The President is the first citizen and the head of the State. He has an important role in the country’s governance as the executive powers of the Union are vested in him.
President of India is a part of the Union Executive along with the Vice-President, Prime Minister, Council of Ministers, and Attorney-General of India.
The President’s basic and fundamental duty or obligation is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and law of India. Various powers and functions that are provided to the President by the Constitution of India are discussed below.
1. Executive Powers of the President of India
2. Legislative Powers of the President of India
3. Diplomatic Powers of the President of India
4. Military Powers of the President of India
5. Financial Powers of the President of India
6. Ordinance Making Powers of the President of India
7. Emergency Powers of the President of India
8. Pardoning Power of the President of India
9. Veto Power of the President of India
Executive Powers of the President of India
As the President is the executive head of the State, he enjoys extensive executive powers conferred to him by the Constitution of India. All the executive decisions are taken in the name of the President.
He also has the power to make rules for the convenient transaction of business of the Indian Government.
The President appoints the Indian Prime Minister and, on the advice of the Prime Minister, other Ministers of the Union. Apart from the Prime Minister, he also has the power to appoint and remove the following constitutional officers and the members of the Union Government.
Here is the full list of Constitutional officers appointed by the Indian President:
- The Prime Minister
- Judges of the High Court and the Supreme Court
- Governors of the State
- The Attorney-General
- The Comptroller and Auditor-General
- The Chairman and member of the Public Service Commission
- The member of the Finance Commission and Officials Commission
- Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners
- Special officers for Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST)
- Commission to report on the administration of Scheduled Areas
- Commission to investigate the conditions of backward classes
- Special Officer for linguistic minorities
Important Note: The President exercises his executive powers with the advice of the Council of Ministers.
Summary: The Executive Powers of the Indian President are:
- Executive decisions are taken in the name of the President.
- Power to make rules for the convenient transaction of business of the Indian Government.
- Appoints the Indian Prime Minister, other Ministers of the Union, etc.
- Appoint and remove several constitutional officers and the members of the Union Government.
Legislative Powers of the President of India
The President of India possesses extensive legislative powers. He can summon and prorogue (discontinue a session of) the Parliament, and he can even dissolve the House of People (Lok Sabha). However, this power can be performed by him only with some restrictions. The President is bound to summon the Parliament only within six months from the last sitting of the former session. He also possesses the power to summon a joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament to resolve the deadlock.
For any bill to get the law’s sanction, it has to receive the President’s assent. A bill for recognising a new State or alteration of State boundaries can only be introduced in either House of the Parliament after his recommendation. The State Bills for imposing restrictions on freedom of trade and commerce also require his recommendation.
The President can nominate 12 members of the Rajya Sabha and two anglo-Indians to the Lok Sabha.
Summary: The Legislative Powers of the Indian President are:
- Summon and prorogue the Parliament.
- Dissolve the House of People.
- President’s assent is needed for any bill to get the law’s sanction.
- Recommend bill in either house of the Parliament for recognising a new state or alteration of state boundaries.
- President’s recommendation is needed for imposing restrictions on freedom of trade and commerce in state.
- Nominate 12 members to the Rajya Sabha and two anglo-Indians to the Lok Sabha.
Diplomatic Powers of the President of India
As the head of the State, the President sends and receives Ambassadors and other diplomatic representatives. All the international treaties and agreements are conferred and concluded in the name of the President. The President is also the representative of India in international forums and affairs.
Military Powers of the President of India
The President is considered as the Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces of the Country. He has the exclusive power to declare war and peace. He has the power to appoint Chief of the Army, Chief of the Navy, and Chief of the Air Force. However, the military powers of the President are regulated and controlled by the Parliament.
Financial Powers of the President of India
The President is also vested with some financial powers. The Money Bill is introduced with the prior recommendation of the President. And, he also lays the Union Budget before the Parliament. The President of India controls the Contingency Fund. He has the power to establish the Finance Commission every five years.
Ordinance Making Powers of the President of India
To deal with unforeseen or urgent matters, the President has been vested with the Ordinance-making power which is provided under Article 123 of the Indian Constitution.
When either or both the Houses of the Parliament are not in session, and the President is satisfied that the conditions exist which makes it necessary for him to take immediate action, the President has the authority to issue an ordinance. And, the ordinance issued by him has the same force as an Act of Parliament.
He also has the power to withdraw such an ordinance at any time. However, such ordinances need to be laid before both the Houses of the Parliament. And, the Parliament is bound to approve the ordinance within six weeks from the date of resumption of the session of the Parliament.
Summary: The Indian President can:
- Issue an ordinance for taking immediate action when either or both the Houses are not in session.
- Withdraw such an ordinance at any time.
Emergency Powers of the President of India
The President is empowered with the power to declare an emergency either in the whole territory of India or in any State or any part of India. He can impose three types of emergency:
- National Emergency provided under Article 352 (due to war, external aggression, or armed rebellion)
- State Emergency provided under Article 356 (due to the failure in constitutional machinery in States)
- Financial Emergency provided under Article 360 (due to threat to the financial stability in India)
He may also suspend the right to move to the courts for the enforcement of fundamental rights except for Article 20 and Article 21 during the emergency. All the proceedings pending in any court for the enforcement of such rights also remain suspended during the emergency period.
The President also has the power to give directions to any State in which the State should exercise its executive powers. He may extend the normal life of the Lok Sabha by 1 year each time up to a period not exceeding beyond six months after proclamation ceases to operate. Further, he can also reduce the salaries of any class of State officials, the Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts. During the period when the State emergency is in the proclamation, the President may assume the powers vested in the Governor.
Summary: The Emergency Powers of the Indian President are:
- He/She can declare an emergency.
- Suspend the right to move to the courts for the enforcement of fundamental rights.
- Give directions to any State to exercise its executive powers.
- Extend the normal life of the Lok Sabha by 1 year.
- Reduce the salaries of any class of State officials, the Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
- Assume the Governor’s powers.
Pardoning Power of the President of India
Question students often ask: Under which article of the Constitution of India the President has the power of pardon or remission?
Article 72 of the Indian Constitution grants pardoning powers to the President. As per this power, the President of India can pardon, reprieve, respite, commute, or remit the sentence of any person who is convicted of any offence;
- by Court Martial;
- against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;
- in which the sentence is one of death.
Veto Power of the President of India
Article 111 of the Constitution of India deals with the veto power of the President. A bill is introduced in the Parliament after it is presented to the Indian President for its approval. The President is free to either reject the bill, return the bill or withhold his assent to the bill. The President’s choice over the bill is called his Veto Power.