The Powers of President of India can be studied under the following Heads:
1. Executive Powers
2. Legislative Powers
3. Financial Powers
4. Judicial Powers
5. Diplomatic Powers
6. Military Powers
7. Emergency Powers
8. Veto Powers
9. Discretionary Powers
The President is the Head of the Union Executive.
(a) The President of India has been constitutionally empowered to make appointment to the following offices:
Prime Minister of India & on his advise other Ministers.
Attorney General of India
Comptroller and Auditor General of India(CAG)
The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India & other Election Commissioners
Chairman and Members of UPSC & Joint State Public Commission
Governors of States & Lt. Governor/ Commissioner of Union Territories
Chairman and Members of Finance Commission
(b) He can appoint a commission to investigate into the conditions of S.Cs, S.Ts and O.B.C.
(c) He directly administers the Union Territories through administrators appointed by him.
(d) All executive actions of the government are formally taken under his name.
(e) He can declare any area as Scheduled area.
The President is the Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces Art. 53(2).
When both Houses of Parliament are not in session and the President is satisfied that the circumstances prevailing warrant immediate action, he may promulgate such ordinances as are required. These ordinances have the same force and effect as on Act of Parliament.
The President inaugurates the Parliament by addressing it after the general elections and also at the beginning of the first session each year. Presidential address on these occasions is generally meant to outline the new policies of the government.
All bills passed by the Parliament can become laws only after receiving the assent of the President. After a bill is presented to him, the President shall declare either that he assents to the Bill, or that he withholds his assent from it. As a third option, he can return a bill to the Parliament if it is not a money bill or a constitutional amendment bill, for reconsideration.
When, after reconsideration, the bill is passed and presented to the President, with or without amendments, the President cannot withhold his assent from it. The President can also withhold his assent to a bill when it is initially presented to him (rather than return it to the Parliament) thereby exercising a pocket veto.
When either of the two Houses of the Parliament of India is not in session, and if government feels the need for immediate procedure, the President can promulgate ordinances which have the same force and effect as laws passed by Parliament. Ordinances remain valid for no more than six weeks from the date the Parliament is convened unless approved by it earlier.
Under Article 123, President as the upholder of the constitution shall get satisfied that immediate action is mandatory as advised by the central cabinet and he is confident that the government commands majority support in the Parliament needed for the passing of the ordinance in to an act and Parliament can be summoned to deliberate on the passing of the ordinance as soon as possible.
The promulgated ordinance is treated an act of Parliament when in force and it is the responsibility of the President to withdraw the ordinance as soon as when the reasons for promulgation of ordinance are no more applicable.
(a) He can summon or prorogue the houses of the Parliament and dissolve Lok Sabha.
(b) He nominates 12 members to Rajya Sabha and 2 members of Anglo Indian Community to Lok Sabha.
(c) Certain bills require prior approval of President for its introduction to the
Parliament, such as :
Bills affecting taxation in which states are interested
State bills imposing restrictions upon freedom of trade
Creation of new states/ alteration of boundaries of states
(d) He lays the reports of Auditor general, CAG, UPSC, Finance Commission, Commission of Backward Classes, Special office for SC & ST before the Parliament.
(e) President has the power to either give assent or withhold his assent to a bill. Without President’s assent a bill cannot become an act.
(f) President holds the final legislative powers to legislate for the Union Territories of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Dadar & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu. In case of Puducherry also, the president can legislate by making regulations but only when the assembly is suspended dissolved.
(g) He can Promulgate ordinances when Parliament is not in Session, which has to be approved by the Parliament within 6 weeks from its reassembly.
(h) He addresses the houses of Parliament either Jointly or Separately.
All money bills originate in Lok Sabha / House of the people (Article 109). The president shall cause to be laid before Parliament (Article 112), the Annual Budget and supplementary Budget for its approval.
No money bill can be introduced in Parliament without his or her assent. The President appoints a finance commission every five years. Withdrawal from the contingency fund of India is done after the permission of the President.
The President appoints the Chief Justice of the Union Judiciary and other judges on the advice of the Chief Justice.
He or she dismisses the judges if and only if the two Houses of the Parliament pass resolutions to that effect by a two-thirds majority of the members present.
According to Article 143 of Indian Constitution, if the President considers a question of law or a matter of public importance has arisen, he or she can ask for the advisory opinion of the Supreme Court.
All international treaties and agreements are negotiated and concluded on behalf of the President. , in practice, such negotiations are usually carried out by the Prime Minister along with his Cabinet (especially the Foreign Minister).
Also, such treaties are subject to the approval of the Parliament. The President represents India in international forums and affairs where such a function is chiefly ceremonial.
The President may also send and receive diplomats, i.e. the officers from the Indian Foreign Service.
(a) President is the Supreme Commander of Defense Forces of India.
(b) He can declare war or conclude Peace subject to approval of parliament.
What are the Emergency Powers of President of India?
President has been conferred extraordinary powers to deal with:
(a) National Emergency (Article 352)
(b) Presidents Rule (Article 356 and 365)
(c) Financial Emergency (Article 360)
As mentioned in Article 72 of Indian Constitution, the President is empowered with the powers to grant pardons in the following situations:
Punishment is for offence against Union Law
Punishment is by a Military Court
Sentence is a death sentence
The decisions involving pardoning and other rights by the President are independent of the opinion of the Prime Minister or the Lok Sabha majority. In most cases, however, the President exercises his or her executive powers on the advice of the Prime Minister and the cabinet.
The President can declare three types of emergencies: National, State, Financial under Articles 352, 356 & 360 in addition to promulgating ordinances under Article 123.
National emergency can be declared in the whole of India or a part of its territory on 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), 1975 to 1977 (declared by Indira Gandhi on account of "internal disturbance").
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 theParliament within one month. Such an emergency can be imposed for six months. It can be extended by six months by repeated parliamentary approval, there's 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.
The President can make laws on the 66 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 its 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.
If the President is 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/she can declare 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 66 subjects of the state list (see National emergency for explanation).
A State Emergency can be imposed via the following
1. By Article 356 – If that state failed to run constitutionally i.e. constitutional machinery has failed.
2. By Article 365 – If that state is not working according to the given direction of the Union Government.
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
1. A state of National Emergency has been declared in the country or in the particular state.
2. The Election Commission finds it difficult to organise an election in that state.
There is no provision in the constitution to re-promulgate president rule in a state when the earlier promulgation ceased to operate for want of parliament’s approval within two months duration. During the year 2014 in Andhra Pradesh, president rule was first imposed on 1-3-2014 and it ceased to operate on 28-4-2014. The president rule was promulgated after fully aware that the earliest parliament session is feasible in the end of May, 2014 after the general elections. It is re imposed again unconstitutionally on 28-4-2014 by the president.
Article 282 accords financial autonomy in spending the financial resources available with the states for public purpose.
Under Article 360 of the constitution, President can proclaim financial emergency when the financial stability or credit of the nation or of any part of its territory is threatened. However till now, no guide lines 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, are framed either by finance commission or by 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 case 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
Diplomatic, Military and Judicial powers
He appoints ambassadors and high commissioners to other countries. All international treaties are signed on his behalf. Under Military powers, he can declare war and conclude peace. He appoints Chief of Army, Navy and Air Force. He can dismiss judges if two-third majority of the members present of the two Houses of the Parliament pass the resolution to that effect.
As already discussed, President has the power to either give assent or withhold his assent to a bill. Without President’s assent a bill cannot become an act. In this regard President has three Veto Powers.
(a) In selecting the P.M from among the contenders when no single party attains majority after elections to the Lok Sabha.
(b) While exercising Veto Powers
(c) While disqualifying members of legislature.
(d) If council of ministers are voted out in no confidence motion, after resigning, president is not bound to act on the advise of defeated Council of Ministers.