Powers of President of India

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The powers enjoyed and the functions performed by the President are as follows:

Executive Powers:

The executive powers and functions of the President are:

(a) All executive actions of the Government of India are formally taken in his name.

(b) He can make rules specifying the manner in which the orders and other instruments made and executed in his name shall be authenticated.

(c) He can make rules for more convenient transaction of business of the Union government, and for allocation of the said business among the ministers.

(d) He appoints the prime minister and the other ministers. They hold office during his pleasure.

(e) He appoints the attorney general of India and determines his remuneration. The attorney general holds office during the pleasure of the President.

(f) He appoints the comptroller and auditor general of India, the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners, the chairman and members of the Union Public Service Commission, the governors of states, the chairman and members of finance commission, and so on.

(g) He can seek any information relating to the administration of affairs of the Union, and proposals for legislation from the prime minister.

(h) He can require the Prime Minister 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.

(i) He can appoint a commission to investigate into the conditions of SCs, STs and other backward classes.

(j) He can appoint an inter-state council to promote Centre–state and inter-state cooperation.

(k) He directly administers the union territories through administrators appointed by him.

(l) He can declare any area as scheduled area and has powers with respect to the administration of scheduled areas and tribal areas.

Legislative Powers:

The President is an integral part of the Parliament of India, and enjoys the following legislative powers.

(a) He can summon or prorogue the Parliament and dissolve the Lok Sabha. He can also summon a joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament, which is presided over by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

(b) He can address the Parliament at the commencement of the first session after each general election and the first session of each year.

(c) He can send messages to the Houses of Parliament, whether with respect to a bill pending in the Parliament or otherwise.

(d) He can appoint any member of the Lok Sabha to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker fall vacant. Similarly, he can also appoint any member of the Rajya Sabha to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman fall vacant.

(e) He nominates 12 members of the Rajya Sabha from amongst persons having special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, art and social service.

(f) He can nominate two members to the Lok Sabha from the Anglo-Indian Community.

(g) He decides on questions as to disqualifications of members of the Parliament, in consultation with the Election Commission.

(h) His prior recommendation or permission is needed to introduce certain types of bills in the Parliament. For example, a bill involving expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India, or a bill for the alteration of boundaries of states or creation of a new state.

(i) When a bill is sent to the President after it has been passed by the Parliament, he can:

  1. give his assent to the bill, or
  2. withhold his assent to the bill, or
  3. return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration of the Parliament.

However, if the bill is passed again by the Parliament, with or without amendments, the President has to give his assent to the bill.

(j) When a bill passed by a state legislature is reserved by the governor for consideration of the President, the President can:

  1. give his assent to the bill, or
  2. withhold his assent to the bill, or
  3. direct the governor to return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration of the state legislature. It should be noted here that it is not obligatory for the President to give his assent even if the bill is again passed by the state legislature and sent again to him for his consideration.

(k) He can promulgate ordinances when the Parliament is not in session. These ordinances must be approved by the Parliament within six weeks from its reassembly. He can also withdraw an ordinance at any time.

(l) He lays the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General, Union Public Service Commission, Finance Commission, and others, before the Parliament.

(m) He can make regulations for the peace, progress and good government of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. In the case of Puducherry also, the President can legislate by making regulations but only when the assembly is suspended or dissolved.

Financial Powers:

The financial powers and functions of the President are:

(a) Money bills can be introduced in the Parliament only with his prior recommendation.

(b) He causes to be laid before the Parliament the annual financial statement (ie, the Union Budget).

(c) No demand for a grant can be made except on his recommendation.

(d) He can make advances out of the contingency fund of India to meet any unforeseen expenditure.

(e) He constitutes a finance commission after every five years to recommend the distribution of revenues between the Centre and the states.

Judicial Powers:

The judicial powers and functions of the President are:

(a) He appoints the Chief Justice and the judges of Supreme Court and high courts.

(b) He can seek advice from the Supreme Court on any question of law or fact. However, the advice tendered by the Supreme Court is not binding on the President.

(c) He can grant pardon, reprieve, respite and remission of punishment, or suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence:

  1. In all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a court martial;
  2. In all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against a Union law; and
  3. In all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.

Military Powers:

He is the supreme commander of the defence forces of India. In that capacity, he appoints the chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.

He can declare war or conclude peace, subject to the approval of the Parliament.

Diplomatic Powers:

The international treaties and agreements are negotiated and concluded on behalf of the President. However, they are subject to the approval of the Parliament.

He represents India in international forums and affairs and sends and receives diplomats like ambassadors, high commissioners, and so on.

Emergency Powers:

In addition to the normal powers mentioned above, the Constitution confers extraordinary powers on the President to deal with the following three types of emergencies:

  1. National Emergency (Article 352)
  2. President’s Rule (Article 356 & 365)
  3. Financial Emergency (Article 360)

National Emergency:

A national emergency can be declared in the whole of India or a part of its territory for causes of war or armed rebellion or an external aggression. Such an emergency was declared in India in 1962 (Indo-China war), 1971 (Indo-Pakistan war), and 1975 to 1977 (declared by Indira Gandhi).

Under Article 352 of the India Constitution, the President can declare such an emergency only on the basis of a written request by the Cabinet Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. Such a proclamation must be approved by the Parliament within one month. Such an emergency can be imposed for six months. It can be extended by six months by repeated parliamentary approval-there is no maximum duration.

In such an emergency, Fundamental Rights of Indian citizens can be suspended. The six freedoms under Right to Freedom are automatically suspended. However, the Right to Life and Personal Liberty cannot be suspended.(Article 21).

The President can make laws on the subjects of the State List (which contains subjects on which the state governments can make laws).

Also, all money bills are referred to the President for approval. The term of the Lok Sabha can be extended by a period of up to one year, but not so as to extend the term of Parliament beyond six months after the end of the declared emergency.

National Emergency has only been proclaimed in India twice till date. It was declared first in 1962 by President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, during the Sino-Indian War. The second emergency in India was from 1975-77 proclaimed by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, with Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister.

President’s Rule (in States):

If the President is fully satisfied, on the basis of the report of the Governor of the concerned state or from other sources that the governance in a state cannot be carried out according to the provisions in the Constitution, he can proclaim under Article 356 a state of emergency in the state. Such an emergency must be approved by the Parliament within a period of 2 months.

Under Article 356 of the Indian Constitution, it can be imposed from six months to a maximum period of three years with repeated parliamentary approval every six months. If the emergency needs to be extended for more than three years, this can be achieved by a constitutional amendment, as has happened in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.

During such an emergency, the President can take over the entire work of the executive, and the Governor administers the state in the name of the President.

The Legislative Assembly can be dissolved or may remain in suspended animation. The Parliament makes laws on the subjects of the state list.

A State Emergency can be imposed via the following:

  • By Article 356 – If that state failed to run constitutionally, i.e. constitutional machinery has failed.
  • By Article 365 – If that state is not working according to the direction of the Union Government issued per the provisions of the constitution.

This type of emergency needs the approval of the parliament within 2 months. It can last up to a maximum of three years via extensions after each 6-month period. However, after one year it can be extended only if:

  • a state of National Emergency has been declared in the country or in the particular state.
  • the Election Commission finds it difficult to organise an election in that state.

Financial emergency:

Article 282 accords financial autonomy in spending the financial resources available with the states for public purpose.

Article 293 gives liberty to states to borrow without any limit to its ability for its requirements within the territory of India without any consent from the union government. However union government can insist for compliance of its loan terms when a state has outstanding loan charged to the consolidated fund of India or an outstanding loan in respect of which a guarantee has been given by the Government of India under the liability of consolidated fund of India.

Under article 360 of the constitution, President can proclaim a financial emergency when the financial stability or credit of the nation or of any part of its territory is threatened.

However, until now no guidelines defining the situation of financial emergency in the entire country or a state or a union territory or a panchayat or a municipality or a corporation have been framed either by the finance commission or by the central government.

Such an emergency must be approved by the Parliament within two months by simple majority. It has never been declared.

A state of financial emergency remains in force indefinitely until revoked by the President.

The President can reduce the salaries of all government officials, including judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, in cases of a financial emergency.

All money bills passed by the State legislatures are submitted to the President for approval.

He can direct the state to observe certain principles (economy measures) relating to financial matters.

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