the Cabinet on the orders of the Prime Minister.
- Preparation and circulation of the agenda.
- Circulating papers related to the cases on the agenda.
- Preparing a record of discussions taken.
- Circulation of the record after obtaining the approval of the Prime Minister.
- Watching implementation of the decisions taken by the Cabinet.
· Responsible for the administration of the GoI (TransactionRules of business) Rules 1961 and the GoI (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961
· Facilitating smooth transaction of business in Ministries/Departments of the Govt
· Inter-ministerial coordination, ironing out differences amongst ministries/departments and evolving consensus through the instrumentality of the standing/ad hoc Committees of Secretaries
- Removing difficulties.
- Removing differences.
- Overcoming delays.
- Coordination in administrative action.
- Coordination of policies.
· There are other important functions which it discharges, viz.
- Promoting new policy initiatives.
· The Cabinet Secretariat ensures that the President, the Vice President and Ministers are kept informed of the major activities of all Ministries/Departments by means of monthly summary of their activities.
· Management of major crisis situations in the country and coordinating activities of various Ministries in such a situation is also one of the functions of the Cabinet Secretariat.
The Cabinet Secretariat is seen as a useful mechanism by the departments for promoting inter-Ministerial coordination since the Cabinet Secretary is also the head of the civil services. The Secretaries felt it necessary to keep the Cabinet Secretary informed of developments from time to time. The Transaction of Business Rules also requires them to keep the Cabinet Secretary informed of developments from time to time, especially if there are any departures from these rules.
· Three wings
· Directorate of public grievances
· National Authority Chemical Weapons Convention
o NACWC has been established under the Chemical Weapons Convention Act, 2000 for implementing the provisions of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction, signed on behalf of the Government of India at Paris on the 14th day of January, 1993.
· Performance Management Division
· Disputes Committee
· To facilitate decision making in specific areas
· Business Rules provide for the constitution of standing committees of the Cabinet to ensure speedy decisions on vital questions of political and economic significance and other matters of importance as also to ensure coordination in well defined fields of administration
· Instruments to organise coordination in clearly defined fields
· Flexibility in membership of these committees enable interested Ministers to exchange views, and arrive at agreed solutions without involving the Cabinet
· There is considerable sharing of work with the result that many matters which could otherwise travel upto the Cabinet for decision making are settled at the level of Cabinet Committees
· The Cabinet may often accept the decision already taken by the Cabinet Committees
o Some of these committees have not been uniformly or consistently effective
o Do not cover all important areas of governmental functioning
o They can take up a matter only when it is referred to by the Minister concerned or by the Cabinet
o Do not meet regularly
· There are 10 cabinet committees as of now.
o Appointments committee
o Accommodation committee
o Economic Affairs
o Parliamentary Affairs
o Political Affairs
o WTO matters
o Specialized group for deliberation and discussion
Group of Ministers
· 27 GoMs exist
· 12 EGoMs exist
· Head of the civil services
· Under the direct charge of the PM
· ExExecutive head of cabinet secretariat
· Ex-officio chairman of civil services board
§ Provide assistance to the Council of Ministers
§ Act as advisor and conscience keeper of the civil services
§ Handle senior appointments
§ Prepare of the agenda of the Cabinet
§ Attend the meetings of the Cabinet
§ Ensure that the Cabinet decisions are implemented
§ Advise the Prime Minister of India
§ Act as the Chairman of the Committee of Secretaries on Administration
§ Act as the Chairman of the Chief Secretaries Committee
§ Provide an element of continuity and stability to administration during crises
§ Act as a buffer between the politicians and the civil servants and protect the interests of the latter in situation of conflict between the two
§ Act on his own discretion at times
- When a minister desires to have a prosecution launched against the publisher or editor of a newspaper in cases of defamation the sanction of the Cabinet Secretary shall be obtained.
No fixed tenure
Does not and should not interfere in the working of the departments