Sharma Vs. Devi Lal & Ors  INSC 1 (9 January 1990)
Rangnath Misra Rangnath Punchhi, M.M.
1990 AIR 528 1990 SCR (1) 1 1990 SCC (1) 438 JT 1990 (1) 5 1990 SCALE (1)1
of India, 1950: Article 75(4) and Schedule 111
Forms I and II--Oath/Affirmation by Minister--Descrip- tion of person as Deputy
Prime Minister--Whether valid, legal and constitutional.
petitioner challenged the appointment of Respondent No. 1 as Deputy Prime
Minister of India on the ground that the oath
administered to him as such was not the oath in accordance with the
prescription of the Constitution.
petition was contested by Respondent No. 1 and the Union of India. It was
contended for the latter that de- scribing Respondent No. 1 as Deputy Prime
Minister was descriptive and for all purposes he was a Minister, that the form
of oath prescribed in the Third Schedule pursuant to the requirement of Article
75(4) of the Constitution is only for a Minister of the Union, and that there
was no separate form even for the Prime Minister.
further submitted that the prescribed oath is susceptible of division into two
parts, descriptive and substantial, and as long as the substantial part is
properly followed, as in the instant case, a mere mistake or error in the
descriptive part would not vitiate the oath.
the writ petition,
Respondent No. 1 is just a Minister like other Members of the Council of
Ministers though he has been described as Deputy Prime Minister. The
description of him as Deputy Prime Minister does not confer on him any power of
Prime Minister. It cannot, therefore, be said that the oath administered to him
as Deputy Prime Minister was not the oath in accordance with the prescription
of the Constitution. [3E, 2D]
JURISDICTION: Writ Petition (C) No. 1269 of 1989.
(Under Article 32 of the Constitution of India).
J. Sorabjee, Attorney General, Santosh Hegde, Additional Solicitor General,
A.K. Sen, Manbir Singh, Girish Chandra and Ms. A. Subhashini for the
Court delivered the following order:
Two contentions were raised by the petitioner in this writ petition challenging
the appointment of Respondent No. 1, Shri Devi Lal as Deputy Prime Minister of India:
that the oath administered to him as Deputy Prime Minister was not the oath in
accordance with the prescrip- tion of the Constitution; and
he was still functioning as the Chief Minister of Haryana when the oath of office
of his new assignment was administered to him.
to notice, two affidavits have been filed--one by the Respondent No. 1 and the
other on behalf of the Union of India. In the affidavit of Respondent No. 1
certain precedents have been relied upon and the practice which has been
followed eversince the Constitution came into force has been referred to.
Attorney General appearing on behalf of the Union of India has stated that the
form prescribed in the Third Schedule pursuant to the requirement of Article
75(4) of the Constitution is only for a Minister of the Union and there is no separate form even for the Prime
Minister. Since the Prime Minister is also a member of the Council of Minis- ters,
he takes the same oath as the other ministers are required to take. He
maintains that yet in view of the fact that the Constitution describes him as
the Prime Minister, while being sworn into office, he describes himself as
Prime Minister and this practice is in vogue eversince 1950. The oath register
is by the incumbent signed as Prime Minister and all other ministers sign as
Ministers. He further indi- cates that describing Shri Devi Lal as Deputy Prime
Minister is descriptive only and for all purposes he is a Minister and there is
no 3 constitutional sanction for the post of Deputy Prime Minis- ter as such.
on a bench decision of this Court in the case of Virji Ram Sutaria v. Nathalal Premji
Bhavadia & Ors.,  2 SCR 627, learned Attorney General further
contends that the prescribed oath should be divided into two parts, one which
is descriptive and the other which contains the sub- stantial part. And
according to him, as long as the substantial part is properly followed, a mere
mistake or error in the --descriptive part would not vitiate the oath.
Court in the reported decision said:
this case, as we have already noted, the essential requirement of Article 173
read with Form VII-A was that the person taking the oath or making the
affirmation would bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution and uphold
the sovereignty and integrity of India. The words which precede this portion
are merely descriptive of the person and of his nomination as a
candidate." In view of the clear statement. made by the learned Attorney
General that Respondent No. 1 is just a Minister like other members of the
Council of Ministers though he has been described as Deputy Prime Minister but
the description of him as Deputy Prime Minister does not confer on him any
powers of the Prime Minister, along with his other submis- sions, we think the
first contention raised by the petition- er has no force. So far as the second
contention is con- cerned, the petitioner himself does not press it.
accordingly reject the writ petition for the reasons indicated above. No costs.