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Posted by on Feb 17, 2014 in Union |

Powers and Functions of President

The President in India is just a nominal head of state and enjoys no real powers as compared to Prime Minister or Council of Ministers. But every executive action of Govt of India is formally taken on name of the President and he has to act in accordance with the aid and advice provided by Council of Ministers (CoM).

Executive Powers

  • He appoints Prime Minister, CoM, CAG, CEC, members of UPSC, Attorney General, Judges of SC & HC etc.
  • He can appoint commission to investigate in conditions of backward classes, inter-state council etc.
  • He directly administers UTs through administrators appointed by him.
  • He can seek information from govt or PM on any matter or on affairs of govt or any action due to be taken by any minister. Also PM/CoM is bound to give information to president.

Legislative Powers

  • He can summon or prorogue parliament and dissolve the parliament. He can call a joint sitting of both houses if there is a deadlock b/w them related to a legislation.
  •  He can nominate 12 members to Rajya Sabha from field of Art, Science, Social Service, Sports etc. and 2 members to Lok Sabha from Anglo community if required.
  • He shall address both houses of Parliament at first session after general election and at first session of every year.
  • He shall lay reports of CAG, Finance Commission, UPSC etc. in both houses of Parliament.
  • The previous sanction of President is required to introducing some legislation such as money bill, bill related to formation of new states, alteration of boundaries, bills affecting federal nature etc.

    Veto Powers

  • Absolute Veto – he can refuse to give assent to bill. But generally this veto is exercised in two cases if a) bill is initiated by private member and b) cabinet resigns before assent of President and new cabinet advises President to do so.
  • Suspensive Veto – The President can send a bill for reconsideration but if bill is again overridden by simple majority then President has to give assent. In case of USA, if president return bill within 10 days then bill shall be overridden by 2/3rd majority to get assent of president (called Qualified Veto).
  • Pocket Veto – it means President can withhold a bill in his pocket without taking any action for indefinite period. But in case of America, President has to return the bill for reconsideration within 10 days only.
  • Veto over State Legislation – if governor reserved a bill for consideration of President then President can use any of above veto power. But in case of Suspensive Veto, if state legislature is again passed bill with simple majority then President is not bound to give assent to bill as in case of Union legislation.
  • Exception – President can’t exercise any veto on Constitutional Amendment bill i.e. bound to give assent and in case of money bill, he can’t exercise Suspensive veto either ratified or rejected.

    Ordinance Making Power

  • The President can promulgate ordinance but only when both or either house of Parliament is not in session. The ordinance has same effect as a legislation of Parliament but ordinance cease to expire after 6 weeks from reassembly of Parliament (i.e. max life is 6 months and 6 weeks). But here also President has to promulgate ordinances only on advice of council of ministers.
  • The President can promulgate ordinances in case of emergency applied in whole or part of territory of India. The SC held that repromulgation of ordinances without any modification and attempt to pass by legislation could amount to violation of constitution and ordinance can be struck down.
  • Also SC in copper case (1970) held that President Satisfaction is subjected to judicial review and can be questioned in any court only on grounds of malafide. Same is accepted in 44th amendment (1978).

Judicial or Pardoning Powers (Article 72)

  • Pardon – it simply repeal both sentence and conviction and offender is free from all charges.
  • Commutation – covert one form of punishment into lighter one such as death sentence to rigorous imprisonment to simple imprisonment and so on.
  • Remission – it simply reduces term of sentence such as rigorous imprisonment of 5yrs to rigorous imprisonment of 3yrs.
  • Respite – awarding a lesser sentence due to special fact such as physical disability etc.
  • Reprieve – stay on execution of sentence (especially for death sentence) for temporary period.
  • He can seek advice or information from SC on any matter of law but SC is not bound to give such advice.
  • The President can use any of power in all cases such as death sentence, punishment for violation of union law and punishment by martial or military court.
  • In Kehar Singh case, the following principles laid down by SC for Pardoning power of president:-
    • Petitioner has no right of oral hearing;
    • The power shall be exercised on advice of central govt;
    • The President has no need to give reasons;
    • The President can seek different view from court;
    • There is no need for SC to lay down guidelines for the exercise of powers;
    • The President decision is subject to judicial review only on grounds of arbitrary or discriminatory or malafide intention;

Recently in Jan 2014, SC held that hearing and disposing of mercy petitions is a Constitutional Obligation on President rather than a discretionary power which is enjoyed by President.

Other Powers

  • The President can declare emergency as per Article 352, 356, 365 and 360 but this is also subjected to advice of CoM or parliament.
  • He is supreme commander of defence of India but constitution lays down that exercise of powers shall be regulated by law (Article 53).
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