8 Powers and Functions of the President of India

Powers and Functions of The President of India

The President of India is the executive head of India. There are various powers of the president of India which he can use for the benefit of the nation. He is the supreme command of the defence forces of India and the ceremonial head of the country and is also called the first citizen of India. The President is elected indirectly by the Electoral College in both houses of Parliament and the legislative assembly of each State and territory of India, who themselves are directly chosen by the people of India. It means we choose the President indirectly. In article 53 of the constitution of India, it is provided that all the executed powers of the Unions are vested to the President. He can use these powers directly and indirectly. Here, indirectly means that he can use these powers through the officers subordinate to him.

According to Article 53 of the Constitution of India, the President of India can exercise his powers directly or by his subordinate authority. But in practice, all the powers of the President of India are exercised by the PM of India, the subordinate authority, with the help of the Council of Ministers. This article will give information about the procedure to elect the President, his qualificationsterm of officeimpeachment process, functions of the president of India, and will explain the powers and functions of the president of India in points.

In Indian Constitution, the President occupies the same position as the King under the English Constitution. He represents the Nation but does not rule the Nation.           

     – Dr B.R Ambedkar

India has adopted the Parliamentary form of government from Britain which comprises of two houses and the President. The President of India is the Titular of the Nominal head of the state that enjoys various powers in the constitution.

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Table of Contents

President of India

Article 52 of our Constitution provides that there shall be a president of our democratic country. Currently, Mr Ram Nath Kovind is the President of India or “Bharat Ke Rashtrapati”, (25 July 2017). The President is elected indirectly by the members of the parliament of India and the legislative assemble of all the states of India. The citizen of India directly elects these members.

A president is the head of the country. He is known as the first citizen of India. After taking the oath, he becomes the union executive along with the vice-president of India, attorney general, and PM of India. He is the supreme command of India.

The process to elect the President

The process to elect the president is laid down under Article 54 of the constitution. The President of India is not elected directly as other ministers are elected. There is an electoral college that elects him. This college is responsible for the election of the president consisting of the members (who are already elected) of parliament and legislative assembly of all states and UT of Delhi, Puducherry, and Jammu and Kashmir.

Concept of proportional representation

The President of our country is elected through the concept of proportional representation in order to ensure that the independent candidates and the minority parties have an adequate chance of representation. In this process, the value of the votes of Member of the state legislature is ascertained by dividing the population of the state by the total number of elected members whereas the value of the vote of Member of Parliament is determined by dividing the total votes of the State Legislature with the total number of elected members of Parliament. The values of the votes are based on the population in 1971 rather than the current population of each state and UTs. It is a secret ballot system of voting. He is the supreme commander of the army.

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Composition of Electoral College

The composition is made up of the elected members of:

Now there are two types of voters for the voting of Electoral College which are MP and MLA. As mentioned above the vote value is counted on the basis of the population in 1971.

There are also the following persons in the assemblies and state councils who cannot take part in the president elects, such as:

  • The nominates members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha
  •  Nominated members of the legislative assembly of each state
  • Member of legislative councils in bicameral legislatures
  • Nominated members of UTs of Delhi and Puducherry

It should be noted that if there is any dispute arising related to the election of the president, the decision given by the Supreme Court of India will be the final.

Oath by the president of India

There are various powers of the president of India which is used by the president to keep his oath active. Article 60 of the constitution of India provides the oath to the President that “every person who is acting as President of India shall make an oath to his office. It includes the oath to preserve, defend, and protect the constitution of India”. It means, the president takes the oath as the guardian of the constitution and use the powers of the president of India which are linked to his position in India. The Chief Justice of India administers the oath to the President in Parliament’s Central Hall. And if the Chief Justice of India is not present at that time, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court administers the same.

Term of office of President

The president holds office for five years from the day of oath after being elected. However, he can continue with the position till a  new candidate is appointed for the same. He can also be re-elected by Electoral College many times. There is no limit on his re-election.

Qualification of the President of India

Every person cannot become the President of India. There are some qualifications given under the constitution of India for the president. Article 58 of our Constitution has laid down certain qualification criteria for the president which includes :

  • The person should be a citizen of India
  • The minimum age required is 35 years.
  • He should qualify all the conditions to be elected as a member of the lower house (Lok Sabha).
  • He should not hold any office of profit under any Indian government of public authority.

Conditions attached to the president office

There are some conditions for the president:

  • He cannot be a Member of Parliament. The candidate must vacate his seat of the house on his joining as President.
  • He cannot be arrested or punished even for his criminal act.
  • The civil proceeding can be initiated against his personal act only after the prior notice of two months.
  • He should not hold any public office.
  • Rashtrapati Bhavan will be provided for the residence without the payment of rent.
  • The Parliament of India cannot stop his salary during his tenure in office.

When the office of the president can vacant?

The President’s office can be vacant under some circumstances, which are:

  • After the completion of the term of office.
  • By giving the resign of the president by forwarding his resignation letter to the Voice-President of India.
  • When the impeachment resolution has been passed by both the Houses of Parliament.
  • If the SC declares the elections invalid done by Electoral College.

It is important to note that even after the election of the President is declared null and void, the acts done by the President in his office remain valid even after his removal.

Impeachment of the President of India

Article 61 of our Constitution deals with the impeachment of the President. There are not so many conditions that are given under the constitution for the impeachment of the president. The only condition when the president can be impeached is the “violation of the constitution”.

Process of Impeachment

When the parliament found that there is a violation of the constitution has been by the president, either of the houses can take the initiative against the impeachment process. Let us consider that Rajya Sabha takes the initiative first for the impeachment process. Firstly, the charge against the President shall be brought before the house in the form of a proposal and this proposal shall necessarily be signed by at least 1/4th majority of total members of the house. Now, the resolution will be put in the Rajya Sabha and the debate will be done on that resolution in Rajya Sabha. If the 2/3 majority agrees to it, the resolution will be considered as the passed by Rajya Sabha. After that, it will go to the Lok Sabha for the same proceedings.

If the resolution for impeachment is also passed in the Lok Sabha with the same 3/4th majority the President will be removed from his seat.

Note: The president can sit in the session during his impeachment process.

Powers of the President of India

The major duty of the President of India is to protect the Constitution of India. This is part of his oath under article 60 of the Constitution of India. Let’s discuss the powers and functions of the President of India. Now, we are going to discuss the powers of the President of India. All the powers are also given under the Constitution of India.

Legislative powers of the president of India

The legislative power of the president of India is vested in the Parliament. The President of India is the head of the Parliament. He facilitates the Law making process. He has the power to dissolve the Lok Sabha. A bill passed by both houses can only become Act after receiving the assent of the President of India.

Furthermore, the government needs prior Presidential assent before introducing legislation such as for creating a new state or changes in the boundary of existing states or even a change in its name. Also, legislation dealing with fundamental rights under the Constitution requires the President’s consent,

Read the article: How a bill becomes Act?

Part of the Parliament of India

The Parliament of India consists of the Upper house and lower house followed by the President of India. He is an integral part of the parliament. The President summons time to time for the sessions of the houses either jointly or separately. He can prorogue the houses of parliament or can also dissolve the Lok Sabha or lower house of parliament of India. The term Prorogue means that the house is discontinued without dissolving the House. The President also addresses the Houses after the general elections are concluded.

Summons for Joint Session

He can summons both the Houses of Parliament for joint sessions in the case of conflict between both the houses to pass any Bill. Article 108 of the Constitution deals with the joint sitting of both houses. In the joint session, the speaker presides over the session and the quorum is 1/10th of the total number of members of the house.

Powers of the president of India in respect of Bill

When both the houses pass the Bill by the majority and send the Bill to the President of India for his assent, he can give his assent or withhold his assent and send back the bill to the houses. But if both the houses pass the bill without any change, it will become obligatory for the President of India to give his assent. In the case of a simple bill, he can keep it with himself without accepting or rejecting it for an unlimited period of time. This power of the president of India is known as a pocket veto.

Further as per Article 200, In some cases, the Bills presented to the Governor by the State Legislature may be reserved by the Governor for the consideration of the president if that bill is not a money bill of the State legislature. The President can accept it or tell the Governor to send it back for reconsideration or he may direct him to not send it back.

Nomination powers of the president of India

The President of India nominates the numbers of the member in both Houses of Parliament. The main purpose of the nomination is to ensure adequate representation in Parliament of all sections of the population which may not always be achieved through elections. The President has the power to nominate 2 members of the Anglo-Indian community in the Lok Sabha if he thinks that they are not represented properly. He has the right to nominate 12 members in the Rajya Sabha from the field of Arts, Literature, Science, Social Science.

Power of the president of India to pass Ordinances

When both the houses of Parliament are not in session, the President of India can pass the Ordinances under article 123 of the Constitution of India. Such an ordinance has the same power as the Act of Parliament. After the opening of the session, the ordinance may be passed by both houses to make it a Law.

The President can exercise this ordinance making power only when the circumstances demands immediate actions. Further, the ordinance must be approved by both the house of the parliament within six weeks of their reassembling. If it fails to do so, the ordinance will be collapsed and will lose its legal validity.

Key Points of Legislative power of the president of India

  • The parliament conducts its three sessions each year. 
  • It is the president of India who summons Loksabha and Rajya Sabha and prorogues them. 
  • He has the power to dissolve the Lok Sabha
  • The president of India asks the ruling party to prove their majority.
  • He can pass the order for re-election
  • After the general elections, the President of India gives his welcome speech
  • He can also address the first session of every year
  • The President of India can nominate two Anglo Indians in Lok Sabha.
  • He has the power to nominate 12 seats in Rajya Sabha for the persons who belong to art, science, literature etc
  • The prior recommendation of the President of India is necessary for the money bill and state recognition bill. 
  • He has the power to pass the ordinance
  • Every Bill passed by the parliament comes to take the assent of the President of India
  • He has the right to suggest changes in the bill passed by the parliament.

Executive powers of the President of India

The President of India is the nominal head of the Government of India. Any work done by the government of India is in the name of the president. After the general election in the country, it is the President of India who elects the prime minister of India. 

Head of Union

He is the head of the union executives. It means, all the executive powers are vested in him and he can use these powers directly or through the officers subordinate to him. He has the power to make laws and to conclude treaties and agreements. Being the head of the Union, he is responsible for the determination of the policies and their effective enforcement.

Appointments

The president appoints the governors of the states, judges of the Supreme Court, and the high court. He appoints the Auditor General of India and also many other officials like election commissions, finance commissions, governors of states, etc. The President appoints the inter-state council, administrators of union territories. He has the power to declare any area as a scheduled area. 

He also appoints the National Commissions of:

  1. Scheduled Castes
  2. Scheduled Tribes
  3. Other Backward Classes

Appointment of PM and ministers

The president appoints the Prime Minister of India and after that other council of ministers with the advice of the PM. This council is headed by the prime minister to aid and to give advice to the president. The president is generally bound by the advice of the ministers and he had to act in accordance with them.

Can ask to prove majority

The term of the union of a council of ministers remains in power for five years after the appointment unless it dissolved earlier due to any reasons. During this period of time, the president must be satisfied that this council enjoys the confidence in the majority of the lower House. The President can ask the council to prove its majority in case of any doubt.

The President of India is the nominal head of the Government of India. Any work done by the government of India is in the name of the president. After the general election in the country, it is the President of India who elects the prime minister of India. 

Key points under executive powers of the president of India

  • The President of India is the nominal head of India
  • The Government of India do every work on the name of the President of India
  • He is the prime minister of India.
  • The Attorney General of India is appointed by the president. 
  • He appoints the Comptroller Auditor General
  • The Chief Election Commissioner and all other election commissioners are appointed by the President of India.
  • He appoints the UPSC members. 
  • He appoints the Finance Commission members.
  • Every governor of a state is appointed by the president
  • He has the power to  ask the  PM and the cabinet about the current work which they are doing

Financial powers of the president of India

No money Bill can be introduced without the prior permission of the President of India. As indicated by the Constitution of India, the Annual Financial Statement is set by the President before both the Houses of Parliament. This announcement shows the evaluations of income and use of the focal Government for the following year. It might be called attention to that the proposition for tax collection and use can’t be made without the endorsement of the President.

No proposition for going through cash or raising incomes for reasons for government can be presented in Parliament without the past consent of the President.

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The annual budget is presented before the parliament with the prior consent of the President. The president can create a contingency fund to meet unforeseen expenses. Further, It can appoint a Financial commission to assess the allocation of funds between the Centre and state. Lastly, the distribution of income tax between centre and state is done by the president with the advice of the cabinet.

Key points of the financial powers of the president of India

  • The president of India represents the union budget in the parliament
  • He can introduce a union budget with the help of another person also
  • He has access to the contingency fund
  • The President of India can use the contingency fund in the situation of emergency
  • The President appoints the finance commission after every 5 years which helps the Central and state government to decide the percentage of revenue between them.

Emergency Powers of the president of India

The constitution of India has given exponential powers to the president to deal with unforeseen conditions and especially with emergencies. There are three types of emergency given in the Constitution of India.

The Constitution of India empowers The President of India to proclaim the emergency.

National Emergency

The president after receiving a written communication of the decision of the union cabinet (Prime Minister and other Ministers) can declare an emergency when there is a threat to the security of the nation. The threat can be from anything like external aggression, war, or any armed rebellion. The proclamation given by the President may remain in force for an indefinite time. During the National emergency, all the executive powers of the State will be exercised or supervised by the Central government. The proclamation shall be put before both the houses and it shall necessarily be passed with a 2/3rd majority to maintain its legal status.

During the emergency, the President is empowered to alter the distribution of revenue between Centre and state. Further, there are three lists given in the constitution where the state and central government can make laws. But during the national emergency, the central government can also make the laws in the state list. Lastly, any rights including Fundamental rights except for Articles 20 and 21 can be suspended by the President in this period.

State Emergency

State emergency is also known as the failure of the Constitution Machinery in a State. The president has the authority to make the proclamation of State emergency. The duration of the state emergency is up to 3 years. The proclamation of state emergency needs ratification from the parliament within 2 months. During the period of a state emergency, the executive powers of the state shall be executed by the parliament of India. It must be noted that the fundamental rights and the judicial remedies cannot be suspended during this emergency.

Financial Emergency

Whenever the financial stability of the country is threatened, the president can proclaim a financial emergency. The normal duration of the proclamation of Financial emergency is 2 months but after the approval of parliament,  it can be extended for an unlimited period of time. The money bills passed by the state legislature will be passed by the consent of the president. During this emergency, the president may issue an order for the reduction of salary and allowance of any class of persons serving under centre or union government. India has never faced a financial emergency since its independence.


Read the Article on Emergency for full knowledge.

Military Powers of the President of India

The President of India is the supreme commander of the Defense forces of India. It had the power to deploy troops in any part of the country to ensure law and order. But he is required to exercise his supreme power under the law. The president may take action to declare war or peace, but the Parliament has exclusive power to regulate or control the exercise of such power. Article 114(3) demands that money for raising, training and maintenance of the defence forces has to be passed by the Parliament. The war is declared in the name of the president. The power relating to foreign and diplomatic affairs is exercised by the Union Government. All diplomatic business is conducted in the name of the President.

Supreme Commander

It is the power of the president of Indian that he can declare war as he is the supreme commander of the Indian armed forces. He can also conclude the treaties related to any situation of war.

All the International treaties and agreements are negotiated and concluded in the name of the President.

Key points of the military powers of the president of India

  • The President of India is known as the supreme commander of the military
  •  He appoints the chief of the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air force.
  • The president can declare war on another country.
  • He can also take the action to stop the war. 

Diplomatic Powers of the president of India

  • He receives ambassadors, High Commissioners, and diplomatic envoys from foreign nations.
  • Represents India in International Conferences.
  • He has the power of appointing Indian Ambassadors to other countries.

All the bilateral and multilateral treaties are entered by the president. However, they must be approved with a local legislature enacted by the parliament.

All these are the powers of the president of India.

Key points of diplomatic powers of the president of India

  • Every treaty and agreement with other countries is done on the behalf of the president of India. 
  • But the approval for these treaties and agreements are taken from the parliament of India.
  • It is the President of India who sends the diplomats to other countries for representation.
  • He facilitates the foreign ambassadors who visit India.

Discretionary Powers of the President of India

The principal role of the president’s discretionary power is to prevent a parliamentary government from becoming parliamentary anarchy. This discretionary power has been given to the president under Article 343(2) of the Constitution. These certain discretionary powers which he can use at the time of needs are as follows –

Appointing the New Prime Minister

He has the power to appoint the New Prime Minister in the case of the death of the Prime Minister during his period of office. Further his role came into play in numerous scenarios –

  • A Hung Lok Sabha (with no clear majority for a party or coalition)
  • loss of majority as a result of defections
  • claims of competing claims of parties for their ability to form governments
  • as the situation arose in 1979, 1990, etc.

No-Confidence Motion

The President of India has the power to dissolve the lower house or to look for the alternative when the Prime Minister or any other Minister loses the ‘No Confidence Motion’. The president of India dissolved the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1999 when it failed against the No-confidence motion.

Power to dismiss the Ministers

The President has the power to dismiss the Ministers if the council of Ministers losses the house’s confidence and the Minister is refusing to resign.

President Can seek information from the Prime minister

As per Article 78, the president of a country enjoys the right to seek information from the PM regarding the administration of the affairs of the union. The Prime minister is bound to give this information to the president.

Judicial Powers of The President of India

It is the power of the president of India to grant pardon reprieves, respites, and remission of punishment. He also appoints the judges of SC and HC and Chief Justice of India. He can suspend remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence. Article 72 of the Constitution of India gives the right to the President to grant the pardon in different cases.

The power includes:

  • Commutation
  • Pardon
  • Remission
  • Respite
  • Reprieve

He has the power to grant the pardon in the following circumstances:

  • when the punishment is for the offence which is against the Union laws
  • in the matter of punishment given by Military Court
  • In the matter of death sentence in any case powers of the president of India

The majority of times, the mercy petition is filed before the hon’ble president to commute the death sentence into life imprisonment under Article 72. The president takes into consideration his financial condition, his prior conduct and the gravity of offence while doing so. The filing of a mercy petition is considered as the last resort for an accused facing the death sentence. All these powers which are given to the president are independent of the opinion of the PM or the majority of the Upper house of the parliament. Most of the powers of the president of India are executed with the advice of the council of ministers and the Prime Minister of India.

Key points of the judicial powers of the president of India

  • The chief justice of India is appointed by the president of India. 
  • The President appoints the judges of the Supreme Court and high court with the consultation of the chief justice of India. 
  • The President of India can take the advice of the Supreme Court in any case
  • It is not compulsory for the President of India to implement the advice taken by the Supreme Court. 
  • It is the power of the President of India that he can grant pardon, reprieve, respite, or remission to any accused in any case.
  • He has the power to Pardon the death penalty also.

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Veto Power of the President of India

After passing the Bill from both the houses of the Parliament, the bill comes for the assent of the President. Now, it is his choice to pass or reject the bill. This is called the veto power of the President of India.

Functions of the President of India

The functions of the president of India are given under the constitution of India. from appointments of PM to declare war are the functions of the president of India. 

Limitations on the powers of the President of India

The constitution of India also gave limitations on the executive powers of the President of India. He has limitations on the powers due to the council of the Ministers. No bill can be passed without the assent of the President But, if both the houses of parliament again pass that bill, the President is bound to give his assent for that bill.

Also, the approval of proclamations passed by the President of India has to be passed by the parliament. They become null and void if does not approve by the Parliament.

FAQ related to the powers of the president of India

Who can declare war?

It is the president of the country who can declare war with another country. The president can also take necessary action to stop the war. But to declare war, the president should take the approval from the parliament. 

How a President is elected in India?

In India, the president is elected by the members of an electoral college. The Electoral College is responsible for the election. The members of this college belong to the parliament and legislative assembly of all the states and UTs. 

Why is the president elected indirectly?

The President of India is elected by the Electoral College in which the members of the Electoral College are elected directly by the citizens of India. Members who are elected by the citizens of India, elect the president of India. It means we elect the president of India indirectly. 

Conclusion

In India’s Constitution, the president is a nominal head and all the core powers are vested with the council of ministers and the prime minister. Though numerous powers have been given to the president in reality they were subordinate to the wills of the ruling government. The independent decision making power is hard to see in the working of the president.


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