Powers and functions of the President of India
Executive Powers of President
For every executive action that the Indian government takes, is to be taken in his name.
He may/may not make rules to simplify the transaction of business of the central government
He appoints the attorney general of India and determines his remuneration
He appoints the following people:
- Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG)
- Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners
- Chairman and members of the Union Public Service Commission
- State Governors
- Finance Commission of India chairman and members
He seeks administrative information from the Union government
He requires PM to submit, for consideration of the council of ministers, any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but, which has not been considered by the council
He appoints National Commissions of Scheduled Castes Scheduled Tribes
Other Backward Classes.
He appoints inter-state council
He appoints administrators of union territories
He can declare any area as a scheduled area and has powers with respect to the administration of scheduled areas and tribal areas
Legislative Powers of President
He summons or prorogues Parliament and dissolve the Lok Sabha
He summons a joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in case of deadlock
He addresses the Indian Parliament at the commencement of the first session after every general election
He appoints speaker, deputy speaker of Lok Sabha, and chairman/deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha when the seats fall vacant.)
He nominates 12 members of the Rajya Sabha
He can nominate two members to the Lok Sabha from the Anglo-Indian Community
He consults the Election Commission of India on questions of disqualifications of MPs.
He recommends/ permits the introduction of certain types of bills .
He promulgates ordinances
He lays the following reports before the Parliament:
- Comptroller and Auditor General
- Union Public Service Commission
- Finance Commission, etc.
Financial Powers of President
- To introduce the money bill, his prior recommendation is a must
- He causes Union Budget to be laid before the Parliament
- To make a demand for grants, his recommendation is a pre-requisite
- Contingency Fund of India is under his control
- He constitutes the Finance Commission every five years
Judicial Powers of President
Appointment of Chief Justice and Supreme Court/High Court Judges are on him
He takes advice from the Supreme Court however; the advice is not binding on him.
He has pardoning power: Under article 72, he has been conferred with power to grant pardon against punishment for an offense against union law, punishment by a martial court, or death sentence.
Note: Pardoning powers of the president includes the following types:
the President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence where the sentence is a sentence of death.
The President cannot exercise his power of pardon independent of the government.
In several cases, the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that the President has to act on the advice of the Council of Ministers while deciding mercy pleas.
These include Maru Ram vs Union of India in 1980, and Dhananjoy Chatterjee vs State of West Bengal in 1994.
Rashtrapati Bhawan forwards the mercy plea to the Home Ministry, seeking the Cabinet’s advice.
The Ministry in turn forwards this to the concerned state government; based on the reply, it formulates its advice on behalf of the Council of Ministers.
Although the President is bound by the Cabinet’s advice, Article74 (1) empowers him to return it for reconsideration once.
If the Council of Ministers decides against any change, the President has no option but to accept it.
Under Article 161, the Governor in India too has pardoning powers.
Difference Between Pardoning Powers of President and Governor:
The scope of the pardoning power of the President under Article 72 is wider than the pardoning power of the Governor under Article 161 which differs in the following two ways:
Court Martial: The power of the President to grant pardon extends in cases where the punishment or sentence is by a Court Martial but Article 161 does not provide any such power to the Governor.
Death sentence: The President can grant pardon in all cases where the sentence given is the sentence of death but the pardoning power of the Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.
Pardon: It removes both the sentence and the conviction and completely absolves the convict from all sentences, punishments and disqualifications.
Commutation: It denotes the substitution of one form of punishment for a lighter form. For example, a death sentence may be commuted to rigorous imprisonment, which in turn may be commuted to a simple imprisonment.
Remission: It implies reducing the period of sentence without changing its character. For example, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for two years may be remitted to rigorous imprisonment for one year.
Respite: It denotes awarding a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded due to some special fact, such as the physical disability of a convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender.
Reprieve: It implies a stay of the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period. Its purpose is to enable the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from the President.
Diplomatic Powers of President
International Treaties and agreements that are approved by the Parliament are negotiated and concluded in his name
He is the representative of India in international forums and affairs.
Military Powers of President
He is the commander of the defence forces of India. He appoints:
- Chief of the Army
- Chief of the Navy
- Chief of the Air Force
Emergency Powers of President
He deals with three types of emergencies given in the Indian Constitution:
- National Emergency (Article 352)
- President’s Rule (Article 356 & 365)
- Financial Emergency (Article 360)
What is the Ordinance Making Power of the President?
Article 123 deals with the ordinance making power of the President.
The President has many legislative powers and this power is one of them. He promulgates an ordinance on the recommendation of the union cabinet.
What is the Veto Power of the President?
When a bill is introduced in the Parliament, Parliament can pass the bill and before the bill becomes an act, it has to be presented to the Indian President for his approval.
It is on the President of India to either reject the bill, return the bill or withhold his assent to the bill.
The choice of the President over the bill is called his veto power.
The Veto Power of the President of India is guided by Article 111 of the Indian Constitution.
Article 74 of the Indian Constitution says that
(1) There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President who shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice:
Provided that the President may require the Council of Ministers to reconsider such advice, either generally or otherwise, and the President shall act in accordance with the advice tendered after such reconsideration.
2) The question whether any, and if so what, advice was tendered by Ministers to the President shall not be inquired into in any court.”
President of India – Discretionary Powers
All important decisions regarding the country are taken in the name of Indian President, though most of these will be based on the binding advice given by Council of Ministers (CoM), as per Article 74 of Indian Constitution.
But there are certain exceptions, where he can use his discretionary powers.
The President has discretionary power when he exercises suspensive veto ie. when he returns a bill (not money bill) for reconsideration of the parliament.
However, if the bill is passed again by the Parliament with or without amendments and presented again to the President, it is obligatory for him to give his assent to the bill.
This is not a provision mentioned in the Indian constitution, but this is a possible situation when the President of India can use his discretionary power. In this case, the President neither ratifies nor reject nor return the bill, but simply keeps the bill pending for an indefinite period.
As the time limit within which the President has to take the decision with respect to a bill presented to him for assent, has not been mentioned in the constitution.
President can seek information from Prime Minister:
Under article 78 the President enjoys the right to seek information from the PM regarding the administration of the affairs of the union.
Under the established convention, the President has the right to warn or encourage the Council of Minister (CoM) in the exercise of its power.
Case of no sitting of both houses:
Under Article 85, the President can summon each House of Parliament to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit, to ensure that six months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its sitting in the next session.
Case of no majority:
When no political party or coalition of parties enjoy the majority in Lok Sabha, then the President has discretion in inviting the leader of that party or coalition of parties who in his opinion is able to form a stable government.
Case of no-confidence with CoM- dissolving Loksabha:
It is for the president to decide if he should dissolve Loksabha or not when CoM loses the majority in Lok Sabha.