The Supreme Court (SC) dismissed a petition challenging the appointment of Deputy Chief Ministers in States.

Key highlights:

  • Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, leading a three-judge Bench, explained that Deputy Chief Ministers are essentially ministers in the State government.
  • It observed that there is no harm in the appointment of Deputy Chief Ministers because they were after all members of the Legislative Assembly of the States and ministers of the governments.
  • Deputy Chief Minister (CM) persons did not draw higher salaries than any other Ministers in the state government, and may just be more senior than the others.


  • The appointment of deputy CM was motivated by sectarian, religious, or political considerations.
  • Such appointments were against Article 14 and Article 15 (the state ought not to discriminate on the grounds of race, religion, caste, sex, or place of birth).
  • However, the SC dismissed the petition because it lacked substance.

About Deputy Chief Minister (CM):

  • Article 163 (1) of the Indian Constitution, states that ‘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’.
  • Neither Article 163 nor Article 164 mentions a deputy Chief minister (CM).
  • The post of deputy CM is equivalent in rank to that of Cabinet Minister in the state.
  • Portfolio Allocation: They are entrusted with portfolios, although typically smaller in scale compared to the Chief Minister. 
  • Financial Powers: Deputy CMs hold no specific financial authority, requiring approval from the Chief Minister for expenditures exceeding allocated budgets. 
  • Administrative Role: They facilitate governance and administration, acting as a bridge between the ruling party and its allies.

Significance of Deputy CMs:

  • Political Stability: Deputy CMs contribute to coalition government stability by bridging gaps between ruling parties and allies, reducing incidents of anti-defection. 
  • Representation and Trust: Their presence ensures better representation of communities, fostering public trust in governance.
  • Succession and Accountability: Deputy CMs serve as potential successors to the Chief Minister, promoting transparency and accountability in government.

Concerns and Suggestions:

  • Lack of Constitutional Backing: Raises concerns about role ambiguity and potential exploitation by Chief Ministers.
  • Multiplicity of Appointments: No limit on the number of Deputy CMs can lead to appeasement and governance complexities. 
  • Complexity in Governance: Overlapping roles with cabinet ministers may complicate governance and administration.

Future Perspectives:

  • Clarity and Limitations: Need for a defined role and limitations for Deputy CMs to simplify governance structures. 
  • Political Literacy: Enhancing awareness among citizens about the role and function of Deputy CMs is essential for informed governance.

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