(Last Updated on : 22/04/2014)
Central Secretariat refers to various offices and departments which are run by secretaries to the Union Government. There are different types of Government offices in the administrative structure of India which vary in their nature and range of functions. Right at the top of all this is the Secretariat. The main function of the secretary is to advise the minister in the policy and administration matters. In order to enable him to discharge his function properly, it is necessary that he should be equipped with an office. This office is the Central Secretariat.
The Constitution of India
reposes the executive authority of the Indian union in the President of the country. All executive action of the Union government is taken in his name. However, the Indian President
is a mere constitutional and formal head and there is a Council of Ministers with the Indian Prime Minister
at its head to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions. In other words, the real executive authority is vested in the cabinet of which the Prime Minister is the dominant head. The ministers cannot work all alone and need assistance. For purposes of administration, therefore, the government of India is divided into ministries and departments which together constitute the 'Central Secretariat.' To implement the policies enunciated by the ministers in consultation with the Secretatiat, there are attached offices, subordinate offices and other field agencies.
The word Secretariat means the secretary's office. The three essential components of the government at the centre are: (i) the minister, (ii) the secretary, and (iii) the executive head. The most important function of the minister is to decide upon policy; of the secretary to provide the material by which to reach such decisions and to oversee the implementation of such decisions; and of the executive head to carry the decisions into effect. The first two functionaries, namely, the minister and the secretary are served by the secretariat organization called a ministry or department. Orders and instructions issued by the secretariat are considered as orders of the government of India. The central secretariat, thus, occupies a key position in the administrative hierarchy. Literally speaking, the secretariat is nothing but a conglomeration of various ministries/departments of the Central Government.
The secretariat works as a single unit with collective responsibility as in the case of the council of ministers. Under rules, each secretariat department is required to consult any other department that may be interested or concerned before disposing of a case. Secretaries, thus, are secretaries to the union government as a whole and not to any particular minister. A secretariat officer of and above the rank of an under secretary signs on behalf of the President of India, that is, the entire central government. The Prime Minister is free to send for any secretary for consultation.