Subjects >>Indian Polity >>The Union Executive - The President

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INTRODUCTION
22 Jul 2020

The makers of The Constitution of India adopted the Parliamentary System of executive for the governments both at the National and State levels.

According to this system, there is a President who is the formal Head of the State and the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, which run the government at National level.

The Constitution of India vests the executive power of the Union in the President.

The President exercises these powers through the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister.

Articles 52 to 78 in Part V of the Constitution deals with the Union Executive.

The President

According to Article 52, there shall be a President of India.

Article 53 says, that the President shall be the head of the Union Executive.

Under this article we will learn about the following topics related to the President of India:

  1. Election, Qualification, Terms and Tenure, Impeachment
  2. Powers and Function
  • Administrative Powers
  • Military Powers
  • Diplomatic Powers
  • Legislative Powers
  • Ordinance-Making Powers
  • Judicial Powers
  • Emergency Powers
  • Veto Powers
  • Discretionary Powers

Election of the President

Article 54 deals with the Election of the President.

According to the Constitution, the President of India is elected by an ‘electoral college’ through proportional representation by means of single transferrable vote.

The Electoral College consists of the elected members of both the houses of the Parliament and the elected members of Legislative assemblies of the states. (Including Delhi, Puducherry).

(It means the 12 nominated members of Rajya Sabha, 2 nominated Anglo-Indian members of Lok Sabha, 1 nominated Anglo-Indian member of Legislative assembly in the state – do not take part in this election. Similarly, no member of legislative council of the state participate in the election).

In this election value of vote of MP’s and MLA’s are calculated to make a striking balance between the center and the state within Indian Federal setup. Since President represents entire population therefore, in the calculation of value of vote, population is also taken into consideration. The value of vote is calculated in such a manner as the total value of votes of MP’s would be almost equal to total value of votes of MLAs of all the state including Delhi and Puducherry. It is calculated as –

(At least 50% votes must be secured by the Candidate).

 

Proportional Representation by Means of Single-Transferable Vote

The method of election for President is proportional representation by means of single-transferable vote.

  • In this system the preferential voting system is used, which means every voter has to cast his vote in order of preference.
  • In the first round of counting only 1st choice vote is counted, if no candidate gets vote up to the Quota, then the candidate having lowest number of 1st choice vote is eliminated from the race and his 2nd choice vote is added to the remaining candidate as per preference in 2nd round of counting.
  • This process goes on till a candidate gets up to the Quota.

Qualifications For the President

In order to be qualified for election as President, a person must be-

  1. He must be a citizen of India.
  2. He must have completed 35 years of age.
  3. He must have the qualification to become a member of houses of the people (Lok Sabha).
  4. He must not hold any office of profit.

The following are not disqualified for election as President:

  • A sitting President
  • A sitting Vice-President
  • Governor of any State
  • Minister either for the Union or any State.

Terms and Tenure

  1. The normal tenure of President is 5 years (from the date he enters upon his office).
  2. He is eligible for re-election for any no. of times as the Constitution is silent about it.
  3. The office of President can be declared vacant on the following grounds:
    • If he dies
    • If he is declared disqualified by the Supreme Court.
    • If he resigns, writing under his own hand addressed to Vice-President of India.
  4. If he is impeached.

Any disputes regarding election of the President or Vice-President or about their disqualification can be decided only by the Supreme Court.

Impeachment of the President

According to Article 61, the President of India can be impeached only on the ground of violation of the constitution. Thus, there is no other way to remove the President from the office of President. The process of impeachment is as follows:

  • Impeachment is a quasi-judicial process solely decided by the Parliament.
  • For impeachment, a resolution can be initiated in either house of the Parliament, only if it is supported in writing by at least 1/4th of the total members of that House.
  • A 14-day prior notice must be given to the President showing the intention of the house for impeachment.
  • If the house passes the resolution by not less than 2/3rd of the total members of that house, then it is transmitted to another house, which acts as investigating house.
  • In this House the charges preferred against the President is investigated by a selected committee of the house.
  • During Investigation, president may defend himself or may be defended by any person or a legal practitioner of his choice or by Attorney General.
  • After investigation, if this house also passes the resolution by not less than 2/3rd of the total members of house. The President stands impeached from that date.

Powers and duties of the President

According to Article 53, the President of India shall be the head of the ‘executive power’ of the Union.

By executive power, it means the ‘the power of carrying on the business of government’ except functions that are vested in any other authority by the constitution.

The Supreme Court has included the following functions under the ambit of executive powers:

  • Policy-making
  • Execution of policies
  • Maintenance of law and order
  • The promotion of social and economic welfare
  • The direction of foreign policy
  • The general administration of the State.

The Powers of the President are as follows:

  1. Administrative Powers: The execution of the laws and the administration of the departments of government.
  2. Military Powers: The command of the armed forces and the conduct of war.
  3. Legislative Powers: The summoning, prorogation etc., of the legislature, initiation of and assent to legislation and the like.
  4. Judicial Powers: Granting of pardons, reprieves, etc., to persons convicted of crime.

Constitutional Limitations on Power of President

  • Article 53(1)- He must exercise these powers according to the Constitution Art 53(1). For example: he can appoint the council of ministers only on the advice of the Prime Minister.
  • Article 74(1)- It is obligatory for the President to exercise his executive powers in accordance with the advice of his Council of Ministers. This was explicitly made clear via 42nd Amendment. And, after 44th Amendment it was made clear that the President can advise the Council of Ministers to reconsider their advice. But after such reconsideration the President is bound by such advice.

Administrative Powers

Since, the President is the head of Union Executive, all the administrative decisions of the union are taken in the name of the president.

But the Indian President does not control or supervise over the Departments of the Government. He is only the formal head of the administration.

Also, according to the Article 78(b), the President has the right to be informed of the affairs of the Union.

He makes following appointments:

  • The Prime Ministers and on his advice other ministers
  • The Attorney General of India.
  • The Chief Justice and Judges of Supreme Court and High Court.
  • The Governor of the state and Lieutenant Governor of the union territory
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner of India
  • The Chairman and member of UPSC and JSPSC

Some of the official are removed by the President also i.e., the Attorney General of India, the Governors and Lieutenant Governor, the Chairman of UPSC, JSPSC and SPSC. (The chairman and members of SPSC are appointed by the Governor but removed by the President).

Military Powers

According to the Constitution of India:

  • The President is Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
  • He appoints Chief of the Armed Forces.
  • The Declaration of war and peace is done by the President. However, this power can be limited by the Parliament.

Diplomatic Powers

  • The President is empowered to conclude treaty or negotiate agreement with foreign state subject to ratification by the Parliament.
  • He sends and receives diplomatic representatives including Ambassadors.

Legislative Powers

The President is an integral part of the Parliament. He performs following legislative functions:

  • He sent messages, summons and prorogues to both Houses of the Parliament and can dissolve the Lok Sabha.
  • He causes the budget to be placed before the Parliament.
  • Certain bills require his prior permission for introduction in the Parliament i.e., Money Bill. Financial Bill and Bill for creation of new state etc.
  • No bill can become law without the assent of the President.
  • He nominates 12 members to the Rajya Sabha and 2 Anglo- Indian members to the Lok Sabha.

Ordinance Making Powers

According to Article 123, if Parliament is not in session and there is an urgency to pass any law; then President on the advice of Union Council of Ministers, then President can issue ordinances.

Ordinances is considered as a temporary law, having maximum validity period of 6 months. However, within this period when Parliament re-assembles, in order to continue it a law, it must be passed by both the houses within 6 weeks from the date of re-assemblance of the Parliament; otherwise it ceases to exist after the expiry of the said period.

Veto Power

It is a negative power, the President of India is having a variety of Veto powers such as absolute veto, suspensive veto and pocket veto. The Veto cannot be exercised on 2 types of bills:

  • Money Bill
  • Constitutional Amendment Bill

Other than these two bills, if a bill is passed by both the houses of the Parliament and presented to the President for his assent; and the bill is rejected by the President, there is death of the bill, this is called as Absolute Veto.

However, the President can exercise Absolute Veto only on two types of Bills –

  • A private member bill
  • A state bill if reserved by the Governor for the consideration of the President.

Therefore, the Absolute Veto power of the President is very limited.

If the bill is passed by both the houses of the Parliament and presented to the President, the President has the power to return the bill to the originating house ‘once’ for its reconsideration by both the houses this is called as Suspensive Veto. In fact, while returning the bill for reconsideration, President suspend it for temporary period. However, if the bill is considered by both the houses and again presented to the President, it is mandatory for the President to give his assent.

If a bill is passed by both the houses of the Parliament, sent to the President for his assent; and the President sit over the bill for indefinite period it means neither he gives his assent nor returns the Bill for reconsideration. This is called as Pocket-Veto.

He can exercise Pocket-Veto because constitution is silent about the time limit within which and President is required to give his assent.

Twice Indian President exercise Pocket Veto, 1st time it was exercised by President Dr. Rajendra Prasad on ‘Hindu Code Bill’ and 2nd time by President Gyani Zail Singh on Indian Postal Bill’.

Judicial Powers

The President has the power to pardon, reprieve, respite or to remit, commute or suspend the punishment of any accused person if-

  • punishment is given by Military Court under Court Martial.
  • punishment is given for the crime related subject on which union-parliament has the power to make law.
  • it is a death sentence.

Some of the terms are:

Pardon

Pardon means to set the offender completely free or to absolve him completely.

Commutation

It means exchange of one form of punishment into another lighter form. i.e., Death Sentence to life imprisonment.

Remission

Reduction in the amount of punishment without changing its nature. i.e., 10 years of imprisonment can be remitted to 5 years of imprisonment.

Respite

It means awarding a lesser punishment on special ground. i.e., In case of pregnant offender, rigorous imprisonment can be changed into simple imprisonment.

Reprieve

It means temporary suspension of death sentence.

Emergency Powers

This is an extra ordinary power assigned to the President by the Constitution to deal with extra-ordinary situations. There are 3 types of Emergencies:

  • National Emergency (Article 352)
    • If there is a serious threat to the Nation or any part of it, due to war, external aggression and armed rebellion;

    • The President on the advice of Union Council of Ministers can declare National Emergencies. In original Constitution the ground for National Emergency were war, External Aggression and internal disturbance. However, the term ‘Internal-Disturbance’ was replaced by ‘Armed-Rebellion’ by 44th Amendment Act, 1978 by Janta Party Government.

    • By this amendment it was also added that the President can declare National Emergency only if there is a written request by Council of Ministers, not below the rank of Cabinet.

    • Infact, the word ‘Cabinet’ appears only once in the Constitution, that is in Article 352 and it was added by 44th Amendment Act, 1978.

    • When National Emergency is declared, all the Fundamental Rights may be suspended except Article 20 and 21.

  • State Emergency (Article 356)
    • Under Article 356, on the basis of the report of the Governor or otherwise if the President is convinced that there is break down of the constitutional machinery in the state or law and order situation in the state has been collapsed, then on the advice of Union Council of Minister, President can impose President rule in that state.
    • If the President rule is imposed then on the behalf of the President, Governor takes over the reign of administration into its own hands and runs it with the support of civil servants.
  • Financial Emergency (Article 360)
    • Under Article 360, if there is an acute financial crisis in the country or any part of it or there is a threat to the credit system of India, the President on the advice of Union Council of Ministers can declare Financial Emergency.

    • If Financial Emergency is declared there may be drastic cut in the Government expenditure including salary and allowances of Government servants.

    • No Financial Emergency have been declared so far.

Discretionary Power

The Discretionary power of the President is situational and not constitutional. Constitution simply says the President shall exercise his functions on the advice of Union Council of Minister, provided he can return such advice once for reconsideration and after reconsideration by the Council of Ministers, he is bound to follow it.

In following situations President can exercise his discretion –

  • In selecting the Prime Minister, if no party attains required majority in the Lok Sabha and a coalition government is to be formed and more than one claimants are there for the post of Prime Minister. In this situation, President can appoint a person who in his opinion can provide stable Government and prove majority in the Lok Sabha.
  • If no confidence motion is passed in the Lok Sabha against the Government and before regaining the Council of Minister advices the President to dissolve the Lok Sabha and conduct fresh election, the President is not bound to act or accept the advice of defeated Council of Ministers.
  • While exercising Pocket-Veto, Council of Minster advice is not needed/taken.
  • In returning the advice of Council of Minister once for its reconsideration.
  • In Returning the Bill passed by the Parliament once for its reconsideration (Suspensive Veto).

Related Questions


  • 1) Who was the longest serving President of India?

    Ans) Dr. Rajendra Prasad was the longest serving President of India. He served the country for 12 years.


  • 2) What is the salary of the President of India?

    Ans) The salary of the President of India is Rs. 5 lakh per month.


  • 3) What is the salary of the President of India?

    Ans) The salary of the President of India is Rs. 5 lakh per month.


  • 4) Who is the present President of India?

    Ans) Ram Nath Kovind is the present President of India.


Did You Know

  • There have been 14 Presidents of India since the adoption of Constitution of India in 1950.
  • Dr. Rajendra Prasad was the First President of Independent India.
  • Pratibha Patil was the First Female President of India.
  • Three Presidents served as Acting Presidents, V.V. Giri, M. Hidayatullah, B.D. Jatti.